From NYRB, a review of Vincent Van Gogh: Painted with Words: The Letters to Emile Bernard by Leo Jansen. An interview with Peter Gay, author of Modernism: The Lure of Heresy, from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond. Chaim Soutine is "the most unknown, underrated great artist of the 20th century". A review of Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy by Michael S. Sherry. Charitable magic: An article on Harry Potter and the hugely profitable sketches. The dance of evolution, or how art got its start: What is the evolutionary value of art and why do we humans spend so much time at it?
From Time, is Facebook overrated? Google is preparing a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep on their personal-computer hard drives. Russell Fish may redefine computer industry: He claims to have invented e-mail. He holds a world skydiving record. But his current invention promises to top them all. E-mailers send a message: Please don't leave paper trail — they aim to reduce printing, but some doubt it will work. Steven Berlin Johnson on the pothole paradox: Why building the Geographic Web is hard, and why it's worth doing. The addict's veto: Why should problem gamblers ruin online betting for everyone? Larry Lessig on how creativity is being strangled by the law. A look at why creative people are putting their work free on the Net. Pay me for my content: How long must creative people wait for the Web’s new wealth to find a path to their doors? Land of free stuff: You want it? It's yours. From a college education to your favorite shampoo, it's all happening gratis on the Internet. In defense of lurking: Solitary consumption, not interactivity, may be the best thing about the Web. In MySpace suicide case, community fights back: After a teen girl falls victim to a Web hoax, angry neighbors take matters into their own hands. A look at how the case of a cyberbullying suicide stokes the Internet fury machine. An article on how to punish a cyber-bully.
From Commentary, a review of The Stillborn God by Mark Lilla and The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea by Remi Brague. A review of Evolving God: A Provocative View of the Origins of Religion by Barbara J. King. A review of Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome by Clifford Ando and Jorg Rupke. A review of Blasphemy in the Christian World by David Nash. From Cracked, a look at the five biggest badass Popes. What are the Knights Templar up to now? (and more) The inside story of the Western mind: A review of Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians by Fergus Kerr. A review of Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia by John Gray. From Ovi, an article on religion and the secular state. Why do religions now use the conjunctions "religion and morality" or "religion and ethics"? The phrases are not, historically, within their remit. To a group of earnest academics who study faith, the Flying Spaghetti Monster — the spiritual icon of a new internet-based religion — is more than just a spicy pop-culture dish.
From TNR, a review of Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy Against Global Terror by Ian Shapiro. A review of Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender by Kenneth R. Timmerman. Osama’s man in America: His job — keep the Viagra and the gossip flowing while praying for a Giuliani victory. Bad Ideas: The law promoting outstanding excellence in fighting terrorism—and why you never heard about it. Where boys grow up to be jihadis: Many of the men involved in the Madrid train bombings came from one small neighborhood in the Moroccan city of Tetouan. A number of would-be suicide bombers in Iraq are from there, too. What is it about the place? An interview with Bernard-Henri Levy on Pakistan, Ayyan Hirsi Ali and the war on terror. Should the U.S. abandon Pervez Musharraf? Daniel Markey and Husain Haqqani debate. Benazir Bhutto knows how to tell Western audiences what they want to hear, but when the former prime minister had a chance to shut down Pakistan’s nuclear Wal-Mart, she looked the other way instead. A look at what Nawaz Sharif's return means to Pakistan.
A review of The Story of Measurement by Andrew Robinson. The first chapter from Benjamin Franklin's Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey by Paul C. Pasles. A review of Perfect Figures: The Lore of Numbers by Bunny Crumpacker. Good stories, good math: Young children who show sophisticated story-telling skills go on to demonstrate greater mathematical ability. Alexis Lemaire can calculate the 13th root of a 200-digit number in just over a minute. In fact, he could be the greatest "mathlete" ever, but why does he want to spend four hours a day practising, and what's so special about 37? A review of Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart by Ian Ayres. A video that's worth a million words: Award-winning video reveals the simplicity and beauty of an abstract mathematical tool.
