Out of the kitchen, onto the couch: Michael Pollan on how American cooking became a spectator sport, and what we lost along the way. Against the agri-intellectuals: Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty; it still is — this is something the critics of industrial farming never seem to understand (and more). Look who's farming now: Agriculture is having a youth movement, thanks to their passion for organic farming and local produce. A review of The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food—Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal by Mark Kurlansky (and more). How much food can you really grow in a city? You’d be surprised. A review of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal by Tristram Stuart (and more and more and more). At the Thoughtful Bread Company everything but the kitchen sink is recycled; Julia Belluz heads to Bath for a delicious taste of eco-fundamentalism. Americans’ growing sophistication about food is bumping up against a troubled economy; foodies are applying their rarefied aesthetic to junk food. Death to Cupcakes: When will we finally be rid of the little bastards? In defense of ugly fruit: A new EU law finally allows for people to eat bad-looking produce.
From Resurgence, the core component of the Transition movement is to develop a bottom-up, participatory process in order to build resilient communities in response to climate change and peak oil. Geoscientists have cut the Gordian knot of geologic timekeeping: The Quaternary Period wins out. Our influential Anthropocene period: What humanity does has important consequences, so we must manage our global life-support system. What would Jesus say about the approaching environmental "End Times"? Paul Ehrlich believes in provocation and speculation: If not for the provocateurs, would we pay attention? To save the environment we will need unprecedented action — and a lot of luck. Climate-change calculus: Why it's even worse than we feared. How much energy do we consume, and does it matter? You're not an environmentalist if you're also a NIMBY. Five experts discuss paying countries to keep forests intact and how to protect the people whose lives depend on trees. Sued by the forest: Should nature be able to take you to court? Change has come to the Arctic: Jess Worth visits an Alaskan village and finds lives being turned inexorably upside down. Floating apartment complex takes the worry out of rising seas.
From NYRB, Michael Massing reviews books, blogs, Web sites, and essays on "the news about the Internet". Ever get the feeling the newspaper-Web war was fought before? Michael Hickins on how the Internet isn’t killing papers — we are. An interview with NYU professor, respected press blogger, and master-Twitterer Jay Rosen. An interview with Jonathan Glick: "There may be a future for the news business, but it’s going to be unrecognizable". Here are four crowdsourcing lessons from the Guardian's (spectacular) expenses-scandal experiment. "Lipstick on a pig": An article on research tracking the life and death of news. Gawker reports on Matt Drudge's favorite personalities/targets, ranked by the number of times their names have appeared in his headlines since 2002. A review of Late Edition: A Love Story by Bob Greene. An article on questioning journalistic objectivity. Gillian Reagan on how the Times' home page gets made. A review of Jerelle Kraus' All the Art That's Fit to Print: Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Page. City of Niche News: Niche reporters and correspondents from overseas now dominate the Washington press corps. Privately owned alt-weeklies are quick to point out the failings of their big-corporate counterparts — but are the indies really a better alternative?
From The Atlantic Monthly, a cover story on how the incentives that drive our health care system have perverse (and sometimes fatal) consequences — it's time for a radical change. Like your health insurance? Maybe you shouldn't. What's so great about private health insurance? Sorry, Sarah Palin: "Death panels" rationing care? Private companies are already doing it, with sometimes fatal results (and more). Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama's "deadly doctor", strikes back (and more). Obama wants to kill your grandma: Five right-wing myths about healthcare reform. From TAP, Paul Waldman on the 10 dumbest arguments against health-care reform; on health care's public perception malady; and on how the ugliness of the opposition to health-care reform is a symptom of something much larger. Marc Ambinder on how Democrats and Republicans exploit emotion. Letting the people in: People want their voices heard in the making of policy, but how do politicians figure out which ones to listen to? Peter Daou on the Overton Window and why the national debate is still conducted on the right's terms. Is this 1994 all over again? An interview with Nancy-Ann DeParle. The doctor is in Bangkok: Why don’t we globalize American healthcare? FP looks at the world’s worst healthcare reforms.
From PUP, the first chapter from The Hesitant Hand: Taming Self-Interest in the History of Economic Ideas by Steven Medema; and the first chapter from Sufficient Reason: Volitional Pragmatism and the Meaning of Economic Institutions by Daniel Bromley. A review of Economics for Everyone by Jim Stanford. A review of The Economic Naturalist's Field Guide: Commonsense Principles for Troubled Times by Robert H. Frank. A review of Filthy Lucre: Economics for People Who Hate Capitalism by Joseph Heath. A review of Lawrence Mitchell’s The Speculation Economy: How Finance Triumphed over Industry. A review of False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World by Alan Beattie (and more). A review of Disenchantment With Market Economics: East Germans and Western Capitalism by Birgit Muller. From FT, Richard Thaler on how markets can be wrong and the price is not always right; and dismal, yes, but economics flies off the shelves. Wild Randomness: Traditional economics has failed to grasp the complexity and dynamism of financial markets. Robert Lucas rebuts criticisms that the financial crisis represents a failure of economics. Here's a readers’ guide to the econ blogosphere, but nobody does a better job of digesting economic commentary than Mark Thoma.
