From New York, if there’s one sentiment that unites our divided populace, it’s that America ain’t what it used to be — but is our country really entering its twilight, or are we just in the midst of yet another declinist panic? American civil religion in the age of Obama: An interview with Philip S. Gorski. Is our patriotism moral? The unique mission of the American project allows traditional patriotism and universal morality to co-exist. Arts, crafts, moral character: America’s summer camps have a surprisingly political history. A review of The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism by Jeffrey Bell. A review of Beyond Red and Blue: How Twelve Political Philosophies Shape American Debates by Peter S. Wenz. State of Disunion: How do we cross our bipartisan divides? Bob Cohn on 21 charts that explain American values today. Dan Goodman on how there are two nationalities for the nation of the United States. Samuel Arbesman on the invisible borders that define American culture. Here is a collection of maps about how we Americans see ourselves. Welcome to America, please be on time: What guide books tell foreign visitors to the US.
Andrew Tutt (Yale): Must Foreign Affairs Be Special? From TNR, David A. Bell on the bookless library: Don’t deny the change — direct it wisely. Fernweh is what the Germans call that longing for faraway places; of such nonexistent locations, the mythical continent of Magellanica surely is the crowning glory. Nordic Exposure: We’re having a real Scandinavian moment — Nordic thrillers piling up on the best-seller list and on TV; The Scream, by Norway’s Edvard Munch, fetching $120 million; H&M colonizing Western malls, alongside Ikea. It may be possible to leapfrog government entirely — imagine “seasteading”, living on a floating city outside of any country’s jurisdiction. Ariau Towers: An Amazonian hotel is the ultimate treehouse and provides stilt based accommodation. You can download A Little Bit of Everything For Dummies (20th Anniversary Edition).
Marko Milanovic and Vidan Hadzi-Vidanovic (Nottingham): A Taxonomy of Armed Conflict. Sean Lawson (Utah): Putting the “War” in Cyberwar: Metaphor, Analogy, and Cybersecurity Discourse in the United States. Tim Stevens (King's College): A Cyberwar of Ideas? Deterrence and Norms in Cyberspace. Dorothy E. Denning (NPS): Stuxnet: What Has Changed? Is it possible to wage a just cyberwar? It's time to get serious about the moral questions resulting from our new class of weapons. How dangerous is a cyberattack? It could cause a blackout — or maybe a nuclear war. Where the drones are: Mapping the launch pads for Obama's secret wars. Drone pilots have a day job waiting for a kill shot a world away. A Game of Drones: Precision-guided mythology masks a brutal truth. Drone killings would be criminal acts if they occurred inside the US — does it make legal sense that these killings would be legal outside the US? John Kaag and Sarah Kreps on the moral hazard of drones. Obama’s decisions about Predator strikes have reportedly been influenced by Augustine and Aquinas — would the saints agree? David Luban examines U.S. drone policy in light of Christian just war theory.
Neil H. Buchanan (GWU): Why We Should Never Pay Down the National Debt. When law professor Frank Alexander wrote the book on land banking, he didn’t expect it to help solve a foreclosure crisis. Why morality is fashionable again: After decades of self-interest, ethics are suddenly a talking point again. The philosophy of tax: A review of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. Fussbudget: Ryan Lizza on how Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P. Let us now praise James Agee: The journalist who pioneered serious film criticism showed a cinematic touch in all of his writing. Former Citigroup derivatives banker Omer Rosen discusses his time manipulating LIBOR numbers for a client. The movers and shakers of scandal-ridden Wall Street are busy scapegoating a “few rotten apples” — and hoping the rest of us don’t notice they’re still holding billions in ill-gotten gains.
From the Scholar and Feminist Online, a special issue on a New Queer Agenda. Yuvraj Joshi on respectable queerness. An academic auto-da-fe: A sociologist whose data find fault with same-sex relationships is savaged by the progressive orthodoxy (and a response). From Tikkun, Arthur Slepian on an inconvenient truth and the myths of pinkwashing (and responses). Whiteness is the standard of beauty in American gay male culture; do white gay dudes realize it? The Chickens and the Bulls: William McGowan on the rise and incredible fall of a vicious extortion ring that preyed on prominent gay men in the 1960s. More and more and more on Linda Hirshman’s Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. After years of viewing the LGBT community as the "worst of what sin had to offer", Tim Kurek wanted to find out what it was like on the other side. Suzy Khimm on America’s gayest ZIP codes, in two tables. You don't have to move to the Big City to live a happy gay life. From Vice, here’s an etiquette guide for straight people in gay bars. Ben Cake on six things men can learn from getting hit on by men.
