A review of Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence by Peter Lumpkins. Melanie Rehak on Red Wine and Blue: Americans have a long and contradictory history of imbibing and proscribing. Moonshine returns: The fabled liquor of outlaws and gangsters is making a comeback with craft distillers — too bad it's still illegal. A review of The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire by Linda Himelstein. Cheers: Robert Messenger on the cocktail renaissance. The natural habitat of the Picon Punch — among Basque shepherds, in the wilds of California — is its great appeal. Julian Baggini takes on his toughest assignment yet — drinking wine with Barry C Smith and Tim Crane. Veddy Unfortunate: How the greatest wine hoax ever has diminished a brilliant British oenophile. A review of Alice Feiring’s The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization. Amber Ale: An article on brewing beer from 45-million-year-old yeast. Breaking up Big Beer: Should Obama go after the bloated brewers? Why does Coke from a glass bottle taste different? A review of Wellsprings: A Natural History of Bottled Spring Waters by Francis Chapelle. How did a plastic water bottle, imported from a military dictatorship thousands of miles away, become the epitome of cool?
From CACM, the status of the P versus NP problem: It's one of the fundamental mathematical problems of our time, and its importance grows with the rise of powerful computers. A review of Plato's Ghost: The Modernist Transformation of Mathematics by Jeremy Gray (and more). A review of Equations from God: Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith by Daniel J. Cohen and Is God A Mathematician? by Mario Livio. From Seed, here are photographs and excerpts from Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World by Mariana Cook. Figured out: We don’t understand the math, but can we get the mathematicians? An interview with Steven Strogatz, author of The Calculus of Friendship: What a Teacher and a Student Learned about Life while Corresponding about Math. Did a 16-year-old Iraqi immigrant living in Sweden crack a maths puzzle that had stumped experts for more than 300 years? Unless the parents of all the mathematically-gifted girls in the country are enrolling their kids in the same schools, the evidence suggests that a lot of female talent is just not being tapped. What's luck got to do with it?: An article on the math of gambling. Chris Holloway is encouraging fellow beer drinkers to use math to get their money’s worth. Here are three new ways math can help you stay awake, clear clogged drains, and solve ancient mysteries. An article on the mysterious equilibrium of zombies and other things mathematicians see at the movies.
From The National Interest, Alan Wolfe reviews books on God. Joshua Leach on Judith Shklar and materialist mercy: If appeasing God is what matters most, then our relations with one another seem insignificant at best. From Philosophy Bites, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues that God isn't necessary for morality (and more and more on Morality Without God). Imagine no religion: An article on sustaining morality without God. The language of morality has been hijacked by the Right and the religious — it’s about time those who value reason took it back. An interview with Scotty McLennan, author of Jesus Was a Liberal: Reclaiming Christianity for All. A review of William Donohue's Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America. Jay Michaelson writes in defense of spiritual vulgarity. Do shamans have more sex?: New Age spirituality is no more pure than old-time religion. An interview with Linda Harvey, author of Not My Child: Contemporary Paganism and New Spirituality. An interview with cult survivor Timothy Wyllie on The Process Church, and a review of Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment. What are the criteria for a cult and can they be meaningfully applied? Gregory Paul on the chronic dependence of popular religiosity upon dysfunctional psychosociological conditions.
A review of Race, Rights, and Justice by J. Angelo Corlett. Why did James Baldwin, the most incisive and prophetic observer of the painful complexities of race in America, spend most of the turbulent 1960s in Istanbul? An article on T.R.M. Howard, an unlikely civil rights hero. A review of Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito (and more). A patchwork history of hate: A rare KKK quilt becomes emblematic of how, over time, generations have left racial divisions behind. The race war that isn't: Media anxieties over "lynch mobs" and "brownshirts" demonstrate a telling lack of faith in contemporary America. Racism is not an either/or proposition: When did the R-word become as offensive as the N-word? From Swans, an investigation into the work of liberal foundations and anti-racism activism. In an era of US history marked by unprecedented strides in racial equality, suburban swimming pools seem to maintain time-warpish levels of racism. The Obama administration has told affluent Westchester County it can't continue to segregate low-income and minority housing — is it the end of the all-white suburb? The New Obama: You think you know "hope", "post-racial"? You ain't seen enough of the profound cheese from mogul Tyler Perry. The rise of the new Obamas: Must all black politicians be hailed as Obamas?
From Obit, Robert Roper argues that John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra is about a time not unlike our own. The idyll memoir: Modern examples of the genre eschew light tales of grape-picking for suffering and adventure. God, living is enormous: How might the novelist reconcile fiction and faith — make-believe and must-believe? Benjamin Anastas investigates (and Bookforum hosts a panel on "Faith and Fiction" at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday). Delia Falconer reviews Summertime by J.M. Coetzee. From Commentary, Algis Valiunas on The Naked Novelist and the Dead Reputation: Re-evaluating the storied career of Norman Mailer; and Terry Teachout on the crafty art of Alan Ayckbourn: Giving a remarkable comic playwright his due at long last. Sentences so good they sing: Robert Pinsky on the unexpected pleasures of George Herbert's sentences. From TLS, a review essay on Samuel Johnson at 300: Why it is time for Dr Johnson to be saved from cosy, clubby Johnsonianism (and more from Literary Review). Chick lit takes on the credit crunch: In hard times, sex-and-shopping sagas are being reinvented — welcome to the world of recessionista lit. A review of Novel Violence: A Narratography of Victorian Fiction by Garrett Stewart. Now we are 60: Andrew Johnson, Gemma Mcintosh and Russell Arkinstall find the literary world's former enfant terrible Martin Amis still dividing critical opinion (and more and more).
