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The Redemption of Nathan Leopold, Maybe

From First Thoughts

Everyone forgets that Nathan Leopold died a free man. The first part of his story is familiar enough: He and Richard Loeb were two intellectually precocious teenagers from Chicago’s wealthy German Jewish elite, and they read too much Nietzsche and started thinking they were supermen. Loeb, the . . . . Continue Reading »

In Like Flint

From First Thoughts

Australia is an English-speaking country, technically, but as an American immigrant here I sometimes have trouble understanding the locals. (What’s a “galah”? Can you eat it for brekkie?) They, on the other hand, have almost no trouble understanding me, with all the American . . . . Continue Reading »

Mandelstam in First Things

From First Thoughts

I don’t know much about the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, except that I read somewhere that he gave his wife Nadezhda a pacifier and persuaded her to wear it around her neck on a string of pearls so that he could stick the pacifier in her mouth whenever she interrupted him, which apparently . . . . Continue Reading »

“Sex in the Meritocracy”

From First Thoughts

The article “Sex in the Meritocracy,” which I wrote for the February issue of First Things , is now online : When Yale first bowed to the spirit of meritocracy and began admitting large numbers of students from outside the New England upper class, it set in motion a nationwide arms race . . . . Continue Reading »

From the February First Things: ‘Sex in the Meritocracy’

From Web Exclusives

When Yale first bowed to the spirit of meritocracy and began admitting large numbers of students from outside the New England upper class, it set in motion a nationwide arms race among high-achieving high school students. After fifty years of escalating competition, it is no longer enough to have an SAT score in the top 1 percent and a record of achievement in a single activity… . Continue Reading »

Reading Wuthering Heights in Kenya

From First Thoughts

Student production of As You Like It , Kenya 1955 Harold Bloom happened to be at Cornell during one of the most famous student protests of the “canon wars,” one in which black students went en masse into the various campus libraries, pulled armfuls of books from the stacks, and threw . . . . Continue Reading »

Two Ways to Deal with Aspiring Writers

From First Thoughts

Aspiring writers are generally regarded as one of nature’s lower life forms, especially by established writers, most of whom seem to wonder whether the taxonomist who placed aspiring writers in phylum Chordata wasn’t perhaps claiming too much for them. From where they’re sitting, that’s an . . . . Continue Reading »

Nigerian Football Fans Give Up on Juju

From First Thoughts

The head of the Nigerian Football Supporters’ Club, Rafiu Ladipo, has confessed that for years he has been using juju (traditional local magic) to try to bring the Super Eagles to victory. But no longer: “We came to realize that juju just doesn’t play football.” “There . . . . Continue Reading »