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The Way the World Turns

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We’ll look at how many democracies have used times of crisis to subvert democratic principles over the last 60 years or so. Then, Jeffrey Lyons talks about his father’s days hobnobbing with celebrities from the golden age of New York nightlife. Also, we’ll take a peek at the critically acclaimed and wildly popular exhibition of Alexander McQueen’s designs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plus, New Yorker writer Nick Paumgarten discusses Internet dating.

Democracies and Emergencies

Elaine Scarry, Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University, talks about the ways modern democratic governments have undermined democracy by invoking the idea of emergency—they’ve bypassed constitutional provisions concerning presidential succession, the declaration of war, the use of torture, civilian surveillance, and the arrangements for nuclear weapons. In Thinking in an Emergency, Scarry looks at why citizens devalue thinking and ignore checks and balances on government power during emergencies, and offers rigorous, effective ways of thinking in times of crisis.

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Notes from “The Lyons Den"

Jeffrey Lyons shares stories from his father, Leonard Lyons, who wrote the famous newspaper column “The Lyons Den” from 1934 to 1974, and knew all the celebrities of the era—from Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill, from Ethel Barrymore to Sophia Loren, from George Burns to Ernest Hemingway, and from Joe DiMaggio to the Duke of Windsor. In Stories My Father Told Me: Notes from “The Lyons Den,” Jeffrey Lyons compiles anecdotes from his father’s best columns, and includes his own interviews with stars of today.

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Curator Andrew Bolton discusses the exhibition “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Organized by The Costume Institute, it celebrates the late Alexander McQueen’s contributions to fashion—he challenged and expanded the understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity. The show features approximately 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from McQueen’s 19-year career. “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” is on view through August 7.

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Sex, Love, and Loneliness on the Internet

Nick Paumgarten, staff writer for The New Yorker, discusses the world of online dating. He looks at the ways programmers, mathematicians, and psychologists have made online dating sites more sophisticated, and investigates whether matchmaking can be reduced to a formula. His article “Looking for Someone” appears in the July 4, 2011, issue of The New Yorker.

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Guest Picks: Jeffrey Lyons

Find out what Jeffrey Lyons, son of Leonard Lyons, has been reading and watching after a recent appearance on The Leonard Lopate Show.

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Guest Picks: Andrew Bolton

Curator Andrew Bolton was moved by the play "Jerusalem." Find out what else he told us after appearing on The Leonard Lopate Show.

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