Saturday, September 09, 2006

Glenn Loury Changes His Mind About Race

Glenn Loury's About Face

One Sunday evening early in the fall, Glenn C. Loury arrived at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., where a group of distinguished black intellectuals, including Cornel West, Lani Guinier and Henry Louis Gates Jr., was gathering to discuss the Sept. 11 attacks. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the keynote speaker, had flown in to talk about possible shuttle diplomacy with the Taliban. Loury, an economist at Boston University who first achieved prominence as one of the nation's leading black conservatives in the Reagan years, was there on a diplomatic mission of his own: to mend the rift that has long separated him from liberal blacks like Jackson. He knew he might elicit more than a few hostile glances. ''I've been trying to figure out who you were for the longest time,'' one woman said coldly when they were introduced, according to Loury. But he decided to brave it.

Shortly before the meeting, Loury walked into a conference room where Jackson was chatting with Gates. As Loury shook hands with Jackson -- a man he had taken to task in print throughout the 1980's -- Gates effusively praised Loury's book ''The Anatomy of Racial Inequality,'' which will be published early next month by Harvard University Press. In it, Loury makes a striking departure from the self-help themes of his earlier work, defending affirmative action and denouncing ''colorblindness'' as a euphemism for indifference to the fate of black Americans.

Jackson said to Gates: ''This man is smart. Whatever his politics, he's always been smart.'' When the conversation turned to the Middle East, Loury sheepishly reminded Jackson of an article he wrote more than 15 years ago in Commentary attacking him for embracing Yasir Arafat.

''You probably don't remember the piece,'' Loury said.

''Oh, yes I do,'' Jackson fired back.''I looked him in the eye,'' Loury recalled a couple of weeks later, ''and said: 'I really wish I hadn't written that. It was a mistake, and I really regret it.'

Jackson didn't say anything directly in response to it, but during his formal presentation he made a point of singling me out. He said:

'To say that Glenn Loury isn't black because he disagrees with me, well that's just stupid. We can't afford to leave brilliant minds like that by the wayside.''

'''That meeting was the defining moment for Glenn,'' his friend Orlando Patterson, a Harvardsociologist, later said. Or, as another scholar put it to me, ''Glenn is finally able to walk into a room full of black people who don't all hate him.''

Glenn Loury beamed as he told me this story in the backyard of his Brookline, Mass., home, where he lives with his wife, Linda, a labor economist at Tufts, and their two young sons. It was a crisp New England afternoon in early October; the leaves had turned a brilliant red and yellow. Loury's house -- listed, he notes casually, in The National Registry of Historic Places -- is a large Federal-style structure built in 1854 by Amos Adams Lawrence, a wealthy abolitionist.

Loury, 53, is a tall, stocky man with a high forehead and a graying goatee that seems to add little age to a face that will probably always look youthful. On this afternoon, he was wearing a sweatshirt that said ''Professor Man'' -- a superhero he invented to amuse his sons. At once polished and insecure, he rarely misses a chance to mention when someone important has found him ''brilliant'' or ''smart.''

The quality of Loury's mind has never been in question. What his critics have expressed doubts about is his judgment. His career as a public intellectual has been a long and occasionally reckless journey of self-discovery and reinvention, a dizzying series of political transformations and personal crises that have left him with more ex-friends than friends. He is both a genuine maverick thinker and a shrewd political operator, and therefore a source of fascination and bewilderment, even to himself.

Loury was reared by working-class parents on the South Side of Chicago, where the color line was an inescapable fact of life. He vividly remembers being chased by a group of white kids when he rode his bike across that line. Loury fathered two children out of wedlock while he was still a teenager, and he dropped out of college and got a job at a printing plant. But before his eight-hour night shift he took courses at Southeast Junior College, and from there he won a scholarship to Northwestern University, where he studied mathematics and economics. He did his graduate work in economics at M.I.T., under the supervision of the Nobel laureate Robert M. Solow . . .

