Hollywood Auction Ends Myth of Zaftig Marilyn
Bloomberg View, June 22, 2011We should never again hear anyone declare that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12, a size 14 or any other stand-in for full-figured, zaftig or plump. Fifteen thousand people have now seen dramatic evidence to the contrary. Monroe was, in fact, teeny-tiny.
Need a Light Bulb? Uncle Sam Gets to Choose
Bloomberg View, June 08, 2011If you want to know why so many Americans feel alienated from their government, you need only go to Target and check out the light bulb aisle. Instead of the cheap commodities of yesteryear, you’ll find what looks like evidence of a flourishing, technology-driven economy.
Oprah, American Girls and Other Binge Dreamers
Bloomberg View, May 25, 2011In her 25 years hosting her eponymous show, Oprah Winfrey changed lives, most notably her own, but she did not change American culture. Rather, she revived and extended an old American phenomenon: the tradition of middlebrow self-improvement that many observers assumed had died in the anti-authority turmoil of the 1960s. While anything but radical, this achievement was nonetheless remarkable.
The Fantasy of Survivalism
Without trade, every day would be like the aftermath of disaster
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", April 09, 2011After a distant disaster like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, people have two reactions, both rooted in identification with the victims. The first is, How can I help? The second is, How can I keep this from happening to me?
"Mommy Track" Without Shame
A notorious article urging flexibility is proven right
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", March 26, 2011Motherhood, it seems, is the Middle East of social controversy. Alliances may shift, new dogmas and leaders may arise, tactics may change, but the fundamental conflict resists resolution. Despite the efforts of would-be peacemakers, impassioned partisans continue battling to claim all the territory as their own. My way, they declare, is the one right way to be a good mother, a real woman, a fulfilled human being.
Why We Prize That Magical Mystery Pad
Apple is bragging that owners haven't the foggiest notion how the iPad works.
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", March 12, 2011When Apple introduced the iPad last year, it added a new buzzword to technology marketing. The device, it declared, was not just "revolutionary," a tech-hype cliché, but "magical." Skeptics rolled their eyes, and one Apple fan even started an online petition against such superstitious language.
The Statues Dreams Are Made Of
Oscar night is a snooze. So why do millions of us love it?
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", February 26, 2011The Academy Awards show is ridiculous. Guests arrive in broad daylight wearing the most formal of evening gowns. Presenters, including some of the world's most accomplished performers, read their lines with the studied cadence of high-school commencement speakers.
Would Bogie Wear Gore-Tex?
The next big thing often consists of lots of little things.
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", February 12, 2011The hardest economic question is, What comes next? What, in other words, are the new sources of economic value? How can businesses grow and our standard of living rise?
Small Crafts vs. Big Government
Can artisanal goods survive federal legislation?
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", January 29, 2011This is a story about artisanal cheese and hand-polished wooden toys, organic spinach and exquisitely smocked baby dresses—the burgeoning small-scale economy so beloved by members of the "creative class." But it's also about another, much-discussed growth industry: the production of political cynicism among formerly idealistic Americans.
Kidney Donation Goes Prime Time
Popular culture may finally be getting over its mockery of living kidney donors.
The Wall Street Journal, "Commerce & Culture", January 15, 2011On Dec. 23, Ronald Herrick gave a kidney to his twin brother. On Dec. 27, he died—56 years later.