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For this Concert Goer, 7 a.m. Tanglewood Concerts Are for the Birds

07/20/2017 16:09:00 PM

On July 27-30, Tanglewood Takes Flight, the music festival’s first-ever collaboration with Massachusetts Audubon, may attract birders who fancy classical music more than the other way around. Three of the collaboration’s five concerts, after ...

A Case of Jacksonian Road Rage

12/28/2016 14:54:00 PM

As a 2016 election post mortem, I read Lynn Hudson Parson’s The Birth of Modern Politics to get a handle on the origins of the “outsider” in American presidential politics. In the book’s central subject—the presidential election of ...

From the Annals of Razor Blade Disposal

09/29/2016 14:59:00 PM

Want to induce culture shock among the millennials (and others) in your life?

Sipping from Fashion's Glass in Montreal

08/24/2016 14:44:00 PM

More on Prado Nudes at The Clark Museum

08/05/2016 13:34:00 PM

My recent visit to a spectacular exhibit at The Clark museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts revealed one of Spain’s curious 17th-19th century sociocultural “institutions”—the Sala Reservada.

Rx for the Anchoring Bias in Music

07/27/2016 10:33:00 AM

By superior craft and musicianship, Paradise Is There, Natalie Merchant’s recent remake of her best-selling album, Tigerlily, has freed many of her listeners from their hard cognitive wiring to the earlier recording. That is no mean feat ...

Sanctimonious Workplace Posters from the 60s

07/05/2016 14:42:00 PM

"Motivational products don't work. But our Demotivator products don't work even better," insist the pundits at The company is best known for its "demotivational" posters, like the signature one depicted above.

Fooled by Randomness and Ambiguity in Amherst, Massachusetts

06/22/2016 16:04:00 PM

Compared with their brethren in more criminally poignant zip codes, the Amherst, Massachusetts police still have their challenges. Like periodically solving dubious

Marketing at the Clark: Nudes from the Prado in Williamstown, Massachusetts, No Less!

06/14/2016 11:34:00 AM

Who can blame The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts—arguably one of America’s elite small museums—for titillation via a mailer that trumpets: Nudes from the Prado. A must-see exhibition, exclusively at the Clark! And ...

The Homeless and Moral Hazard in Amherst, Massachusetts

06/02/2016 14:18:00 PM

Last December, I felt exceedingly good about donating $75 to Craig’s Place, Amherst’s privately run shelter for the homeless. In the past year and a half, the facility, which offers 16 beds in the basement of the town's First Baptist Church, ...

Mixed-Message Branding at CAT-Scan Springs

05/24/2016 15:15:00 PM

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: A Title of Uncommon Stickiness

05/04/2016 16:04:00 PM

The [just published] Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer sports a title that sets viscosity records in mental stickiness. It reminds us by example that titles are much more than accessories or afterthoughts. Would I have opened the ...

Ambush Marketing on Twitter

04/18/2016 19:30:00 PM

A note to Twitter habitués: There’s a name for the practice where advertisers follow you on Twitter solely for marketing's sake. Known in the ad trade as Ambush Marketing, it is one of many tactics in the creative repertoire of Guerrilla ...

No Deal!: Joe Kennedy Jilts Boardwalk Empire's Nucky Thompson

03/30/2016 15:57:00 PM

Joseph P. Kennedy--Played by himself and by Matt Letscher (right)Last fall, in its final season, Boardwalk Empire added its own fictionalized support to setting the record straight about JFK’s no less dynamic father, Joseph P. Kennedy. Without ...

Beware of the Elevator Pitch! (and other hybrid phobias)

03/11/2016 15:37:00 PM

Claustrophobia by Elevator (from The Pop-up Book of Phobias) As I was flipping through the venerable The Pop-up Book of Phobias yesterday, lightning struck: We’re hung up on single-dimensional phobias. Why not also combine two complementary ...

