Message in a Bottle

“It was meant to be,” Kloska said. “This was a sign to me.”

Published in: on October 3, 2007 at 11:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dogfighting case triggers outrage

Why has the case resonated so strongly with the American public?

Published in: on July 28, 2007 at 3:36 pm  Comments (1)  

A gate-crasher’s change of heart

Gunman bursts into party, tastes cheese and wine, gets hug, then leaves

A friend sent this saying: “Strange but true…how’s this for the power of love…and the universal desire to share life.”

Imagine the possibilities if the tactics used by the people at the party were used by leaders of governments!

[Thx Whit]

Published in: on July 13, 2007 at 8:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Egalitarian Tall Tales

Basic Instincts
June 18, 2007, 6:16 pm

by Richard Conniff

A few weeks back a puff piece in a New Zealand newspaper extolled a trucking company that “has fostered an egalitarian culture … and does not believe in hierarchy, bureaucracy or superiority.” The same article also noted that company headquarters features this saying in bold text on a lobby wall:
“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

Published in: on June 20, 2007 at 12:05 am  Comments (3)  

Bad Samaritans:

On the Universal Capacity for Doing Harm

Published in: on June 15, 2007 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Greening of the Urban Animal

June 11, 2007, 5:44 pm
Basic Instincts
Behavior on Two, Four, Six and Eight Legs

A few days ago, for the first time in our history as a species, the human population of the planet Earth became predominantly urban, not rural.

by Richard Conniff

What does it mean to become a city-dwelling species?

How to access the article

Published in: on June 15, 2007 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

More Useless Knowledge

Basic Instincts
Behavior on Two, Four, Six and Eight Legs

When army ants are sweeping across the forest on one of their massive predatory raids, potholes tend to slow them down. And just the other day, British researchers revealed how these hard-charging creatures deal with the impediment: Individual ants fling themselves down and bridge the potholes with their bodies. In fact, the volunteers seem to size-match themselves to the holes they choose to plug. And when the army has tramped across their backs, they get up, dust themselves off, and head home to join the communal feast.

Richard Conniff

How to access the article
Wondering why you can’t just read it here?

Published in: on June 15, 2007 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  

America Comes Up Short

So what is America’s modern height lag telling us?


How to access the article
Wondering why you can’t just read it here?

Published in: on June 14, 2007 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Un-Schadenfreude

Basic Instincts
Behavior on Two, Four, Six and Eight Legs
June 3, 2007, 8:20 pm

By Richard Conniff

A while back, a writer friend of mine produced one of the bestselling books of the year, and on the strength of his royalties, moved to a large Manhattan penthouse with extensive river views. And of course I was thrilled by his success. Truly.

Published in: on June 4, 2007 at 10:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Chain Reactions

Our Lives as Atoms

May 29, 2007, 6:32 pm

By Mark Buchanan

The political party that claimed it would restore “honor and dignity to the White House” has done nothing of the sort. Having on false pretenses led us into the disaster of Iraq, the administration and its supporters are now beginning – cravenly and shamefully – to shift blame onto the Iraqi people. The administration continues to hold hundreds of people without charges in secret prisons around the world, while arguing that torture is O.K. and that President Bush can disregard the laws he doesn’t like. I haven’t even mentioned illegal spying or efforts to keep scientists quiet if they’re saying the wrong thing.

Where’s the honor and dignity? (more…)

Published in: on May 31, 2007 at 12:09 am  Comments (1)  

Immigrants don’t destroy our national identity, they renew it.

The next Americans

By Tomás R. Jiménez, assistant professor of sociology and a visiting research fellow at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego.

Published in: on May 27, 2007 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chris Hedges: I Don’t Believe in Atheists

On Tuesday night, Chris Hedges and Sam Harris debated “Religion, Politics and the End of the World.” The following is Hedges’ opening statement, in which he argues that Harris and other critics of faith have mistakenly blamed religion for the ills of the world, when the true danger lies in the human heart and its capacity for evil.

Published in: on May 26, 2007 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

A New Silent Majority

Our Lives as Atoms
May 23, 2007, 6:11 pm

By Mark Buchanan

Something seems a little out of whack between the mainstream media and the American people. Take the arguments of the past few days over former President Jimmy Carter’s remarks about the Bush administration and the consequences of its particular brand of foreign policy. Carter didn’t attack President Bush personally, but said that “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history,” which can’t really be too far out of line with what many Americans think.

Published in: on May 25, 2007 at 10:43 pm  Comments (1)  

The Prosecutor’s Fallacy

Our Lives as Atoms
Mark Buchanan on the nature of altruism.
May 16, 2007, 5:42 pm

Later this month – or it could be next month – a group of three judicial “wise men” in the Netherlands should finally settle the fate of a very unlucky woman named Lucia de Berk. A 45-year-old nurse, de Berk is currently in a Dutch prison, serving a life sentence for murder and attempted murder. The “wise men” – an advisory judicial committee known formally as the Posthumus II Commission – are reconsidering the legitimacy of her conviction four years ago.

