Monthly Archives: October 2002

The Spy Who Won't Die

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“From Russia with Love” was just another paperback by a guy named Fleming, that is until U.S. President John Kennedy listed it in 1961 as among his favorite books. From that instant, it was Gold-Finger, and Tomorrow Never Dies, and Diamonds seemingly Forever for the empire that is Bond, James Bond.

Through Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan, the on-screen character of Bond has gadgeted and seduced his way into the affections of filmgoers who look to the laconic spy for a well-pressed sense of cool. An eclectic succession of villains has come to fame, while fast cars and brand-name products now pay to associate themselves with the Bond myth. For a character who was supposed to only live twice, Bond keeps coming back, for your ears only.


Michael Harvey, curator of the exhibit “Bond, James Bond” at London’s Science Museum

Toby Miller, professor of cinema studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts

Peter Lamont, production designer who’s worked on 17 James Bond films

Talking Pyongyang – in Crawford

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There’s a slight change in plans at the barbeque. Chinese President Jiang Zemin and President Bush are set for lunch at the ranch tomorrow – a summit organized long ago, meant to focus on the usual topics: Taiwan, trade, terrorism, and as of late, Iraq.

But the agenda changed radically when China’s neighbor and ally North Korea startlingly confessed it is maintaining a nuclear weapons program – despite signing treaties meant to halt it. North Korea – isolated, impoverished, run by an unpredictable leader – isn’t the place most global leaders want to hear the chatter of a Geiger counter.

As of now, the United States is exploring diplomacy – as a first response. But will that last? More importantly – will it work? U.S.-Sino talks and the Pyongyang Problem


Ashton Carter, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, 1993-1996

Senior Adviser to the North Korea Policy Review from 1998-2000, currrently Professor of Science and Internationl Affairs at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government

Ambassador James Lilley – former U.S. ambassador to both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs, 1991-1993

currently Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

American Empire

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“All hail the American Empire,” not a slogan that slips easily from American lips. For years, liberals have criticized the U.S. for trying to be, in the words of the late Senator Alan Cranston, “the one, the only main honcho on the world block, the global Big Enchilada.”

Now that ensuring American military superiority is the official foreign policy of the Bush administration, more on the right are accepting the term — calling it empire.

Even as American leaders test the imperial throne for comfort, soldiers of the new empire are into the next level, debating whether it’s American justice and morality that underpins the empire, or economics and the idea of democratic capitalism. Sitting at the right hand of the president, the Imperial Exchequer or the Imperial Chief Justice.


Andrew Bacevich, author, “American Empire,” professor of international relations, Boston University

Max Boot, author, “The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, “senior fellow, national security studies, Council on Foreign Relations.

Smokers under siege

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Mayor Bloomberg wants New York to go cold Turkey – and he’s already got the city twitching. His proposal would ban smoking in all workplaces, bars and restaurants included. No more hazy clubs in Harlem – no more sophisticates’ stogies in midtown – no more smog-choked cafes in SoHo.

Some say that’s like pulling Vermeer out of the Frick Collection… “this is New York City – we breathe danger every day.” Public health experts are cheering the mayor’s resolve, but many in the bar business argue that second-hand concerns are luxuries in tough economic times.

While smokers hold their breath – the national anti-smoking lobby and big tobacco companies are watching carefully – realizing that a ban in Manhattan will stand as an example across the nation. Smoke signals from Gotham.


David Saltonstall City Hall bureau chief for the New York Daily News

Diane Stover, Chief of pulmonary medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Art Spiegelman, artist, author, and consulting editor of the New Yorker

Kelly Carona, a bartender at “Big Bar” at the Lower East Side

Steven Sherman, a bartender at Houston’s Restaurant, Park Ave New York City.

Clinical Narcissism

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Self-esteem is essential, self-regard is healthy. But like anything, taken to an extreme, it can be ugly. We expect politicians and rock stars to get self-absorbed, but narcissism, clinical narcissism, debilitates even schoolteachers and steelworkers, and psychologists say these days in America, it’s on the upswing.

Freud looked to mythology and coined the term, calling the condition all but incurable. Now, some observers say that the enhancement of self-esteem in schools and elsewhere encourages this tendency towards self-obsession. And as more and more people make the move from self-love to self-loathing, therapists are trying to figure out what’s to be done. Mending the egomaniac.