Planning for Happy Returns: Ditching One-Way Linearity

02/29/2016 11:10:00 AM

Perils of One-Way Thinking

02/29/2016 11:10:00 AM

Darkness & Fog: Crime's Bedfellows

02/11/2016 14:15:00 PM

The emergence of public electric lighting near the end of the 19th century has to rank among crime's

Finance Professors Dissect "The Big Short"

02/03/2016 09:46:00 AM

I recently went to The Big Short (an Academy Award Best Picture nominee) with four finance professors. In a conversation after the movie, they applauded its accuracy and its clarity in explaining complex financial concepts. They also emphasized ...

A Cold War Comedy Classic

01/12/2016 15:44:00 PM

Peter Carlson’s K Blows Top, an underappreciated account of Nikita Khrushchev’s cross-country U.S. tour in 1959, merits status as a fellow traveler with the likes of Dr. Strangelove, Cat’s Cradle, and Catch-22.It’s a mad-cap, meticulously ...

Hitchcock/Truffaut; Making a Killing in Real Estate

12/29/2015 19:28:00 PM

One of the many insights in Kent Jones’ sparkling new documentary, Hitchcock/Truffaut, is the “God’s Eye View.”

A World Music Desert Island Disc: Mariza’s Mundo

12/22/2015 14:50:00 PM

Many in the Western Hemisphere, I suspect, have yet to hear Mundo, the extraordinary 2015 recording by Mariza. Born to parents from Mozambique and Lisbon, she is widely regarded as the reigning queen of the Portuguese music genre, fado. Cognate ...

Employment Disruption Raga

12/15/2015 10:29:00 AM

False Positives on Parade

12/03/2015 10:56:00 AM

Object of

Understand False Positives to Better Grasp the Real Thing

12/03/2015 10:56:00 AM

Object of

Self-Help for the Self-Help Genre

11/17/2015 15:26:00 PM

Forget the Dummies irony. If like me, you rage at the self-help genre for accentuating the positive at the expense of falsifiable evidence and other critical habits of mind, I offer two satisfying recommendations. The first, “Surviving on ...

An End to Baptisms at the Clarion Hotel

11/05/2015 15:41:00 PM

For the past 2 ½ years, guests at the Clarion Hotel in Northampton, Massachusetts have opened their curtains on Sunday mornings to discover members of Grace Baptist Church in poolside baptismal immersions, ablutions, and other testimonies. ...

A Primate's Lament: Notes on a Semantic Misunderstanding

10/28/2015 15:34:00 PM

My mood free-fell from enchantment to despair when I discovered that my just-purchased 2007 field guide, What Shat That? (“Your guide to matching feces with their species”) had excluded human scat from its portfolio. There were moose and ...

Scenes from Cold War Dentistry

10/16/2015 00:27:00 AM

During my wonder years in Worcester, Massachusetts during the 50s and 60s, my dentist father became my “Uncle Tungsten” (homage to Oliver Sachs).

Thought Experiments in Noticing

10/06/2015 16:07:00 PM

[click on photo to enlarge]We were both gazing out the same office window, but it was my friend, a behavioral scientist, who in a blink, noticed the striking contrast in washed versus unwashed stained glass windows 50 yards away. Previously, ...

The Dalai Lama: Cancellation Blues, Arbitrage, and a Gender Bender Announcement

09/28/2015 16:46:00 PM

Before its abrupt cancellation, the Dalai Lama’s prospective 44-day Fall American “tour” had created sellers markets on many college campuses. On my own, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. on September ...

To Eat or Not to Eat?: Mindless Eating Revisited

09/18/2015 10:07:00 AM

If you’re fighting the good fight against mindless eating, a no-brainer is to move that candy dish on your desk at work out of reach, or better still, out of sight. After reading Brian Wansink’s now iconic Mindless Eating—which offers ...

Mayhem in the Museum? The Downside of Neglecting Behavioral Design

09/10/2015 15:15:00 PM

The view from top to bottomWatch your step when you descend the main staircase in the Jean-Noel Desmaris Pavilion in Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts! I nearly wiped out because there was no obvious cue that registers stair depth. The white ...

