Running for a Hero


NEW YORK—It’s no walk in the park to convince 30,000 New Yorkers to agree on anything. It becomes exceedingly tougher when you need them to agree to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to travel through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel by foot.

Frank Siller, however, has a pretty compelling story to tell.

His brother, Stephen Siller, had finished his shift at FDNY Squad 1 early in the morning of September 11, 2001. Stephen was the youngest of eight children, and both of his parents passed away before he was ten years old.

Life Goes On, Even At Ground Zero

Ground zero

There have now been 15 September 11ths since the one we call simply 9/11, that day when the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center were hit by airplanes being used as missiles and crashed to the ground, killing almost 3,000 people. We call the site “ground zero,” which started as the military designation for the place where a nuclear bomb detonates, its effects spreading out for hundreds of miles. Now the phrase is so associated with this epoch-changing event and place, people may assume that’s just what it means. And while there was no literal blast spreading far beyond the towers, certainly there were far-reaching effects: 9/11 initiated a new era in American military intervention and the frustratingly dangerous and out-of-kilter world we live in.

Make America 1962 Again

Downtown Detroit in 1963

In his most recent foray into Deep Thinking, rapper Kanye West declared himself and Henry Ford, among others, to be “artists [and] merchants.” Though Kanye was mocked for his egotism, his description of Ford was well put. Ford not only sold products, but saw his ideas made real. Even the most abstract of these ideas—vertical integration—became reality in the largest industrial complex ever built: the River Rouge.

Designed by Albert Kahn, the Rouge covered 1,300 acres. During the 1930s, over 65,000 men worked at the plant on three shifts. The namesake river was dredged and widened to allow ships access to the facilities. Raw materials—iron, sand, rubber—brought by barge into one end of the complex, could be transformed into steel, glass, and tires on site, and assembled into a finished car at the other.

Lunching With Thatcher, Dancing With Arafat

John le Carre

The novelist John le Carré has a desk in the basement of his chalet in the Bernese Oberland. Through a window he can see the peaks of the Jungfrau, the Silberhorn, and the Keines. He’s owned the chalet for 50 years. When they were younger, he brought his sons (presumably from both marriages, though he doesn’t say) there every winter to ski. Sometimes they came in the spring, too. It’s May, and he’s at the desk writing his memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, longhand­­—the only way he’s ever written—and it’s raining.

The Optimists’ Prime

Rene Descartes, David Hume, George Berkely, Baruch Spinoza

Human knowledge is like a tree, Descartes once wrote, with each branch and twig representing one of the disciplines or fields of study. But the trunk of the tree, he insisted, is mathematical physics. And the root—the basis of all we know—is metaphysics. Thought begins in philosophy, and the deepest thinkers are the philosophers.

Were all that true, we would welcome a book such as Anthony Gottlieb’s new popular history of modern philosophy. A former executive editor of The Economist, Gottlieb published back in 2000 an accessible and enjoyable volume called The Dream of Reason, sketching the history of philosophy from the Ancient Greeks to the Renaissance.

Week 3 NFL Picks, With #PumaWoman Cara Delevingne

cara instagram

It’s not everyday that an ad campaign captures my attention. But Puma’s latest is not your run of the mill corporate project. The just-launched #PumaWoman campaign took Cara Delevingne, told her to #DoYou, and then sat back to let the magic happen. Here is the launch video for what has been described as a “strong, at …

Top Five Oliver Stone Flicks

Oliver Stone / AP

Over at the Washington Post I have a rather lengthy interview with Matt Zoller Seitz about his new book, The Oliver Stone Experience. Part one is here, part two is here. Please go read it!