As America's inner cities fell prey to a scourge of violence, drug addiction and out-of-wedlock births in the late 1970's, Loury came to believe that the greatest threat to racial equality was no longer the ''enemy without'' -- white racism -- but rather the ''enemy within'': problems inherent in the black community. Unless this ''enemy'' was confronted head-on, he argued, blacks would fail to achieve lasting social and economic equality. This was not his only pointed challenge to what he called the civil rights orthodoxy; Loury was also a critic of affirmative action and an outspoken supply-sider, promoting solutions to ghetto poverty rooted in entrepreneurialism rather than government aid.

In 1982, at the age of 33, Loury became the first tenured black professor in the Harvard economics department. Despite his sterling qualifications, he immediately began worrying about what his colleagues -- his white colleagues -- really thought of him. Did they know how smart he was? Or did they think he was a token? Before long, he was on the verge of what he calls a ''psychological breakdown.'' As he remembers: ''I did not carry that burden well. One wants to feel that one is standing there on one's own. One does not want to feel one is being patronized.'' In 1984, he moved over to the John F. Kennedy School of Government, which had been assiduously courting him almost from the moment he arrived.''

Glenn had no doubt that he was smart,'' Patterson says. ''But I think he was always doubtful as to whether the economics department had hired him because of his Afro-American connections. It was that anxiety about what his colleagues really thought that led him to doubt the value of affirmative action.'' His criticisms of affirmative action reflected these insecurities, emphasizing the stigma it imposed on people like himself.

Loury seemed to relish his chosen role as a thorn in the side of the civil rights establishment. In 1984, he delivered a paper in Washington at a meeting of the National Urban Coalition. The room, Loury recalls, was full of movement veterans, including Coretta Scott King; John Jacob, the National Urban League president; and Walter Fauntroy, former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. In a speech calculated to provoke his audience, Loury began by declaring, ''The civil rights movement is over.'' Blacks, he argued, were at risk of being dragged down by problems that could not simply be laid at the door of white racism. The spread of a vast underclass, the poor performance of black students, the explosion of early unwed pregnancies among blacks and the alarming rates of black-on-black crime -- here was evidence, he said, of failures in black society itself. It was time, he said, for blacks to assume responsibility for their own problems; blaming racism for their ills might be emotionally gratifying, but it was also morally obtuse.

When he was finished, Loury recalls, Coretta Scott King wept.

Word of the brilliant, contrarian black economist from the South Side of Chicago traveled fast. Conservative magazines solicited articles from him; The New Republic published his thoughts on race under the title ''A New American Dilemma.'' He befriended William Bennett and William Kristol, his colleague at the Kennedy School. He sat at President Reagan's table at a White House dinner, and he socialized with Clarence Thomas. (Although the two no longer speak, Loury still keeps a picture in his office of himself with Thomas.) While his liberal colleagues were boycotting South Africa, Loury traveled there in 1986 on a trip financed by the white diamond magnate Harry Oppenheimer.

Loury's alliance with the right was rooted in part in his deep aversion to the intellectual conformity he felt the left imposed on black intellectuals; the right offered not only prestige, resources and acceptance but also, it seemed, the freedom to speak his mind. (He was also partly motivated, like many rebels, by seething class resentment: he says that as the son of a low-level civil servant, he felt ''contempt'' for middle-class civil rights leaders.) But during this period, Loury says, he continued to see himself as ''a race man.'' Unlike some other black conservatives, he never called for abolishing the welfare state, and he rejected the idea that America had finished paying its debts to its black citizens.Loury says he wanted to forge an intellectual middle ground, but his willingness -- indeed, his eagerness -- to assail black leaders like Jackson and to align himself with the Reagan administration made him persona non grata in liberal black circles. He was called an Uncle Tom, a ''black David Stockman'' and a ''pathetic mascot of the right.''''It seemed like a classic sellout case to me,'' remembers Patterson, who went 10 years without seeing Loury. Loury's Uncle Alfred -- a proud race man, a steelworker and the patriarch of the family -- thought I was basically selling out to the white man,'' Loury recalls.

