From Quadrant, an article on diagnosing the new British disease; and a review of books on America as the new Rome. From Literary Review, a review of Alfred & Emily by Doris Lessing (and more, and an interview at Bookforum). Craig Newmark is capitalizing on his success to promote causes he holds dear. Technostalgia: An article on what steampunk is about. Their darkest dealings often go unreported and unnoticed, but from Nairobi to Sao Paulo, many urban gangs are becoming more sophisticated, more brutal, and more powerful than ever. Michael Kinsley on genetic discrimination: Unfair or natural? From US News, an article on ranking the politics of Supreme Court Justices. An interview with Robert Pollock on how The Wall Street Journal editorial page gets made. The Mysteries of the Suicide Tourist: Why the same things that attract millions of happy visitors to New York—the glamour, the skyline, the anonymity—also draw people from around the world to kill themselves here. The evolving Web of future wealth: The web of connections among goods and services in an economy may be the long-missing key to understanding how novel innovations and new wealth arise. From NYRB, Frank Rich on how to cover an election; a review of books on Churchill and his myths; a review of books on the rise of the Muslim terrorists; and a review of books on Iraq: Will we ever get out?
From Doublethink, an article on the perils of keepin’ it real: From rappers to novelists to our very own lives, the cultural demand for authenticity has never been higher; and academia is the last vestige of the crush, but what does it really mean to have a thing for the prof? Here are 8 reasons why this is the dumbest generation. From Boston Review, an interview with Hans Blix on his new book, Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters; and an article on how urban decline is moving to the suburbs. From Canon, here is the conversation Ellen Killoran will never have with Chuck Klosterman. More on Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler. Can Israel survive for another 60 years? Perhaps, but not necessarily as a Jewish state. Ten thought experiments exploring the possibility of Hillary Clinton, nominee. From Cato Unbound, we all own stolen goods — and how defending property rights can help the world’s most oppressed people. Civilization's last chance: The planet is nearing a tipping point on climate change, and it gets much worse, fast. What's your baby's carbon footprint? 8lbs, 21 inches, and 3,800 diapers worth of planet-pummeling joy. From CJR, Ezra Klein on the future of reading and Amazon's Kindle. Who killed the sea lions? A salmon shortage, dead mammals — inside a maritime mystery.
Jacob Levy (McGill): Not so Novus an Ordo: Constitutions without Social Contracts. Let Them Eat Arugula: Hillary sure has become a populist these last few weeks—a conservative populist. A review of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein (and an excerpt at Bookforum). More on The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement by Steven M. Teles. Land of the free? Liberty in America is not quite as revered as its leaders pretend. A review of Aristotle's Politics Today by Lenn E. Goodman and Robert B. Talisse. Has science made belief in God obsolete? An excerpt from The Big Questions in Science and Religion by Keith Ward. Radar goes inside the world's elite secret societies. A look at why a growing number of universities are offering co-ed rooms. From New Statesman, a special issue on 1968, including humanity's last rage: Peter Wilby wonders whether 1968 changed everything — or nothing at all; and more by Eric Hobsbawm and more by Noam Chomsky. 1958, the war of the intellectuals: Fifty years ago, American critics worried about the collapsing distinction among highbrow, middlebrow and lowbrow. Two Cornell psychologists found we have two separate systems for memories, which helps explain how we can "remember" things that never happened. Rules of abstraction: Two rival critics argue over Pollock and De Kooning.
From Scientific American, the economist has no clothes: Unscientific assumptions in economic theory are undermining efforts to solve environmental problems; and brother, can you spare me a planet? Robert Nadeau on mainstream economics and the environmental crisis. Scientists know better than you, even when they're wrong: Why fallible expertise trumps armchair science—an interview with Harry Collins. Should philosophy have something to say to non-philosophers? Should philosophy be pursued only by those trained in philosophy? Cogito poses some big questions to four British and US philosophers. US presidential elections are suspiciously like high school popularity contests, er, elections — it's not who you know, it's who knows you. In pursuing the convenience of a Web 2.0 world, we are consenting to being incorporated into a finely tuned marketing machine, with ever more subtly adapted gears, to our meet our needs — manufactured and otherwise. Game Google, help the world: Why search-engine optimization makes the Web a better place. From TED, Paul Stamets on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world. Edward Rothstein on LSD, a mind-altering drug that altered a culture as well. Belles and tolls: Horse racing, like art and life, comes with tragedy built-in. War of the Babies: When modern warfare and demography square off, demography wins.
From New Humanist, a review of The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley; and Heidegger’s former disciple Emmanuel Levinas, a victim of Nazism, pioneered a humanism for the 21st century. From The Global Spiral, an essay on Emmanuel Levinas’ challenge to the modern European cultural identity. A review of Queering the Underworld: Slumming, Literature and the Undoing of Lesbian and Gay History by Scott Herring; and a review of Political Interventions: Social Science and Political Action by Pierre Bourdieu. From The Nation, from campus to courtroom, longstanding gains for women are being eroded everywhere you look; a review of The Rain Before It Falls by Jonathan Coe. Gary Becker, Myron Scholes, Michael Spence, Ed Phelps discuss the depth of the U.S. financial crisis, its effect on the rest of the world and the commodity price rises. From Vanity Fair, in 1935 oil tycoon H. L. Hunt created what would become a multi-billion-dollar trust for his descendants; a lawsuit by his free-spending great-grandson is shaking the foundations of that mighty family fortune; and the private follies of middle-aged male politicians are treated as weakness, perversion, corruption—anything but the real issue: human desire. Literary criticism could be one of our best tools for understanding the human condition, but first, it needs a radical change: embracing science.
