From THE, there was never a golden age in which academic values such as universalism and disinterestedness were not at risk, argues Bruce Macfarlane — but in an age of sponsorism and insecurity, all scholars must hold fast to the precepts that make our intellectual endeavours worthwhile; the Ivy League's autonomy has allowed its members to conquer the world — the UK must loosen the reins on its universities and establish an equivalent, Terence Kealey argues; is the balance of power in world universities rapidly tilting eastwards? The THE World University Rankings do not signal a power shift, but rather show just how far Asia still has to go, Michael Cox argues; and here are the full results of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-13. From University World News, is the Magna Charta Universitatum still relevant? Lee Adendorff wants to know. Who needs college? The majority of Switzerland’s students opt for vocational training instead of college — and that does not mean the country is dumbing down. With legislation to open India to foreign universities still unforthcoming, it remains a difficult environment for Western institutions hoping to secure a lucrative prize. Yojana Sharma on public policy studies, a discipline whose time has come.
Dakota S. Rudesill (Georgetown): Regulating Tactical Nuclear Weapons. Do no harm: Jasmine-Kim Westendorf on arguing for humanitarian intervention. From PopMatters, Nathan Wisnicki writes in defense of Taylor Swift and Gen-Y Pop Music, and Colin McGuire writes in defense of keeping it real, and live. Breaking the grip of the oligarchs: How a tragic twist of fate is fueling a revolt against Armenia’s overweening tycoons. Charles Postel on how the Occupy movement resembles nineteenth-century American populism in its anger at the avarice of bankers and financiers and in its notions of majoritarian democracy; where it differs from the old Populists is in its attitude to the state. John Dawson reviews Growth Miracles and Growth Debacles: Exploring Root Causes by Sambit Bhattacharyya. The history of Western classical music is replete with tales of female composers and performers whose accomplishments and contributions have gone largely unsung. What does sex have to do with world peace? Curt Hopkins on how crowdsourcing could crack the world's oldest writing system. Arika Okrent on 11 weirdly spelled words and how they got that way.
A new issue of Common-place is out. A review of For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence by Alexander Tsesis. Julia A. Sienkewicz reviews Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation by Kariann Akemi Yokota. An excerpt from The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy by Thomas K. McCraw (and more). A new portrait of the founding father challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder. Thomas Jefferson was not a monster: Annette Gordon-Reed reviews Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek. A review of America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837 by Alasdair Roberts. Marcy J. Dinius reviews The Fabrication of American Literature: Fraudulence and Antebellum Print Culture by Lara Langer Cohen. Dorothy Wickenden reviews Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man by Walter Stahr. Abigail Tucker on the Great New England Vampire Panic: Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, farmers became convinced that their relatives were returning from the grave to feed on the living.
From The Washington Monthly, Jeffrey Leonard on how we could blow the energy boom: America’s vast new surplus of natural gas could lead to great prosperity and a cleaner environment — but if we don’t fix our decrepit, blackout-prone electric grid, we could wind up sitting in the dark. A review of Das Recht der: Grundriss einer demokratischen Sittlichkeit by Axel Honneth. Social critique between anthropology and reconstruction: An interview with Axel Honneth. Howard Davies reviews The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off by Justin Yifu Lin (and more). The beauty and delight of mathematics: An interview with Steven Strogatz, author of The Joy of X. From Geocurrents, a look at how Bavarian separatism, a long-standing if still rather minor political movement, is finally getting some attention in the global media; and Asya Pereltsvaig on the elusive Roma and their linguistic legacy. The case of the Mormon historian: What happened when Michael Quinn challenged the history of the church he loved. Hiding in plain sight: William L. Davis on the origins of the Book of Mormon. Nate Silver isn’t a magician — he’s a demystifier.
Why are our brains so ridiculously big? Tool use and exploration may be just side effects of social skills. Ferris Jabr on why we need to study the brain’s evolution in order to understand the modern mind. Lascaux’s Picassos: Katy Waldman on what prehistoric art tells us about the evolution of the human brain. Does the brain work logarithmically? New research suggests it does, when it’s the efficient way to process information. Humans can't be empathetic and logical at the same time: Brain scans find that the two modes are mutually exclusive. A laser to the brain eliminates bad habits in rats. Brain scan shows that thinking about math is as painful as a hot stove burn, if you're anxious. This is your brain on freestyle rap. Can brain science tell us how to live? Dominic Murphy reviews The Brain and the Meaning of Life by Paul Thagard. What brain features do we need? John Smart on preserving the self for later emulation. Several projects are trying to reverse-engineer the brain; in How to Create a Mind, futurist Ray Kurzweil champions their cause. Your unconscious brain can do math, process language. Research suggests the human brain is wired for harmony. Researchers have turned human mental activity into music, and it sounds uncannily like free-form jazz piano.
