Why a Police Box?

Why is Dr. Who’s time-traveler ship, the Tardis, shaped like a British police box? Jill Lepore answers in a New Yorker piece marking the fiftieth anniversary of the TV show’s first episode. In fact, there were several answers. One was faux-scientific: “The outside appearance of . . . . Continue Reading »

Attention Deficit

Focus , says author Daniel Goleman, is “utter receptivity to whatever floats into the mind.” And it’s the state of mind that facilitates our most creative thoughts., As Nicholas Carr explains in his NYTBR review, focus goes beyond “‘orienting,' in which we . . . . Continue Reading »

Making Us Smarter

Computers can beat people at chess, but the most powerful intelligence doesn’t come from “thinking machines” on their own, but from a symbiotic interaction between computers and people. In Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better , Clive Thompson . . . . Continue Reading »


In Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age ,Victor Mayer-Schonberger explores the reversal of memory and forgetfulness in the digital age: “Since the beginning of time, for us humans, forgetting has been the norm and remembering the exception. Because of digital technology and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Power and the Glory

At the beginning of his 2011 The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics) , a sequel to Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics) , Girgio Agamben raises the question that, he thinks, students of . . . . Continue Reading »

From Bauhaus to Your Mac

In an intriguing TNR review of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs , Evgeny Morozov says that the Apple “philosophy” - a form of pop-Platonism emphasizing the link between “essence” and function, purity, unornamented sleekness - cannot be understood except as an expression of . . . . Continue Reading »

Net Delusion

In a recent piece in The New Yorker , Malcolm Gladwell questioned whether Twitter and similar technologies will have the political efects that many presume. Now Evgeny Morozov raises the same question in a book-length treatment ( The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom ). According to . . . . Continue Reading »

Friends and friends

In a recent issue of The New Yorker , Malcolm Gladwell dismissed the notion that social media can promote deep social change. Activists, he points out, take courage from the companionship of like-minded and close friends. Without that shared courage, movements buckle and die. And, he argues, social . . . . Continue Reading »

Constantinian media

Miami priest Alberto Cutie is found in an illicit sexual relationship. A few days later he’s on CBS “Early Show” confessing and explaining what happened. Did his bishop approve the media appearance? “Constantinianism” is, in Yoder’s terms, the church’s . . . . Continue Reading »