The hostility of fellow blacks would eventually take its toll, but at the time Loury took pride in their scorn. While enjoying considerable patronage in the form of corporate consulting fees and grants from conservative foundations, he cast himself -- and was portrayed by his white conservative patrons -- as a brave dissident who rejected the ''loyalty trap'' of reflexive racial solidarity.And yet in his personal life, Loury continued to feel the pull of race. At the same time as he was lunching with fellows from the American Enterprise Institute, he began to immerse himself in a black urban world much like the neighborhood in which he grew up. He started playing pickup chess on tabletops in Dudley Square, an African-American commercial district in Boston. There, his views on social policy were unknown, and he was welcomed, not ostracized, by working-class black men -- the kinds of men he had known on the South Side, the kind of man he nearly became while working at the printing plant. ''There was a feeling for me that I was really blacker than a lot of these liberal black intellectuals who were denouncing me as a traitor to my race,'' he remembers.

As a black critic of racial liberalism, Loury rose rapidly in Republican public-policy circles. In March 1987, he was offered a position as under secretary of education to William Bennett. On June 1, 1987, however, Loury's life veered off-track. He withdrew his nomination, citing ''personal reasons''; three days later, those personal reasons became public: Loury's mistress, a 23-year-old Smith College graduate who had been living, at his expense, in what Boston papers called a ''love nest,'' brought assault charges against him. (She later dropped all charges.)Loury's meltdown had just begun. After the scandal, his trips to Dudley Square became all-nighters. He was staying out on the street until 2 a.m. and venturing into ''some really rough spaces.'' He began freebasing cocaine and picking up women, spending much of his time in public housing projects. ''It was pathological,'' he says. ''I was castigating the moral failings of African-American life even as I was deeply caught up in it.'' All the while, he managed to maintain appearances at Harvard -- according to colleagues, he was lecturing more brilliantly than ever -- and to keep his other life a secret from his wife.''I was bridging the extremities of two worlds,'' he recalls. ''Nobody at the Kennedy School could have known about this other world, and nobody in that world where I was a familiar character because I came regularly with a pocketful of money could have imagined the sophistication and power of the society of which I was a part. So you achieve a kind of uniqueness moving back and forth between those worlds. It was fun. There was a sense of power. There was a real rush. You weren't just breaking the rules. Rules didn't have anything to do with you. This was new territory.''

In late November 1987, Loury was arrested on charges of cocaine possession. After spending several months in the hospital and in a halfway house, he was released, and in January 1989, his wife gave birth to the first of their two sons. Loury's Harvard colleagues implored him to stay, but the scandal haunted him. In 1991, he left for Boston University, which offered him a tenured position and a salary Harvard couldn't match. For the next year, he devoted himself to his research in theoretical economics, which had languished for years, and ''got out of the race business.''Loury's conservative friends stood by him, and Loury remained loyal. During the Anita Hill hearings, he prayed over the phone with Clarence Thomas. In 1995, he founded the Center for New Black Leadership with a group of conservative black intellectuals that included his friend Shelby Steele, the essayist.''We were fellow travelers, Shelby and I,'' Loury recalls wistfully. ''We were partners in an enterprise. We fancied ourselves men of ideas who had found our way to this position out of our willingness to break ranks. It's a lonely business, this black conservative stuff.''

