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An American in ISIS's Retweet Army


The gradual radicalization of Douglas McAuthur McCain, we're told, is reflected in his social-media timelines.

What Instagram Did for Photos, This Could Do for Videos


The Center for Photography in Woodstock, New York, launched a new exhibit this week. It's called "The Space Between: Redefining Public and Personal in Smartphone Photography," and it considers the cultural impact of photography's new ubiquity.

The Harsh, Polarizing Language of a 'Kill Switch' for Smartphones


California passed a law this week that, depending on who you believe, will bring about either a drastic drop in violent crime or an increased risk of terrorism—apparently with the possibility of little in between. The law mandates that all California-sold smartphones include a “kill switch,” an anti-theft measure that allows someone to deactivate his or her phone, rendering it useless to a thief who hopes to sell it.

California High-Speed Rail No. 9—the Chairman's Turn Again


As a reminder, this is No. 9 in a series on the plan for a north-south California High-Speed Rail system, which according to me deserves national attention as the highest-stakes infrastructure project underway anywhere in America now.

What Is the Greatest Story Ever Told?


Lies Immigration Reformers Told Me


“Mom hid a present for you in the basement.” “Last time you said that, you locked me downstairs for three hours.” “This time I won’t.” Before Matt Groening gained wealth and fame from The Simpsons, he drew a bleakly funny series of comic books.

Scientists Cannot Explain This Crazy Ant Behavior, but They Love It


Forget swarms of nanobots taking over the world—if something is going to band together to rise against humans my money is on ants.

The Trip to Italy: You'll Laugh, Until You Cry


If comedy is all about timing, then let's take a moment to appreciate the nifty scheduler who decided to gift us with The Trip to Italy this Labor Day weekend, on what are already the three most bittersweet days of the year.

Russia's Stealthy, Slow-Motion Invasion of Ukraine


Is Russia invading Ukraine? Ask Ukraine, and the answer is yes. Ask Russia, and the answer is no ... ish.

Our Roommates, Ourselves


When I first arrived for freshman orientation at American University, I was paired (albeit temporarily) with a stranger.

The Elusiveness of Stolen Art


Earlier this month thieves made off with a giant Renaissance masterpiece—a 10 foot by 6 foot piece painted by Guercino in 1639, and worth over $8 million.

Actually, Obama Does Have a Strategy in the Middle East


President Obama’s critics often claim he doesn’t have a strategy in the greater Middle East. That’s wrong.

How Racism Creeps Into Medicine


In 1864, the year before the Civil War ended, a massive study was launched to quantify the bodies of Union soldiers.

The Insidious Rise of the Blockbuster Video Game


The idea of a “blockbuster” is a tricky one to pin down. The word itself originally referred to bombs used in World War II that were powerful enough to wipe out entire city blocks, and its metaphorical usage in that sense—talking about something that makes a significant impact on the population—was what most people had in mind a few decades later when it began to be used to describe runaway successes like Jaws and Star Wars.

Acting French


I spent the majority of this summer at Middlebury College, studying at l’École Française. I had never been to Vermont.

Why I'm Ending My Boycott of German Cars


So I told Mrs. Goldblog last week that I had a revelation. “Did you find Jesus?” she asked. No, not quite that big, I said.

Man Arrested While Picking Up His Kids: 'The Problem Is I'm Black'


If you've never experienced arbitrary harassment or brutality at the hands of a police officer, or seen law enforcement act in a way that defies credulity and common sense, it can be hard to believe people who tell stories of inexplicable persecution.

A Moderately Amusing Life of Crime


“I hope he learned something. But I doubt it.” Thus does small-time crook Louis Gara (John Hawkes) dismiss an even smaller-time hustler whom he’s one-upped early in Life of Crime, director Daniel Schechter’s faithful adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1978 novel The Switch.

My Week on the All-Emoji Diet


“Why isn’t there a sandwich emoji?” The instant message flashed on my screen from a coworker suggesting lunch. It was followed by: “TRAGEDY.” Tragedy may be an overstatement to apply to emoji, the standardized set of symbols used in texts and online messaging.

Pretending to Understand What Babies Say Can Make Them Smarter


A few weeks ago, I was eating lunch with my family at a pancake house when a small blond head popped over the top of the booth next to ours.


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