Tagged: malcolm gladwell

Street Cleaning

Based on a several weeks of highly unscientific observation, we’ve come to the dismaying conclusion that motorized street cleaning in Los Angeles doesn’t work. This, we know, isn’t exactly shocking news. But if what we’re concluding is indeed true — and the more unscientific observing we do, the more certain we become — our city is wasting millions...

Colorblind Music

No matter how insistently racism tries to insert itself into our social interactions, a few transcendent arenas remain where the truth is immune to strenuously repeated stereotypes and preconceived notions. One of these rare places is music. Either you swing or you don’t; you’ve got soul or not. There’s no faking it. Jazz and blues...

Arab Madness

The recent fuss over Dubai Ports World, a well-known shipping company based in the United Arab Emirates, illustrates once again that the facts never get in the way of a good story. Or, depending on your outlook, a bad one. Sadly, our news media, increasingly rabid for the ratings that drive corporate profits, seems more...

Painter of Light

According to a series of recently published newspaper stories, Thomas Kinkade, the enormously successful painter, isn’t as nice of a man as his collectors and business associates believed him to be. This normally wouldn’t be much of a revelation except that in Kinkade’s case the artist trades heavily on his “Christian values” and “core beliefs,”...

Moderation in All Things

The goldfinches that inhabit the trees in my back yard are some of the plumpest birds I’ve seen in the wild. Unlike Antarctic emperor penguins, these little creatures aren’t storing up enough belly fat to make it through a winter-long trek across glacial desolation. They live in Hollywood, and they’re just fat. It’s probably my...

Too Beautiful

There once was a young woman so astonishingly beautiful that no one took her seriously. Blessed with fortunate genes, she had a face worthy of magazine covers. Unfortunately — and it was unfortunate in a strange, completely backwards way — she also possessed the figure of a highly coveted centerfold: slender, strong legs; a perfectly...

Judging Athletics

Let us consider the absurdity of judged sports now, before the inevitable scandal sure to arise sometime before the current installment of the Olympic Games have concluded, before nationalist passions and hometown prejudices cloud the discussion, and before headline writers ask “Was She Robbed?” Let cool heads prevail. Diving, gymnastics, and figure skating are athletic...

Waiting as a Social Bond

The great rock band The Sex Pistols had a song back in the 1970s that railed — railing being the primary function of all Sex Pistol songs — against their former record company, EMI. Watching a massive queue the other day outside a neighborhood hotdog stand brought back memories of John Lydon (aka “Johnny Rotten”)...

A Complicated Case of Religious Stupidity

In the past week, angry Muslims have stormed embassies, smashed windows and called for the death of infidels. Business as usual — except that the object of the rioting acolytes of Islam for once isn’t imperialist America, it’s Denmark. The Danes, who usually behave themselves civilly, are now the target of Muslim scorn because one...

The Rolling Stones: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

The 40th Super Bowl was held this weekend, in case you’ve been in Antarctica and were successfully shielded by the foghorns of mass culture blaring the news at you from every possible media outlet. There was, as usual, a not very compelling football game, expensive advertising, and a gala entertainment spectacle before during and after...