October 10, 2005
The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism By Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin, 602 pp., $28) “I am determined on distinction,” the teenaged Margaret Fuller vowed in 1825, as she made her first forays into Boston society. Elizabeth and Sophia Peabody, whom Fuller would soon meet, came of age in the same place and time with similar convictions. They were slightly older than Fuller, and much poorer, but they were determined to cultivate “genius.” For the first time in the Republic’s history, such hopes in a woman seemed dreamy, not mad.
May 23, 2005
ACCOUNT ABILITY Professor N. Gregory Mankiw says that extra government borrowing required by personal accounts "is offset by a reduction in the government's liability to pay future Social Security benefits" ("Personal Dispute," March 21). This may be true in a balance-sheet sense, but it is not the end of the story. The government's liability on Treasury bonds differs from its liability on Social Security. If you increase the government's liability on Treasury bonds and reduce its liability to pay future Social Security benefits, you are doing three things.
May 23, 2005
It's 8 a.m.
When Government Writes History
May 23, 2005
The 9/11 Commission was "set up to fail." So says its chairman, former Republican Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean. "If you want something to fail," he explains, "you take a controversial topic and appoint five people from each party. You make sure they are appointed by the most partisan people from each party--the leaders of the party. And, just to be sure, let's ask the commission to finish the report during the most partisan period of time--the presidential election season." He could have added that President Bush and Republican leaders in Congress had agreed to create the commission onl
February 14, 2005
The science of gender difference.
Body of Evidence
February 14, 2005
There are many iconic photographs of Marie Curie: Early on with her husband, Pierre, with whom she shared the first of her Nobel Prizes; and, after his death, standing alone with her instruments in the lab. But there are other, more telling, images as well: With her peers--among them Michelson, Rutherford, Millikan, Poincare, Kapitza, Pauli, Bohr, Fermi, and, of course, Einstein--always the lone woman. In a 1911 photograph, she is surrounded by 23 men at the Solvay physics conference in Brussels. In a photograph at Lausanne, she sits, front-row, dead center, between Einstein and Fermi in a con
Closing of the Presidential Mind
July 05, 2004
On February 27, 2001, George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. When the president had last ventured to the Capitol for his inauguration 37 days earlier, he had delivered a homily urging the nation to move past the sting of the Florida recount.
June 28, 2004
"Events" in Washington, by which I mean public discussions of public subjects, are, even on a quiet week, abundant. They vary in prestige, according to the quality of the expert panel, the urgency of the issue to be discussed, and the availability of food. I have attended many such gatherings in my two years in Washington, due to my employment first at a think tank (think tanks forming the backbone of event society) and then at this magazine.
The End of an Elite
June 07, 2004
The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment By Geoffrey Kabaservice (Henry Holt, 573 pp., $30) The commitment of America's great universities to admitting students on the basis of merit rather than lineage--whether or not that commitment is wholly observed in practice--is today virtually uncontested. Similarly, the belief in the value of diversity, while under assault in courts and legislatures, is a core conviction of almost all educators.
March 22, 2004
THOUGH THE DECEMBER movie Mona Lisa Smile failed at the box office, its romanticized portrayal of Wellesley College in the 1950s as a place where well-coiffed women had little ambition beyond learning proper etiquette reignited a heated debate on the virtues of single-sex schools. In fact, three months later, Wellesley's alumnae website still offers an interactive section devoted to a discussion of the film and the future of single-sex education. As one graduate summed up in an article for Boston magazine: "If Wellesley women are so smart and talented ...