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World History in Brief

  World History as a Single Story Tamim Ansary   Broadly speaking, world history is the story of how we got to where we are today. Usually, however, embedded in the narrative is an assumption about who constitutes the “we.” The shape of the story depends on the tellers of the tale. Today, however, with […]

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Ripple Effects

The Twenty Most Important Events of Human History   If the history of the world is the trajectory of events leading from a time when we were tens of thousands of disparate, virtually autonomous bands to the present moment when we occupy every habitable inch of the planet earth and are verging on merging into […]

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Concentration Is the Secret

But what’s the secret of concentration?   The other day I heard someone complaining that they were no good at multi-tasking. I couldn’t relate, because I’m still trying to master the art of mono-tasking.  I’ve been working at it for years and can’t say I’ve made much progress, but there’s one thing I do know:  everything I’ve […]

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NBA: Super Teams vs Superstars

Last night, I watched a basketball game between the Heat and the Spurs. It was a thriller but the moment that stood out the most for me came after the game.  A sportscaster was interviewing LeBron, and I forget what he asked, but LeBron responded with: “I just want to thank my teammates for letting […]

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In Praise of Television

  In Praise of Television Even now I run into people who boast that they never watch television, as if this were a badge of intellectual sophistication. They’ll readily discuss movies, however, movies they’ve watched, movies they consider brilliant, movies they plan to see. Film has earned respect as an art form, and this respect […]

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Don’t Just Do Something

I’ve heard that today’s kids have about half as much time to spend doing nothing as kids did thirty years ago. Some may consider this a good thing because, after all, if they’re not doing nuthin’ they must be doin’ somep’n. And that had to be good, right?, as long as what they’re doing is […]

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The Trayvon Martin Case

Okay, let’s say, hypothetically (very hypothetically) that the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case had nothing to do with race. Just to recap,  Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old teenager coming home from a store with a bag of groceries. Home was a townhouse in a gated community, where he was staying with his father and […]

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Writing Workshop: Memoir

Life/Story is a workshop for writers who are working on a memoir or have a project in mind. Every Sunday for six weeks, five writers get together with Ansary to discuss their work. Each writer submits a piece by email beforehand.  Writers can share excerpts from a work-in-progress, stand-alone narrative pieces, outlines, and ruminations on […]

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Public Good

    The Public Good      I worry that the idea of a common good is declining. Suddenly, for example, that dour intellectual battleaxe of the 1950s, Ayn Rand, has found an enthusiastic new audience among young adults. This is the same Ayn Rand who identified self-interest as the highest good and preached that […]

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