The Problem With Romney’s “Good Deeds”
April 11, 2012

Another day, another report on the debates within Team Romney about how to go about humanizing the candidate. Philip Rucker writes in the Washington Post about the campaign's deliberations over when and how to make better use of Mitt's "anecdotes": By now, many voters have heard that Mitt Romney once put the family dog, Seamus, in a crate and strapped him to the roof of a station wagon.

Elizabeth Warren's Other Opponent: Mumbles Menino
April 10, 2012

Scott Brown may not be Elizabeth Warren’s only opponent after all. In late March, Boston Mayor Tom Menino was asked by a television host if he was leaning toward a particular candidate in the Massachusetts senate race. Seems like an odd question. Wouldn’t a high-profile Democratic pol happily wield his influence to help reclaim Ted Kennedy’s seat? Not this one.  Menino, as is his wont, mumbled something--to the effect of “it’s a secret ballot”--and refused to endorse either candidate. This is not your typical political politesse.

Romney's Airplane Jitters
April 09, 2012

I've been offline most of the day on a cross-country flight (fittingly enough), so apologies if the point has already been made. But this detail from this weekend's Times profile of Romney's body-man, Garrett Jackson, struck me as not-at-all flattering to the presumed nominee. I'm frankly shocked that Jackson confirmed it:   Mr. Jackson, a University of Mississippi graduate and a licensed pilot, was applying to the Air Force’s officer training school when he took the job with Mr. Romney. Mr. Jackson once acted as co-pilot for a flight Mr.

If X, Then Why?
March 29, 2012

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention By Manning Marable (Viking Press, 594 pp., $30) I. When Malcolm X died in a hail of assassin’s gunfire at the Audubon Ballroom in February 1965, the mainstream media in the United States was quick to suggest that he reaped the harvest of bloodshed he had brazenly sown.

The Subtle Beauty of Renzo Piano’s New Building in Boston
March 29, 2012

The architect Renzo Piano is unpredictable. He has designed museums of extraordinary beauty and refinement, from the Menil Collection in Houston to a recent addition at the Art Institute of Chicago. And he has produced work that is downright bombastic, especially the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Los Angeles, done around the same time as his work for Chicago. What attracts so many different clients to Piano is the sophisticated yet playful feeling for intervals, proportions, and materials that he brings to the cool geometric forms of mid-twentieth-century modernism.

The Counter-Intuition Of Mitt Romney
March 16, 2012

Since I know everyone is as fixated on trying to understand Mitt Romney as I am, I highly recommend Louis Menand’s piece in the latest New Yorker. It's ostensibly a review of The Real Romney, the new biography by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, but basically another entry in the burgeoning “Just who the heck is this guy” genre. Menand tries to answer a question that I took on in my own review of the biography a few weeks ago—why is Romney such a lousy and unnatural candidate on the campaign trail?

Global Innovation: The Metropolitan Edition
March 16, 2012

It is increasingly well understood that cities are the primary location and mechanism of innovation and, in turn, prosperity (see “The Triumph of the City” or urban scaling). But which cities are the most innovative on earth? For a long time, getting sub-national economic data for a large number of countries was impossible, but no longer. New data from the OECD show which cities have the most inventors in the world, measured by those who apply for patent protection in multiple countries (under the Patent Cooperation Treaty).

The Assault on Turkish Journalists Continues
March 15, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey—Last week, the Turkish journalist Oray Eğin returned to Turkey to attend his father’s funeral. It was the first time he’d been home in months, and when he arrived at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, he was detained. The news immediately spread, making headlines: Yet another Turkish journalist arrested! It turned out, however, that Eğin was being questioned for an entirely different reason—a benign legal matter unrelated to his profession.

The Big Split
March 14, 2012

In May 2007, when Barack Obama was but an upstart challenger of Hillary Clinton, he attended a gathering of several dozen hedge fund managers hosted by Goldman Sachs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not a fund-raiser, just a chance for Obama to introduce himself to the investment wizards who had helped turn the hedge fund sector into the most lucrative and alluring corner of the financial universe. And the first question for Obama was as blunt as one would expect from this crowd.

February 22, 2012

The oldest book in my library was published in 1538. It is Sefer Hasidim, or The Book of the Pious, the first edition, from Bologna, of the vast trove of precepts and stories, at once severe and wild, of the Jewish pietists of Germany in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Next to it, and towering over it, which is as it should be, stands Moreh Nevuchim, or The Guide of the Perplexed, the handsome Bragadin edition from Venice in 1551.