Jan. 1, 2011 | We like to think that we live in a violent time. But violence has declined every millennium, every century, every decade, says Stewart Brand. "The reduction in cruelty is astounding"... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'The 21 million students enrolled in American colleges are pursuing an education that many of them can''t afford, don''t need, and won''t finish. Louis Menand explains'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | '"I''ve spent most of my life hyped-up, doped-up, or drunk," says Larry Flynt, who has now turned a somewhat more sober gaze to the sex lives of American presidents'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Bernard-Henri Lévy, moral philosopher and vain gadfly, has taken many admirable stands - on Communism, Bosnia, Darfur. So why is this well-coiffed adventure seeker so hated?... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | World War II revisionism - Churchill as war criminal, Allied bombers as terrorists - is often crude, but not without value. It adds complexity to our view of the past. Adam Kirsch explains... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Harvard has lost faith in itself. Tradition has been abandoned, says Harvey Mansfield, and all that remains is prestige. Harvard will hold on to that, because somehow "it can be used to deflate its pretensions"... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Primo Levi has been placed in a box labeled "Holocaust writer," but his humanism and moral clarity resonate everywhere people are not free... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Forgive everybody everything. So say the self-help gurus. Maybe they''re right. But should forgiveness be reduced to something passive and empty, a sanctimonious way of simply moving on?'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Literature and law. At the Supreme Court, Hemingway and Wittgenstein loom large. Not so the scribblings of legal scholars, which are of no use and no interest to Chief Justice Roberts... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'To some, the tension between security and privacy melts away with a simple retort: "I''ve got nothing to hide." But it isn''t true. Even upstanding Arts & Letters Daily readers have things to conceal'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Word processors were going to liberate us from paperwork: â??Machines should work, people should think.â? But neither ideal is often enough the case. Now what?... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Chess and sex. At 19, Bobby Fischer lost his virginity at a brothel. Asked how it went, Fischer replied: "Chess is better." Monomania marked his path from prodigy to pariah... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'You know that Shakespeare was a word-coining genius who revolutionized the language - and the world. Did you know that he''s also responsible for the scourge of starlings in America?'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'There are perhaps more meaningful takeaways from David Mamet''s political journey from left to right. But here''s one: Do not suggest trimming the man''s lofty hedges'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'It''s tempting to dismiss Stanley Fish as a media-savvy provocateur. But his contrarianism has served a purpose: tempering the utopianism of his theory-addled colleagues '... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | What would Odysseus do? Faced with temptation, resistance is futile; willpower is no match for our rapacious appetites. We must tie ourselves to the mast of our best intentions... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'The satirical economist. John Kenneth Galbraith delighted in mockery. No sacred tenet was safe from his ridicule. But a sneer isn''t an idea'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Edward Tufte wrangles sprawling data into elegant and restrained stories. He is the da Vinci of our information-drenched, hyperactively quantitative culture... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Malcolm X had a complicated relationship with his own image. He adopted a dozen aliases, and he cultivated an identity at sharp odds with the facts of his life ... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Raised in relative poverty, Geoff Dyer continues to live with little money and no sense of sacrifice - "a valuable skill, almost a privilege, for anyone wishing to become a writer"... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'To Christopher Hitchens, the vocal cord is more than a piece of gristle. His voice - biting, provocative, enlightening - is his identity. Now it''s gone'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | The quest for truth requires a critical edge, sharpened by lies, hedges, and evasions. Truthfulness, says Julian Baggini, is largely a matter of deciding what to withhold... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Friendly self-censorship. Orwell derided Stephen Spender''s politics. Then they became friends. "I shall never again be able to show any intellectual brutality towards him, even when I ought to"'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | This war is trivial, said Bertrand Russell in 1918. "No great principle is at stake, no great human purpose is involved." Jailed, he joined the largest group of political prisoners ever in a Western democracy... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Junot Díaz is a connoisseur of catastrophe: Haiti, post-Katrina New Orleans, Fukushima. In the wreckage, he finds revelation. "Sometimes we have to look in the ruins for hope"... more »


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