Erin Buzuvis (WNE): Illich, Education, and The Wire. Adam J. Kretz (Stanford): A Right to Sexual Orientation Privacy: Strengthening Protections for Minors Who are “Outed” in Schools. From the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly, a special section on American schools. From Aggregation Magazine, Emily Burke on the education system. Portraits of classrooms around the world: A revealing lens on a system-phenomenon both global in reach and strikingly local in degree of diversity. Is every single subject taught in high school a mistake? Not so hot for teacher: How did fictional educators go from “To Sir, With Love” to “Breaking Bad”? Felix Salmon on what education reformers did with student surveys. Timothy Noah on how charter schools fleece taxpayers. Is putting boys and girls in separate classrooms legal? Heather McDonald on how the Obama administration undermines classroom order in pursuit of phantom racism. From Texas Monthly, John Spong on the confessions of a seventh-grade Texas history teacher. From First Things, Brian Douglas on five temptations for classical Christian education. Here are 14 wacky "facts" kids will learn in Louisiana's voucher schools. Leah Binkovitz on why students give teachers apples.
Gabriella Blum (Harvard): The Crime and Punishment of States. Meike de Goede reviews Local Peacebuilding and National Peace: Interaction between Grassroots and Elite Processes by Christopher R. Mitchell and Landon E. Hancock. From New Geography, Rob Sentz on the emerging professional, scientific, and technical sector. A dictionary of thousands of words chronicling the everyday lives of people in ancient Egypt has been completed. Why are presidents less effective than prime ministers? Using game theory to model political systems leads to surprising insights. Steven Cherry interviews Stanley Rothman, author of Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics With Baseball. Meet the Euro-sherpas, the hired hands who do the heavy lifting at EU summits and have the ear of the big leaders who shape policy in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Why genes don’t predict voting behavior: Evan Charney and William English on how gene variants don't count for much when it comes to complex behaviors. Linda Rodriguez McRobbie on 5 historical manias that gripped societies, then disappeared.
From New Scientist, a tour of our fundamental understanding of the world around us, starting with an attempt to define reality and ending with the idea that whatever reality is, it isn’t what it seems. David Berman on the ten dimensions of string theory (and part 2). The measurement that would reveal the universe as a computer simulation: If the cosmos is a numerical simulation, there ought to be clues in the spectrum of high energy cosmic rays, say theorists. Digging up the early universe: Cosmologists are uncovering relics from the dawn of time, letting them look back almost all the way to the Big Bang. The universe is almost done making stars: Star formation is now 30 times lower than at its peak 11 billion years ago. Constructor theory: David Deutsch on how many mathematicians to this day don't realize that information is physical and that there is no such thing as an abstract computer — only a physical object can compute things. Clay Dillow goes inside the largest simulation of the universe ever created: A giant supercomputer is making massively detailed models of the cosmos. Should 16–18 year olds be taught modern physics such as quantum mechanics?
Pratheepan Gulasekaram (Santa Clara): Why a Wall? Robert D. Kaplan on how the border is vanishing as Mexico pushes north: Like it or not, Mexico is pushing north into the United States. Will Braun on the little imperialist on the prairie: From the very first page, Laura Ingalls Wilder gets it wrong. Languages are continually changing, not just words but also grammar: A recent study examines how such changes happen and what the changes can tell us about how speakers' grammars work. A look at how some bilingualisms are more equal than others. Who needs intellectuals? Kepa Artaraz on how it is at the time when the debate about who constitutes an intellectual seems to have finally come to an end that new champions of social change are needed more than ever. Richard Simmons reviews Exits, Voices and Social Investment: Citizens’ Reaction to Public Services by Keith Dowding and Peter John. The books that inspired John Van Reenen: “I think I always enjoy reading Conservative thinkers more than leftist ones. It’s much more fun to have books that really challenge your positions rather than confirming your prejudices”.
From Tikkun, a special section on Christianity Without the Cross? Robert Alter on how to read the King James Bible: A review essay. Melanie Howard reviews Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship, ed. Teresa J. Hornsby and Ken Stone. The introduction to Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Jon D. Levenson. When did Christians stop seeking martyrdom? Christianity's founder was a martyr, not Islam's. An interview with John Ortberg, author of Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. Panayotis Coutsoumpos reviews Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence by Craig A. Evans. Was Jesus married? Peter Berger investigates. From Geez, William O’Brien on Jesus the racist. Gary Cass says "you can't be a Christian if you don't own a gun". How should Christians date? Nicole Unice on why it's time to simplify the puzzle of Christian romance. Why are religious people so fertile? Tom Rees investigates. Emma Smith reviews Why Are Women More Religious Than Men? by Marta Trzebiatowska and Steve Bruce.