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John McQuaid

Entries by John McQuaid

The Weird Biology of Chili Peppers, and Why They Really Are Good for You

(6) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 3:41 PM

I'm a journalist and author of the new book Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat. It's a brief biography of our sense of flavor -- how it evolved, what it is, where it's going. I'm blogging on some of the biological mysteries of flavor.


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Bob Woodward Threat Level Omega

(15) Comments | Posted February 28, 2013 | 1:51 PM

Note: This is satire.

Excerpts from the Final Report of the Special Counsel in the Matter of the Woodward-Sperling Investigation.

The custom of decorous conversational exchanges between members of the media and Executive Branch officials is well-established, dating back to the earliest days of the Republic. When this is violated,...

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New Media Doesn't Kill and Aggregation Isn't Personal

(6) Comments | Posted April 8, 2011 | 4:17 PM

The debate over news and new media is too often tribal. And though it may make for lively debate, tribalism impairs judgment. Yesterday, Jeff Bercovici blamed a 21-year-old stringer for the violent deaths of 24 people, including seven United Nations workers in riots in Afghanistan, after AFP published his...

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On Political Madness

(60) Comments | Posted January 10, 2011 | 11:52 AM

Jared Lee Loughner's motives are obscure, but it's hard to disentangle the shooting of a congresswoman, the killing of a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl, and four other people from the political culture that it occurred in, an environment of exaggerated divisions, the demonization of opponents as socialists or traitors,...

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The Racism Faux-Scandals

(361) Comments | Posted July 21, 2010 | 2:09 PM

Sometime in the mid-1990s, I went through a mandatory two-day course of diversity training. The newspaper management required it for all editorial employees after concerted lobbying by African-Americans on the staff who complained of a lot of casual racism in the newsroom. Lord knows, they were right: there was a...

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Will the BP Fiasco Change U.S. Politics? Don't Bet on It

(122) Comments | Posted June 11, 2010 | 5:39 PM

This is a constant drumbeat, but think about it: Isn't it remarkable how transcendently awful BP's approach to the Gulf disaster has been? At each and every turn, with the stakes impossibly high, BP has always chosen to do the wrong thing. There's the substance -- having no emergency worst-case...

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The Real Helen Thomas Scandal

(1582) Comments | Posted June 8, 2010 | 10:32 AM

Last week, Israeli commandos boarded a relief ship attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip and, during a clash with pro-Palestinian activists, shot nine people to death. It was an old-fashioned, bona fide "international incident," a fiasco that raised alarming questions about the current trajectory of Israel's security,...

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NRO and Mother Jones Get Hurricane Katrina Wrong

(73) Comments | Posted May 29, 2010 | 2:56 PM

The Deepwater Horizon disaster has put a renewed media and political focus on the significant government failures of Hurricane Katrina, including the collapsed, flawed floodwalls and levees that put most of New Orleans underwater. There's also an HBO drama now featuring John Goodman's impassioned, expletive-laden speeches on that man-made...

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Why BP = Facebook

(116) Comments | Posted May 13, 2010 | 2:39 PM

This week we've been treated to two unseemly corporate spectacles: the finger-pointing between BP, Transocean and Halliburton over responsibility on the Gulf oil spill, and the squirrelly changes in...

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The Oil Spill: Another Louisiana Tragedy

(132) Comments | Posted April 30, 2010 | 6:54 PM

Is there any more beautiful, yet over-exploited, abused and benighted place in America than the Louisiana Gulf coast? Okay, maybe Appalachia. But today we've got to give this tragic distinction to the delta, where a massive, growing, seemingly unstoppable oil slick is now impinging on its vast, fragile...

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Attn. Republicans in New Orleans: Do You Know Where You Are?

(435) Comments | Posted April 9, 2010 | 1:46 PM

An all-star lineup of GOP pols has gathered in New Orleans for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. But do they have any idea where they are?

Here's what J.C. Watts told the...

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Ignore the Media's Rahm Obsession

(18) Comments | Posted March 10, 2010 | 11:17 AM

I have forced myself to read the late flood of profiles, stories and columns about Rahm Emanuel and I can confidently pronounce: they are all deadly dull. Do not read them! While they offer some insight into the workings of the Obama presidency, they're simply not interesting. They reveal more...

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When the Political System Breaks, Other Stuff Breaks Too

(6) Comments | Posted January 21, 2010 | 12:32 PM

What should President Obama do now? Most of the advice he's getting in the mediasphere, needless to say, is bad -- so I'm not going to add to it. But Scott Brown's win in the Massachusetts Senate race does raise a bigger question: is the system broken? I fear the answer...

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Avatar: No Fantasy

(85) Comments | Posted January 11, 2010 | 11:16 AM

...Is Avatar stupid? The standard rap is that James Cameron's movie turns the complex relationships between civilization and nature into a black-and-white, heroes-and-villains battle. It caricatures corporations (and, more generally, capitalism and Western civilization) as rapacious. Nature and indigenous populations, meanwhile,...

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Not By Maureen Dowd

(7) Comments | Posted January 8, 2010 | 11:53 AM

Obama, Verklempt

It was an indelible Obamamoment. Maybe even an Obamamiracle.

The president was sandwiched between Hillary and Michelle, like turkey on white and pumpernickel with a dollop of dijon, for a photo op with Hamid Karzai. It's the kind of situation that gets all...

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The Jack Bauer Decade

(143) Comments | Posted December 31, 2009 | 9:22 AM

2009-12-31-jackbauer.jpgVengeance -- experienced vicariously via movies or TV -- is one of the purest kinds of emotional satisfaction. And the revenge flick has had something of a renaissance recently, as Stanley Fish notes in this blog post, citing Liam Neeson's memorably-delivered statement...

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Michele Bachmann, Quantum Physicist

(19) Comments | Posted December 14, 2009 | 2:17 PM

"WaPost Publishes Palin OpEd on Climate Science, Michele Bachmann Piece on Quantum Mechanics to Follow" - Firedoglake headline.

(With apologies to Sarah Palin and her ghostwriter. And Michele Bachmann.)

No Solace in the Quantum

By Michele Bachmann

When a piece of bread dropped by a swallow can...

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Let Us Now Give Thanks for Joe Lieberman

(133) Comments | Posted November 25, 2009 | 6:45 PM

Thanksgiving is a time for taking a deep breath and appreciating the under-appreciated. So I thought I would challenge myself this year. Let's take a moment, reflect, and give thanks that Joe Lieberman is in the Senate.

Bear with me here. In the 1990s, I liked Lieberman. Most of his...

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Obama Was Never a Revolutionary

(89) Comments | Posted November 4, 2009 | 2:13 PM

As Jon Stewart put it, "so when does 'hope' turn into 'change'?" As Arianna points out, we still don't know. To any outside observer it sure looks like Obama has lost his campaign mojo and gotten crushed in the whinging gears of Washington's political apparatus. But I'm not so...

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Is Obama a "Narcissist"?

(135) Comments | Posted October 13, 2009 | 11:38 AM

Conservatives are still wandering stunned through the wreckage of the Bush presidency and have absented themselves from the policy debate. GOP politicians are hunkered down waiting for an anti-Obama backlash that may or may not materialize. Instead, as Rick Hertzberg wrote recently, the media personalities are running the show....

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