It's Always Something

loose threads from a tightly wound mind.

Nikki Stern

Nikki Stern
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
April 10
whatever sounds good
Sure, come on in
Author of "Because I Say So: The Dangerous Appeal of Moral Authority" ( and "Hope in Small Doses" and busy blogger at


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 18, 2011 8:20PM

The Defenders: One of the Best TV Shows You're Not Watching

As a fan of the smart little "dramadies" on USA Network,  some of which are returning this week, I was already disposed to like The Defenders (not to be confused with the sixties courtroom drama starring E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed), CBS' prime-time offering on Wednesdays at 10 PM*  *updaRead full post »

DECEMBER 30, 2010 5:19PM

Make It Easy On Yourself

 New Year's resolutions: they're irresistible. We make them, break them, flout, revile, or ridicule them but they are as ubiquitous a ritual as champagne on New Year's Eve. The calendar and the clock conspire to awaken in us the promise not only of longer days and warmer weather but al… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 14, 2010 7:27AM

The Holiday Store

Once upon a time, people did not race to the malls in order to dash from store to store in search of the perfect gift, or even an acceptable one. They did not face crammed parking lots, overburdened clerks, uninspiring displays, and a lunch of greasy fries or sugary treats that invariably… Read full post »

DECEMBER 1, 2010 5:38PM

It's All About Me

Advanced disclaimer: this post is not intended to make fun of mental illness; rather it seeks to highlight in a humorous fashion the somewhat arbitrary and, to some, capricious way in which a panel might choose to define and categorize various disorders, with important repercussions.

The other day,Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 17, 2010 7:30AM

Pick Me, Oprah

 I keep forgetting Oprah Winfrey's talk show is going off the air in late May. It's kind of hard to grasp the fact that this ubiquitous cultural icon will end her twenty-five year reign as talk show queen. But she's leaving and, as observed in a recent New  York Times article,… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 11, 2010 11:46AM

Can the Bipartisan Tax Plan Actually Work?

"The chairman of President Obama's bipartisan commission on reducing the national debt outlines a politically provocative and economically ambitious package of spending cuts and tax increases on Wednesday, igniting a debate that is likely to grip the country for years." NY Times, November 11, 2010

P… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 4, 2010 4:28PM

Palin-Rubio in 2012


hink about it. Maybe you don't want to. But you'd better, because it's not too soon and it  doesn't seem so far-fetched.  

Last week's New York Magazine painted a provocative scenario in which Sarah Palin is elected President in 2012: the billionaire mayor Michael Bloombe… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 30, 2010 6:35PM

Pumpkin Spice Schaum Torte w/ Fall Fruit Compote

My sister the cook (not to be confused with my sister the research librarian) and I were reminiscing about Milwaukee the other day. We grew up there, third generation locals on my dad’s side. In those long-ago days, Milwaukee was largely German and Polish. One of Dad’s favorite restaurant… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 27, 2010 9:00AM

Le Loup Garou (the Werewolf)

tree1Like most children, I was frightened by strange sounds, eerie apparitions and  things that went bump in the night. Yet I was addicted to scary stories by Brothers Grimm, and scary characters like the Russian witch Baba Yaga, and the restless monster known as Le Loup Garou.

Folklore had i… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 18, 2010 7:48AM

Good Sports: Robert Sarver & the Phoenix Suns

Last April, if you will recall, the Arizona Legislature passed an ariz-protestximmigration bill that allows state and local police to demand documentation of those who are suspected of being in the United States illegally and then to arrest those who fail to provide it. Described as a necessarily tough mea… Read full post »

OCTOBER 3, 2010 11:12AM

Diva Dog

paw Almost any pet owner will tell you he/she has the smartest dog/cat/pig/parakeet around. We've all received YouTube videos of the singing/dancing/skateboarding dogs or seen the commercials of the wily cat who gets into mischief and blames the dog. Smart.

