From The Bulletin, is the availability of genetic information dangerous? Algorithmic inelegance: Complexity in living things is a product of the lack of direction in evolutionary processes, of the accumulation of fortuitous accidents, rather than the product of design. From The New Atlantis, Steve Talbott, author of Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines, on Ghosts in the Evolutionary Machinery; and a review of The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth E. O. Wilson. Monkey man: From apes to immortality, Desmond Morris is still fascinated by the human condition. An interview with David Attenborough, the man who’s brought us life on earth, in the freezer, under the oceans and in the undergrowth.
From Al-Ahram, four pillars of Arab salvation: Gamil Mattar sees promising new developments in the Arab world that, if steered in the right direction, can deliver the dream of stability to our region. From The Atlantic Monthly, Jeffrey Goldberg on a report from the new Middle East—and a glimpse of its possible future. Bush of Arabia: This U.S. president is the most consequential the Middle East has ever seen. What happened in the Strait of Hormuz? Fred Kaplan on how to prevent a naval war with Iran (and a video). Follow the path of negotiation and peace: An interview with Shirin Ebadi. From Foreign Policy, an interview with Gen. David Petraeus on how he plans to draw down without leaving chaos behind. The Numbers Guy on a new approach to count of Iraqi civilian deaths.
From The Economist, oil keeps getting more expensive—but not because it is running out. Oil is at $100 per barrel — get used to it, but is $100 oil a big deal? Why would it be so much worse than $99? An interview with David Sandalow, author of Freedom From Oil: How the Next President Can End the United States' Oil Addiction. The Ethanol Fallacy: America needs smart alternative to oil, but the just-passed energy bill puts too much emphasis on the wrong alternative. Behind the buzz over Brazil’s cane-based ethanol production lurk enduring social problems. From The New Atlantis, an essay on achieving energy victory. Researchers have found a way of using sunlight to recycle carbon dioxide and produce fuels like methanol or gasoline.
From Bad Subjects, what would Dr. King do: The new movement against war and racism. A review of Randall Kennedy's Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal. A review of Shelby Steele's White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Right Era. As more people of color transition between genders, the ways that racism is different for men and women come to the surface. A review of Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans by Jean Pfaelzer. What if our prejudices could be transformed into a force for good? Harvard's Todd Pittinsky suggests a new way to think about social relations. An interview with Scott E. Page, author of The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies.
From H-Net, a review of Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty by Jerry W. Knudson and The Idea of a Free Press: The Enlightenment and Its Unruly Legacy by David A. Copeland. From British Journalism Review, an article on how to survive Rupert Murdoch. Jack Shafer on reading the Murdoch Street Journal: Where is the rotten old bastard taking his latest acquisition? Who's afraid of Bill Kristol? Nora Ephron, Josh Marshall and nearly every liberal with a blogging account. A review of The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington by Robert Novak. "The best political team on television"? On election night, CNN runs its preposterous slogan into the ground. The Whiskey Rebellion: In praise of booze in the newsroom.
Ashlie Warnick (Yale): Sex Without Romance: The Political Economy of Prostitution. From New York, there are 45 sex offenders living in one small Long Island town, 17 on the same block, 7 in a single suburban ranch. The virginity dialogues: How Egypt's obsession with sex and virginity relates to the broader socio-economic picture. "Sexual chemistry" is more than just a way of talking about heated attraction; subtle chemical keys actually help determine who we fall for, but our lifestyles may unwittingly undermine our natural sex appeal. Bar Flies: What a new study on alcohol and fruit flies can tell us about how booze affects human sexual behavior. Do monkeys pay for sex? A new study suggests that male monkeys trade favors with females for sex — and that the market price depends on availability.
From Arena, an article on the role of a powerful group of commentators who have sought to reconstruct Australian political culture; why Howard was humiliated: Now that all the celebrations of John Howard’s defeat have begun to settle it is worth reflecting on the reasons for the landslide. An article on the lumps of coal in John Howard’s Christmas stocking. A review of How a Continent created a Nation by Libby Robin. A review of The Lamb Enters the Dreaming: Nathanael Pepper and the Ruptured World by Robert Kenny. A review of Tim Flannery's Chasing Kangaroos: A Continent, a Scientist, and a Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Creature. Are Aussies and Kiwis that different? New Zealand is Australia’s poor cousin; is the Kiwis’ national culture holding them back?
What is it about Mormonism? It's political challenges — and Mitt Romney’s, too — run deeper than theology. Do evangelicals have a future? Leaders see cultural captivity choking out the gospel. Pentecostalism for the exurbs: Joel Osteen's God really wants you to dress well, stand up straight, and get a convenient parking space. At Pathways United, Christian traditions mix with Hindu music and teachings from the self-help shelf; it’s a seductive mix for those scared off long ago by rigid dogma — of course, the approach has its critics. Faith without borders: For Perennialists, all religions lead to God. Where “California” bubbled up: Esalen, birthplace of the New Age, is a victim of its own success. Chateau Scientology: The New Yorker goes inside the Church’s Celebrity Centre.
From The Magazineer, an article on launching a magazine the un-dumb way; a look at Monocle’s disappointing myopia; and an article on how to read Wired revisited. From Atopia, a special issue on the space left for literary, philosophical and artistic journals today. An interface of one’s own: For truly creative writing, word "processing" is not enough. Always skip the first hundred or so pages of a biography: Childhoods are never interesting. How to enjoy how-to books: Antique books of instruction and advice are packed with enjoyably ridiculous advice. An interview with Don Borchert, author of Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library. Words from the "bathroom blogosphere": Mark Ferem documents the best of bathroom-wall scrawls.
From The Nation, an article on the Democratic foreign policy wars. From TAP, a look at how progressives can win on national security. A look at the candidates' foreign policy positions. Madeleine Albright on why the most precious gift the next president could bestow upon America is an end to the politics of fear, and a review of Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership. Whether Republican or Democratic, the next president must quickly devote sufficient attention, political capital and diplomatic energy to two fearsome challenges: nuclear proliferation and climate change. We still need the big guns: Looking ahead, America needs a military centered not on occupying another country but on denying adversaries the ability to attack our interests.