The Freedom Of Europe Commemorated
November 09, 2009

Over the years, my good friend Jacques Rupnik has written commentaries in TNR about the decline of communism in Eastern Europe. Given the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 53rd anniversary of bloody Budapest, Rupnik, a professor at Science-Pol, has written a longish essay for Le Monde, some about the past, some also about the future. Alas, in French. Point de vue L'Europe de l'Est, vingt ans après, par Jacques Rupnik LE MONDE | 09.11.09 | 14h05 Le 20e anniversaire de 1989 semble marqué par la "confusion des sentiments".

Building Blocs
November 09, 2009

Monday marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is worth pausing to recall just how momentous, and unanticipated, this event and those that followed were. My students today have no memory of the cold war; to them, Prague and Budapest, just like Paris and Madrid, are simply places to visit or study in Europe.

Worth Reading
November 06, 2009

John Reed apologizes for creating Citigroup. What Europe is getting right in tackling unemployment. Public works projects successful in rural India? Study: Pork-barrel spending a symptom, not cause, of budget woes. Did Malcolm Gladwell cause Lehman's collapse?

Place of Grace
November 03, 2009

Over a decade ago, I trundled my good-natured family across miles of southern Switzerland to see every building I could by Peter Zumthor, who is this year's winner of the Pritzker Prize. Then as now, most of Zumthor's work was off the beaten track, not only literally but metaphorically, little known to the general public although admired by professionals.

Pipeline Politics
November 02, 2009

As the world tries to cut its carbon emissions in the next few decades, natural gas will become increasingly crucial as a stopgap fuel, since it produces less CO2 pollution than coal or oil. At least, that's what the EIA thinks will happen. And the geopolitical implications of this trend are interesting.

Why Read Heidegger
November 01, 2009

German philosopher Martin Heidegger gets a lot of bad press. And for good reason. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis, he did and said and wrote some nasty things before and after serving as the rector of Freiburg University from 1933-1934, and though he eventually distanced himself from his earlier enthusiasm for Hitler, he seems never to have ceased believing that there was an "inner truth and greatness" (those are Heidegger's own words, spoken in a lecture from 1935) to the National Socialist movement. That sounds bad, and it is.

Seeing and Believing
October 30, 2009

Are representations of the Prophet Muhammad permitted in Islam? To make or not to make images of the Prophet: that is the question I will try to answer. It is an unexpectedly burning question, as the newspapers regularly demonstrate. But both the answer to the question and the reasons for raising it require a broader introduction. There have been many times in recent years when one bemoaned the explosion of media that have provided public forums for so much incompetence and ignorance, not to speak of prejudice. Matters became worse after September 11, for two additional reasons.

Containing a Nuclear Iran
October 28, 2009

The strategy that dare not speak its name: The Obama administration is quietly laying the groundwork for long-range strategy that could be used to contain a nuclear-equipped Iran and deter its leaders from using atomic weapons. U.S. officials insist they are not resigned to a nuclear Iran and are pressing negotiations to prevent it from joining the world's nuclear club.

Worth Reading
October 26, 2009

Are the zombies out in Europe?  Betting markets don't (yet) think a public option is back on track. Dodd wants a temporary freeze on credit card fees and rates changes. Krugman on the parallels between dollar-pegged and gold-standard nations. How Nassim Taleb is "trying so hard to make the old sound new." Dan Gross: You need an anthropology degree to understand Wall Street.

End State
October 26, 2009

California is a mess, but I love it all the same--especially the Bay Area, where I lived for 15 years. I went to Berkeley in 1962--a refugee from Amherst College, which at that time was dominated by frat boys with high SAT scores. I didn't go to Berkeley to go to school, but to be a bus ride away from North Beach and the Jazz Workshop. In a broader sense, I went to California for the same reason that other émigrés had been going since the 1840s. I was knocking on the Golden Door. Immigrants from Europe had come to America seeking happiness and a break with their unhappy pasts.