The Croly Ghost
Exorcising the specter haunting American politics.
Reason, December 1997Herbert Croly is not exactly a household name, but he should be. Seven decades after his death, we are still living in the political world his ideas built--and struggling to escape it
Honest discussions of changing sex roles prove too hot for pundits to handle.
Reason, November 1997Ridley Scott makes movies about the frailties of human flesh and the capacities of human will. His heroes are not especially introspective. They cope in hostile environments. Sometimes, as in Thelma and Louise, they are heroic only in the tragic, Aristotelian sense--done in by fatal flaws. They are not the stuff of romanticism but of earlier, less subjective and emotion-centered art. Indeed, Thelma and Louise die because they cannot master their impulses
The Lessons Of Email Deceit
Forbes ASAP, October 05, 1997A weird thing happened to me in July. The Weekly Standard, a prominent conservative magazine with which I clash frequently, published a letter to the editor signed by Virginia Postrel. The letter defended high-tech entrepreneurs, stigmatized in a Standard article as "cosmic capitalists" recapitulating all the errors of modernism and the French Revolution. It was a fine letter--tight, eloquent, and witty.
The Nail File
Economic insights from an industry too embarassing for talking heads.
Reason, October 1997Remember the Great Depression of 1995? The New York Times consumed a zillion column inches--the most since the Pentagon Papers--chronicling economic disaster and "unrelenting angst." The Downsizing of America, the book version of that seven-part series, declared America a Dickensian hell, analogous to "when the peasants in England were shunted off the land and left to toil in misery in the slums." Pat Buchanan and Jeremy Rifkin shattered Crossfire's left-right conventions, agreeing that technology was destroying the job hopes of everyone but a few elitist nerds. Once the presidential campaign kicked in, political reporters couldn't get enough of Buchanan's populist economic platform. They knew it would sell--until voters humiliatingly shunned it in Arizona and South Carolina
The Peters Principles: An Interview with Tom Peters
The management guru as playground director and defender of open societies.
Reason, October 1997Tom Peters dots his articles with exclamation points, ellipses, and WORDS IN ALL CAPS. He tends toward sweeping, barely supported statements ("Women are smarter than men," he generalized in Forbes ASAP) and uses the word revolution a lot. His official bio describes him as a "gadfly, curmudgeon, champion of bold failures, prince of disorder, maestro of zest, professional loudmouth (as a speaker he's `a spitter,' according to the cartoon strip Dilbert), corporate cheerleader, lover of markets, capitalist pig...and card-carrying member of the ACLU."
"National Greatness" or Conservative Malaise?
The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 1997The first International Conservative Congress gathers this weekend in Washington, and gloom and doom dominate the agenda. From an opening session on "Why Conservatism Is Failing" to discussions of "Diagnoses of Defeat" and "Examining Our Crises," the assembled intellectuals, office holders, and policy wonks appear dedicated to the proposition that life in America and around the world is bad and getting worse.
Resilience vs. Anticipation
The West is resilient and can roll with the shocks. The East copes through anticipation, the static planning that assumes perfect foresight.
Forbes ASAP, August 24, 1997Everybody has theories about what makes Silicon Valley special, and most of the theories are right: It's the density, the competition, the constant chatter about business plans over tables at Il Fornaio in Palo Alto. It's the universities, Stanford and Berkeley, world-class research institutions that nonetheless nurture the practical. It's the money, the greatest concentration of venture capital the world has ever seen. It's the diversity, the immigrants from everywhere, the best and most brilliant spilling out of Oracle's food pavilions to eat burgers, curry, and sushi in the California sun.
Who do they think they're fooling?
Reason, August/September 1997Washingtonians are down in the dumps. It was bad enough when the rest of the country just didn't like them: At least the anger of 1994 produced the New Republican Congress and the resultant buzz. Washington was the place to be, a city of high drama whose denizens got zillion-dollar book advances and mingled with fashion models in the pages of George. Its think tanks became rich, its pundits famous
The dubious case against fooling Mother Nature.
Reason, July 1997Twenty years ago, the bookstore in which I was working closed for a few hours while we all went to the funeral of one of our colleagues. Herbie was a delightful guy, well liked by everyone. He died in his 20s--a ripe old age back then for someone with cystic fibrosis. In keeping with the family's wishes, we all contributed money in his memory to support research on the disease. In those days, the best hope was that scientists would develop a prenatal test that would identify fetuses likely to have C.F., allowing them to be aborted. The thought made us uncomfortable. "Would you really want Herbie never to be?" said my boss
A Need for the Dreaded Gatekeeper
Forbes ASAP, June 01, 1997Regular readers of this magazine have surely concluded that the secret to understanding information technology lies in learning laws named after guys whose last names begin with M. So to the laws of Moore and Metcalfe, I would add a third and more fundamental one: Marvell's law.