Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard andeditor of the three humorous books on virtues: The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell; The Dadly Virtues: Adventures from the worst job you'll ever love; and The Christmas Virtues: A Treasury of Conservative Tales for the Holidays.
America has a long history of superstar entrepreneurs becoming gurus, motivational speakers, or even politicians. Very few of them become public intellectuals. But that's more or less what Peter Thiel is. Though perhaps that's not quite fair to him. You might just as well say that he was an intellectual who took a detour through business and became spectacularly wealthy.Read more
George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire might be the most daunting mountain in the history of fantasy fiction. The cycle includes five fat books so far, totaling over 4,500 pages, and Martin suggests that at least two more volumes will be needed to conclude the story. Compared with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series or Asimov’s Foundation books, A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t just Everest—it’s the entire Himalayan range.Read more
One February day in 2012, the U.S. government granted its 8,112,504th patent to a corporation called Personal Audio. The company’s invention was described as a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence,” which sounds complicated and impressive. The invention looked even more complicated, and more impressive, if you read through the 31,000-word text describing it. The supporting images looked more complicated still, but less impressive.Read more
Fifteen years ago I had a discussion about movies with a genuine public intellectual, one of the great foreign-policy minds of his generation. At the time, he had young children. He tried to convince me that A Bug’s Life was a great act of cinema. “For the first 20 viewings or so, it’s just a good movie,” he explained. “But after the hundredth time, you start to really appreciate the genius.” I laughed nervously and made a silent vow never to get myself into trouble the way he had.Read more
The affair ended as suddenly as it began.
Twelve years ago I purchased a mid-grade espresso machine. It wasn’t the sort of thing they sell at Macy’s, but neither was it one of the beautiful, artisanal devices that start north of $1,000. It was, I told myself at the time, firmly in the range of acceptable indulgence. In the ensuing years, it was put to use—at roughly 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.—pretty much every day. And what espresso it made.Read more
To avoid having to directly quote the great Winston Wolf, let's begin with a gentle reminder that the midterm elections are still 6 months away and that a lot can happen in 25 weeks. The economy could take off. Unemployment could plummet. People could decide that they're thrilled with Obamacare. The dead could rise from their graves and inaugurate the long-awaited zombie apocalypse.Read more
Though raised Catholic, I was educated by Quakers, and from an early age I took my politics from the Society of Friends. They were for the United Nations and against pollution and—this being the late 1970s—terribly concerned about the bomb. We heard a lot about nuclear war at school. Our little library had an illustrated book detailing, for young readers, what it had been like for the poor souls at Hiroshima.Read more
"Bitcoin" is the most widespread, cryptographically-secure Internet currency. It was created in 2009 by someone (or someones) who referred to themselves as "Satoshi Nakamoto." Once it was released into the wild, the bitcoin currency ecosystem operated on a public, inalterable schedule.Read more
As Colorado’s new law permitting—encouraging?—the recreational use of marijuana went into effect, many of our country’s finest journalists felt the need to share the details of their experience with the ganja. Some came to celebrate the state’s new liberality, others to condemn it.Read more
One of the government’s slyest powers is the right to grant licenses. As a piece of law, the license is rooted in the idea of communal interest: In areas of life where the general public can easily be harmed by bad actors, the government seeks to mitigate harm by credentialing certain actions. Hence the driver’s license, which ensures some minimal competency for operating an automobile. And the physician’s license, which upholds a reasonably high standard of competency for doctors.Read more
1.) So just how bad is this George Washington Bridge traffic incident?
It's bad. Pretty bad. Super bad, even. Chief executives just don't use the power of government to exact revenge on ordinary citizens for what they take to be political insubordination.Read more
Two days after Christmas I found myself in a doctor's office in New Jersey at eight o'clock in the morning. As I sat in the waiting room, a middle-aged woman came in and began a discussion with the receptionist. It seemed that her daughter, who would turn 26 on December 31, was trying to figure out what to do about health insurance.Read more
On the one hand, this is a pretty dour Thanksgiving. Iran has just won an enormous diplomatic victory, which not only sets them on the road to nuclear weapons but makes the fecklessness of the Western powers clear to the world. Harry Reid's decision to destroy the filibuster signals an escalation in the ugliness of American politics. And let's not forget that we're still mired in a recovery that's looking more like the new normal with each passing week. Humbug.Read more
Americans are methodically dealing with the Kübler-Ross stages of Obama-care grief, with our national healing process moving briskly through roughly one stage per week: (1) denial upon realizing that the website HealthCare.gov didn’t work; (2) anger at the realization that the technical back-end of the exchanges is as dysfunctional as the front-end of the site; (3) shock at the cancellation of plans and increase of premiums; and (4) depression at the prospect of losing access to doctors, too.Read more
Every time you think that we've finally touched bottom on Obamacare, some new problem emerges. So what began merely as a dysfunctional website became a broken and mis-designed system. When it turned out that lots of people were paying more for their plans, it then turned out that others were having their plans canceled—and that some people were even losing their doctors. And now we're finding that, along with everything else, Obamacare contains a marriage penalty, too.Read more
“We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around.”
The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration. This is an expansive claim, of course. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the NSA, the HHS mandate—this is an administration that has not lacked for appalling abuses of power. And we still have three years to go.Read more
While everyone else has spent the last few days obsessing about Gravity, the government shutdown, and the real possibility that the NFC East division champ will have six wins, it’s quietly been an interesting week for sociology nerds who think about marriage.Read more
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