Columns

Contestants take a break during the Beard and Moustache Competition in Brooklyn, N.Y., in Dec. 2011. A French mathematician and neuroscientist has studied "the hipster effect," determining why hipsters seem to dress alike, even though they're supposed to be all about nonconformity. (AP Photo/Claire Schneider)

Column: Mathematician as Storyteller

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jonathan Touboul is a French mathematician and neuroscientist who typically publishes papers with titles like Pulsatile Localized Dynamics in Delayed Neural-Field Equations in Arbitrary Dimension and Propagation of Chaos in Neural Fields. Lately, though, Touboul has been thinking about hipsters. Specifically, why hipsters seem to dress alike, even though they’re supposed to be all about nonconformity. In a working paper …

Column: Criminal Justice Reform Unites Progressives and Conservatives

Sunday, November 23, 2014

There isn’t much room for optimism among progressives these days. The president’s avenues to legislative achievement in his final two years are narrow and seem mostly to lead to the right — toward a corporate tax reform in one instance, and a NAFTA-style trade deal with the Asia-Pacific region in another. But in these dark days, there is, as we are already witnessing, …

Column, Steve Nelson: Risk Helps Humans Take Flight, but How Much Is Too Much?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Just over a year ago, I stood in Avalanche Pass in the Adirondacks and, through powerful binoculars, watched my then 13-year-old granddaughter, Quinn, sitting calmly on a foot-wide ledge, two-thirds of the way up an 800-foot vertical cliff. My daughter, my brother and I had hiked in to the remote spot to vicariously enjoy her adventure. Quinn is a very talented and fearless …

Willem Lange: Back at Camp, as an Observer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hell Gate, N.H. Hell Gate seems like a strange name for a shrine, doesn’t it? But a shrine is what it is, for several of us here this week. Not quite on the order of the Ka’aba in Mecca, the Western Wall, Canterbury Cathedral or Santiago de Compostela. …

Column: Time for U.S. to Upgrade Thinking on Nukes

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The publicized mishaps — they shouldn’t be called scandals — in recent years by Air Force and Navy personnel in charge of nuclear weapons give the White House and Congress a chance to rethink the U.S. deterrence mission …

Column: Joseph Kennedy’s Lesson for Pot Investors

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Big-time investors hoping to profit from America’s emerging business in legalized marijuana might see a bit of themselves in the historic example of Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy. Back in 1933, the Kennedy patriarch made sure his liquor firm would be the first …

In Defeat, Nancy Pelosi Stays the Course

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

There are five 2014 House races still to be decided before we can answer a question of historical interest: Was this the worst election for House Democrats since 1928? Or merely their worst since 1946? Either way, the results do not reflect well on the House Democratic leader, …

Birthrate Is Just About Right in America

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The new demographic reality for the United States, Europe and many countries in Asia and Latin America is an aging population. Governments will face increasing financial pressure as the number of taxpayers shrinks and baby boomers retire. Many see a broad threat to their economies; some countries have …

Column: Mia Love — Black, Mormon and Republican — Courts Controversy

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mia Love is already getting more attention than most of her newly elected congressional colleagues. She is Haitian American, a woman, daughter of immigrants, Mormon, Republican and from Utah, all things that she seems eager to boast about, except when she isn’t, as those who contrasted her post-election …

To Rebound, Obama Should Give Up Golf

Monday, November 17, 2014

I have figured out what’s wrong with President Obama. He gave up basketball and started playing more golf. As a man of roughly the president’s age who still plays both sports, I have some insights to offer. Basketball demands all of the qualities that make a good leader. …

Column: Washington Threatens Internet Creativity

Monday, November 17, 2014

Never before has it been so easy to turn an idea into a business. With a simple Internet connection, some ingenuity and a lot of hard work, anyone today can create a new service or app or start selling products nationwide. In the past, such a person would …

Column: Liberty and Equality Are Mutually Reinforcing Concepts

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Our country is in trouble. Congress’ approval rating hovers near its lowest level since Gallup polling began, social protest rates are as high as they’ve been since the 1960s and the least among us — poor African Americans …

Column: Bad Projects Don’t Belong in Anyone’s Beautiful Backyard

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The term NIMBY — “not in my back yard”— has long been used to criticize people who oppose commercial or industrial development in their communities. Invariably pejorative, it casts citizens as selfish individualists who care only for themselves, …