President Obama

How to Pass: Past and Present

Last week, the press whipped itself into a frenzy of anticipation for Barack Obama's big speech at the Democratic Convention, only to have Obama once again turn out to be the National Letdown. That raises the question: What was that whole Obamamania thing about, anyway? Obama's sudden rise from ...

How Robots Push Our Buttons

Robot & Frank is a clever little sci-fi dramedy about a semi-senile old coot whose concerned son buys him a robot as a valet and minder. The film is well crafted and timely because robophobia is once again in fashion. Americans, faced with a rapidly growing population, fear robots will arrive ...

President Obama

Dream Job?

The last thing I had expected of Dinesh D’Souza’s first Michael Moore-type political documentary, 2016: Obama’s America, was that it would prove one of August’s aesthetic marvels. Yet this anti-Obama film’s sumptuous digital cinematography"€”featuring majestically ...

Breaking Old Ground at Augusta

The Augusta National Golf Club, the only course to host a major championship each year, has invited its first two women members"€”former Secretary of State Condi Rice and Darla Moore, wife of dying financier Richard Rainwater. Granted, it’s August, and the hurdle for making the headlines ...

Ratjen

The Last Hurdle in Sports

I turned on the TV and saw a new reality show with an intriguing premise: How big of a head start does a white woman need to outrun a black man? While skinny women frantically raced toward the finish line, a muscular black youth sportingly spotted them a 30-meter lead, then accelerated effortlessly ...

My Olympic Freestyle 100-Meter Q&A

For fifteen years, I"€™ve been writing long analyses of how the data found in Olympic results can help us answer fundamental questions about nature v. nurture, human biodiversity, race, and sex (e.g., 1997, 2000, 2000, 2004, and 2008). This time I"€™m going to answer random questions about the ...

Pablo Picasso

Can Evolution Account for Art?

In this Darwinian age, it has become popular for thinkers to try to dream up the evolutionary mechanisms behind vast, fuzzy phenomena such as art. I don"€™t have a particularly strong opinion on whether natural selection can account for the arts (other than for the one field I know best, golf ...

Projecting Talent Onto Criminals

Are criminals in real life ever even one-tenth as fascinating as they are in Christopher Nolan movies? Can you think of a real criminal as intriguing as the late Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight or Leonardo DiCaprio's Cobb in Inception? Or is "€œmaster criminal"€ just a fantasy where ...

Robert F. Kennedy

That’s What They Want You to Think

Oliver Stone finally has an entertaining movie"€”Savages"€”out in theaters again. It's time to try to do something Stone can"€™t, which is think dispassionately about conspiracy theories. As Kevin Spacey explained in The Usual Suspects, "€œThe greatest trick the devil ever pulled was ...

Silicon Valley’s Two Daddies

With Silicon Valley back on top of the world, it's time to point out a bit of unwelcome history.  There are two competing narratives about the technology hub's origins: "€¢ The famous tale of how William Shockley's obnoxious management style led to start-up silicon chipmakers such as ...