My dog is not so much smart as manRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 20, 2010 10:19PM

"The Event"

I've been waiting for The Event with a combination of anticipation and trepidation. On the plus side: a mysterioussophiamartinez premise, tireless (endless?) promotion, 24’s executive producers and a mostly terrific cast (Blair Underwood as a Cuban-American President!  Laura Inne/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 9:12AM

No Comment

 When I first moved to New York, the locals, it seemed, were more than ready to offer advice on anything, whether you asked or not: where to shop, where to eat, which subway to take, who to vote for, who to root for, or the best way to get where you… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 19, 2010 11:34AM

Not My Ground Zero

 In the autumn and winter months following my husband’s death on 9/11, my strength came from the architects and designers with whom I’d been associated for several years. I was at the time public relations director of a large architecture and interior design firm in New York. I loved… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 3, 2010 4:28PM

What's Wrong With This Picture?

a_time_cover_0809The powerful image that appeared on the cover of the recent issue of Time Magazine in one sense represents the terrible problem of global violence against women, sanctioned by a hodgepodge of tribal customs, religious misinterpretation and government-sponsored terror campaigns aRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 29, 2010 2:31PM

Security Unintelligence

While everyone has  been pouring over the 92,000 unauthorized documents released by Wikileaks about the progress of our war in agenciesAfghanistan, I'm busy rereading a seventeen-page report from  two seasoned Washington Post reporters, Dana Priest and William Arkin: their summaryRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 25, 2010 2:14PM

Finding Family

Thinking of family makes me sad. Not for reasons you might imagine: absent or abusive father, distant or alcoholic mother, bullying siblings. I grew up happy and healthy, a middle child in a mid-western, middle-class, middle American suburb. Our extended family (eight cousins from three families) c… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 21, 2010 12:20PM

Vaya Con Dios

Just as the war on immigration is heating up in the west comes word of a new coalition that promises support for our beleaguered president. A group of market-savvy Christian evangelicals is coming out in support of illegalimmigration reform, with an emphasis on smoothing the path to legal status for… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 13, 2010 2:29PM

Justifiable Redemption

I've been catching up on the highly original FX series "Justified" and not only because of the incredibly sizzling Timothy Olyphant, timothy-olyphant-picture-3but because the moral ambiguities it scatters across the Kentucky landscape feel so absolutely dead-on.  You do what you have to do and if you don't turn&… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 1, 2010 12:52PM

Good Bless America

Flag1 I love celebrating Independence Day. I'm grateful to live in this country, grateful for the freedoms we often take for granted. I plant my Independence Day petunias (red white and purple but who's quibbling?)  and stick a little flag in the flower pot by my front door.  My husbRead full post »

JUNE 28, 2010 12:22PM

Filter Free

There are any number of ways to teach writing or purport to teach pencilwriting, just as there are many ways to write. And there's something to be said for perfecting the craft, learning what makes a meaningful narrative arc or what constitutes a gripping opening or a powerful closing.

But… Read full post »

JUNE 6, 2010 9:05PM

You Can't Handle the Truth

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live characters was Tommy Flanagan, Pathological Liar. Flanagan, created and played with gusto by Jon Lovitz during SNL’s late-eighties seasons, never Lovitz met a fact he couldn’t embellish, exaggerate and outright twist. He’d start small (“/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 29, 2010 1:47PM

The Burger That Ate My Conscience

 scaleEvery few years I flirt with the idea of becoming a vegetarian. Look at Gwyneth Paltrow; she makes it work. At the very least, I promise to cut out beef. Really, who needs that fat? Those hormones? The carcinogens kicked up by the grill (because of course you're grilling)? What with/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 26, 2010 10:43AM

New Yorkers Ready for 2014 Super Bowl & Global Warming

 It’s official. New York/New Jersey will host the February 2014 Super Bowl in the new Meadowlands outdoor arena. Yes, it’s the first time a Super Bowl will be hosted in an outdoor stadium in the middle of winter but we New York and New Jersey people are a hardy bunch. Actually,… Read full post »

MAY 20, 2010 5:51PM

Seven Things That Make Me Laugh

I've had a bad week. Lousy weather, upset stomach and a kind of post-partum like depression following the release of my book. Or maybe it's more like the end of a wild, crazy affair. Book and I were together day and night for four years. Now he's gone, with vague promises toRead full post »