Sandy Hotchkiss, social worker, psychotherapist, and author of “Why Is It Always About You?”

Wynn Schwartz, professor of Psychology at the Harvard Extension School, and psychotherapist.

Paul Krugman

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If you want to take the pulse of this democracy, says Paul Krugman, take a look at its mansions. Extravagant homes the size of castles, basements full of exotic cars, and more, powerful political influence, all that money can buy in America.

According to the New York Times columnist and Princeton economist, there are clear parallels to draw with the nation’s past: Gates and Welch, the new Carnegie and Rockefeller. The blooming of middle class America between the ’40s and the ’70s its seems was more interregnum than the normal order of things, so Krugman says that this new Gilded Age means more pressure on the little guy.

Croquet at four, cocktails at six, dinner at eight, the politics of envy and the case for class warfare. None dare call it Plutocracy.


Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Organic Food Grows Up

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Wake up and smell the compost. Today is Organic Monday, the day when foods free of pesticides, herbicides, et cetera, can stand up, green and proud with a brand new government seal of approval.

Organic food used to be fringe, grown by back-to-the-landers, and enjoyed by a few hippies and yuppies who didn’t mind paying more for slightly uglier, allegedly healthier foods, hold the genetic modifications, thanks very much. Today, organic food is an $11 billion industry, and theoretically, the new government regulations will move it ever more mainstream.

But now some of the movement’s founders say the whole point was that bigger is never better, and that unless organic food stays close to its roots, it’s lost.


Eliot Coleman, owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, ME

Kathleen Merrigan, Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at the Tufts University

and Jeff Stier, Associate Director of External Affairs, American Council on Science and Health.

Selling the U.N. on Iraq

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Superpowers, by their nature, don’t like to play by other people’s rules. It’s been over five weeks since President Bush stopped at the U.N. on his way to Baghdad, and though France and Russia say they’ll likely approve a tough new resolution for U.N. inspections, there’s still no ink.

There have been heated discussions behind closed doors; heated discussions in the open, drafts circulating, and leaders making all sorts of pronouncements. All the while, America’s military moves into position. Baghdad is cheering the U.N.’s restraint, saying that America has lost control, support, and momentum.

Now, it seems the White House is backing off, with Colin Powell signaling that regime change might not be needed after all. Diplomacy, bargaining, and multilateral hall of mirrors.


Patrick Jarreau, Washington DC bureau chief, Le Monde

Nancy Soderberg, Vice President of the International Crisis Group, and former US Ambassador to the UN Security Council

and Masha Lipman, deputy editor of the weekly Russian Newsmagazine Ezhenedel’ny Zhurnal.

Preserving Modern Architecture

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Modern buildings are easy for some people to hate. They’re blocky, some would say boring. They’re also highly endangered. The poured concrete structures built in the last half century are monuments to a movement based on killing the past. Now they are at the center of a preservation puzzle: what to keep and what destroy at the fringes of popular taste.

One energetic group of architecture fans is working to save the best of the curtain-wall office towers, the unadorned concrete churches, those flat-roofed houses on stilts. They say the urge to tear down the recent past needs to be resisted. It’s one thing to blow up a Soviet-style public housing block, but what about the soaring concrete of an irreplaceable airline terminal?

Judging the past when it’s still with us.


David Fixler, architect, president DOCOMOMO US/New England

Caroline Zaleski, preservation advocate, DOCOMOMO US/New York Tri-State

Nikos Salingaros, professor of mathematics, consultant on architecture and urbanism, University of Texas at San Antonio.

Walter Cronkite

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Walter Cronkite considered the most trusted man in America, one day decided to put that reputation to the test. It was February 1968, and in a three minute editorial essay on the CBS Evening news Cronkite quite simply changed the course of history.

On that night, the anchor told Americans that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable; that the generals and pundits were wrong; that it was time to rethink Vietnam. It was a bold move for Cronkite, and it was an seminal moment for journalism, to go beyond the reporting of events, to tell a conflicted people a higher truth, something beyond the cataloguing of casualties or shifting front lines.

Objectivity and obligation, Walter Cronkite on the role of the media in times of great uncertainty.


Walter Cronkite, former news anchor