From CQ Politics, more on the increasing relevance of the Center of American Progress. Economic advisers to President-elect Barack Obama marched into the spotlight last week — who knew that there would be so many of them? Lessons from 40 years of education "reform": Let's abolish local school districts and finally adopt national standards. Once a quixotic slogan, the idea of actually dismantling every nuclear weapon is attracting mainstream policy thinkers. Matthew Yglesias on how to repair our relationship with Europe. A review of Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme by Calvin Trillin. Michael Phillips and Keith Sutherland. All the presidents' books: Barack Obama isn't the first American president to cause tremors in the literary world. Figures of Subjective Destiny: Alain Badiou on Samuel Beckett, and 35 propositions from Logiques des mondes. From Metapsychology, a review of Radical Alterity by Jean Baudrillard and Marc Guillaume; a review of Forgiveness: How Religion Endangers Morality by R. A. Sharpe; a review of Happiness: A Revolution in Economics by Bruno S. Frey; and a review of America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction by Brian Alexander. Some might call it prostitution; Melissa Beech calls it a "mutually beneficial arrangement" that pays for her killer wardrobe. Why are Christians having better sex than the rest of us?
From The American Conservative, a special issue on the legacy of George W. Bush. From The Economist, a special report on Russia. From The National, the situation in Afghanistan is not as bad as you've heard, it's worse — Nir Rosen reports; and angry young men: A review of The China Fantasy: Why Capitalism Will Not Bring Democracy to China by James Mann and Chinese Cyber Nationalism: Evolution, Characteristics, and Implications by Xu Wu. From In Character, a special issue on forgiveness, including essays by Theodore Dalrymple and Michael Dirda. From NYRB, a review of Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947–1963 by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff (and more from Bookforum); and Orhan Pamuk on his Turkish library. Amazon Warriors: Thanks to the Internet, everyone's a book critic. The ideas of the pioneering anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss still inform contemporary understandings of the human mind and its cultures, says Dan Sperber. Why piracy pays: An interview with Peter Lesson, author of The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates. Why don't we hang pirates anymore? Bret Stephens wants to know. Noam Chomsky on the election, economy, war, and peace. Jeffrey Leonard on the $30 billion rebate: Why car buyers, not car companies, should get a bailout.
From The National Interest, Daniel Drezner on oil dependence as virtue: It turns out, a world without oil dependence is a world that doesn’t need an American superpower; a review of books on the Arab center; Jacob Heilbrunn on Reflections from the Right: A review of books; a review of Will Terrorists Go Nuclear? by Brian Michael Jenkins; and terrorists are getting creative — what can we do about it? "Our culture is better": An interview with Geert Wilders, champion of freedom or anti-Islamic provocateur? Do conflicts cause poverty, or vice-versa? Democratic doubt: What happens when political freedom unleashes epic violence? An interview with James M. McPherson, author of Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. Left Turn Ahead: William Appleman Williams and Gabriel Kolko impart vital lessons for the Right. Michael Dirda reviews The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil by Steven Nadler. A review of The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism by Edward Feser. Next year In Birobidzhan: An article on Stalin’s Siberian Zion. The next thing in student loans: Investors pay your bills — you give them a share of your future. A review of Dilettanti: The Antic and the Antique in Eighteenth-Century England by Bruce Redford. More and more and more on Stop Me If You’ve Heard This by Jim Holt.
From Dissent, a symposium on The First 100 Days; and the world's warden: Crime, punishment, and politics in the United States. From Radical Middle, an article on making the U.S. justice system less mechanistic and more compassionate. Sympathy for the Devil: Crime stats say L.A.'s streets are safer than ever, so why are gang hoods still so bloody? What is life really like for the police who tackle serious crime? Louis Theroux found out. From TNR, better than a bailout: Here's how to rescue Detroit without forcing them into bankruptcy; an the Great Detroit Paradox: How much of the blame should fall on the unions? From Triple Canopy, the gift of eternal life: A filmmaker visits the Holy Land Experience theme park, where Christ is crucified twice a day; specters of a young Earth: The dinosaurs at Kentucky’s Creation Museum are stalking evolution, reason, and the American city; and currents in logic made ancient, for OS 9 — an artist project bringing together the fragments of Heraclitus and the calculus of truth tables. The ghost of cotton: How vanished plantations still shape American voting. A review of Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton (and more and more; and more from Bookforum). Google’s Gatekeepers: Nicole Wong and her colleagues decide what the world can see on YouTube — are they also determining the limits of free speech?
From Action Yes, an essay on Wittgenstein, Deleuze, and the Political Grotesque; and an article on Comixs and the Lowbrow. From Secular Web, John W. Loftus on why he's not a Christian: A summary of his case against Christianity. From New Humanist, struggling to choose the top religion? Can't decide between Bible-thumping evangelism or benign, gentle Buddhism? Make the process fun and easy with "God Trumps"; and fifty years of solitude: Half a century after the revolution, is Cuba turning to new gods? Americans are slowly waking up to the scientific consensus that climate change is a man-made phenomenon — why is it taking so long? Curing Diversity: The new medicine shows that we’re biochemically separate and unequal — and regulators are starting to catch on. From NPR, here's a history of museums, "the memory of mankind". A review of Desire: A History of European Sexuality by Anna Clark. The Medium: An article on Virgil Griffith, Internet Man of Mystery. From Time, can Michelle Rhee save our schools? No one is attacking Washington, D.C.'s stagnant culture more boldly than Michelle Rhee, head of the city's failing schools — is there a lesson here for our nation's leaders? (and more) From Citizen Economists, an article on true economic democracy: Can you have a free country without elections? Here's an A-Z of English words with surprising origins.