In the wake of his arrest, however, Loury had experienced a personal transformation that was to have far-reaching intellectual consequences. Five months after beating his cocaine addiction, Loury was dipped into a pool of water at a ceremony in Dorchester, Mass., and was born again. He started going to church regularly and was, he says, ''getting caught up in the rapture of these services where people were falling out onto the floor.'' The people who forgave him his sins -- his family, his fellow churchgoers and his wife -- were black, and Loury did not fail to notice this.According to Patterson, ''Religion was Glenn's entry back into the black community.''''The experience did nothing to my politics,'' Loury insists, but the ''processing of my own frailties'' that it engendered, that did have an effect. Now that he was among ''the fallen,'' he found it difficult to keep telling people -- his people -- to ''just straighten up, for crying out loud,'' as he had been for years. It struck him, he says, as ''unbelievably shallow, spiritually, and politically problematic.'' In one of the more revealing passages of his new book, he criticizes the way successful blacks sometimes develop an ''antipathy'' toward the black poor: ''If only THEY would get their acts together, then people like ME wouldn't have such a problem.'''After his brush with the law, Loury became increasingly alarmed by the right's punitive rhetoric on issues ranging from racial profiling to the criminal justice system and wary of the ways in which, as a black man, he was being used as a screen for an antiblack agenda. He was horrified by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein's 1994 book, ''The Bell Curve,'' a social Darwinist tract arguing that black poverty was rooted in inferior intelligence. He was even more appalled by ''The End of Racism,'' the lurid assault on ''black failure'' written by Dinesh D'Souza when hewas a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute . . .In a column called ''What's Wrong With the Right,'' published in the January-February 1996 issue of The American Enterprise journal, Loury wrote that while ''liberal methods'' on questions of race were certainly flawed, ''liberals sought to heal the rift in our body politic engendered by the institution of chattel slavery, and their goal of securing racial justice in America was, and is, a noble one. I cannot say with confidence that conservatism as a movement is much concerned to pursue that goal.''

''The thing about Glenn is that he was always a race man,'' says Anthony Appiah, a Harvard professor of philosophy and Afro-American studies. ''I suspect that the Reaganites he was consorting with never really knew that.''Loury's break with the right became final in the fall of 1996 during the battle over the California Civil Rights Initiative, also known as Proposition 209 . . . . Writing in The New Republic on the eve of the referendum's passage, Loury declared that it was ''flawed both in letter and spirit,'' and went on to excoriate ''colorblind absolutists'' and to argue that ''some 'discrimination' against whites'' may well be ''the inevitable -- and defensible -- consequence of measures to identify and limit discrimination against blacks.''