Published in: on May 21, 2007 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Golden Rule in the Human Jungle

Our Lives as Atoms
Mark Buchanan on the nature of altruism.

May 21, 2007, 6:06 pm

News of the past few days and weeks suggests a rather dismal view of humanity.  Israel is once again bombing the Palestinians, who are already locked in their own violent internal power struggle. On the streets of Karachi, just over a week ago, Pakistani security forces killed 41 people and injured many more, while preventing a rally for Iftikhar Chaud, deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and opponent of President Pervez Musharraf. In the United States, a company compiling data on consumers is making money by helping criminals steal the savings of thousands of retired Americans. (more…)

Published in: on May 21, 2007 at 11:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bias as Usual or Foul Play?

Our Lives as Atoms
On the Physical Patterns that Govern Our World

May 14, 2007, 5:33 pm

By Mark Buchanan

David Stern, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, isn’t too happy with the recent revelation that N.B.A. referees appear to have a racial bias in the way they call fouls. He’s questioned the validity of the statistical analysis by Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, which suggests that white and black referees call fouls preferentially against players of the opposite race. The N.B.A. insists that its own analysis (of different data) reveals no such bias, although other experts who’ve seen both analyses say that the Wolfers and Price study is more convincing.

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dim Bulbs

Humans Are Part of the Environment, Too

By Ted Rall
March 27, 2007

Published in: on May 14, 2007 at 3:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

When Order Creates Itself

Our Lives As Atoms
On the Physical Patterns that Govern Our World
May 7, 2007, 5:44 pm

By Mark Buchanan

An anonymous commenter, responding to my previous column, suggested that my title “Our Lives as Atoms” is “more than a little puzzling*,” and wondered “Where will all this lead us?” I’ve written about the amplified polarization of opinion in the political blogs, and about the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, which had a disturbingly eerie resemblance to famous experiments at Stanford University 36 years ago. What does any of this have to do with atoms? Fair question. I’d like to start my answer by telling you about a strange phenomenon in Spitsbergen. (more…)

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 11:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Turning Human Beings Into Monsters

Our Lives As Atoms
On the Physical Patterns that Govern Our World
May 2, 2007, 6:13 pm

By Mark Buchanan

It is three years and a few days since CBS News published the first photos documenting the systematic abuse, torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The Bush administration and the American military have worked hard to firmly establish the “few bad apples” explanation of what happened. Eight low-ranking soldiers were convicted, and Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick II, who was found guilty of assault, conspiracy, dereliction of duty and maltreatment of detainees, is now halfway through his eight-year prison sentence. (more…)

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Illusion of a Nation Divided

Our Lives As Atoms
On the Physical Patterns that Govern Our World
April 30, 2007, 6:22 pm

By Mark Buchanan

We seem to be a rather polarized country. According to views often expressed in the media, especially online, Republicans revel in the idea of torture and detest our Constitution, while Democrats want to bring the troops home from Iraq only to accomplish the dastardly double-trick of surrendering our country to the terrorists and kicking off a genocide in the Middle East.

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 11:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Helping Immigrants, and a Town, Move Ahead

May 10, 2007
Our Towns


The story has the makings of a suburban film noir: a homeless Guatemalan immigrant found unconscious and near death on a lonely stretch of wooded road; his death a few hours later was ruled a homicide and police officers were under investigation.

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Power of Negative Thinking

May 1, 2007
Guest Columnist

We Americans believe instinctively in the power of positive thinking. Whether one is fighting a cancer, an insurgency or just an unyielding problem at work, the prevailing wisdom is that thinking positive is the key — The Secret, even — to success. But the key, it seems to me, is actually negative thinking: looking for, and sometimes expecting, failure. (more…)

Published in: on April 30, 2007 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Planet of the Apes

April 28, 2007
Guest Columnist

This week the mystery deepened: Why no space aliens?

On Tuesday, scientists reported finding the most “Earthlike” planet ever, Gliese 581c. Its sun is cooler than ours, but also closer, so Gliese is in that climatic comfort zone conducive to water — hence to life, hence to evolution, hence to intelligent beings with advanced technology. Yet they never phone. (more…)

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 11:32 pm  Comments (5)  

Before Deadly Rage, a Life Consumed by a Troubling Silence

n Seoul, South Korea, Seung-Hui Cho’s great aunt, Kim Yang-Soon, said the boy’s resolute silences were a source of worry to his mother even when he was young.

Published in: on April 22, 2007 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

E-Mail and Prozac

April 17, 2007
Guest Columnist

I have a theory: the more e-mail there is, the more Prozac there will be, and the more Prozac there is, the more e-mail there will be. Maybe I should explain.

