North America

The Paragon

Washington: A Life By Ron Chernow (Penguin, 904 pp., $40) Modern biographers have sought to rescue George Washington from his monumental stature by revealing a lively and conflicted man within. In the latest and best of these recent attempts to humanize the great man, Ron Chernow offers a “real, credible, and charismatic,” a “vivid and immediate,” and, best of all, a “hot-blooded” Washington.

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Robert Wright on the Weekly Standard's use of guilt-by-association to attack the construction of a mosque in lower Manhattan: Rauf’s wife, who often speaks in support of the project and during one talk reflected proudly on her Islamic heritage, “failed to mention another feature of her background: She is the niece of Dr.

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Everyone knows that sea otters are adorable (just look at that picture).

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First, Do No Harm

This is the most recent item in a debate about humanitarian intervention.

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My colleague on ‘Entanglements,’ Adam Kirsch, posted a perceptive column a few days ago that asked both why we are—as we seem to have been since at least the advent of the middle-class newspaper-reading public in eighteenth-century London, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam—so passionately interested in the affairs of “leaders and nations we don’t know, never will see, and certainly have no power over,” and whether this avidity for consuming news actually brings us closer to reality or instead makes it harder to “see things as they actually are?” It’s an excellent question, whether or not one agrees (I

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Armchair Experts

My colleague on ‘Entanglements,’ Adam Kirsch, posted a perceptive column a few days ago that asked both why we are—as we seem to have been since at least the advent of the middle-class newspaper-reading public in eighteenth-century London, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam—so passionately interested in the affairs of “leaders and nations we don’t know, never will see, and certainly have no power over,” and whether this avidity for consuming news actually brings us closer to reality or instead makes it harder to “see things as they actually are?” It’s an excellent question, whether or not one agrees (I

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This year’s World Cup demonstrates, as it has in the past, a particular feature of American exceptionalism: the rest of the world cares passionately about soccer and its quadrennial championship. Americans don’t. True, the United States has a team in the tournament that has played well, earning a place in the second round with a dramatic last-minute goal; but unlike in other countries, the names of its leading players are little known outside their own households.

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Sometime this summer, the Senate will have a debate over an energy bill. What kind of energy bill? That's still the unanswered question. But the timing, at least, is propitious: After all, 2010 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, and the summer months should be particularly unpleasant. And studies have shown that people are, predictably, far more receptive to talking about global warming during the sweltering heat than during the winter months.

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For American soccer fans during the last twenty years, there has been nothing more irritating than Mexican soccer. The problem has been less the rivalry than the condescension. We have been subjected to a stream of anti-Yanqui propaganda—how much more stylistic the Mexican national team is than the American, how much less reliant on athleticism, how much more elegant and refined.

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Planet Doom

For most of the 2.5 million years that humans and their predecessors have been around, the Earth has been a volatile place. Subtle shifts in the planet’s orbit have triggered large temperature swings; glaciers have marched across North America and Europe and then retreated. But, about 10,000 years ago, something unusual happened: The Earth’s climate settled into a relatively stable state, global temperatures started hovering within a narrow band, and sea levels stopped rising and falling so drastically.

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