''There came a point when I couldn't look my own people in the face,'' Loury says, explaining his evolution. ''Everyone else had a place to go. Some would go to Jerusalem. Others would go to Dublin. You see the metaphor. Where would I go? I came back to Chicago and talked to my uncle about what I was doing. There was a reproachful look in his eyes, a sadness. He said to me, 'We could only send one, and we sent you, and I don't see us in anything you do.' Eventually I realized I couldn't live like that.''So where did Loury end up? Not -- and this is what makes him distinctive -- as a traditional liberal. Despite his new appreciation of racial solidarity, Loury remains fiercely independent. His outlook today is an unclassifiable, pragmatic blend of entrepreneurialism, black nationalism, Christian faith and social egalitarianism. Though he has relaxed his opposition to affirmative action, he quibbles with the way it is practiced, recommending instead what he calls developmental affirmative action -- programs intended to improve minority performance while upholding common standards of evaluation. It's a lonely position that infuriates his former allies on the right without endearing him to black liberals like Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West, who recently threatened to resign from Harvard if Lawrence H. Summers, the school's new president, failed to issue a sweeping defense of affirmative action. The private Loury is as hard to pin down as the public intellectual: an affluent homeowner in a largely white suburb who retains a deep respect for the Nation of Islam; a churchgoer who jogs while listening to gangsta rap on his Walkman.''The Anatomy of Racial Inequality,'' based on lectures he gave in 2000 at the Dubois Institute at Harvard, offers a bracing philosophical defense of his new views. Returning to an argument he first presented in his dissertation, Loury argues that blacks are no longer held back by ''discrimination in contract'' -- discrimination in the job market -- but rather by ''discrimination in contact,'' informal and entirely legal patterns of socializing and networking that tend to exclude blacks and thereby perpetuate racial inequality. At the root of this unofficial discrimination, he says, is ''stigma,'' a subtle yet pervasive form of antiblack bias. According to Loury, stigma explains why many white Americans, as well as some blacks, view the imprisonment of 1.2 million African-American men as a ''communal disgrace'' rather than as ''an American tragedy.''Of course, Loury himself once perceived the plight of the underclass in similar terms. As he wrote in 1985, ''Whatever fault may be placed upon racism in America, the responsibility for the behavior of black youngsters lies squarely on the shoulders of the black community itself.'' In his new book, by contrast, Loury asserts that the miseries of the ghetto can ''only be seen as a domestic product . . . for which the entire nation bears a responsibility.''. . . Loury's embrace of his black identity is striking and, to some of his black friends, a touch overeager. ''Glenn is into sports now,'' says Patterson, who formed a close friendship with Loury again in the mid-90's. ''He's into basketball. He's developed a sort of pride in things black, and a sensitivity about any negative comments made about the group. I became a little concerned when Glenn started listening to gangsta rap. I thought there was a little overcompensation involved.''It's hard not to conclude that Loury's intellectual positions today reflect shifting personal needs as much as shifting intellectual convictions. As Patterson points out, ''Glenn had argued so powerfully against affirmative action that the shift in position struck me more as a signal to the black community that he wanted back in, rather than a strongly intellectual change of heart.''Loury, for his part, doesn't disagree: ''I don't know if I want to concede the point to Orlando, that there's no intellectual substance to the change of mind. But I think that's a pretty astute observation on his part.'' Still, he says, ''as long as I can give a more-or-less cogent account of what the current position is, I don't worry about the insincerity problem.'' When I asked him why he constantly changes his mind, he fell silent, pounding his fist on his desk. Leaning back in his chair, he stared quietly at the ceiling. Nearly a minute passed. This was the first time I had seen him at a loss for words. ''There may be something in my personality that doesn't feel comfortable getting along,'' he finally said -- an answer that nicely omits his equally strongdesire to belong.The question of belonging, of course, is one that all public intellectuals face, but it weighs especially heavily on black intellectuals who write about race. If you're a white college professor, you can float half-formed ideas and say controversial things; that's what you're paid to do. To be a black intellectual in the race debate is to have an audience with expectations, even demands; an audience anxious to know which side you're on.You might imagine that the ambiguities of the post-civil-rights era -- in which the problems may be clear but the solutions are not -- would reduce the pressures toward intellectual conformity, but Loury's career suggests that the opposite is true. Debates over affirmative action and reparations are often so polarized as to leave little room for iconoclasts. To dissent, on either side, means you may find yourself in a lonely place, your loyalty -- even your blackness -- in question.Throughout our conversations, I had the odd sense that both Loury and I were after the same thing: an understanding of Glenn Loury -- or, more precisely, how the old Loury became the new Loury. He often talks about his past self as if he were someone else, as if the only thing the two Lourys had in common were a body. Loury has been through therapy, and he often talks like a classic analysand, putting himself on the couch and registering genuine bafflement at how he got there. ''Friends of mine sometimes have joked to me that the old Loury and the new Loury should have a conversation,'' he says, chuckling ruefully.When you spend time with Loury, you feel that he's still sorting out his past, still trying to figure out what has led him away from and toward the embrace of his race. He is incredibly self-conscious, and yet all his introspection has failed to yield any answers that satisfy him. The day after I interviewed him for the first time, we were walking along Commonwealth Avenue, just outside his office. ''I feel like I spilled my guts yesterday,'' he confessed. ''But you know, what I said was something of a revelation to me too. Because parts of my life are still a blur to me. I don't have a coherent narrative yet.''

Adam Shatz is a writer who lives in New York City.

Workaholism II

The Crow of the Early Bird
New York Times
THERE was a time when to project an image of industriousness and responsibility, all a person had to do was wake at the crack of dawn. But in a culture obsessed with status—in which every conceivable personal detail stands as a marker of one's ambition or lack thereof—waking at dawn means simply running with the pack. To really get ahead in the world, to obtain the sacred stuff of C.E.O.'s and overachievers, one must get up before the other guy, when the roosters themselves are still deep in REM sleep. And of course since so few people are awake at such an ungodly hour, the early risers of the world take special pains to let everyone else know of their impressive circadian discipline.

