In a provocative new study, a pair of Nobel prize-winning economists, Joseph E. Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, urge the adoption of new assessment tools that incorporate a broader concern for human welfare than just economic growth (and more and more). Measuring what matters: Man does not live by GDP alone, and new report urges statisticians to capture what people do live by. Do not discount what you cannot measure: Bogus measures add nothing to our understanding — they attempt to compress complex problems and analyses into single observations. GDP is not the be-all and end-all of our existence; it talks of value added to economies but has little to say about anything else. The cult of GDP: Economists search for a new definition of well-being; and just how important is growth to an economy, and does it actually make people any happier? Gross Domestic Happiness: Why the French want to redefine economic growth. This is the greatest good: We have only one true yardstick with which to measure society's progress — happiness. A review of The Pursuit of Unhappiness: The Elusive Psychology of Well-Being by Daniel M. Haybron. Are we really so miserable?: Antidepressant use has doubled, and anxiety is at a troubling high. Blame TV, Big Pharma — and possibly yourself. Getting better at life: How much self-criticism is too much? What are the qualities which really help people cope when times are hard, and which would you wish for a grandchild? A review of You Are Really Rich, You Just Don’t Know It Yet by Steve Henry.
A new issue of Open Letters Monthly is out. From FDR to Barack Obama, James Morone’s revelatory history of presidents and healthcare policy lays out some basic rules. No Exit: Michelle Cottle on the never-ending lunacy of Betsy McCaughey. From Baghdad — frightening reports of gay pogroms, where homosexual men are targeted, tortured, slayed; from New York — a scurry to find those same men before they are killed, and shepherd them to safety. Jack Shafer on how Conde Nast is like General Motors. The Polanski case and a Gallic shrug: In France, which worships a privileged class of aesthetes and philosophers, moral tension has arisen — and moral luck shouldn't exist, but it does, and Roman Polanski's may have run out. Private Tudors: Wendy Lesser reviews Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (which won the 2009 Booker prize for her fictionalised life of Thomas Cromwell; and more and more). The Nobel prize system needs an overhaul — that's the conclusion of a group of scientists brought together to debate the future of the prizes (and more). Here are the winners of the Ig Nobels, or Igs, which celebrate research that "cannot, or should not, be repeated". Science confirms the obvious: It takes real proof to back up even the simplest theories; these 10 studies show that the obvious can have not-so-obvious implications. The Fear Factor: Michael Specter on dangerous rumors about the flu vaccine. An interview with Sam Tanenhaus on conservatism and editing The New York Times Book Review. Here's an article on how to fake your way through the 2009 baseball playoffs.
Larry Neale and Rebekah Russell-Bennett (QUT): What Value Do Users Derive from Social Networking Applications? From Gelf, Caroline McCarthy balances covering the richness of social media with public socializing in her own right. Social-networking sites can be a career boon — if you don't annoy people in the process. Available all the time: An article on etiquette for the social networking age. On popular Web sites devoted to social networking, innovative verbs have been springing up to describe equally innovative forms of interaction. Why Gen-Y Johnny can't read nonverbal cues: An emphasis on social networking puts younger people at a face-to-face disadvantage. What's the optimal number of Facebook friends? A look at how Facebook can ruin your friendships. The Facebook divorce: Couples are broadcasting their breakups online while friends — and lawyers! — watch in amazement and horror. Facebook exodus: Why some Facebook members are moving on. From The Root, an article on the Facebook/MySpace divide: It’s not as deep as you may think; and MySpace to Facebook = White Flight, or is a new study a reminder that the Internet is not a uniform public space? Danah Boyd on how Facebook and MySpace users are clearly divided along class lines. A dispute over Facebook's geography settings has riled Israeli settlers and spurred a Syrian boycott of the site. We’ve all spent so much time and effort being worried about formal surveillance — all those street and lobby cameras — that we’re in danger of forgetting how much we cooperate in surveilling and being surveilled online.
