New York

Avant-Garde Persuasions
March 29, 2012

The Steins Collect Metropolitan Museum of Art   Van Gogh: Up Close Philadelphia Museum of Art   Van Gogh: The Life By Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Random House, 953 pp., $40) Nobody in the history of culture has known more about the art of persuasion than the avant-garde painters, sculptors, writers, composers, choreographers, and impresarios who transformed European art from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.

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.

Why Mayor Bloomberg’s Equivocations on Civil Liberties No Longer Cut It
March 28, 2012

In an appearance last week on NY1, a 24-hour news network in New York City, police commissioner Ray Kelly claimed to be proud of the city’s record as a bastion of civil liberties. “We probably have more free speech in this city than any other place in America,” he said.

Your Must-Read of the Day, Wall St. Edition
March 26, 2012

Bloomberg has an absolutely terrific piece of reporting out today about how the big banks have mobilized to water down the Volcker Rule—the reform measure designed to prevent federally-backed banks from placing bets for their own bottom line. Here’s the gist: To make their case in Washington, banks and trade associations have been pressing a coordinated campaign to get regulators from five federal agencies to scale back the draft of the proprietary-trading rule issued in October, according to public and internal documents and interviews.

Some Works of Art Can’t Be Labeled as Fact or Fiction, and That’s OK
March 21, 2012

Like wolves and teenagers, literary scandals travel in packs, and the first of the spring are already upon us. First came The Lifespan of a Fact, a new book by essayist John D’Agata and his fact-checker Jim Fingal, which presents the blood-and-tears saga of Fingal’s seven-year-long attempt to verify a piece by D’Agata about the suicide of a Las Vegas teenager.

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).

Carmelo Anthony and the NBA’s One Percent Problem
March 16, 2012

For weeks I had eagerly anticipated the arrival of March 14, 2012, when I would attend my first New York Knicks game of the season at Madison Square Garden. I bought the tickets a month before, after the Knicks had won five games in a row with Jeremy Lin leading the charge. I wasn’t sure if Linsanity would last, but I figured the Knicks were on solid footing for the rest of the year. As a hardened life-long Knicks fan, of course, I should have known to prepare for the worst. As I entered the arena, the Knicks franchise was once again in a familiar state of disarray.

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.

Tracing Europe’s Long Road to Economic Catastrophe
March 09, 2012

The economic crisis in Europe reached its latest crescendo last night, as Greece managed, through furious last-minute negotiations, to convince its creditors to give it some more breathing room. But if the Greeks have managed to stave off ruin for a few more minutes, nothing has essentially changed in their situation: Their economy is still in shambles.  The burning question on most observers’ minds, and rightfully so, is whether the Greeks will ever manage to pay back their debts. But at this stage, it’s also worth considering how we ended up on the precipice of such catastrophe at all.

Was ‘Frankenstein’ Really About Childbirth?
March 07, 2012

“I have no doubt of seeing the animal today,” Mary Wollstonecraft wrote hastily to her husband, William Godwin, on August 30, 1797, as she waited for the midwife who would help her deliver the couple’s first child. The “animal” was Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who would grow up to be Mary Shelley, wife of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and author of Frankenstein, one of the most enduring and influential novels of the nineteenth century.

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