San Francisco

Tech startups are as hot as ever in Silicon Valley, but at a conference in San Francisco, there are hints of hard times ahead.

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Steve Jobs made product launches into media events. Now those same Apple rollouts determine the schedules of a bunch of other companies.

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The Universalist

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. ALONZO KING is not a celebrity. He is virtually unknown outside the dance world, and even to insiders he is something of an outsider, a choreographer-monk working away with a small troupe of devoted dancers in San Francisco. It is not that his work has gone unrecognized: he has won dozens of awards and made ballets for companies as diverse as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and the Royal Swedish Ballet.

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When delegates began arriving for last week’s 2012 International AIDS Conference, the significance of the setting was clear. Facilitated by the overturn of the decades-old INS barrier on HIV+ travelers, this year marked the first time the annual conference was held in the United States in 22 years.

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There was a lot of chatter last week about an eye-opening New York Times piece by Sabrina Tavernise about the growing gap between the haves and have-nots when it comes to where the country’s young college graduates are choosing to live.

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Guest post by Thomas Toch Some school reformers said it would never happen. But after spending nearly two decades launching thousands of charter schools to challenge traditional public school systems, the Teach for America generation of social entrepreneurs who poured out of the nation’s best colleges bent on transforming urban education are now moving into leadership positions in the very school systems they sought to replace. Not surprisingly, they’re working hard to introduce a new performance-driven brand of public schooling into often-dysfunctional government bureaucracies.

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Facebook’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) is projected to value the company at $104 billion. Reportedly, only Visa has had a larger IPO. Only time will tell if Facebook is really worth such an astronomical sum, but one thing about it is not all extraordinary: Its location in the Bay Area. From 1996 to 2006, 9 percent of all U.S. IPOs were headquartered in the San Francisco metropolitan areas--where Facebook is located--and another 10 percent came from the San Jose metro area. The data come from University of California-Davis professor Martin Kenney and his colleague Don Patton.

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Who knows what calculations went into Barack Obama’s decision to “evolve” back to where he’d started on gay marriage in 1996. The timing is striking—after Joe Biden’s blurt on Sunday, there were a lot of pundits and activists arguing that Obama was now behind not only his vice president but most of the country on this issue. Yet he decided to make his move the day after an election, in the swing state of North Carolina, that showed to what extent this is far from a settled issue in many parts of the country, whatever the polls might say.

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Since the 1960s, professional football has supplanted baseball as our nation’s favorite sport—generating higher revenue and better television ratings. And, as the past few weeks have demonstrated, college basketball has captured the attention and diminished the productivity of the American workforce in ways baseball does not. But let’s not confuse popularity with superiority. Major League Baseball (MLB), the oldest spectator team sport in the nation, has become the most affordable and least exploitative one—and its labor relations are remarkably harmonious, too.

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Avant-Garde Persuasions

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.

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