May 16, 2011

When prevention is more effective than relief

When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March, Brian Tucker was in Padang, Indonesia. Tucker was working with a colleague to design a refuge that could save thousands of lives if — or rather, when — a tsunami like the one in 1797 ...

Apr 16, 2011

The enemies of a digital universal library

Scholars have long dreamed of a universal library containing everything that has ever been written. Then, in 2004, Google announced that it would begin digitally scanning all the books held by five major research libraries. Suddenly, the library of utopia seemed within reach. Indeed, ...

Mar 4, 2011

Justifying an intervention in Libya for justice' sake

MELBOURNE — The world has watched in horror as Libya’s Colonel Moammar Gadhafi uses his military to attack protesters opposed to his rule, killing hundreds or possibly thousands of unarmed civilians. Many of his own men have refused to fire on their own people, ...

Feb 16, 2011

The world needs more elephant mothers

MELBOURNE — Many years ago, my wife and I were driving somewhere with our three young daughters in the back, when one of them suddenly asked: “Would you rather that we were clever or that we were happy?” I was reminded of that moment ...

Jan 6, 2011

Penalties pay off for New Year's resolutions

MELBOURNE — Sometimes we know the best thing to do, but fail to do it. New Year’s resolutions are often like that. We make resolutions because we know that it would be better for us to lose weight, or get fit, or spend more ...

Dec 16, 2010

Is open diplomacy possible or even desirable?

PRINCETON, New Jersey — When the furor erupted over WikiLeaks’ recent release of a quarter-million diplomatic cables, I was reminded of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s 1918 speech in which he put forward “Fourteen Points” for a just peace to end World War I. The ...

Nov 16, 2010

Consumers should demand diamond clarity

PRINCETON, New Jersey — Diamonds have an image of purity and light. They are given as a pledge of love and worn as a symbol of commitment. Yet diamonds have led to gruesome murders, rapes and amputations. Charles Taylor, a former president of Liberia ...

Oct 9, 2010

Leaders' broken promises are costing lives

PRINCETON, N.J. — In 2000, the world’s leaders met in New York and issued a ringing Millennium Declaration, promising to halve the proportion of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. They also pledged to halve the proportion of people without safe ...

Sep 16, 2010

If wild fish could only scream

PRINCETON, N.J. — When I was a child, my father used to take me for walks, often along a river or by the sea. We would pass people fishing, perhaps reeling in their lines with struggling fish hooked at the end of them. Once ...

Aug 17, 2010

When does transparency start eating its tail?

PRINCETON, N.J. — Transparency seems to be the word of the day in a wide array of policy domains. But is greater transparency always good? Ever since the financial crisis erupted in 2008, there has been a call for “greater transparency” in financial services. ...