"I'm an early riser, I'm achievement driven, and oh, my, has it served me well in the business world," said Otto Kroeger, a motivational speaker and business consultant in Fairfax, Va. Mr. Kroeger, who says he routinely rises at 4 a.m., preaches about the advantage of getting up before dawn to audiences and clients. "For 13 years," Mr. Kroeger said, "I never allowed myself more than 4 hours in any 24-hour period. It was all ego driven. My psyche was saying, 'I can do it, I can outlast.' It's a version of the old Broadway song from 'Annie Get Your Gun': 'Anything you can do, I can do better.' "

For late risers, the crack of dawn was a formidable enough benchmark. In today's age of competitive waking, they're made to feel even worse. The writer Cynthia Ozick, who goes to bed after 3 a.m. and wakes up sometime after noon, said she lives with constant disapproval. "I'm a creature of bad habits in the eyes of the world," she said. When Ms. Ozick answers the telephone in the early afternoon, she said, "you're approached in the most accusing voice—'Did I wake you?' "

At least since Benjamin Franklin included the proverb "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" in his Poor Richard's Almanac, Americans have looked at sleeping habits as a measure of a person's character. Perhaps because in the agrarian past people had to wake at dawn to get in a full day's work outside, late sleepers have been viewed as a drag on the collective good.

Even today, said Edward J. Stepanski, the director of the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, "it's a uniformly negative characteristic to be asleep while everyone else is going about their business."

But before slinking back under the covers in shame, slugabeds of the world should consider: Sleep researchers are casting doubt on the presumed virtue and benefits of waking early, with research showing that the time one wakes up has little bearing on income or success, and that people's sleep cycles are not entirely under their control. Buoyed by the reassessment of their bedtime habits, a few outspoken and well-rested night owls are speaking out against the creep of sleepism.

"There are night owls who have just had their fill of people making them feel guilty and of other people who rag on them," said Carolyn Schur, a late sleeper from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who advocates for night owls in speeches and in her book "Birds of a Different Feather." "A lot of people are just saying, 'I can't take it anymore.' "

Whatever the negative associations with sleeping late, scientists say there's good reason to doubt the boasts of the early risers. Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego, said that in one study he attached motion sensors to subjects' wrists to determine when they were up and about. While 5 percent of the subjects claimed they were awake before 4 a.m., Dr. Kripke said, the motion sensors suggested none of them were. And while 10 percent reported they were up and at 'em by 5 a.m., only 5 percent were out of bed.
Dr. Stepanski said the same is true of people who boast they need little sleep. In a study in which subjects claimed they could get by on just five hours' sleep, he said, researchers found the subjects were sneaking in long naps and sleeping in on weekends to make up for lost z's.
"There's a tendency to generalize and to do it in a self-serving way," Dr. Stepanski said. "If your view is that you can get by on less sleep than the average person, then you're going to play that up."

Scientists call early risers larks, and late sleepers owls, and speak of morningness and eveningness to describe their differing circadian rhythms. Researchers believe that about 10 percent of the population are extreme larks, 10 percent are extreme owls and the remaining 80 percent are somewhere in between. And they say the most important factor in determining to which group a person belongs is not ambition, but DNA.

"Timing of sleep is genetically determined, whether you're an owl or lark," said Dr. Mark Mahowald, the medical director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center. While most people are a little bit owl or a little bit lark, for others, Dr. Mahowald said, altering sleep habits is "like changing your height or eye color."

Dr. Christopher R. Jones, the medical director of the Sleep-Wake Center at the University of Utah, said that just as there are morning people, scientists have found morning flies and morning mice. Variations in sleep patterns among the population, he added, may have benefited the species.

"The whole tribe is better off if someone is up all the night, listening for a lion walking through the grass," he said.

The rhythms of modern times are determined not by fanged predators, of course, but by the 9-to-5 schedule of the workaday world. While those hours would seem to benefit larks, there is little evidence that night owls are any less successful than early risers. Dr. Kripke said that a 2001 study of adults in San Diego showed no correlation between waking time and income. There's even anecdotal evidence of parity on the world stage; President Bush is said to wake each day at 5 a.m., to be at his desk by 7 and to go to sleep at 10 p.m., while no less an achiever than Russian President Vladimir V. Putin reportedly wakes at 11 a.m. and works until 2 a.m.
Night owls thrive, it seems, by strategizing around the expectations of the early crowd. Bella M. DePaulo, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who goes to sleep around 3 a.m. and wakes about 11 a.m., said that before she answers the phone in the late morning, she practices saying "Hello" out loud until she sounds awake. Ms. DePaulo said she has been a night person since childhood, and that she gravitated toward academia in part of because of her sleep habits.

