On June 27, 1997, an unknown British author rolled out her first novel, which she wrote in longhand because she couldn’t afford a typewriter. The book was a success beyond imagining: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone stormed the world and made author J.K. Rowling richer than the Queen. (Seriously, you can look it up.)… Read More

Here in the United States, the National Football League’s “Hypomatic 3000” machine works day and night to convince us that our brand of football is the most important contest in the world. But everywhere else, the people we call “soccer” fans know their game is what counts. Last year, a hundred million people watched the… Read More

In the world of football, one family stands out among the rest: the Mannings. In tennis, it’s the Williamses. And on television, it’s the Kardashians, Jenners, and various C-list and D-list orbiters that make up the First Family of Reality TV. What many viewers don’t realize is that the Kardashians aren’t just a family, they’re… Read More

In China, it’s a curse to say “may you live in interesting times.” If that’s so, 2020 is surely cursed. It all started with coronavirus in January or thereabouts. April brought the murder hornets to Washington State. (They might still be only in Washington, but they’re murder hornets.) And last week brought news that yet… Read More

Memorial Day weekend is fading in the rearview mirror, and we’ve ventured outside to commemorate those who gave their lives in service to their country. Summer is as officially “open for business” as it can be in this year of coronavirus. But there’s a lesser-known occasion coming up that the average American celebrates three times… Read More

Maurice Fayne, did you think you would get away with it? Did you think styling yourself “Arkansas Mo” on a show like VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” made you the kind of guy who can pull a con on the down low? When you borrowed $2,045,800 from the Paycheck Protection Program, did you really… Read More

In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Ever since then, Americans have spent that day destroying Mom’s kitchen in the name of breakfast in bed, tramping through her garden in the name of bringing her flowers, and making up for the phone calls and compliments they… Read More

American law schools sponsor over 200 law reviews: dense collections of grim, wooden prose, groaning with footnotes. (Chief Justice John Roberts once said “Pick up a copy of any law review that you see, and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th Century… Read More

Life comes at you fast. Two months ago, the Dow was flirting with 30,000, unemployment was at 3.5%, and the economy was looking forward to spring with the rest of us. Today, of course, we’ve put the economy in a medically-induced coma. People who are trapped at home with cranky partners and children are wondering… Read More

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. It gave us a great opportunity to indulge in the sort of lowbrow humor that made MAD magazine such a hit with 10-year-old boys. The problem turns out to be simple. Toilet paper makers produce two separate products for two… Read More

Our calendar is full of “Hallmark holidays”: meaningless commemorations and celebrations, usually created by marketers and publicists. Just this month, there’s National Talk Like Shakespeare Day, National Hug a Plumber Day, and National Wear Pajamas to Work Day. (That last one may not feel like a celebration right now). Food fans have National Burrito Day,… Read More

Coronavirus has turned millions of Americans who used to laugh at the doomsday preppers on National Geographic into converts. Your neighborhood supermarket is working overtime to keep shelves stocked as panicked shoppers rush to settle in for stay-at-home orders. And the first item to disappear was . . . (checks notes) . . . toilet… Read More

Millions of us who are staying at home in this time of coronavirus are discovering to our dismay just how much the clown car of halfwits, freaks, and grotesques of “reality TV” has taken over our living rooms. The endless parade of bachelors, teen moms, real housewives, and Kardashians have slowly sapped at our dignity.… Read More

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “digging your own grave” to mean doing “something that causes you harm, sometimes serious harm.” Kids who don’t do their homework, politicians who cut popular spending programs, and people who overshare on social media all dig their own grave in one way or another. It’s not every day that someone charges… Read More

If you’re like most Americans, coronavirus quarantines and “social distancing” mean you’re going to spend a lot of time in front of your TV binging on Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. If you’re working from home, you’ll spend more time listening to your favorite music on Pandora or Spotify. And believe it or not,… Read More

When talented musicians join forces, they epitomize Aristotle’s maxim: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Collaboration is the essence of music, and even the most technically proficient soloists benefit from an ensemble framing and highlighting their skills. You can’t whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it. It’s… Read More

Four years ago, a consortium of European journalists broke a story based on 11.5 million documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The expos√© detailed how the firm’s clients across the world used offshore shell companies to hide assets and evade taxes. (Remember, tax avoidance = legal; tax evasion = go to jail.)… Read More

This time of year, most Americans living in the northern half of the country are dreaming of sunshine. But there’s a heartier, usually affluent breed that can’t get enough snow. In Vermont, at resorts like Killington and Stowe, Ivy League students spend weekends hitting the slopes by day and donning LL Bean sweaters to sip… Read More

Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, who died last this month, played nearly every role in his career: actor, director, producer, and writer. He was born before the first “talkie” hit theaters. He grew up one of seven children in an impoverished home. Then he worked his way through St. Lawrence University and the American Academy of… Read More