Up in the Air
June 23, 2012
LATE ON THE MORNING of July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart climbed into the cockpit of her Lockheed Electra airplane on a small grass runway in Lae, New Guinea. She was 22,000 flight miles into her daring attempt to fly around the world, a journey that had captivated Americans since she lifted off from Miami a month earlier. Now Earhart was facing the most dangerous leg of the trip: a 19-hour, 2,556-mile flight to a tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean known as Howland Island. Earhart’s celebrity had grown formidable in the decade since her transatlantic flight, the first ever by a female pilot.
In Praise of The Sea Ranch, a Sublimely Beautiful Example of Environmental Architecture
November 26, 2011
Where can you find a land so sublime it instills in you an almost biblical, yearning delight? Where time slows so dramatically that the direction in which purple, wheat-colored, and yellow grasses blow becomes the indolent object of concentrated fascination?
Pacific Islands Defying Sea-Level Rise--For Now
June 07, 2010
One of the (many) worries about global warming is that low-lying island nations in the Pacific Ocean will get swallowed up by rising sea levels. Last fall, government officials from Maldives put on scuba gear and staged an underwater cabinet meeting as a sort of awareness-raising publicity stunt. And from everything we know, these island nations are going to have a rough time in a warmer world.
May 07, 2010
Early on Monday, BP’s boyish CEO, Tony Hayward, sat in an open-collared white dress shirt and, rocking back and forth in a studio chair, submitted to a series of four network interviews about his company’s catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The questions from NBC, CBS, ABC, and the BBC differed slightly, but to all the anchors, Hayward delivered a similar line: “This is not our accident.” In other words, it's not BP's fault.
The Reinvention of Robert Gates
November 09, 2009
One afternoon in October, a blue and white jumbo jet flew high above the Pacific Ocean, approaching the international dateline. On board was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who was on an around-the-world trip that would end with a summit of NATO defense ministers, where the topic of the day would be Afghanistan. Gates was flying on what is often called “the Doomsday Plane,” a specially outfitted 747 that looks like a bulkier Air Force One and was built to wage retaliatory nuclear war from the skies.
July 02, 2007
I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. "Is he your only child?" I ask. "Yes," she answers. "Do you have a child back in England?" she asks me. No, I say. Her face darkens. "You'd better start," she says. "The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they'll have the whole of Europe." I am getting used to such moments, when holiday geniality bleeds into--well, I'm not sure exactly what.
September 22, 2003
On May 28, George Tenet delivered for the Bush administration. Nearly two months had passed since the fall of Baghdad. U.S. forces had turned up no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, raising the specter of gross misjudgment on the part of the U.S. intelligence community and allegations of presidential dishonesty. But, that day, the CIA announced that two trailers found in northern Iraq the previous month were actually mobile biological-agent production facilities.
July 21, 1979
In 1867 Charles Dickens reported on "the first meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything." A dozen years ago, on the centennial of that occasion, I became Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Santa Barbara, California. I was reminded of these moments in history by the news that the Center, after years of seedy gentility, has found a new benefactor. It has been taken in as a ward of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
October 31, 1970
Twenty-two years ago the Norwegian author-explorer, Thor Hyerdahl, sailed his balsawood Kon Tiki raft halfway across the Pacific Ocean, and he remembers that he and his small crew were “thrilled by the beauty and purity of the ocean.” When Hyerdahl eased into the West Indies this summer after crossing the Atlantic in a boat built of papyrus reeds, he was visibly shaken by the flotilla of bottles, tubes and industrial scum that had bobbed endlessly past him.
Art, Business, and the Liberals
January 30, 1949
The liberal, as we understand it, is the person who sincerely wants as many of the good things of this world for his fellow man as he does for himself. His credo is the Bill of Rights (still a very revolutionary document), the Roosevelt Bill of Human Rights, the Truman Civil Rights Program, and all legislation stemming from them.