Joshua J. Yates (Virginia): Abundance on Trial: The Cultural Significance of “Sustainability”. Why my baby is less disgusting than yours: Psychologists researching the human reaction of disgust find that on the whole we prefer our own family smells. A review of Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs: Science, Philosophy, and Their Histories by Wallace Matson. From the Claremont Review of Books, James Q. Wilson on Tocqueville and America. Does it make any sense to create a wellbeing index? Julian Baggini and Richard Layard discuss. From New Left Project, an interview with Herman Schwartz on the political economy of multiculturalism (and part 2). Just before the Arab Spring, Vogue writer Joan Juliet Buck did an infamous interview with Asma al-Assad, Syria's first lady; for the first time, she tells the story behind the debacle.
From Conflict and Communication Online, a special issue on anti-Semitism research. From Quest, a special issue on the making of antisemitism as a political movement. A review of A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism by Phyllis Goldstein. From the YIVO Conference on Jews and the Left, Norm Geras on Alibi Anti-Semitism (and more). From Chronicles of Love and Resentment, Eric Gans on antisemitism, the fatal paradox; and on Jewish Firstness I: To the Holocaust and the Postmodern Era. Asya Pereltsvaig on Hungary’s rising hyper-nationalist Jobbik Party and the legacy of anti-Semitism and anti-gypsyism. Nico Voigtlander and Hans-Joachim Voth on the medieval origins of 20th century anti-semitism in Germany. Hatred transformed: How Germans changed their minds about Jews, 1890-2006. A Polish historian's accounting of the Holocaust divides his countrymen. A review of A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World’s Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor by Caroline Stoessinger.
A new issue of American Teacher is out. From The Washington Monthly, a special report on the Next Big Test: A new wave of school reform is about to break — will it change classrooms for the better? From American Educator, the assault on teachers’ unions: If teachers’ unions really are a problem, why aren’t the states that forbid collective bargaining performing better?; and a model lesson: Pasi Sahlberg on how Finland shows us what equal opportunity looks like. Se Hoon Park on why the Korean school system is not superior. The American education system has never been better, several important measures show — but you’d never know that from reading overheated media reports about “failing” schools and enthusiastic pieces on unproven “reform” efforts. Is there a way to get our brightest students from the best colleges to become grade school or high school teachers? Dumb kids’ class: Mark Bowden on the benefits of being underestimated by the nuns at St. Petronille’s.
From New Politics, a symposium on disability rights. John Amaechi was the first major league sportsman in America to come out as gay; now he’s a psychologist, an OBE and an outspoken atheist. From The Progressive, Ian Murphy on the 9 most loathsome lobbyists. Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist turned computer scientist, has a new project: charting his every bodily function in minute detail — what he’s discovering may be the future of health care. How might the federal budget be balanced without increasing revenues? A review of Political Writing: A Guide to the Essentials by Adam Garfinkle. Phoenixes: The critics did not like I’m Still Here; if, as many suspected, it was a “mockumentary” — by then an established comic genre — then why perpetrate so much deceit? A review of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years by Geoffrey Nunberg.
Antti Kauppinen (TCD): Greed and the Crisis. Benjamin Kunkel reviews Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order by Philip Coggan (and more) and Debt by David Graeber. A review of The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy by Yanis Varoufakis. From The Weekly Standard, when bankers behave badly: Irwin Stelzer on why Mitt Romney should call them on it (and more). Liberating banking from the traders who now run it will reduce the corruption of our politics; break up the banks — break them before they break us again. David Cay Johnston on how corporate socialism destroys. Capitalism is regulation: A review of Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told about the Economy is Wrong by Edward Conard. The rise of inequality is at the center of the current economic and financial crisis. A review of Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis by James Galbraith (and more). Read this book to understand Wall Street: A review of Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street's Wildest Con by Guy Lawson.