What Are the Economic Consequences of Climate Change?

When Hurricane Sandy pummeled the east coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean in October 2012 it exposed millions of people and billions of dollars worth of economic assets to the sorts of hazards that might be expected to increase as a result of climate change. An estimated 1.8 million structures and homes were destroyed or damaged, with economic losses exceeding $65 billion.
Among the businesses most negatively affected by Sandy were tourism (losses of more than $1 billion and 10,000 jobs) and small- and medium-scale manufacturing and storage. Retailers, such as clothing firm Eileen Fisher, lost inventory when Sandy flooded warehouses and disrupted supply chains. 

Read More > High-res

What Are the Economic Consequences of Climate Change?

When Hurricane Sandy pummeled the east coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean in October 2012 it exposed millions of people and billions of dollars worth of economic assets to the sorts of hazards that might be expected to increase as a result of climate change. An estimated 1.8 million structures and homes were destroyed or damaged, with economic losses exceeding $65 billion.

Among the businesses most negatively affected by Sandy were tourism (losses of more than $1 billion and 10,000 jobs) and small- and medium-scale manufacturing and storage. Retailers, such as clothing firm Eileen Fisher, lost inventory when Sandy flooded warehouses and disrupted supply chains. 

Read More >

Even tutus have a place in the race:

WHEN THE late, great George Sheehan took up running, neighbors asked his mortified children why their father ran around town in his underwear. This was in the 1960s, before Sheehan’s philosophical books helped to fuel the running boom. He’d be pleased to know that wearing underwear on public streets is now accepted, even admired; it’s running in tutus that has become the issue.

Read More > High-res

Even tutus have a place in the race:

WHEN THE late, great George Sheehan took up running, neighbors asked his mortified children why their father ran around town in his underwear. This was in the 1960s, before Sheehan’s philosophical books helped to fuel the running boom. He’d be pleased to know that wearing underwear on public streets is now accepted, even admired; it’s running in tutus that has become the issue.

Read More >

The Lost, Surprisingly Soulful Art of Corporate Identity 

Before corporations, entertainment companies, sports franchises, and political parties acquired “brand narratives,” the notion of branding was a subset of a practice called “corporate identity.” CI, as it was known, required companies and design firms to develop, refine, and maintain an integrated identity system defined by laws set down in a bible known as the graphic standards manual.
This gospel according to the design-creator was handed down to supplicant designers whose job, like scribes of old, was to precisely apply the logos, adhere to the corporate color and typographic palettes, and follow the formats without diverging even a fraction from the established guidelines.  For designers and collectors of graphic design, some of these manuals—including ones for IBM, Lufthansa, the New York Subway System, and NASA—are sacred texts, revered for how they help shift graphic design from simply an intuitive practice to a rigorously strategic one.

Read More > High-res

The Lost, Surprisingly Soulful Art of Corporate Identity 

Before corporations, entertainment companies, sports franchises, and political parties acquired “brand narratives,” the notion of branding was a subset of a practice called “corporate identity.” CI, as it was known, required companies and design firms to develop, refine, and maintain an integrated identity system defined by laws set down in a bible known as the graphic standards manual.

This gospel according to the design-creator was handed down to supplicant designers whose job, like scribes of old, was to precisely apply the logos, adhere to the corporate color and typographic palettes, and follow the formats without diverging even a fraction from the established guidelines.  For designers and collectors of graphic design, some of these manuals—including ones for IBM, Lufthansa, the New York Subway System, and NASA—are sacred texts, revered for how they help shift graphic design from simply an intuitive practice to a rigorously strategic one.

Read More >

Divine Decadence: Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932


It’s a daring thing to write about an evil person, especially in this day of autobiographical fiction, when readers assume most characters are thinly veiled self-portraits. And yet evil characters are usually dynamic and fascinating, upstaging all the goody-goodies. Think of Milton’s blazing, sexy Satan; Balzac’s scheming, driven master criminal, Vautrin; or Shakespeare’s Iago. Despite the allure of such characters, writers today usually avoid them, maybe because the whole category of Evil seems too theological or because modern psychology assumes that every bad act can be traced to childhood neglect or abuse and thus be explained away. I have to give my students an assignment to write about bad guys in order to get them to do it. But when they do write about them, it’s such a release!
Read More >  High-res

Divine Decadence: Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

It’s a daring thing to write about an evil person, especially in this day of autobiographical fiction, when readers assume most characters are thinly veiled self-portraits. And yet evil characters are usually dynamic and fascinating, upstaging all the goody-goodies. Think of Milton’s blazing, sexy Satan; Balzac’s scheming, driven master criminal, Vautrin; or Shakespeare’s Iago. Despite the allure of such characters, writers today usually avoid them, maybe because the whole category of Evil seems too theological or because modern psychology assumes that every bad act can be traced to childhood neglect or abuse and thus be explained away. I have to give my students an assignment to write about bad guys in order to get them to do it. But when they do write about them, it’s such a release!

