From The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin on the myth of voter fraud. An interview with Allen Raymond, author of How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative, on how dirty tricks work (and a review). A computer scientist and a mathematician have created a method to achieve greater ballot security than is possible with paper or software alone. Why does the US have a drawn-out presidential electoral system that is a far cry from the "one vote for all" principle? The Supreme Court will hear the most significant voting rights case since Bush v. Gore—and it could affect the 2008 election. An article on why Indiana's voter-ID law is harmful and worthless. The rhetoric over Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is hot, but neither side has very strong evidence in the case.
From Flak, an article on Christopher Hitchens as the dismemberment man. There's a men's route and a women's route: Research tries to explain why the sexes choose different strategies to get from A to B. We live in a world where "flip-floppers" are treated with contempt; a survey of top thinkers serves as a reminder of how healthy it is to change one's mind. The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges might seem an unlikely candidate for Man Who Discovered the Internet. Among the Spires: Between medieval and modern, Oxford seeks equilibrium. Young adults only: Sex! Drugs! Study Hall! Radar helps you choose the racy teen novel that's right for you. Fashionomics: A look at why fashion should be taken seriously. When the giving is good: Harvey Mansfield on saving Christmas from the economists.
From Slate, an article on the hidden wounds of Congo's wars: How do you end an ethnic conflict? How Kenya lost its way: For decades Kenya was the African success story, yet the election has exposed bitter divisions — now the country is on the verge of meltdown (and more and more), with no solution in sight). An interview with Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai (and more). Kenyan identity, so deliberately formed in the test tube of nationalist effort, has over the years been undermined by their leaders. Beyond tribalism: Kenya's violence is not just about ethnicity — age and poverty are factors too. An article on the population emergency in Sub-Saharan Africa. From The Wilson Quarterly, a cover story on the coming revolution in Africa.
J. David Velleman (NYU): The Gift of Life. From Philosophy Bites, an interview with Barry Smith on Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy; and can philosophy help us understand friendship? An interview with Mark Vernon, author of The Philosophy of Friendship. The first chapter from The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy by Bernard Williams. Acting up: He speaks approvingly of Lenin and Robespierre and packs lecture halls across the world — but is "stand-up philosopher" Slavoj Zizek serious? Philosopher goes into a pub and says to the barman: Academics aren't known for humour. Philosopher Stephen E. Braude embraces the study of the paranormal in The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations.
From The Wilson Quarterly, Daniel Akst on how competition seems to be hard-wired into humans, but is that such a bad thing?; Miles Hoffman on how competition can produce excellence, but there are many other factors at play; Benjamin Barber on how Americans are obsessed with competition, but they forget that cooperation and collective art are the foundation of freedom; and Tyler Cowen on how competitors can suddenly appear out of nowhere. As the world gets complicated, regulation finds some new fans from an unlikely quarter. Billions of economic decisions from entrepreneurs, consumers and investors are a force beyond the control of regulators.
A review of The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000 by Colin Kidd. A review of Dred Scott and the Politics of Slavery, by Earl M. Maltz and Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil by Mark A. Graber. A review of This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust (and more and more). A review of Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore. More on A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. A review of South Carolina at the Brink: Robert McNair and the Politics of Civil Rights by Philip Grose. What if white history was excluded from society's consciousness except for a handful of days?
Gloria Steinem on how gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House (and a response). Angry White Man: James Kirchick on the bigoted past of Ron Paul (and selections). He's absurdly likeable, and a favorite of the faithful, but does Mike Huckabee have a prayer? Has Huckabee made irony the stalking horse for social conservatism? Evolution not '"just a theory", and yes, Huckabee, it does matter. Evolutionary politics: Why we should care what candidates think about biological evolution. Voting in the age of Dr. Phil: The presidential race isn't about issues; it's a search for the person who validates us. A review of books by the candidates. Here are proposed campaign slogans for the presidential candidates.
From Borderlands, a review of Post-Marxism Versus Cultural Studies: Theory, Politics and Intervention by Paul Bowman. From The Chronicle, twenty years ago, Russell Jacoby chided his peers for their academic insularity in The Last Intellectuals. Will the Humanities save us? Stanley Fish on how the humanities are of no use — and there’s nothing wrong with that. From Inside Higher Ed, God, fashion, affect: What’s hot and what’s not (theory?) at the book exhibits of the MLA; and the executive editor of MIT Press Roger Conover has been at his post for three decades; Scott McLemee checks in with a patriarch of academic publishing. A review of Aristotle, Emotions, and Education by Kristjan Kirstjansson. Larry Summers meets former student Peter Hopkins, and intellectual sparks fly.
From The Wilson Quarterly, how do our own pasts connect with our larger cultural heritage? Here are 12 ways to respond to that question. Ian Buruma on legislating history. Europe and identity: A review of Amartya Sen's Identity and Violence. From Foreign Policy, Europe’s philosophy of failure: In France and Germany, students are being forced to undergo a dangerous indoctrination: Taught that economic principles such as capitalism, free markets, and entrepreneurship are savage, unhealthy, and immoral, these children are raised on a diet of prejudice and bias; rooting it out may determine whether Europe’s economies prosper. From Sign and Sight, back to Rudi Dutschke's pram: Was 1968 a delayed offshoot of European totalitarianism or groundswell of liberalisation and democraticisation?
Jacob Weisberg on how McCain and Obama are alike. An article on how GOP doubts, fears "post-partisan" Obama, as even conservative media chorus sings Obama's praises. Andrew Sullivan on how Obama has emerged as a liberal Reagan who can reunite America. The Audacity of Mush: Barack Obama wants to move past the culture war — but perhaps not far enough. To some, Barack Obama's hopeful rhetoric seems saccharine and weak — tell that to the hordes of new voters who are flocking to him (but let's hope his sunny bipartisan talk is just rhetoric). Who's afraid for Obama? What the claims that a black man is unelectable say about the rest of us. There's something pathetic and embarrassing about our obsession with Barack Obama's race (which is an advantage in the 2008 race?).