From young love to a documentary on capital punishment, here are the 10 movies that wowed Monitor film critic Peter Rainer at the multiplex this year
Amazon is known for its bargains, but did you know you can also use the site to fritter away colossal amounts of money? Of course you did. But do you have any idea how much money? We went through each of Amazon's departments looking for the most expensive item, and what we found was surprising. While there were some objects of genuine value, we found many others that were absurdly overpriced, with sellers often charging millions – or even trillions – of dollars for everyday products. Some of these prices are surely inadvertent. Maybe someone accidentally keyed an inventory code into the price field, or maybe they forgot to convert the currency from rupees. Perhaps others are simply attempts by the retailer to better understand Amazon's search algorithm. And just maybe a few of them are people with dreams of striking it rich. It is, after all, a free country. Note that this 26-item list was compiled in December 2011, and that Amazon's inventory changes quickly. To see what are currently the most expensive items on Amazon's, simply visit one of Amazon's departments and sort the items by "Price: High to Low." You'll probably want to disable one-click shopping first, just in case.
From the ultra-violent 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' to 'Hugo,' Martin Scorsese's love letter to silent films, the movie listings this holiday season are full of films that came from the printed page. Here are some that are already out as well as a few that are yet to be released.
On issues of foreign policy and national security, stopping Iran, supporting Israel, and standing up to China are three themes GOP candidates are using to hammer at what they consider President Obama’s weakness and highlight what they hope will be seen as their own toughness. But Americans don't seem to see Mr. Obama as particularly soft, and even many Republican leaders rank Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as the administration's best asset. Take a look at where each of the GOP hopefuls stands on foreign policy and national security issues.
How do you compress a complicated novel into a two-hour, cinema-friendly format? The answer, most often, is: you can't. A better solution for many authors is to have their books turned into HBO series. The end result is often an in-depth adaptation – with story and characters intact – that would have been impossible get at the multiplex. Here are some of the best-known books that have been turned into successful HBO series – with many more to come.
The third son of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il appears well on his way to succeeding his father, in name if not in style and substance. He will lead the committee in charge of the funeral on Dec. 28 and will then be referred to as “successor.” Just when he will assume the real titles held by his father is a matter of intense speculation. Past precedent suggests a wait of as long as three years, according to Korean custom. For now, Kim Jong-un, 28 or 29 years old, faces the prospect of manipulation by high-ranking relatives and generals. “He’s very much an untested quantity,” says Shim Jae-hoon, a political analyst in Seoul. His lone qualification, according to Mr. Shim, is that “he symbolizes the house of Kim” – a reference to his grandfather, long-ruling “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, and his father.
Energy and the environment are typically “back burner” issues in national elections, but both are huge this year for Republicans. From tarring President Obama’s administration with allegations of mismanagement and favoritism for pushing renewable-energy and a “green jobs” agenda, to lambasting “job-killing” environmental regulations, GOP candidates have embraced both energy and environmental issues with gusto. Take a look at where each of them stands.
What makes for a peaceful society? Hot spots from Congo to the Middle East would benefit from such knowledge. But so would the United States, which, at home, isn’t always so harmonious and abroad, is still at war in Afghanistan. The Institute for Economics and Peace, an international research group, has come up with eight ingredients for more peaceful societies. They’re laid out in a report, “Structures of Peace,” based on the institute’s annual Global Peace Index and more than 300 data sets from around the world. The US does pretty well on five of them, but falls far short on three key ingredients. Michael Shank, vice president of the institute’s US office gives his take on eight ingredients America needs to reap the economic and social benefits of peace.
Is your car ready for winter? The average age of a vehicle in the United States is 11 years, which means that many cars on the road today have been through more than a few winters. Fortunately, most cars manufactured in the last 15 years are built to withstand the test of time – and weather – provided they receive the proper care. This is especially important during the winter months when cold weather can take a toll on older vehicles. Simple maintenance and good driving habits can help lengthen vehicle life, prevent costly repairs, and most importantly, ensure that you arrive at your winter destinations safe and sound. Here's a six-point checklist for winterizing your high-mileage vehicle:
Christopher Hitchens, who passed away this week in Houston at age 62, was remembered for his one-liners and willingness to write or speak about any controversial subject. Over the years, he published books including 'God Is Not Great' and the collection of essays that came out this September, 'Arguably.' He also wrote for Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, Slate and the magazine The Nation and often served as a TV commentator. Here are some of his more memorable opinions.
One of the best ways to teach kids about money is to make it fun. There are plenty of toys and games – even books – that do just that. Here are my 15 recommendations for money toys and games that entertain as well as teach something about how to handle cash, ATM cards, debt, and so on. These money games and toys are age-specific, so click through to the age of the child you plan to buy for. (Descriptions include links to examples from Amazon.com, but there are many alternatives you can find).