"Academia is a good place to be if you're out of the mainstream," she said. "If you're doing 80 hours of work a week, what does it matter what 80 hours you work?"

Dr. Meir H. Kryger, a professor of medicine and a sleep researcher at the University of Manitoba, said that many people choose professions in line with their circadian rhythms.

"There are whole professions that tend to be larks," he said, like bankers and surgeons. "Very often people self-select themselves into that kind of career." Owls, he said, tend toward the entertainment or hospitality industries and the arts. But not everyone manages to find a perfect fit.

Drue Miller, a design and marketing consultant in San Francisco and the creator of a satirical late sleepers' bill of rights online bulletin board, said that when she worked as a Web designer, she was able to indulge her night owl tendencies by coming in late in the morning and working into the evening. That changed when she became the boss and found herself adjusting her schedule to fit the perception that people who run things are at their desks early. "I felt like I was being a 'bad boss' by showing up so much later," she said.

Perhaps the biggest boon to night owls in keeping up with the larks has been the Internet. Ms. Schur, the night owl advocate, said she spends the wee hours shopping, paying her bills and doing her banking online.

"It's a vehicle for maintaining a night owl lifestyle," she said of the Web. Ms. Schur added that if she is expected to get some bit of work to clients or colleagues by the early morning, she typically does it late at night.

"People will call me and say, 'Hey, your e-mail said 2 or 3 in the morning—did you really send it at that time?'" Ms. Schur said. "I say, 'Yes.' "

For people desperate to change their circadian rhythms, doctors say, there are some options. Dr. Kripke said that light therapy, melatonin and large doses of vitamin B12 can be used to adjust the body's natural clock. (Dr. Kripke outlines these treatments in a free e-book on his Web site But because sleep rhythms are so ingrained, the treatments must be practiced continually and so for many are impractical.
"People come to my clinic and want to change," said Dr. Jones of the University of Utah, "and I tell them I can't, I don't have a genetic screwdriver to get in there and tweak the gene."
Of course for hardened members of the early-to-rise crowd, any talk of being a slave to a notion as wispy as circadian rhythms is a sure sign of weakness. Their message to the drowsy is more or less: Get an alarm clock.

"If you work two extra hours a day," said Brian Tracy, the motivational guru, "you will outstrip everyone else in your field. The question is, where do you get those two hours? Early morning time is the most productive. It does no good to do work later in the day, because by then your batteries are burned out. Most successful people try to get up by 5 or 5:30 in the morning."
He added: "Getting up late, having fun at work, these are all for losers."

Workaholism I

No Sleep Till Touchdown
NFL coaches, the hardest-working men in human history.

By Justin Peters

The key play in the Miami Dolphins' 28-17 loss Thursday night to the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn't a play at all. Dolphins head coach Nick Saban inexplicably waited until the last possible second to challenge a highly questionable fourth-quarter Steelers touchdown. The refs didn't see him throw the red flag, and the touchdown stood. A rough break, to be sure, but it's only one game. Will Saban lose sleep over it anyway?

That goes without saying.

Saban epitomizes the modern NFL head coach. His in-season preparations resemble those of a student in the midst of a five-month cram session. His offseason work is just as taxing. Earlier this year, Saban turned down an invitation to dine with George W. Bush because it would have conflicted with practice time. Skipping out on dinner with the president is one thing—but Saban also turned down a chance to play golf at Augusta National. "Where I come from, there is no fun-loving," the coach once said. "You work. You work hard. And good things happen." Or, as the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi once wrote, "He's a single-minded workaholic control freak who always looks perpetually constipated."