From Foreign Policy, an article on the world’s biggest military buildups: A look at the countries that are going large while everyone else is slimming down. Promoting innovation: Can Gen. David Petraeus fix the Army's broken promotion system? Saving our troops: Evangelical singer Eric Horner is the darling of the American military, and the bane of non-Christian soldiers everywhere. From TAC, a cover story on hired guns: While the volunteer Army struggles, the business of war booms. From Wired, a look at how technology almost lost the war: In Iraq, the critical networks are social, not electronic. From Foreign Policy, an interview with Phebe Marr on the end game in Iraq. A review of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal by Anthony Arnove. A look at why Pax Americana — U.S. attempts to govern the world — is today failing everybody, including America. Persuading Them: Want the world to like us again? Think diplomacy. The Brand Old Party: It's hard to deny the election of a Democrat would result in a a big boost to America's international brand.
From The New York Observer, Judith Regan has theories of who drove her from HarperCollins; here are some: Kerik, Ailes, Giuliani, Murdoch, Jane Friedman; retribution is her plan; and an article on the most popular publicist in New York: Sloane Crosley, 29, has shilled for Joan Didion, Jonathan Lethem and—hairball!—Dave Eggers. Now she’s got her own book—and shiny hair that will make you weep! Literature's invisible arbiters: We never get to read them, but reader's reports for publishers can make or break books, particularly so for translations. More on How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard. Why we read: At a time when books appear to be waging a Sisyphean battle against the forces of the Internet, the notion that someone could move from literary indifference to devouring passion seems, sadly, farfetched. Saving millions of lives is one thing but a well-stocked bookshelf is equally alluring: Is it possible to fall in love with a man from the contents of his bookshelf? Hard to say goodbye: It looks like hardbacks are on their way out and the line between literary and genre fiction will now begin to blur. "I no longer want to be a paperback reader": They seemed a good idea at the time, but the years, sunlight and central heating are taking their toll. Can Amazon save the e-book? The online retailer takes a crack at selling a portable book-reading gadget. Literature after books: The coming of the ebook is likely to reshape both how we read, and how we write. Think global, read local: Reading as a group activity rather than a private act has become a national phenomenon, but in western North Carolina they’ve taken a more local approach. The Soviet Union was once the best-read country in the world, but these days Russians prefer reality TV.
G. A. Cohen (Oxford): A Truth in Conservatism: Rescuing Conservatism from the Conservatives. The real heroism, restraint: Conservatism's task is to distinguish between what government can and cannot do, and between what it can do but should not. A review of Michael Gerson's Heroic Conservatism: Why Conservatives Should Embrace America's Ideals—and Why They Deserve To Fail If They Don't. If conservatism is the ideology of freedom: Ain't conservative freedom great? Lib-er-tar-ian: A freewheeling rebel who hates wiretaps, loves Ron Paul and is redirecting politics. The centre-ground’s shift to the left: Michael Lind on the new political centre.
From Newsweek, an interview with Jill Rappaport, author of Mazel Tov: Celebrities' Bar and Bat Mitzvah Memories (and a review). In Search of Superman's Inner Jew: The Man of Steel wasn't Jewish, though his creators were. Civilization and Its Discontented: Exactly who heeded the call of Abraham? Book touring makes a writer wonder. An excerpt from How Jews Became Germans: The History of Conversion and Assimilation in Berlin by Deborah Hertz. Portrait of a Lost Town: Through words and images, Mayer Kirshenblatt brings to life the Polish town he left in 1934. How Jews are still "acting black" in 2007: From White Negro to Jewish Hipster. A look at how young Jews are most comfortable being Jewish when surrounded by non-Jews.
In one impolite exchange, a mirror of Spain’s curious relationship to its old colonies. Bigmouth strikes again: Despite the King of Spain's now-famous rebuke, Hugo Chavez still won't shut up — what will it take? Communism's comeback: With Hugo Chavez history is repeating as farce. After the Caudillo: Michelle Bachelet, the president of Chile, is one of a growing number of female heads of state in Latin America. But for her, the political being personal goes way beyond gender. From Business Week, an article on Brazil, the new oil superpower: State-run Petrobras' "monstrous" new oil find has wide-ranging implications for the South American country, the oil majors, oil services providers, and beyond. The discovery of a huge new oil field has the potential to transform Brazil into a global energy powerhouse and to reshape the politics of this energy-starved continent. A warning for reformers: Latin Americans expect more from the state and less from the market.