The Surveillance Blitz

Some years ago when I was fielding complaints from authors through the National Writers Union — about not getting paid, about their work being spiked — I received a phone call from an irate woman. She told me that her best ideas were being stolen. She’d be watching television and a favorite drama would suddenly follow a plot line that she’d devised. Or she would go out to see a movie and...
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The Jellification of Politics

The world will not end with bang or a whimper. It will end with the silent slither of jellyfish. Literally. And figuratively. On the literal level, jellyfish are indeed taking over. As a result of global warming, overfishing, and fertilizer runoff, these surprisingly hardy creatures are spreading into new territory. Certain jellyfish can kill you. If stung by a box jellyfish, which inhabits the...
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The Disease of Short-Termism

It was famously described as the “end of history.” The collapse of Communism and the victory of liberalism near the end of the 20th century seemed to suggest that the great ideological conflicts of the previous eras had come to an end. A new and powerful consensus formed around the notion that market capitalism was the only way to organize the economy and democracy was the only way to...
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The Price of Democracy

We pay a lot of money for health care in the United States, more per capita than anywhere else in the industrialized world. If you point out this inescapable fact to opponents of socialized medicine, they invariably respond that we get high-quality care in return. Exasperated, you might go further and say that spending nearly $8,000 a year per capita still leaves us with the 8th-lowest average...
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The Next Marx

Lenin graces the cover of a recent issue of The Economist. The Financial Times is running an entire series on the “crisis in capitalism.” Francis Fukuyama, a recovering neoconservative, makes a plea in Foreign Affairs for the left to get its intellectual act together. And that noted class warrior Newt Gingrich has been assailing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for...
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The Apocalyptics

They’re like a heavy metal band. Dress them up in black, put some Goth makeup on them, give them a name like The Apocalyptics, and they’d fit right in with the head-banger crowd. After all, it’s mostly doom and gloom with the Republican candidates, particularly when they start in on foreign policy. The lead singer for a while, Michele Bachmann, loved to croon about the world entering its...
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