Arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence. Not a pretty cocktail of personality traits in the best of situations. No sirree. Not a pretty cocktail in an office-mate and not a pretty cocktail in a head of state. In fact, in a leader, it's a lethal cocktail.
We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.
A workday lunch that lasts as long as a transcontinental flight is an impossibility for all but the most pliant and footloose of food tourists. To get in the game, you need a thick wallet, an adventurous palate, and a whole lot of time.
I have always thought you could take the measure of a man by his sports manners - that is to say, the way in which he conducts himself on the playing field, or even over a game of chess or cards.
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi looks in the mirror and sees a playboy of the old school. And men such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Charlie Sheen no doubt look at Berlusconi and think, 'Role model!' Women, of course, know otherwise. They see him as an aging, pathetic buffoon.
The danger of leaving overwhelming wealth and power in the grasp of a small minority is a lesson that leaders such as ousted Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak have learned a little too late, as the demonstrations across the Arab world indicate.
The fact is that movie stars are as insecure as the rest of us - if not more so. Many live in a luxurious bubble in which their best friends are their trainer, their hairdresser, their publicist, and their Kabbalah instructor.
It's no surprise that the Bush administration's bullying swagger and blithe ignorance have caused much of the Muslim world to hold the U.S. in rock-bottom regard.
Many men think they're playboys, but they invariably land wide of the mark. Surrounding yourself with champagne, fast friends, and paid escorts is the very definition of the word 'loser.'
Only institutions that go about the old-fashioned business of taking in deposits from customer A and lending them out to customer B should be called banks. The rest should call themselves what they are. 'Parlors' would be appropriate, or 'dens' - words more suitable to venerable betting pursuits.
There are similarities between being an editor and a tailor. Tailors have a vast supply of fabrics, buttons and thread at their disposal and put it together to make a whole. That's what an editor does - looks at society at a given time and pulls together the interesting aspects into a single issue each month.
It's estimated that across Africa 100 elephants are killed for their tusks every day. It takes nothing more than simple math to get to what that adds up to in a year, and it's a distressing figure.
I did a bunch of blue-collar jobs, because I knew I'd wind up with a white-collar job at some point, and I wanted to, I don't know, I just wanted to taste life. I dug graves for a while, I worked as a stock boy in a big department store, I worked in a bank.
New York has arguably become the quintessential 1 percent city, a city that has been so given over to the rich that you now have to be rich to live here. Or not live here: New York's also a preferred destination for foreign money spent on vast, lifeless apartments in the sky that are occupied a couple of weeks a year at most.
Memory is often - perhaps usually - a distorting lens: what we think we remember isn't the way it was at all. It's what we'd like to remember.
Satire works best when it hews close to the line between the outlandish and the possible - and as that line continues to grow thinner, the satirist's task becomes ever more difficult.
Issues such as transparency often boil down to which side of - pick a number - 40 you're on. Under 40, and transparency is generally considered a good thing for society. Over 40, and one generally chooses privacy over transparency. On every side of this issue, hypocrisy abounds.
War is a form of really bad manners, in a strange way. Invading a country I think is just the worst possible manners. 'You're not invited!' Gate crashing on a large scale!
To discuss a Martin Amis book, you must first discuss the orchestrated release of a Martin Amis book. In London, which rightly prides itself on the vibrancy of its literary cottage industry, Amis is the Steve Jobs of book promoters, and his product rollouts are as carefully managed as anything Apple dreams up.
It's a rare moment when we take a break from the tribulations of the daily rat race to reflect on assumptions and values that we casually accept as gospel.