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In Which I Fly Through The Air With the Greatest of ... Something

Since I am broad-shouldered and have somewhat of a sturdy gait, people tend to mistake me for an athlete. While I played my fair share of sports growing up, I never had the requisite grace, coordination or speed to be anything other than a steady member of the JV squad. (My sister, the college swimmer, got those genes: she did her first triathlon on a whim and returned home with the third-place medal. She also won the mountain bike being raffled off, because her athletic prowess is so great...

The Change Agent

Milton Friedman was a tiny, balding man who would have looked at home wearing green eye shades in an accountant\'s cubicle. But he was a giant of the 20th century whose impact, good and bad, is still reaching every corner of the globe in the 21st. He was also a big enough man to admit that his ideas may have occasionally overreached in helping to generate a free-market revolution.Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek is invoked more often than Friedman as the patron saint of modern...

MISTER RIGHT

For most denizens of Washington, politics is a living, perhaps a way of life. For Rick Santorum, it is a bruising crusade. As a student in the dissolute 1970s, he smoked his share of pot at Penn State and was, by his own account, somewhat casual about his Roman Catholic faith. Now, still boyish at 46, he is a devout and devoted family man--father to six home-schooled children--and a senator determined to champion the church's traditional moral principles in the public square. In the reception...

Boston Blog

Saturday, July 31 | 4:45 p.m. ETPat Wingert: Before Kerry's speech Thursday night, a select group of Democratic Party bigwigs were corralled into a holding room in the Fleet Center to watch the nominee's speech--and await their cue to head to the stage for the party's big show of unity amidst a shower of balloons and confetti. The group included all the usual suspects: Democratic senators, governors, key congressmen, mayors, rising stars like Barack Obama as well as the wannabe nominees like Al...

You Say You Want A Revolution...

Edward Teller and Paul McCartney didn't know each other, but maybe they should have. The nuclear physicist and father of the H-bomb, who died last week at 95, was the model for Dr. Strangelove. A fierce anti-communist, his advice to Ronald Reagan to launch Star Wars is credited by some conservative analysts with sweeping the Soviet Union into the dustbin of history.And the connection between Teller and the Beatles would be... what? That Ringo starred in a movie with Peter Sellers? Actually,...

Entertainment: Rated D For Diversion

In the coming weeks, munitions, water and MREs streaming up the supply line into Iraq may be accompanied by another precious resource: books. Last month the Army shipped 10 tons of paperbacks to troops in Kuwait and elsewhere. Mindful of her mostly young male audience, acquisitions librarian Amy Loughran generally sticks to "your thrillers, your Westerns, your mysteries," but she slips in the occasional romance. "A book brings a little home with you," she says.Since World War I, Morale, Welfare...

The Endless Show

Call it "calendar creep" or simply "slow shows," but in Europe and America, art-museum exhibitions seem to be running longer and longer these days. The giant Aztec show at the Royal Academy in London, for example, will endure almost as long as that ancient civilization itself; it closes on April 11 after opening way back in November. In Dallas, a survey of modern design called "Boomerangs and Baby Boomers" debuted in August and won't pack up until March 18. New York's financially constricted...

'Battle Of The Bad Girls' Isn't A Bad Idea

What was HBO thinking when it decided to plumb new depths by staging a Monica Lewinsky retrospective interview? Obviously, the HBO brain trust couldn't have been thinking, as I am, "How low can you go?" Because if entertainment execs were really concerned about that, they would have quickly come to the obvious conclusion about their much-hyped Sunday night Monica special: Not low enough. Not even close.That became obvious when Fox TV unveiled plans for a March 13 "Battle of the Bad Girls"...

The Truth Sank With The Kursk

The tragedy of the submarine Kursk again compels us to consider the sorry state of Russia's Northern Fleet. Its nuclear-powered submarines, including the Kursk, are the main strike force of the Russian Navy. The naval command assumes that, for the next 15 to 20 years, the fleet should include 12 nuclear submarines capable of firing strategic weapons and 20 multipurpose nuclear subs, along with 35 diesel subs and about 70 oceangoing surface ships. In its view, 60 percent of all Russian nuclear...

Three Magic Wands

As a teenager, his biographers tell us, Henry Ford loved to fix pocket watches. He would open up the backs and poke around inside that marvelous universe of balance wheels, springs, gears and ratchets, then put them all together again to witness the miracle of their motion synchronized to the spinning of the Earth itself. Mass-produced watches were one of the highest achievements of 19th-century ingenuity. In the 1700s, the English inventor John Harrison had labored for a lifetime to make a...

The Biological Switchboard

The Gods of science smile fondly on those who take what is messy and make it crisply elegant. They still sigh over rumpled old Murray Gell-Mann, the physicist who in the 1960s tamed the zoo of subatomic particles into a manageable three quarks. But the gods do not take kindly to Young Turks who would muck up what is already streamlined and uncomplicated. Martin Rodbell discovered that in the 1970s, when he challenged a simple, two-step explanation -- one awarded a Nobel Prize in 1971 -- for how...

Chain Reaction

To bomb New York's World Trade Center last February, the terrorists needed about 1,200 pounds of fuel oil and fertilizer. The mix was sufficient to kill six people and turn three levels of parking garage into a tangle of steel beams. To detonate an explosion in London's financial district last April, the IRA used a ton of fertilizer spiked with Semtex explosive. That blast killed one person and blew holes in a dozen buildings. With 1,750 pounds of diesel oil and fertilizer, eight men arrested...