Backbone: Infrastructure for America's Future
Jammed highways, chronic brownouts, and other cracks in the national infrastructure have some people dreaming of an old-fashioned public-works bonanza. But building tomorrow’s infrastructure will pose larger political and technological challenges than ever before—with potential payoffs to match.
Infrastructure: the Secret is the System
The United States has settled for a patchwork approach to infrastructure. To stay ahead in the global economy, it needs to build adaptable networks like the 1956 Interstate Highway System.
More Stories From This Issue
Bad Rap on Schools
Bad schools are not going to sink the American economy. Despite what the headlines say, U. S. students fare well in international comparisons. It's the schools serving the poor that demand our attention.
The Day the TV Died
In February 2009, American television will go digital, and million of sets will fade to fuzz. It's but the latest episode in TV's colorful history, as the living-room set has evolved from a clunky box to a sleek rectangle on the wall.
The Indian Ocean: Nexus of the 21st Century
The Atlantic and Pacific now dominate the world's politics and trade, but the Indian Ocean is emerging as a new locus of power that increasingly unites China, India, the Middle East, and Africa.
Get Smart: Invest in America’s I.T. Infrastructure
Pouring more concrete will not by itself answer our infrastructure prayers. Look instead to the transformative power of information technology.
Built to Last
When our roads and bridges crumble and collapse, we have one kind of problem. When they don't, we have another.
The Long Dance: Searching for Arab-Israeli Peace
A veteran American negotiator derives seven rules of the road from his decades of experience in Arab-Israeli peace talks.
A Lincoln for Every Altar
Americans of almost every religious persuasion claimed Abraham Lincoln as their own.
A Tipping Point for GM Foods?
China is considering allowing genetically modified foods to be grown and sold. If they approve them, GM foods will most likely be here to stay, no matter how much the rest of the world may object.
America Escapes Again
If you looked at the rates of crime, welfare dependency, and drug use in the 1990s, things in America looked pretty bleak. Then, unexpectedly, the trends started moving in a positive direction. What happened?
An Energy Cold War?
A number of observers are looking askance at the aggressive maneuvers of corporate Russia, fueled by oil and gas revenues, steered by a semi-authoritarian government with global ambitions, and equipped with a foreign-policy instrument called Gazprom.
Annals of the Cubicle
Nothing epitomizes the modern American office economy like the flimsy, fabric-covered partitions that enclose millions of employees throughout their working lives. Odd to think that cubicles were envisioned as a way to create flexible, open offices intended to promote communication among coworkers.
Looking at the recent rash of official "apologies" from the Catholic Church, governments, and others for past transgressions, a humanities professor notes how history depresses, chastens, tempers, and rigorously instructs us. It's an essential process.
Bach the Unknowable
Johann Sebastian Bach may be one of our most revered musical geniuses, but he is also one of the least known.
Plowing up undisturbed lands to plant biofuel crops could release far more carbon dioxide than simply burning fossil fuels.
Brainpower and Bankruptcy
Being smart seems to help when it comes to amassing wealth, but brains don't necessarily shield people from financial disaster.
Can This Business Be Saved?
The beleaguered newspaper industry has looked to the Web for salvation, but even though online revenue has doubled in the past four years, it can't support the huge costs of old media.
Granny Goes Left
Are older people more conservative? Doesn't seem so. Americans over 60 are as likely as those under 40 to hold different views on hot-button social issues.
Hanging Out With Hezbollah
In Beirut, many entrepreneurs have decided that there are rich rewards in opening entertainment venues catering to Shia clientele. Even Hezbollah is getting into the act.
Iraq's Forgotten Refugees
The near total neglect of the two million refugees that have fled Iraq since the American intervention in 2003 may have a silver lining: at least they haven't wound up trapped in a UN refugee camp for years - or generations.
There's a reason why some jokes are okay and others are offensive. Figuring it out, though, isn't always so easy.
