Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The Slackers Shall Inherit the Earth.

Jonah Lehrer shares some research indicating that people with higher IQs seem to have minds that are quite active when at rest – in other words, they're daydreamers. As Lehrer notes, daydreaming has a bad reputation. "Children in school are encouraged to stop daydreaming and 'focus,' and wandering minds are often cited as a leading cause of traffic accidents. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, daydreaming is derided as a lazy habit or a lack of discipline, the kind of thinking we rely on when we don't really want to think." This reminded me that scientists have also learned that napping during the day increases productivity , and even prevents heart attacks . This kind of research should be especially relevant to those who live in Washington, a city whose residents sometimes seem to be engaged in an endless contest to see who can log the most hours at their offices. (I may be the only one who believes that when a member of the administration says she's stepping down to spend more...

The Sound of the Melting Pot.

Via Sociological Images , the Modern Language Association has created a terrific set of interactive maps showing where people speak different languages all over the country. You can map a particular language, compare states down to the county or zip code level, and get all kinds of interesting data (the data come from the census – your tax dollars at work). There are lots of interesting things here – did you know that after English, Spanish, Chinese, French, and German, the language most commonly spoken in the U.S. is Tagalog? More than Italian, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, or Polish. There are concentrations of non-English speakers in the places you expect – California, Texas, New York, and so on. But it's also true that with the exception of a few counties dotted here and there, almost everywhere you go in America today, there are significant numbers of people who speak languages other than English at home. Here's the map that shows how many people speak any language other than...

Have Your Burrito, and Eat It Too. With Nutella.

We all know that America has an obesity problem. But guess what – as usual, our brave advertising executives have the answer. First, there's this ad for Nutella. "As a mom," our friendly actress says, "I'm a great believer in Nutella, a delicious hazelnut spread I use to get my kids to eat healthy foods." And what are these "healthy foods," you ask? Bread. With Nutella on it. If you're hungry for more healthy food, you could try taking a carrot, wrapping it in a slice of bacon, and dipping it in chocolate frosting. After all that healthy eating, you might be looking to shed a few pounds. So why not stop in at Taco Bell? The fast-food giant is currently trying to sell us on something they call the " Drive-thru diet ," which involves eating at Taco Bell, and ordering something with less processed cheese than your usual fare. They've even got a spokesperson who lost 54 pounds allegedly doing just this. Public health crisis averted! To appease the spoilsports at the Federal Trade...

The Justices Learn a New Word.

Language is a many-splendored thing, and we should applaud those who explore its farther reaches in search of the most descriptive, interesting, or ear-pleasing variations to use in their speaking and writing. But sometimes, esoteric language is used to obscure and exclude rather that to enlighten and illuminate. Though I'm not much of a fan of Chief Justice John Roberts , I have to give him credit for something he did in court yesterday, calling attention to the scourge that is "orthogonal": Supreme Court justices deal in words, and they are always on the lookout for new ones. University of Michigan law professor Richard D. Friedman discovered that Monday when he answered a question from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, but added that it was "entirely orthogonal" to the argument he was making in Briscoe v. Virginia. Friedman attempted to move on, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. stopped him. "I'm sorry," Roberts said. "Entirely what? " "Orthogonal," Friedman repeated, and then...

Take That, Hippie!

The latest high-profile entry into our Washington media universe, Tucker Carlson 's Daily Caller , launched yesterday. With millions of dollars in venture capital, a staff numbered at 21 (a huge number for an online start-up), and plenty of publicity, the site hopes to be a conservative combination of the Huffington Post and Politico. Out of the box, there are certainly things you could criticize, like the pedestrian design ("Hey, what if we use a lot of bold, blocky capital letters, and everything will be red and blue? No one’s seen that before!"). But there is one thing that really stands out. Carlson has promised that the Daily Caller will do lots of original reporting on Congress and the executive branch, to which we should all say, more power to them. Ideologically motivated or not, we can never get too much reporting. Looking around the site, though, the reporting isn't yet much in evidence. What is evident is a lot of stuff seemingly designed to irritate liberals. Start with...

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