A Ronald McDonald Crime Scene

08/31/2015 13:47:00 PM

I was going to call this “A Public Service Announcement from Wig & Pen” and leave it at that. But there was something evocative about Ronald’s body messaging. He was aping Rodin’s “Thinker”—not from its customary side view, but ...

Let’s Deconstruct Prescription Drug Commercials!

08/19/2015 20:37:00 PM

TV prescription drug pitches climb a slippery slope. Just over 50% of a typical commercial’s run time is devoted to a drug’s potentially adverse side effects —things that might kill you or worse. (The FDA requires advertisers to divulge ...

Bend over and Nudge: Nudges of Chance at the Urologist’s and the Drive-up ATM

07/31/2015 15:37:00 PM

PSA results aren’t the only numbers that rule at my neighborhood urologist's.

Another Case of Mistaken Identity in Amherst, Massachusetts: A Double-Barreled Misunderstanding

07/25/2015 00:25:00 AM

Is it time to question Amherst’s water supply? Three weeks ago, an Amherst woman summoned police when she suspected that two construction workers might have been high-profile escapees from an upstate New York penitentiary. Now we turn to the ...

Candidate Christie Pays Homage to the Taft Bathtub

07/07/2015 16:13:00 PM

The remote possibility of a Chris Christie Administration in the White House evokes the plumbing challenges of the nation’s 27th president, William Howard Taft.

A Case of Mistaken Identity in Amherst, Massachusetts

07/01/2015 15:50:00 PM

Hard Hat & Steel Tipped Shoes at Kendrick Place in AmherstTwo weeks ago, just a

A Barista’s Language of Flowers?

06/21/2015 23:48:00 PM

A confession. I spend too much time in coffee shops—a regular in not one but three of them. Last week a barista embellished my latte (see above). So far, my inner Rorschach has failed to connect the ornament to the usual suspects: exotic birds ...

Roll over Turabian!

07/16/2014 09:45:00 AM

. . . and Strunk & White and FowlerThis mashup should be in every writer/editor's toolkit.Z5NHQSJTD424

Losing Costanza

07/08/2014 15:07:00 PM

Click on photo to enlargeIs Jason Alexanderfinally getting the Costanza monkey off his back? At first glance, I didn’t recognize him in the above blurb for his appearance with the Boston Pops this Saturday at Tanglewood. (His many talents ...

Crosswalks to Bear in Northampton, Massachusetts

07/02/2014 19:00:00 PM

Path of PrideA red, white, and blue crosswalk will not grace Northampton, Massachusetts’ main street on July 4th.

A New, Caffeinated Nobel Peace Prize?

06/27/2013 16:52:00 PM

“It was on the date of my daughter’s graduation. I thought, Nobel Prize? College Graduation? Obviously, I’m going to my daughter’s graduation,” proclaimed

Happy Ending for a Dyslexic Deep-Six Holiday Kerfuffle

06/21/2013 11:37:00 AM

View more videos at: your dyslexic sons and daughters

In Praise of Iconic Failure

04/02/2013 16:06:00 PM

Learning to Love the Punch Brothers: Punch/Counterpunch

03/25/2013 16:29:00 PM

For this reviewer and hundreds of concert goers, the Punch Brothers’ stellar February 15 performance at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton was just what the music gods ordered. Just as significant, the strong turnout offered evidence that the ...

Smitten by Caro

03/12/2013 16:13:00 PM

The first book to find its way onto my new Kindle was Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate—the third and (so far) longest volume in his unfinished

On Nazi Efficiency, Due Diligence, Branding

03/05/2013 10:40:00 AM

Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang

02/27/2013 15:39:00 PM

Don't Know Much about Geography . . .

The Skinny on Consumer First Impressions in Hospitals

02/11/2013 18:25:00 PM

Hospital president/cardboard cutout as greeter Take it from social psychologists (and

Three Little Pigs Mailbox Innovation

01/30/2013 16:00:00 PM

[click to enlarge]Snowplows and practitioners of mailbox baseball

Jesse Agonistes

01/23/2013 11:47:00 AM

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson