St. Petersburg’s Chinese Towers

Outside the boulevards of Saint Petersburg’s historic center, some serious renovations are underway. The city’s newest housing development project boasts some of the most modern apartments in the city. The million square meters, once fully developed, will provide housing for 35,000 people, including several schools, a mall and two hospitals. It makes sense that such … Read more

Rings of the Tree

Winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes last month could perhaps go down in history as one of the least remarkable things about Terrence Malick’s new masterpiece, The Tree of Life. While the ongoing, often contentious debate about whether the film is spectacularly well-crafted or simply spectacularly pretentious is certainly unsettled—perhaps both are to some degree … Read more

Infinite Specks

“Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity…A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives the span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though … Read more

Do We Choose What We Believe?

Maybe it’s surprising to no one, but this Jewish, male, New Yorker college student, whose dad is a doctor, occupies one of the most secular demographics in America. These charts are from Robert Putnam’s American Grace: And as it happens, these charts are predictive — I am pretty secular. Of course, if you asked me why … Read more

Tahrir Square and Egyptian Solidarity

On Friday, May 27, I went to Tahrir Square for the so-called “Day of Anger” protests around noon.As Professor Noam Chomsky observed, whereas the Wisconsin protests were centered on impeding the loss of workers’ rights, the Tahrir uprising aimed at securing democratic rights previously nonexistent in Egypt. However, both cycles of contention (against the state … Read more

An Evening with the Queen

Listen to the Queen of the West coast Blues talk about her life of Soul Long gone are the glory days of Soul.  In the late 1950’s to 1960’s, powerful black women ruled Blues and Jazz: Dinah Washinton, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, to name a few.  Their voices were powerful and the music sincere.  … Read more

On Being a Feminist in Russia

As horribly small-minded as it is for a foreigner to pass judgment on a culture to which he or she is unaccustomed, while wandering around St. Petersburg, I could not help feeling awfully uncomfortable, even personally affronted. My reaction to the dress of many Russian women was (and still is) prescriptive and culturally insensitive (but … Read more

Between Accident and Intention: Revisiting State Failure

In his article “Think Again: Failed States,” James Traub argues that a distinction should be made between “hapless” and “intentional” failed states. Contending that the former are more benign than the latter, Traub finds that some failed states pose real threats to the U.S. and the West, while others do not. Using this model, Traub classifies states such … Read more

(Sting’s) Intro to US-Russian Relations

The golden facades of Peter the Great’s prized Winter Palace glimmered beside us as the northern-summer sun passed behind the statues of the imperial parapet, hardly on its way to sunset. It was 10 P.M. and the beginning of yet another of St. Petersburg’s famed belye nochi (white nights). After nearly an hour, a few … Read more