I've often thought that Ebenezer Scrooge's famous indictment of holiday well-wishers would make a terrific set-up for a mystery. "If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart." Failing that, here are five 2011 mysteries for the suspense lover on your Christmas list. A legend returns, officially; murder pays a visit to Austen; an Old Bailey hack reminds us how much we miss his creator; a Scottish writer returns to old haunts with a new hero; and a freelance journalist stumbles onto murder and Noel Coward impersonators in rural Michigan.
Henry Clay. Al Smith. Thomas E. Dewey. Their names probably prompt hazy recollections of high school history class – but not much else. By missing out on the presidency, many would say they lost their place in history, too. But even those who didn't take the oath on Inauguration Day had their impact. Here are five great examples from Scott Farris's new book 'Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation.'
Newt Gingrich is a big ideas guy. Ask anybody. Some of the ideas end up working, like the one a couple of decades ago that the Republican Party could actually take control of the House after 40 years of Democratic rule. Others are a little out there. An elaborate system of space mirrors to light highways? Check. Say what you will, but at least the former House speaker – and now the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination – has a fertile imagination. Here are some of his more unusual ideas.
It's on all the bestseller lists and it is definitely the book of the moment. 'Clockwork Prince' is the second in author Cassandra Clare's projected 'Infernal Devices' trilogy (which is in itself a prequel to Clare's popular 'Mortal Instruments' series). 'Clockword Prince' is set in a Victorian London with angels, vampires, and warlocks where a heroine named Tessa gets caught in the war between the strange Magister and the demon-fighters known as the Shadowhunters. With her companions, the moody Will and frail but kind Jem, Tessa must journey to a manor house that holds secrets of Tessa's past and present-day horrors for all three. But once you've read 'The Clockwork Prince' – what next? Here are a few books to keep you entertained at least until Book No. 3 of 'Infernal Devices" comes along.
In his new book 'World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business As We Knew It,' former Fast Company editor-in-chief John A. Byrne offers advice for those who want to be entrepreneurs along with insights from those who have already made it. Here are 10 of the 25 businesspeople that Byrne names in his book as game-changers.
By 2050 most of the world will live in cities, a shift that will influence culture, investment, and policy. Here are the top spots for projected growth, according to the London-based City Mayors Foundation, which studies urban affairs: Sources: City mayors, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, US Department of State, websites of cities
Social policies are a defining issue in this, or any, Republican race. With the GOP electorate increasingly focused on social issues in recent decades, their leaders' views have shifted in kind. At stake: the support of the powerful evangelical conservatives, so-called values voters for whom social issues like abortion are deciding factors. While they have their differences, all the main candidates espouse conservative social values. Take a look at where each of them stands.
No one knows what turns a toy into a must-have phenomenon. Some years,something pops out of nowhere and is immediately snapped up. Other years are quiet (including 2011, retailers say). Here’s a look back at seven toys that became blockbusters in their day and left an imprint on American culture:
Before Congress shuts out the lights and goes home for the holidays, one last bit of business is to extend the tax breaks or tax fixes that, though designated “temporary,” get renewed year after year. They are typically grist for some of the most important dealmaking in any session. Sixty-seven tax provisions are set to expire Dec. 31. At least half are typically extended retroactively.
Plenty of bookstores vanished this year, but books sure didn't. More readers discovered the joys of reading them on screens, leaning in to peruse everything from blockbuster bios and zombie adventures to the latest hot novels from the chilly confines of Scandinavia. Here's a look at 10 stories that captivated us as we turned the pages of 2011:
Where would Christmas be today without Ebenezer Scrooge or the Nutcracker? Here are six ways in which literature has given Christmas its groove.
Each proving that a picture is worth far more than a thousand words, here are three favorite 2011 photo books chosen by the Monitor's photo staff. They offer images that range from the Great Depression to a behind-the-headlines view of Africa to a study of humanity's impact on the Earth.
In politics, a gaffe is often described as a "truth told by accident." Mitt Romney has had relatively few of them during his time in politics, but lately, the former governor of Massachusetts has had a bunch. The most recent: a leaked video that shows Mr. Romney dismissing President Obama’s supporters as ‘victims,’ dependent on government. The video stoked criticism of how the candidate’s unforced errors are preempting debate on Mr. Obama’s record, especially on jobs and the economy. Here’s a list of the most memorable verbal missteps.
If Mom and Dad want to use an an iPad, why shouldn't Junior get a tablet computer, too? Many parents appear to be following that line of reasoning, judging by the popularity of tablet-style toys and gadgets this holiday season. Not that everyone loves the idea. Many child-development experts say it's best for kids not to have too much "screen time" each day, for one thing. At the same time, there's a long tradition of kids using gadgets modeled on those used by adults. For shoppers weighing a purchase, here's a look at five options that have been reviewed by Consumer Reports or other reviewers.