Twenty millenniums ago, communication was simple. Utterances were usefully accompanied by nonverbal cues: tone of voice, facial expression, nudging your fellow hunter-gatherer in the ribs upon reaching a punch line. (more…)

Published in: on April 17, 2007 at 9:09 am  Comments (2)  

Radical Honesty

Radical Honesty is direct communication that leads to intimacy in relationships. Then people can powerfully create their future together. This works for couples, families, communities and nations.

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 1:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

Renowned Psychologist Philip Zimbardo On his Landmark Stanford Prison Experiment, Abu Ghraib and More

In 1971, psychology professor Philip Zimbardo created the Stanford Prison Experiment in which 24 college students were randomly assigned the roles of prison guards and prisoners at a makeshift jail on campus. The experiment was scheduled to run for two weeks. By Day Two, the guards were going far beyond just keeping the prisoners behind bars. In scenes eerily similar to
Abu Ghraib, prisoners were stripped naked, bags put on their heads and sexually humiliated. The two-week experiment had to be canceled after just six days. Zimbardo tells the full story of the landmark study in his new book, “The Lucifer Effect.”

Published in: on March 30, 2007 at 5:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care

A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.

Published in: on March 26, 2007 at 10:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Conrad Black is on trial in a nation that loathes its elites

The jury selection process shows how regular Americans now regard the wealthiest few not as heroes but as thieves.

Naomi Klein

Published in: on March 24, 2007 at 12:47 am  Comments (1)  

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom?

The Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam Curtis that explains the origins of our contemporary, narrow idea of freedom.


Published in: on March 20, 2007 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Glass Slippers? Old Hat

March 10, 2007
Guest Columnist

We were laid out on the couch the other weekend, stopped in our tracks by an unforeseen afternoon broadcast of “Maid in Manhattan,” when an important moment of sociological revelation arose.

Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  


How America Marginalizes Millions

by Ted Rall

Published in: on February 19, 2007 at 1:25 am  Leave a Comment  

A Giant Doom Magnet

February 17, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

So I was sitting around watching “Oprah” yesterday afternoon when I realized how I could stop W. and Crazy Dick from blowing up any more stuff.

All I needed to do was Unleash my Unfathomable Magnetic Power into the Universe!

Published in: on February 17, 2007 at 12:36 am  Comments (6)  

Beer goggles’ effect explained

Scientists believe they have worked out a formula to calculate how “beer goggles” affect a drinker’s vision.

Published in: on February 9, 2007 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Locked in an eternal embrace

5000-year-old skeletons found hugging

An initial examination of the couple – dubbed the Lovers of Valdaro – revealed that the man (on the left in the picture) has an arrow in his spinal column while the woman has an arrow head in her side.

Published in: on February 7, 2007 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  

The Ideological Animal

We think our political stance is the product of reason, but we’re easily manipulated and surprisingly malleable. Our essential political self is more a stew of childhood temperament, education, and fear of death. Call it the 9/11 effect.

Published in: on January 26, 2007 at 2:30 am  Comments (1)  

Dollars in the Sand

January 2, 2007

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Tourism is a modern global marvel. Every year, according to the World Tourism Organization, some 700 million people leave for foreign lands. They spend more than $575 billion, making tourism the world’s leading item of foreign trade. (more…)

Published in: on January 2, 2007 at 12:13 am  Comments (3)  

The Power of ‘Sorry’

December 26, 2006

By Richard Conniff

The airwaves this year have been practically trembling with apologies. Comedian Michael Richards said he was sorry on David Letterman’s show. Actor Mel Gibson did it on “Good Morning America.” Senator George Allen did it, but not well enough, in the middle of his unsuccessful campaign for reelection. Former Representative Mark Foley had his lawyer do it for him, pleading sorry, but with excuses. (more…)

Published in: on December 28, 2006 at 2:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Our Overrated Inner Self

December 26, 2006


In the 1970s, the cultural critic Lionel Trilling encouraged us to take seriously the distinction between sincerity and authenticity. Sincerity, he said, requires us to act and really be the way that we present ourselves to others. Authenticity involves finding and expressing the true inner self and judging all relationships in terms of it. (more…)

Published in: on December 26, 2006 at 12:13 am  Comments (5)  

You See Dead People? Big Deal. Join the Club.

Published: December 10, 2006

”I see dead people,” Haley Joel Osment famously said in the film ”The Sixth Sense.” If the current crop of similarly themed television series is any indication, so do a lot of folks.

In ”Medium,” ”The Ghost Whisperer” and ”The Dead Zone” ”gifted” characters routinely aid the restless spirits of the deceased. And more shows are on the way: BBC America just introduced ”Afterlife.” Glenn Gordon Caron, executive producer of ”Medium,” is developing a romantic drama about a dead young woman who returns to life to help people. And for midseason NBC is bringing ”Raines,” starring Jeff Goldblum as a cop who talks to the ghosts of murder victims. (more…)

Published in: on December 10, 2006 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment