Still Gripped by the Ideal of the Princess
The endless fascination with the tiara, real and toy
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", December 18, 2010I admit it. When I was growing up, my father called me "Princess." Routinely. Even when I was in high school. This was strange, I now realize, and not just because I was more nerd than girly-girl. The United States has been a republic for more than two centuries. We aren't supposed to have princesses. Yet the archetype remains both persistent and profitable.
Recovering China's Past on Kenya's Coast
China's archeological search for a "usable past"
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", December 04, 2010A team of Chinese archeologists arrived in Kenya last week, headed for waters surrounding the Lamu archipelago on the country's northern coast. They hadn't made the trip to study local history. They came to recover a lost Chinese past.
The Allure of Techno-Glamour
The Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2010When Robert J. Samuelson published a Newsweek column last month arguing that high-speed rail is "a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause," he cited cost figures and potential ridership to demonstrate that even the rosiest scenarios wouldn't justify the investment. He made a good, rational case—only to have it completely undermined by the evocative photograph the magazine chose to accompany the article.
The Geek as Everyman
The heroes of The Big Bang Theory offer a welcome alternative to the cultural politics of elitism and populism.
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", November 06, 2010Sheldon Cooper is an elitist. Ever since he was 4 years old, his mother has been warning him to stop telling people that he's smarter than they are. But he just can't help himself. Asked by a friend to "make yourself scarce," he replies, "I am a theoretical physicist with two doctorates and an I.Q. that can't be accurately measured by normal tests. How much scarcer could I be?" And he says it in a condescending tone.
In Praise of Irrational Exuberance
Does a flourishing economy depend on delusion?
Big Questions Online, October 27, 2010
Saved by the Closet
We've got so much stuff that it's easing the slump.
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", October 23, 2010Americans have a lot of stuff—so much, in fact, that getting it under control has become a major cultural fantasy. Witness the Container Store, whose aisles of closet systems and colorful boxes peddle dreams as seductive as any fashion shoot. Or consider shows like "Clean House," on the Style Network, where hosts cajole, browbeat and bribe homeowners into getting rid of half their things and organizing the rest.
The Bike Helmet Wars
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", October 09, 2010Poor Barack Obama. He can't take a simple bicycle ride without attracting criticism.
No Free Locavore Lunch
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", September 25, 2010Michael Pollan, the best-selling author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and a leading advocate of buying locally grown food, recently upset many of his fans by daring to put numbers on his oft-repeated prescription to "pay more, eat less." Eight dollars for a dozen eggs? $3.90 for a pound of peaches?
Fashion as Art
Fashion Week's move to Lincoln Center reflects a growing recognition of style as culture
The Wall Street Journal, September 09, 2010
Live Longer and Prosper
Is "adaptive reuse" the secret to responding creatively to extended old age?
Big Questions Online, August 30, 2010