August 30, 2004
Every time I read another angst-ridden column about the joy that the rest of the world has been taking in our Olympic failures, I can't help but wonder if anyone is old enough to remember anything that happened before the first day of the Iraq war. Spanish fans cheering the loss of the U.S. basketball team to Argentina? Greek radicals protesting the visit of Colin Powell to Athens? General anti-Americanism in Europe? Resentment of the United States in the major non-English-speaking countries in Europe dates to the 1950s, soon after America saved the continent from Adolf Hitler.
February 19, 2004
AT FIRST GLANCE, computer scientists and plant researchers don't have much in common, but these days, they're both talking about the dangers of a monoculture. The term comes from the world of biology, where it refers a single species of vegetation that covers a large area. A pine forest is a monoculture; so is the "perfect" lawn, or a county planted with one type of cotton. When everything goes right, monocultures can be efficient. A farmer who grows only one crop has to buy one type of seed and fertilizer, one type of pesticide.
June 3, 2003
WASHINGTON - As President Bush meets other world leaders this week and tries to patch things up between America and the rest of the planet, I find myself looking back and asking: What's been going on here? After 9/11, people wondered "Why do they hate us?" speaking of the Muslim world. After the Iraq war debate, the question has grown into "Why does everybody else hate us?" I've sketched out my own answer, which I modestly call "A Brief Theory of Everything." I offer it here, even more briefly, in hopes that people will write in with comments or catcalls so I can continue to refine it, turn it into a quick book and pay my daughter's college tuition.
March 18, 2003
WHAT DOES George W. Bush want to do? What is his plan for us all? His address to the American people last night notwithstanding, the question in its broader sense remains unanswered, ripe for speculation. The president's immediate aim is to destroy the government of Iraq, removing or killing Saddam Hussein. This will be Mr. Bush's second war against another sovereign state since the attack by mostly Saudi terrorists on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It is justified as a part of a continuing campaign against terrorism, for which reason it is now appropriate to ask, Who will be next?
March 1, 2001
IN THE ANCIENT land of Muscovy, two mileposts were recorded this week: former President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who presided over the Soviet Union's dissolution, celebrated his 70th birthday and the former Soviet republic of Moldova returned Communists to power. Tiny Moldova exists today largely as a legacy of Hitler's and Stalin's World War II treachery. Much of its territory was snatched from adjoining Romania. In fact, more than 64 percent of Moldovans are ethnically and linguistically Romanian.
March 21, 1999
SOME MONTHS AGO, I expressed to a local educator the thoughtless wish that schools would return to diagraming sentences. I am, I realize, out of touch with the way things are done nowadays, and am innocent in particular of educationist theory. What is taught in the schools of education is deeper water than my small brain is designed to navigate. I hug the shore, alert for wind shifts that might carry me dangerously far from port. Still, I would not have thought teaching students the sturdy backbone of an English sentence -- the noun, the verb, the predicate -- an unreasonable expectation.