Elizabeth Anne Roodhouse (Penn): The Voice from the Base(ment): Stridency, Referential Structure, and Partisan Conformity in the Political Blogosphere. From Seed, a falling out over creationism at Bloggingheads.tv and muddled reactions to a report on geoengineering illustrate what’s at stake in the “framing wars”. Six degrees of trivia, and knowledge: Knowledge, shared, becomes synonymous with the act of sharing frequently leading to a deeper sense of connection, empathy, even love (and more). From Literary Review, dollar sign on his heart: A review of Joseph P Kennedy's Hollywood Years by Cari Beauchamp; and a review of An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World by Frances Larson. A review of Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters by Louis Begley. Sea Change of Japan: A landslide victory for Japan's opposition party could have profound effects on regional security. The Soul of Japan: Japan's crisis is not political, but psychological. The man who invented health care's public option: Jacob Hacker reflects on the academic proposal he made a decade ago — and the political fixation it's become. Instead of seeking to justify policies on economic grounds, why don't politicians make "moral cases", or even "romantic cases" for their arguments?
From The Economist, the dragon in the backyard: Latin America is tilting towards China, Iran and the global “south” — and away from the United States; and more on Latin America's new alliances: Whose side is Brazil on? (and more) The Cult of the Caudillo: The strongman may be Latin America’s most important contribution to political science. A review of The New Latin American Left: Utopia Reborn (and more and more and more); and a review of Twenty Theses on Politics by Enrique Dussel. A review of Reclaiming Latin America: Experiments in Radical Social Democracy (and more). Jorge Lanzaro on how social democracy lives in Latin America. Mirror Image: Latin America isn't tilting left, it's tilting right. A review of The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identity by Heather Levi. What has changed 30 years after Nicaragua's revolution? (and more) An article on Puerto Rican nationalism and the drift towards US statehood. A look at the myths and costs of the Cuban Revolution. An excerpt from Cuba: How the Workers and Peasants Made the Revolution by Chris Slee. Gustavo Villoldo hunted revolutionary leader Che Guevara — his new weapon: a $1 billion judgment against Fidel. A review of Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image by Michael Casey. An article on the reawakening of Afro-Argentine culture. Daniel Gross on how how Peru made the right economic moves.
From BJWA, Aharon Klieman (Tel-Aviv): “Middle Easterner”: A Regionalism Denied; and Mahfoud Amara (Loughborough): The Muslim World in the Global Sporting Arena. From Middle East Quarterly, an article on Western Sahara and the self-determination debate. Libya's regime at 40: Colonel Gaddafi's domain, now opening to the world, is more protection-racket than modern state; and an embarrassing soap-opera of two presidential daughters in Egypt sums up the Arab predicament. Is anyone listening to what the Arabs are saying about Israel? From City Journal, Silicon Israel: How market capitalism saved the Jewish state; and a review of The Israel Test by George Gilder. Who watches the watchers?: An article on anti-democratic Israel advocacy. From Moment, the first part of a special series on Israel's Arab citizens: "From Arab to Palestinian Israeli". Surfing has spread across the globe but foundered in Gaza, despite attempts to launch a club behind the Israeli blockade. After travelling from the steamy chaos of Beirut to the streamlined gleam of Dubai, Salma Abdelnour finds herself wistfully looking back. A review of Dubai: The Story of the World’s Fastest City by Jim Krane. Off the deep end: Fast Company takes a look at the decline of Dubai (and more and more). Postcard from Sana'a: Is Yemen chewing itself to death?
The Icelandic baby boom is all down to economics: "Many of us have sought solace in love and sex". Why does everyone want to be Irish? From Angela's Ashes to "Who Do You Think You Are?", the Emerald Isle is still a reliable source of self-pity (and a look at Ireland and its various Dark Ages). An article on the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, the border-fence of Europe. The Barbarous Black Skeleton: The Eiffel Tower, now the iconic symbol of Paris, was despised at first for being too American (and more and more). Where's the Belgian pride? On National Day, Belgians barely lift a flag. Here's the truth about Amsterdam's coffeeshop culture — because you can see museums and canals anywhere. How is it that a small German town has ties to almost all of Europe's royal families? The precedents for disgraced imperial superpowers are many, so how have the once-violent Danes become a docile, perfectly socialized society? An article on Scandinavia’s loser towns: Will the last one out please switch off the light? Entering the Yugosphere: Almost 20 years after political bonds were severed by war, day-to-day links between companies, professions and individuals are quietly being restored. From Slate, a dispatch from Albania, the Muslim world's most pro-American state. From Forbes, an article on Europe's most idyllic places to live.
Uradyn E. Bulag (Hunter): Where is East Asia? Central Asian and Inner Asian Perspectives on Regionalism. From TNR, a review of Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present by Christopher I. Beckwith. Central Asia was once the “land of a thousand cities” and home to some of the world’s most renowned scientists, poets, and philosophers; today it is seen mostly as a harsh backwater. A review of Out of Steppe: The Lost Peoples of Central Asia by Daniel Metcalfe (and more). From Asia Times, a look at how the US is stepping up its Central Asian tango. An article on the battle of the bases in Central Asia. An article on Kyrgyzstan: How America gained a base and lost a country. An article on Kyrgyzstan, the heartbreak capital of Central Asia — seeming in the mid-2000s to be moving towards democracy, now descending into authoritarianism, and a contender for the title of most obscure former Soviet republic becoming prime real estate. Courting Turkmenistan: How Central Asia's "hermit kingdom" became the biggest prize in Europe's energy wars. Kristen Hoggatt had never heard of Uzbekistan, but she felt so guilty for being alive that she just wanted to work somewhere, anywhere (and more). The Silk Road unravels: Along the historic route that facilitated the movement of trade, ideas and cultures, governments are playing politics with an endangered history.