Why is healthcare so expensive? The answer is pretty obvious — profit motive — but the New Yorker's Atul Gawande does do a pretty thorough, knowledgeable job of reporting and explaining how and why doctors lean (or don't) towards more medicine instead of the best medicine. I wish he'd addressed more specific legislative debates, but still a must-read.
Finally, someone walks past the obvious anti-affirmative action red meat of Sonia Sotomayor's ruling in the New Haven firefighter case, and patiently reminds us that no, we're not actually at a point where we can be blissfully free of any racial allowances and considerations.
God bless Dissent magazine: Should We Still Make Things? A Symposium.
Inasmuch as Roberto Bolaño has monopolized the book-reading attention of pretty much every casual reader in the city, you will sound really smart if you drop the names of any of these lesser-known Spanish-language writers, recommended by Chad Post of the heroic lit-in-translation press Open Letter.
The White House art collection: now with 100% less airbrushed Western landscapes, and 100% more on-loan Ab-Ex and Pop Art by Jasper Johns, Bob Rauschenburg and Ed Ruscha (pictured).
New fiction: "In the Crossfire", by Ha Jin, from Granta.
Old clip: V.S. Naipaul and Carl Hiaasen on Charlie Rose, in 2000. This is what's called "Punching above your weight", Carl. Quite possibly literally, given that this is Sir Vidia we're talking about.