From Conversations with History, an interview with Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side: How the War on Terror Turned into A War on American Values; an interview with Philippe Sands, author of Torture Team: The Rumsfeld Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. From Reason, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch on The Libertarian Moment: Despite all leading indicators to the contrary, America is poised to enter a new age of freedom; and are you better off than you were 40 years ago? Government has grown, but freedom has grown faster. The GOP's McCarthy gene: Think Goldwater is the father of conservatism? Think again. Conservatism's hope, the tubes: Republicans need to embrace the same netroots base-building that the left has mastered. An interview with Travis Johnson, the founder of Progressive Republicans. A review of Theodore Roosevelt: Preacher of Righteousness by Joshua David Hawley. Step aside: What does the Obama generation mean for the old heads? Who are the better managers, political appointees or career bureaucrats? The Next FEMA: Barack Obama must begin rebuilding federal agencies fast or risk seeing his entire agenda undermined. Thomas Frank on why government by contractor is a disgrace: Many jobs are best left to federal workers. Danielle Allen on Citizenship 2.0 in the Internet. An article on James Zogby and the politics of perception.
From Arion, Clinton W. Marrs on Paideia in America: Ragged Dick, George Babbitt, and the Problem of a Modern Classical Education; Maria Rybakova on two genders of the soul regarding the love of God; an article on the mystery of Socrates’ last words; a look at the singular circumstance of an errant papyrus. Art and apocrypha: An article on the fraught beauty of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Suketu Mehta on what they hate about Mumbai. From TNR, Joshua Kurlantzick on what's behind the rise of terrorism in India — and why it won't end soon; and why are conservatives heaping praise on Hillary Clinton as Obama's new secretary of state? From The New York Times, a look at Barry McCaffrey’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex. Jacob Weisberg on loyalty, the most overrated virtue in politics. From The Salisbury Review, an article on the suicide of cricket; and there is probably no more damning indictment of British society than the fact that thousands of prisoners each year refuse the offer to be released early from prison. Theodore Dalrymple on the quivering upper lip: The British character, from self-restraint to self-indulgence. We have a f@%king indecency problem — what's the Supreme Court to do? Tim Harford on why it's so hard to predict how bad the recession will be. More and more and more and more and more on Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money (and an excerpt and a video).
From The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik reviews books on Samuel Johnson (and more); policing Afghanistan: An ethnic-minority force enters a Taliban stronghold; an article on Naomi Klein and the new new left; the only compelling argument the automakers can make at this late date is that they will not suffer alone; and James Surowiecki on Obama’s economic team. From New York, of all the villains to emerge in the financial crisis, none has been quite so reviled as Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld. UFO enthusiasts call on Obama to release X-Files. He's not black: Unless the one-drop rule still applies, our president-elect is not black. The Hillary Clinton of private schools: Michael Schaffer on what Sidwell Friends says about the Obamas. The gloom that has fallen over the book publishing industry is different from the mood in, say, home building — at least people know we’ll always need houses. A genius guide: An excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers (and more). In the unlikely event that Gladwell is stuck for an idea for his next book, perhaps he could tackle the notion of the elastic limit. An article on the dumb, dumb world of Malcolm Gladwell: A guru for the brain dead. From Samar, the terror of the aftermath: As the smoke lifts from Mumbai, skepticism must prevail over those conjectures which support the official state narrative. An article on Tristan da Cunha, the most remote place on Earth.
From NYRB, how historic a victory? Michael Tomasky reviews Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry Bartels and Red, Blue, and Purple America: The Future of Election Demographics; Michael Massing on Obama: In the Divided Heartland and Joan Didion and Darryl Pinckney on Obama: In the Irony-Free Zone. Cass Sunstein on Obama the Visionary Minimalist: He seeks consensus on "what" to do, not "why" to do it. Here are three reasons why Obamania isn’t just completely ridiculous. Memo to the White House staff: Congratulations on your appointment; here follows a handy list as you begin your duties in the White House. It’s only rock and roll but the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t like Guns 'n Roses' "Chinese Democracy" (and more). From NPR, Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri and Joseph O'Neill on what it means to become an American (and from Bookforum, a review of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and an interview with Jhumpa Lahiri). From The Smart Set, when is a world record a sad affair? When it's noted in Guinness World Records 2009 (and more); and palate or palette? A look at the unlikely relationship between modern art and modern cooking. Monks in the charts, exorcisms on TV, a statue of Jesus sexually aroused: Mark Lawson on why artists can't resist the lure of Christianity.
From Policy, Jeremy Shearmur on Popper’s critique of "free-market ideology"; and an article on the past and future of the debate between libertarians and conservatives. From Modern Age, a special issue on the range and originality of conservative reflection, including David Clinton (Baylor): The diplomacy of conservatism and the conservatism of diplomacy; Fatos Tarifa (EMU): The poverty of the "new philosophy"; a review of books on Russell Kirk; and a review of The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory by Amanda Anderson. Hear no genes, see no genes, speak no genes: John Derbyshirethe on the jargon of “culturalism”. Ron Rosenbaum on everything you need to know about Hitler's "missing" testicle. Sincerity with a motive: Michael Weiss on what David Foster Wallace taught us about television and fiction (and more from New Statesman). Thomas Kinkade paints erotica — we'll say that one more time, to make sure it sinks in. From Fernand Point to Joel Robuchon: Is French cuisine dead? One war, two fronts: What’s next in Iraq and Afghanistan? Experts opine. Why churches fear gay marriage: The crusade for Proposition 8 was fueled by the broken American family, explains gay Catholic author Richard Rodriguez. The Best Gays of Our Lives: TV offers perhaps the best chance for gays to make public relations inroads and gain cultural acceptance.