Lee Siegel on how changes in American fiction taste beg the question — are you a Huck, Holden or John Ames? An interview with Thomas Lynch on sex, death, and poetry. Give us poetic justice: The Oxford Professorship may be the most coveted job in poetry, but the rules of election have to be changed to stop it becoming a poisoned chalice. Same-Old, Same-Old: Robert Pinsky on Alexander Pope's "Epistle" and the art of making poetry from normal, banal, petty life. From 3:AM, it’s probably worth separating "official" fiction of the Blair era from the "unofficial". A review of Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne. Poverty Studies: While literary scholars have good reason to study race, gender and sexuality, too many ignore the economically struggling. The first chapter from Becoming a Woman of Letters: Myths of Authorship and Facts of the Victorian Market by Linda H. Peterson. An excerpt from Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Elizabeth Skurnick (and more). Why is it that we are willing to grant young writers "potential" but not "insight"? An interview with Paul Collins, author of The Book of William: How Shakespeare’s First Folio Conquered the World. Kamila Shamsie on using Google to help with research for novel writing.
From Dissent, a review essay on the US and constitutional dictatorship by Sanford Levinson. Now Facebook really owns you — you just don’t know it yet. An intellectual movement for the masses: 10 years after its founding, positive psychology struggles with its own success. Pop culture in the Age of Obama: Entertainment and art now appeal to cultural tribes ranging in size from tiny to smallish. Dreams From His Mother: What we can learn from the scholarship of anthropologist Ann Dunham Soetoro, President Obama’s late mother. Should Jon Stewart change his name back to Jon Leibowitz? From New York, how former car czar Steve Rattner lost control just as he reached the top of the New York-Washington elite. An interview with Frank Drake: "We are definitely not alone in the universe". Party of One: An article on the unorthodox libertarianism of Nat Hentoff. North Korea’s Dollar Store: Office 39, North Korea’s billion-dollar crime syndicate, pays for Kim Jong Il’s missiles and cognac; why did the Bush White House choose not to shut it down? From Cracked, a look at how to succeed as an Ayn Rand character. Who won the recession?: Now that the recession is most likely over, it's time to start looking at which companies, institutions, and individuals thrived during this grim period.
From the Journal of Political and Military Sociology, Michael Wallace (UConn), Casey Borch (UAB) and Gordon Gauchat (UConn): Military Keynesianism in the Post-Vietnam War Era; and Amy Lutz (Syracuse): Who Joins the Military? The cadets of 1976 graduated from West Point at a low moment for the Army and its storied training ground, but that year produced the generals running the nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — what happened? From Stars and Stripes, the first thing submarine school graduates learn is that they are not yet full-fledged submariners but "nubs"; on a submarine, ordinary activities are anything but routine; life in a metal tube — it’s not for everybody; here's a primer on some of the more prominent duties aboard the USS Seawolf; and what’s going on in the U.S.? Sub's crew will find out in six months (and more on submarines). What do submarines do on patrol, watch other ships, or just look intimidating? A look at the top 10 most expensive military planes. The move to cut funding for the F-22 program is more than just a victory for common sense over defense pork (and more). The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment will condemn the US to a devastating trio of consequences. A look at the world's biggest military boondoggles.
From New Scientist, a look at how chaos drives the brain. Insect colonies offer insight into the mysterious conversations of neurons, illuminating how billions of individual brain cells work in concert to make a single decision. Understanding human thought processes puts a different spin on everything from global financial meltdowns to fighter pilot errors. Did an ice age boost human brain size? Your brain faces an enormous challenge: what is the best story that can be constructed about the outside world? Your brain on the Internet: What does the ubiquitous availability of digital text mean for the human brain as it processes ever-increasingly amounts of information? The Joys of Brain Scrubbing: The advantages of memory deletion in a collectively omniscient world. Your brain in drive: What happens when an older driver takes the wheel — and what we all can learn from it. A review of The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life by Alison Gopnik (and more and more and more and more and more and more). Stunning discoveries about how babies and children develop can help answer questions about deeply human concepts such as morality, identity and consciousness. Dan and Chip Heath on why your gut is more ethical than your brain.
The Cowboys of Kabul: How a pair of bankrupt Texas grandparents cashed in on Afghanistan's contracting bonanza. An interview with Jared Diamond on unsustainable lifestyles, the effects of geography on a society's development and the recent shock to Anglo-Saxon capitalism. From The Common Review, Tom McBride on the day he almost saved the humanities. The shame of academe and fascism, then and now: College presidents didn't rally against the Nazis, but maybe they'll do better with Iran. Ben Stein on being expelled from The New York Times. Andrew Klavan on how Wordsworth’s corpus reflects the growth of a conservative’s mind. In this Calvinist country, if you can’t get laid for 20 years, you’re a monumental loser and it’s all your fault. Inside story on town hall riots: Right-wing shock troops do Corporate America's dirty work. Fifty ways to kill recovery: How the states are sabotaging the stimulus. So it seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all — what saved us? From FT, economists shuffle the deckchairs: What matters is whether economists can identify significant turning points and systemic failures in good time — they cannot; and statistics are essential to understanding the world, but statisticians get little credit — bean-counters of the world, unite!