Read More > 

Gabriel García Márquez was interviewed in his studio/office located just behind his house in San Angel Inn, an old and lovely section, full of the spectacularly colorful flowers of Mexico City. The studio is a short walk from the main house. A low elongated building, it appears to have been originally designed as a guest house. Within, at one end, are a couch, two easy chairs, and a makeshift bar—a small white refrigerator with a supply of acqua minerale on top.

The most striking feature of the room is a large blown-up photograph above the sofa of García Márquez alone, wearing a stylish cape and standing on some windswept vista looking somewhat like Anthony Quinn.

García Márquez was sitting at his desk at the far end of the studio. He came to greet me, walking briskly with a light step. He is a solidly built man, only about five feet eight or nine in height, who looks like a good middleweight fighter—broad-chested, but perhaps a bit thin in the legs. He was dressed casually in corduroy slacks with a light turtleneck sweater and black leather boots. His hair is dark and curly brown and he wears a full mustache.

Interviews: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69:

The problem is that the moment you know the interview is being taped, your attitude changes. In my case I immediately take a defensive attitude. As a journalist, I feel that we still haven’t learned how to use a tape recorder to do an interview. The best way, I feel, is to have a long conversation without the journalist taking any notes. Then afterward he should reminisce about the conversation and write it down as an impression of what he felt, not necessarily using the exact words expressed. Another useful method is to take notes and then interpret them with a certain loyalty to the person interviewed. What ticks you off about the tape recording everything is that it is not loyal to the person who is being interviewed, because it even records and remembers when you make an ass of yourself. That’s why when there is a tape recorder, I am conscious that I’m being interviewed; when there isn’t a tape recorder, I talk in an unconscious and completely natural way.

Read More >

Recognizing When Kids Benefit From Their Parents’ Divorce


A growing body of literature now suggests that the earlier we turn back the clock in kids’ development, the more profound the impact of their environment. Early childhood is critical—race and class differences in achievement are pretty much evident by the time kids reach kindergarten, for instance. Even what happens before you’re born turns out to have consequences for decades afterward. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster lowered the IQs and graduation rates of kids who were in utero all the way over in Sweden, where some of the radioactive iodine blew. An earthquake in Chile resulted in fewer boys being born (boys are a riskier genetic bet and thus have a higher rate of miscarriage under stress) and lower achievement among those whose mothers were closest to the epicenter. If pregnant women fast during Ramadan, their babies suffer. And so on.
Read More > High-res

Recognizing When Kids Benefit From Their Parents’ Divorce

A growing body of literature now suggests that the earlier we turn back the clock in kids’ development, the more profound the impact of their environment. Early childhood is critical—race and class differences in achievement are pretty much evident by the time kids reach kindergarten, for instance. Even what happens before you’re born turns out to have consequences for decades afterward. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster lowered the IQs and graduation rates of kids who were in utero all the way over in Sweden, where some of the radioactive iodine blew. An earthquake in Chile resulted in fewer boys being born (boys are a riskier genetic bet and thus have a higher rate of miscarriage under stress) and lower achievement among those whose mothers were closest to the epicenter. If pregnant women fast during Ramadan, their babies suffer. And so on.

Read More >

The Private Lives of Public Bathrooms

When Oprah Winfrey served on a Chicago jury in 2004, she couldn’t go to the bathroom attached to the jury room unless her fellow jurors sang to drown out the noise. One of the songs they sang was Kumbaya.
When Alexis Sanchez used the bathroom in her college dorm, she brought her iPod with her.
“I would blast it,” she says. “I would play ‘D. A. N. C. E.’ by Justice, and some Maroon 5 song. That was my poop playlist. It had to be a ritual or else I would focus too much on if there were other girls there who could hear or smell what was happening.”
Sanchez, now a 22-year-old front-end web developer for the Tampa Bay Times, has since abandoned her poop playlist, but is still incredibly anxious about using public bathrooms—for both numbers one and two. “It’s definitely a problem,” she says. “It affects my life.”