Journalism’s “Gilded Disaster”
The glittering new seven-story steel and glass Newseum, built for $450 million, will impress some visitors.
Irène Némirovsky's “Suite Française,” a novel based on her experiences in France during World War II received enormous critical acclaim, but it also brought attention to her virulently anti-Semitic writings. Oddly, Némirovsky herself was a Jew, who perished at Auschwitz.
Scientist in Chief
The next president will need to make some critical decisions about science, and many of them will have to be made quickly.
Secrets of the Senior Shopper
Are seniors really better shoppers? A new study confirms that they are, and their secret is relatively simple: they substitute time for money.
Shrink to Greatness
Buffalo is just the latest old, cold city where urban fortunes seem stuck in reverse. Can we let these cities aspire to be smaller?
Strictly Merit, Indian Style
In India, companies routinely assess applicants by considering the educational level of the parents, the employment history of brothers and sisters, and whether the applicant lives in the city or the country. The process often leaves many outside the meritocracy.
The Barbary Precedent
The war on terror isn't America's first battle against an amorphous Muslim "quasi-state." Early in the country's history, it tried to quell the Barbary pirates. It eventually succeeded, but it wasn't easy.
The Court’s ‘Right’ Track
Supreme Court appointees who come from "outside" Washington often drift Left during their term on the bench. Washington insiders are usually immune to such ideological shifts.
The New Infantry Epoch
America's enemies have shifted battlefields to cities, jungles, and mountains, where the U. S. military's technologically superior machines are ineffective. As a result, U. S. infantry soldiers now suffer four of every five combat deaths.
The Undersea Frontier
The world's coastal nations are scrambling to stake out territory on the last international frontier, on the floor of the Arctic Ocean.
The War Against Luck
A science historian dares to mount a defense of luck: "Chance disrupts tidy lives, unsettles habits - and taps unplumbed resources, both personal and social."
Why Go to College?
It's easy to figure out that a college degree is a sound investment for an individual. Whether all those college graduates are good for the economy is a much trickier calculation.
The Corrosion of the American Mind
Susan Jacoby's new book on American unreason might be viewed as a kind of sequel to Richard Hofstadter's 1963 classic, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.”
Reading in the Dark
Matthew Battles examines Alberto Manguel's rumination about libraries, the “product of a mind made by reading.”
Weimar Germany’s Culture Clash
Colin Fleming looks at historian Eric D. Weitz's book, which makes the case that Weimar Germany's fragmentation was the source of its cultural bounty.
The Age of Jackson, Minus Its Leading Man
The era usually referred to as “Jacksonian” may actually owe little to Old Hickory.
Eating Our Words
Tim Morris reviews “Kitchen Literacy,” which explores what we know (and don't) about the food we eat.
History Writ Small
Aviya Kushner looks at an intimate portrait by Mimi Schwartz of her father's life in Benheim, Germany, during World War II, and finds it "a beautiful read by a charming writer."
Barbara Wallraff says that Joshua Kendall’s biography of Peter Mark Roget is "an absorbing account of a remarkable man."
David Robinson assesses Lee Siegel's “Against the Machine.” Its thesis is that blogs, YouTube, Wikipedia, and other recent upsurges of so-called ‘user-generated content’ are culturally harmful.
Art and Statecraft
Christopher Merrill appreciates the "intimate writings" of Greek diplomat George Seferis, whose Levant Journal offers "a portrait not only of critical moments in places that continue to make headlines, but also of a singularly talented writer."
Back on Track?
Mark Reutter says books such as John Stilgoe's “Train Time” are “of interest because they reveal a mindset that is part of the problem that the author is trying to correct.”
Turn That Smile Upside Down
Sarah Courteau considers the thesis of Eric Wilson's “Against Happiness”: that happiness is “an obsession that could well lead to a sudden extinction of the creative impulse.”
Flora Linsay-Herrera reviews “Uncertain Peril,” which examines the brave new world of genetically modified foods and Doomsday seed vaults.