Martin O'Neill (Manchester): Liberty, Equality and Property-Owning Democracy; and Liberal Egalitarian Routes towards Economic Democracy. An interview with Catalan philosopher Xavier Rupert de Ventos: "The reactionary Celine is more interesting than the liberal Rawls". An interview with neoconservative Lawrence Kaplan: "I don't see anything good that has come from this war". The sexiest woman (barely) alive: The female ideal pushed by laddie magazines has become as smooth and lifeless as an iPhone. Here are 5 myths about the best (college) years of your life. An atheist goes undercover to join the flock of mad pastor John Hagee: An excerpt from Matt Taibbi's The Great Derangement. Meet Gus Puryear, Bush's latest villainous nominee for a lifetime judgeship. A review of Daniel J. Flynn’s A Conservative History of the American Left. Is Phyllis Schlafly worthy of an honorary doctorate by Washington U. in St. Louis? An interview with Denis Boyles, author Superior, Nebraska: The Common Sense Values of America’s Heartland. Will we ever get past the cultural wars of the 1960s? Ron Bailey wants to know. Is baseball a global sport? An article on America’s “national pastime” as global field and international sport. Fifty-four years after its publication, Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 transcends the framework within which it was placed.
From Psychology Today, encounters with the opposite sex skew our psyches in such a special way that reason and bias climb right into bed with each other — in this mode, it sometimes pays to deceive ourselves: Welcome to the paradoxical world of mating intelligence. Does your brain have a mind of its own, or why can't we stick to our goals? Blame the sloppy engineering of evolution. From Prospect, an interview with Duncan Fallowell on his writing strategies, how he met Warhol, and why he is the first travel writer who is not a wanker. Downloading democracy: Tara Brabazon takes a listophile’s delight in a celebration of musical progress. A review of books on how the centre of gravity of English has moved. Seven Pillars of Wisdom was hailed on its first appearance as a historical and literary masterpiece. But this memoir of the Arab revolt, and T E Lawrence's other writings, also offer prescient warnings about western policy in the Middle East. From Soundings, happiness in a society of individuals: Zygmunt Bauman looks at the ways in which ideologies of privatisation shape our desires, and at the reasons they are unlikely to be fulfilled; and Jonathan Rutherford looks at contemporary changes in the practices and cultures of capitalism. By turning NAFTA into a punching bag, Clinton and Obama are ignoring the real questions that free trade raises for America.
From Mute, an essay on the immaterial aristocracy of the Internet: A historical account of the all-too-human actors vying for power over the net. From Ctheory, an article on watching the Posthuman Bildungsroman. They're global citizens, they're hugely rich, and they pull the strings: Call them the superclass. In an extract from his book Global Movement, Magnus Wennerhag outlines how the global justice movement differs from the '68 protests: it is more political and aimed at international institutions and a globalized democracy. Marriage, passion, and the individual: An excerpt from Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's Marriage: The Dream That Refuses To Die (and more). You are not your bookcase: Online profiles and painfully constructed "faves lists" have turned us into a bunch of unwitting snobs. The Original Black Man's Guide to the Press: Ten easy rules for spinning the white man's media. Do "local currencies" really help the communities that use them? An excerpt from Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert Pogue Harrison. More and more on Castles, Battles, and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History by Jurgen Brauer and Hubert van Tuyll. PJ O'Rourke on fairness, idealism and other atrocities: Commencement advice you're unlikely to hear elsewhere. An excerpt from The Cost of Counterterrorism: Power, Politics, and Liberty by Laura K. Donohue.
Mikel Burley (Leeds) Immortality and meaning: Reflections on the Makropoulos debate. A review of Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adult's Life—For the Better by Jeanne Safer (and an interview). Lots of animals learn, but smarter isn’t better. From National Journal, the Bush administration's campaign to spread democracy in the Arab and Islamic world is in danger of imploding — the next administration will have to pick up the pieces. Obama and Orwell: What the master Brit can teach Democrats about elitism. The introduction to Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond by David Runciman. Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr talks about his quest for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination. From Reason, who's going to get your wasted vote? A guide to the wildest Libertarian Party nomination fight in decades; and from liberal hawks to "National Greatness" conservatives: More on They Knew They Were Right by Jacob Heilbrunn. Mommy, how did your bosom get so big? There are books to explain grief, jealousy, digestion — but there was one untapped niche. From Mute, is a rabble run media becoming a possibility? And are artists in the vanguard or blocking the way? Larry Gagosian is the man who changed the art world — and he doesn't want to talk about it. More on The Commission by Philip Shenon.
Scott McLemee interviews one of the “new sociologists of ideas", Neil Gross, author of Richard Rorty: The Making of an American Philosopher (and an excerpt). Research shows Socrates in the classroom develops students' thinking and changes the distribution of power. A look at how hoax anti-Obama e-mails still fool dumb white guys. A review of US Versus Them: How a Half-Century of Conservatism Has Undermined America's Security by J. Peter Scoblic. A review of The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria (and more and an excerpt). Despite its negative image, nuclear energy may be the most efficient and realistic means of meeting the rapidly-growing demand for power in the United States. From Der Spiegel, a special report on A Day in the Life of Germans. Why are the presidential candidates—and so many counterterrorism experts—afraid to say that the Al Qaeda threat is overrated? The good news in a dreary scenario is that venues for book reviewing seem to be increasing exponentially on the Web. Fred Barnes writes in praise of the "long" campaign. From Nerve, here is a list of the 50 greatest commercial parodies of all time. Not Black and White: William Saletan rethinks race and genes. Airbrushing celebrity and model photos has become so common that it's a popular pastime for magazine readers to spot the digital manipulations; have photo editors gone too far?