Read More > High-res

The Private Lives of Public Bathrooms

When Oprah Winfrey served on a Chicago jury in 2004, she couldn’t go to the bathroom attached to the jury room unless her fellow jurors sang to drown out the noise. One of the songs they sang was Kumbaya.

When Alexis Sanchez used the bathroom in her college dorm, she brought her iPod with her.

“I would blast it,” she says. “I would play ‘D. A. N. C. E.’ by Justice, and some Maroon 5 song. That was my poop playlist. It had to be a ritual or else I would focus too much on if there were other girls there who could hear or smell what was happening.”

Sanchez, now a 22-year-old front-end web developer for the Tampa Bay Times, has since abandoned her poop playlist, but is still incredibly anxious about using public bathrooms—for both numbers one and two. “It’s definitely a problem,” she says. “It affects my life.”

Read More >

Our Cubicles, Ourselves: How the Modern Office Shapes American Life

Each year, the average American spends nearly 2,000 hours working. For many, that time passes inside the three little walls of a modern cubicle.
Writer Nikil Saval explores these odd spaces—how they came to be, how they make us feel—in his new book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. I spoke to Saval about the modern office, and a lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.
Your book is, as I see it, about twin themes: the spaces we work in, and the quality or character of the work itself. Can you talk, just briefly, about the relationship between those two ideas?
I’ve found that space in an office often reflects the way power operates in a workplace: design expresses (though not in a simple way) relationships of hierarchy, control, and authority.

Read More > High-res

Our Cubicles, Ourselves: How the Modern Office Shapes American Life

Each year, the average American spends nearly 2,000 hours working. For many, that time passes inside the three little walls of a modern cubicle.

Writer Nikil Saval explores these odd spaces—how they came to be, how they make us feel—in his new book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. I spoke to Saval about the modern office, and a lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Your book is, as I see it, about twin themes: the spaces we work in, and the quality or character of the work itself. Can you talk, just briefly, about the relationship between those two ideas?

I’ve found that space in an office often reflects the way power operates in a workplace: design expresses (though not in a simple way) relationships of hierarchy, control, and authority.

Read More >

The Devil and the Art Dealer:

It was the greatest art theft in history: 650,000 works looted from Europe by the Nazis, many of which were never recovered. But last November the world learned that German authorities had found a trove of 1,280 paintings, drawings, and prints worth more than a billion dollars in the Munich apartment of a haunted white-haired recluse. Amid an international uproar, Alex Shoumatoff follows a century-old trail to reveal the crimes—and obsessions—involved.

Read More > High-res

The Devil and the Art Dealer:

It was the greatest art theft in history: 650,000 works looted from Europe by the Nazis, many of which were never recovered. But last November the world learned that German authorities had found a trove of 1,280 paintings, drawings, and prints worth more than a billion dollars in the Munich apartment of a haunted white-haired recluse. Amid an international uproar, Alex Shoumatoff follows a century-old trail to reveal the crimes—and obsessions—involved.

Read More >

In our story, my great-great-grandmother Eva Payne Brooks was half Iroquois. We didn’t know of what tribe, or what relationship her unmarried parents had. We knew she had light brown skin and came from a place called Indian Lake. My mother described, without irony, the long, dark braid she used to wear down her back. My second cousin told me years ago that there had been proof of Eva’s ancestry—papers of some kind, letters, or photographs—that Eva’s daughter had intentionally destroyed.

At the lake in the Adirondacks where we spent every August, I used to swim out into the middle, surrounded by blunted eastern mountains, pines straight as arrows, patches of gray rock face. I would imagine the lake as an empty green valley, the base of it far below, filling slowly with water from year to year. I saw myself suspended, legs dangling hundreds of feet from the place where the mountains met, and hundreds of feet still below their peaks.

As I grew older, there was a suspicious ease to it all: an English family crest and a blood claim on the American woods. If it were true, why did we have so little to tell? If my great-great-great-grandfather was an American Indian, who was he?

So in the summer of 2012, I drove north—or really west, north, and up in elevation and isolation—from that same spot at the lake, headed to the town where Eva Brooks was born.

Indian Lake: Why Do So Many People Erroneously Claim American Indian Ancestry, and What is the Wish Behind That Claim?