This Is Not the Alec Baldwin We Know and Love

The surreal seriousness of his new MSNBC show, 'Up Late"

The set of Alec Baldwin’s new MSNBC talk show “Up Late,” which premiered Friday night, is a wood-paneled diner with green leather booths and an image of the New York skyline twinkling through a fake window. There’s a ghostly quality to all those empty tables. Lonely place settings are arranged on the countertops like funereal bouquets. The first episode opens with Baldwin leaning stiffly against a booth, his expression grave.

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In their conversation about Episode 3 of Homeland, New Republic Senior Editor Isaac Chotiner and former CIA man Robert Baer discuss the way the Agency exerts psychological control over its agents, and whether the show is becoming more like "Breaking Bad."Isaac Chotiner: Did you notice that this episode had a lot of spy-movie clichés? The first was the guy waking up in bed not knowing where he is. I suppose I should ask whether that has ever happened to you.

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Willa Cather's Correspondence Reveals Something New

The rage of a great American novelist

If there is a secret lurking in Cather’s correspondence, it might be this: her best writing, certainly in her letters and in much of her fiction, is driven by anger.

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Imaginary Jews

The strange history of antisemitism in Western culture

From antiquity to more recent times, an endless series of writers and thinkers have crafted versions and visions of Jews and Judaism that are as ugly and frightening as they are effective. David Nirenberg gives us the history.

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This piece orignally appeared on newstatesman.com.  Malcolm Gladwell is sometimes criticised on the basis that, although he has a reputation as a thinker, all he does is précis other people’s research. That’s not fair. Popularising academic ideas with style for a broad audience is hardly an ignoble pursuit. The real problem with Gladwell goes far deeper.

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The problem is not that we cannot decide whether nearly-naked pop stars are empowered or exploited. The problem is that bland sexual performance is still the only power this society grants to young women

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“The only luxury is time,” Kanye West told Jimmy Kimmel the other night, “the time you spend with your family.” A new Pew Research Center report shows that most American parents agree with ‘Ye, who is, perhaps tellingly, a new father.

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I started working with Stanley at The New Republic in 1978, when I was twenty-four and he was sixty-two. The best part of my job was proofreading his reviews. It involved no work, since we both regarded him as editorially infallible. We spent a few moments each week on the phone correcting the typesetter’s errors, then moved on to an art he relished as much as film: conversation. That is, he entertained, and I listened.

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'Captain Phillips' Will Pummel You Into Submission

You won't even notice Tom Hanks's awful Boston accent

Paul Greengrass could make the most mundane human activity—slouching in a work cubicle, napping in a hammock—feel dramatic. In the opening scene of the English director's latest frenetic film, Captain Phillips, we find the titular hero, Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), leaning intently over a desk in his Underhill, Vermont, home—on March 28, 2009, to be exact. Phillips rifles through documents, clicks around his computer, locates his work badge, and checks his watch.

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Donald Rumsfeld Is Finally Under Interrogation

“The Unknown Known”: The scope and limits of documentary

As an investigation, The Unknown Known adds little to our memory of Rumsfeld’s press conferences and his lugubrious ruminations over what words meant. The marvel of the film (and of other Morris projects) is the cold lucidity of the light in undeviating close-up on the “witness.”

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