Lasman: No country for old Westerns

January 14, 2011 • 0
‘True Grit,” the Coen brothers’ latest foray into bleak landscapes and bleaker psyches, is that rarest of cinematic phenomena — a critical and commercial success. Financially, it has far eclipsed the director/writer duo’s “No Country for Old Men,” which bagged a Best Picture Oscar in 2007 and earned over $110 million in three weeks. Given »

Lasman: The path to the oasis

December 3, 2010 • 19
Shari’a, like most legal codes from the 7th century, is not well-suited to many aspects of life in a modern liberal democracy. Particularly notorious are the huduud, or “limits,” which detail offenses against God that require particularly severe punishment — these are the beheadings, severed hands and stonings the media is so keen to associate »

Lasman: When thinking wasn’t a crime

November 12, 2010 • 0
Seventeen months since violent repressions extinguished the latest set of hopes for liberalization in Iran, two minor but resonant diplomatic victories have just been scored over the Islamic Republic. On Tuesday, UNESCO withdrew its endorsement of a World Philosophy Day to be held in Tehran, citing vague conditions that the host country had failed to »

Lasman: I would I were a careless child

November 5, 2010 • 1
A bright young man is seduced by a powerful ideology, appealing to his own cultural roots but manifested in an armed struggle in a remote country. The war pits native fighters against soldiers of a foreign empire, and is presented in his social circles as a spiritual battle of good against evil. He ignores the »

Lasman: The thylacine’s lesson

October 29, 2010 • 2
This past weekend, as I sat munching on Gourmet Heaven sushi and studying a YouTube video of a thylacine, I was struck by a connection between the two. There are at least two good reasons why most people have no idea what a thylacine is. First, it sounds like part of a gene sequence; second, »

Lasman: Dropping “r”s and packing heat

October 25, 2010 • 3
In modern moviedom, there are few consistent early indicators that tell the audience what will transpire in the rest of the movie. I’ll save wailing Arabic soundtracks and the presence of Michael Cera for later. Few filmgoers will miss the significance of working-class Boston accents, which have become synonymous with brutal violence and clannishness, making »

Lasman: The murky parable of the wolf

October 14, 2010 • 0
Moving into an off-campus basement apartment this year brought with it a host of unexpected challenges: sinks unattached to walls, mysterious black gunk on windowsills, and an alarmingly vocal heating system, to name a few. But none were quite as visceral as my first encounters with Scutigera coleoptrata. Scuttling under furniture or luxuriating in my »

Lasman: Some issues are beyond debate

October 6, 2010 • 4
However left-leaning our campus, I like to think that Yalies prefer debates to sermons. We invite speakers like Karl Rove; we host controversially conservative conferences; we prefer engagement to denunciation. Although these are crucial values, I believe there are certain core positions that must remain nonnegotiable, and over which disagreement is morally reprehensible — for »

Lasman: Rethinking hatred

September 20, 2010 • 24
Hate — one of the few emotions with a legal definition — has been all the rage lately. Commentators and columnists debate why “they” hate us, why we hate “them” and whether we should all unite in condemnation of some third entity, be it extremism or global warming. The tumult has found its way to »

Lasman: The Queen’s Singlish

September 10, 2010 • 6
For all its essential dryness, grammar is a deeply emotional subject. However little most of us would like to sit through a sixth-grade English class diagramming subjects and predicates, many people — especially at places like Yale — practically leap at the opportunity to splice any split infinitive that comes their way. Some governments, it »

Lasman: Taking a backseat

August 27, 2010 • 0
In Sikkim, the little thumb of India that juts north into the Himalayan foothills between Nepal and Bhutan, there are no seatbelts. As it was explained to me on our winding drive up to the school one typically foggy morning, this is so that if the car falls off a cliff, the passengers have a »

Lasman: Our memory to bear

April 15, 2010 • 0
If you spent Sunday as I did, basking in glorious sun on Cross Campus, you might have heard, undercutting the laughing conversations and whirring Frisbees, another sound. Names — hundreds of names, read in a steady monotone, hung on the breeze. Over the course of six hours, in half-hour shifts, two students sat at a »