Philby's boss was Sir Stewart Menzies, who, we are told, "rode to hounds, mixed with royalty, never missed a day at Ascot, drank a great deal, and kept his secrets buttoned up behind a small, fierce mustache. He preferred women to men and horses to both." Menzies was an amateur at a time when his adversaries were professionals. Philby's fellow Soviet spy Donald Maclean was a mess. But since he was a mess with the right accent and background he easily found a home in the British spy service. At one point, Macintyre says, Maclean "got drunk, smashed up the Cairo flat of two secretaries at the U.S. embassy, ripped up their underwear, and hurled a large mirror off the wall, breaking a large bath in two. He was sent home, placed under the care of a Harley Street psychiatrist, and then, amazingly, after a short period of treatment, promoted to head the American desk at the Foreign Office."
Kim Philby, the Soviet spy who infiltrated MI6, is the subject of a Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker
. Gladwell argues that Philby's story is not about spying but "the hazards of mistrust." He is interviewed on a New Yorker podcast
about his article. Gladwell's article is also a review of Ben Macintyre's book on Philby, A Spy Among Friends
. Gladwell reviewed Macintyre's previous book, Operation Mincemeat
and argued that spy agencies might be more trouble than they're worth
Long before he became a staff writer for The New Yorker
and the bestselling author of The Tipping Point
, and Outliers
, Malcolm Gladwell began his career writing for a politically conservative monthly magazine. Some of his early work for The American Spectator
is now available online.
"The mind knows not what the tongue wants."
We all take variability and niche markets for granted these days, but back in the 70's and 80's, the American food industry was obsessed with the so-called platonic dish - a perfect and universal way to serve a food. Howard Moskowitz
, of prego fame
, helped explode the idea in the food industry and beyond.
In this TED talk, Malcom Gladwell, tells you all about it and why variability matters a lot. [more inside]
Small Change: Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.
Earlier this summer, Golnaz Esfandiari examined the "Twitter Devolution"
in Iran*. Anne Applebaum commented on the Twitter revolution that wasn't
in Moldova last spring. [more inside]
Behind the growing Steven Pinker vs. Malcolm Gladwell feud (Pinker criticizes Gladwell
, Gladwell snarkily replies
) is a debate over the value of IQ, specifically, and intelligence, broadly, in success. Recent research has generally shown little link between intelligence and success within fields
, and that there are multiple kinds of intelligences
that drive achievement. On the other hand, scholars of psychometrics claim the opposite
, showing that IQ at an early age can predict achievement
, and no amount of study will help
. Maybe everyone is right, with enough caveats
Such are the contradictions that seem to riddle not just Gladwell's thinking but the thinking on Gladwell's thinking, and perhaps even the thinking on thinking on that, and it is precisely these slippery but substantive contradictions that have allowed Gladwell to tout his revolutionary "big ideas" without couching them in anything so mundane as a logical, well-supported or otherwise sound argument. Gladwell for Dummies
Atticus Finch and the limits of Southern liberalism.
An essay in the latest The New Yorker
by Malcolm Gladwell. "Atticus Finch is faced with jurors who have one set of standards for white people like the Ewells and another set for black folk like Tom Robinson. His response is to adopt one set of standards for respectable whites like Boo Radley and another for white trash like Bob Ewell. A book that we thought instructed us about the world tells us, instead, about the limitations of Jim Crow liberalism in Maycomb, Alabama."
Canadian-born New Yorkers Adam Gopnik and Malcolm Gladwell have an eloquent conversation (MP3)
about the nature of our eternally under-confident country. Gladwell quips early on that "those of you who are familiar with my writing will know that this practice of talking about X by discussing Y is my only rhetorical move." Text
(though not an exact transcript) is also available, as is a report
Yet another buzzword for the dustbin.
Tipping Point. Exploitable phenomenon
or total load of crap
. [more inside]
Malcolm Gladwell takes a look at the effectiveness of criminal profiling
"You're really smart!"
Psychologist Carol Dweck
says that praising a child for being smart only teaches the kid to avoid any effort that might fail. "When we praise children for their intelligence, we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don't risk making mistakes." Malcolm Gladwell chimes in with his thoughts on the importance of being a smart kid
, "What a gifted child is, in many ways, is a gifted learner. And what a gifted adult is, is a gifted doer. And those are quite separate domains of achievement."
There's an excellent two part
dialog between Bill Simmons
and Malcolm Gladwell
on ESPN's Page 2 this week. The two cover a wide variety of topics such as writing, how a kid with no TV from the middle of nowhere in Canada can be a sports fan, the NFL, the economics of sports, and everyone's favorite NBA GM Isiah Thomas.
Will Malcolm Gladwell's blog
be as good as his New Yorker
articles and books? Will it be better? I'm always fascinated when "big name" people start blogging. Will he be interesting and personal, dry and professional, or will the blog crash and burn?
How to think about prescription drugs.
Malcolm Gladwell's latest piece in The New Yorker
The emphasis of the prescription-drug debate is all wrong. We've been focussed on the drug manufacturers. But decisions about prevalence, therapeutic mix, and intensity aren't made by the producers of drugs. They’re made by the consumers of drugs.
Malcom Gladwell's got a new one in the New Yorker about a guy whose investment strategy positions him to profit from unlikely and scary random catastrophes like 9/11. Its' not on newyorker.com, but the story's subject
was kind enough to scan it and post it
Malcolm Gladwell on JFK Jr's Crash
New from the New Yorker. Actually the article talks mostly about the difference between choking and panicking, mostly in Sports. Still, the discussion about the plane crash is the most fascinating. Perhaps thats because of my morbid fascination with plane crashes:
Chapter 1 of "Inmates Are Running the Asylum" by Alan Cooper (American Crash in Cali, Colombia).... Bruce Tognazzini on Interfaces that Kill (John Denver).... The Lessons of ValuJet 592 by the masterful William Langweische.... The same Mr. Langweische has a book called "Inside the Sky: Meditations on Flight" which looks interesting.