EARTH DIARIST: Rational Exuberance
January 28, 2004
It's hard not to scoff at the president's call for a return to the moon, Mars, and "beyond" if for nothing other than its political transparency. The president's sudden dose of the vision thing immediately endeared him to the thousands of aerospace workers in Florida, while costing him almost nothing before he leaves office.
March 17, 2003
To describe Roman Polanski's film The Pianist in less than superlatives might get one branded obtuse or hard-hearted. "A powerfully meticulous epic," extolled Richard Corliss in Time. "A remarkable story, handled with an expert lack of sentimentality," the New Statesman's Philip Kerr agreed.
October 28, 2002
Two types of people win the Nobel Peace Prize. The first are the more obvious: People who resolve international conflicts. In 1926, Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann won for the Locarno Pact, which supposedly guaranteed the borders of Germany, Belgium, and France. In 1929, America's Frank Kellogg won for the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which the great powers renounced war. In 1973, Henry Kissinger and Vietnam's Le Duc Tho won for ending the Vietnam War.
Washington Diarist: Unsilent Night
December 31, 2001
It's Christmas, festive season of goodwill, time of sparkling delight for the little ones, and... argggghhhhhhh, how many hundred chores left? For parents of young kids, the run-up to Christmas is the most exhausting period of the year. A dozen large boxes of decorations and lights to string. Two trees in our household, plus miniatures for each kid's room. The Tyranny of the Presents: dozens of relatives are present-qualified in our extended family group, and each of the five of us gives an average of 2.5 gifts to each, meaning uncountable gifts to buy or make.
July 23, 2001
In 1967, at the height of the Six Day War, Israeli jets strafed and firebombed a seemingly hostile ship near the Sinai coast. Israeli torpedo boats quickly converged to finish the job, then abruptly ceased fire and offered assistance to the battered crew. Israel had attacked the USS Liberty. In all, 34 Americans died, and 171 were injured. Israeli leaders apologized promptly and profusely, explaining that they had mistaken the Liberty for an enemy vessel--an explanation that subsequent investigations in both the United States and Israel upheld.
All in the Family
October 02, 2000
It is obvious to the folks at Bob Jones University that I do not belong. For starters, I am the only woman on campus wearing pants: The university dress code requires female students and faculty to clothe themselves in more appropriate attire--dresses or skirts, mostly of the floor-length variety. What's more, I have a small press pass dangling around my neck. Just by looking at me, therefore, locals can instantly tell that I hail not only from the liberalmediaelite but from the secular-avant-garde-that-scorns-the-traditional-moralvalues-- that-decent-Americans-hold-sacred.
October 11, 1999
Government-appointed bipartisan commissions have played an important role in recent American politics. The social security commission in the early '80s and the commission on closing military bases in the early '90s both helped resolve thorny issues that legislators, beholden to special interests, couldn't settle on their own.
June 05, 1999
CINCINNATI In a dark basement somewhere beneath downtown Cincinnati, Rick Segal presents the attack plan. "The fact of the matter is it's war," he is telling a group of followers, who scribble notes. "It's a black-and-white world of wins and losses." He flashes war-movie clips on the screen and discusses the techniques of today's smartest warriors: Hamas, the Mexican Zapatistas, Asian triads, and other amorphous, stealthy networks. "Bastions, redoubts, and empires are subject to implosive attacks and ambush," Comrade Segal tells his men.
March 31, 1997
Spring fever is in the air at the Supreme Court as the justices prepare to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act on March 19. To familiarize themselves with the technological obstacles to finding pornography in cyberspace, some law clerks have obtained lists of especially salacious addresses on the World Wide Web and diligently browsed at their leisure.