Saban's not the only coach who fancies himself a long-haul trucker. Kansas City's Herman Edwards begins his workday at 4:30 a.m. Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden is known as "Jon 3:11," because that's the time he wakes up in the morning. He used to be considerably more mellow: When Gruden was in Oakland, he'd start his mornings at 3:17. In 2003, he co-wrote a book titled Do You Love Football?!: Winning With Heart, Passion, and Not Much Sleep. It's unclear what Gruden loves more—football or staying awake.

The list of workaholic coaches goes on: In his first run with the Redskins, Joe Gibbs had his wife tape dinner-table conversation so he could catch up on his home life at work. During the season, Eagles coach Andy Reid puts sofa cushions on his office floor and sleeps on those. (Why not just sleep on the sofa?) Bill Belichick, for his part, says he never sleeps at all.

Judging by the hours they claim to put in, NFL head coaches have the most demanding job in the world—medical intern, first-year associate, meth tweaker, and 1920s-era trans-Atlantic pilot rolled into one. It's no surprise that the rate of attrition among head coaches is so high. A 2002 Pro Football Weekly series on coaches pinpointed two ways that the clipboard carriers could lower their blood pressure: retirement and death. With that in mind, it's perhaps understandable why coaches might want to seize every possible moment to do … whatever it is that they do.

What exactly does a head coach do for 23 hours every day? If the exhaustive EA Sports video game NFL Head Coach is to be believed, the football coach's day consists of scrolling through interminable menus and trying to find the volume control to mute Trey Wingo. Even if the job's a little more complicated than that, there's no way it can require that much effort. Imagine telling George Halas that he should have worked 20-hour days. He would have laughed you out of his office, then gone back to inventing the T-formation. No matter how many variations on the spread offense you come up with, it's still the spread offense, not Fermat's Last Theorem.

Indeed, the head football coach has never done less coaching than he does now. The guy with the biggest whistle has a fleet of coordinators and position coaches that handle all the grunt work, from conditioning to game-planning to skill-training. And the head coach is only rarely the general manager, so he's not in charge of player personnel moves. Instead, the coach functions as a sort of CEO, coordinating large-scale strategic planning while ensuring all members of his organization perform competently.

Viewed through that lens, this endemic insomnia shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, CEOs fetishize waking up early just as much as football coaches. Disney President Robert Iger's day begins at 4:30 a.m. The head of the William Morris Agency sleeps only three hours a night. In a 2005 New York Times piece on the business world's early risers, one motivational expert explained the phenomenon: "Getting up late, having fun at work, these are all for losers."

For these overachievers, sleep is for the weak, and dedication is measured by how much time you put into a job. Endurance is a way for someone like the minuscule Jon Gruden to prove his masculinity. Maybe he can't bench-press 500 pounds, but Gruden can go without sleep for a week. Take that, Mike Holmgren!

Plus, it looks better to fans if the head coach is thought to be perpetually drawing X's and O's. In 2002, the Washington Redskins brought in Steve Spurrier, whose laid-back approach to coaching was worlds apart from the amped-up style employed by his predecessor Marty Schottenheimer. "If it takes six hours to get a good plan ready, why do you need 26 hours?" asked Spurrier, who saw nothing wrong with golfing on off-days and getting to work at a leisurely 7:30 a.m. Spurrier lasted two undistinguished seasons before the Skins, tired of losing, rehired Joe Gibbs—who, in his first stint coaching the team, removed all clocks from the practice facility's walls. Are you ready for some football? Joe Gibbs always is.

But in the end, it's not that clear that these sleepless nights make that much of a difference. Miami missed the playoffs last year, as did Andy Reid's Eagles and Herm Edwards' Jets. The Bucs won their division but lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Super Bowl-winning Steelers are coached by Bill Cowher, who sleeps at home and rarely misses his kids' sports games. Cowher was also on the winning end of last night's Dolphins-Steelers matchup. As a man who is well acquainted with the joys of REM sleep, Cowher might not win any masculinity points from his fellow coaches. But at least he's alert enough to throw a challenge flag in time.