A love affair with Israel: After visiting Israel, Daniel Strumberg spent the next six years volunteering for the Israeli army in hopes of becoming a soldier. Jay Michaelson on how he's losing his love for Israel. Why are Jews Liberals? can join What’s the Matter with Kansas in the False Consciousness shelf of your local bookstore or library (and more and more). Judith Miller on Columbia's decision to award tenure to Joseph Massad, a controversial anti-Israel professor. Another New York summer has passed: gone are the Jews for Jesus. A review of The Religious Enlightenment: Protestants, Jews, and Catholics from London to Vienna by David Jan Sorkin. From the inaugural Isaiah Berlin Memorial Lecture at Oxford, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on the paganisation of Western culture. In a packed Sydney Opera House studio, Cardinal George Pell confronted the myth of modern atheism in the first ever Festival of Dangerous Ideas. A review of A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch (and more and more). From TNR, a review of Caritas in Veritate by Pope Benedict XVI (which George Weigel thinks that some liberal virus has infected). An interview with James Schall, author of The Mind That Is Catholic. Where's the sex?: The Church's booklet for married spouses replaces excitement with sack cloth and ashes. Deal Hudson on Newt Gingrich and the Pope. The Gingriches' new film "Rediscovering God in America II" tries not to emphasize a Christian America. Politics as religion in America: Conservatism has been converted into a religious belief, and now compromise doesn't have a prayer.
From Ethics & International Affairs, Rajan Menon (Lehigh): Pious Words, Puny Deeds: The "International Community" and Mass Atrocities; a review of National Responsibility and Global Justice by David Miller; a review of The Rise of the Global Imaginary: Political Ideologies from the French Revolution to the Global War on Terror by Manfred B. Steger; and a review of What's Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix It by Thomas G. Weiss. A review of Human Rights at the UN: The Political History of Universal Justice by Roger Normand and Sarah Zaidi. A review of Justice Across Borders: The Struggle for Human Rights in U.S. Courts by Jeffrey Davis. Sometimes the process is painful and sometimes it is controversial, but the International Criminal Court is changing international relations forever. Misjudgment: Sometimes, grand prosecutions of war crimes don’t make sense. From TNR, a review essay on Rwanda after the genocide. Pol Pot’s men are finally being tried for their crimes — but 85 per cent of Cambodians don't even know the Khmer Rouge trials are taking place. Name before shame: A precise record of the individual victims of war and conflict worldwide is emerging as a key objective of humanitarian work. Are you sure that slaves didn't pick the produce that fills your fridge? From Swans, Michael Barker on combating [some] slavery. There are more slaves today than at any time in human history: An interview with Benjamin Skinner, author of A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern-Day Slavery. A review of Moral Limit and Possibility in World Politics.
A review of The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President by Taylor Branch (and more and more and more and more and more). Aquacalypse Now: Daniel Pauly on the end of fish. Alexander Cockburn on when gossip came back and our modern age was born. Brain and behaviour research is increasingly being incorporated into political and policy debate in Britain; it is forcing both left and right to re-examine old assumptions. Project "Gaydar": At MIT, an experiment identifies which students are gay, raising new questions about online privacy. A review of A Constitution of Many Minds: Why the Founding Document Doesn’t Mean What It Meant Before by Cass Sunstein (and an interview with Sunstein on Republic.com 2.0). Glenn Beck says Sunstein wants to give animals the right to sue humans — really? A review of Frankenstein: Icon of Modern Culture by Audrey A. Fisch. On the wrong side of the coin: Oleg Yuriev takes a black tomcat to the crossroads on Christmas Eve to gain new perspectives on the nature of money. Wrong Tomorrow keeps track of predictions of the future by public figures in order to hold people and media outlets accountable for pretending to see into an unpredictable future. Michael Shermer on why people believe in conspiracies. To cry “Sapere aude!” once again: Craig Nelson on Thomas Paine and the magic of engineering. Pajamas Government: Alan Grayson in the blogosphere's man in Congress. Castles of the imagination: From Wales to Syria, fortresses are monuments to an age of chivalry — but some are only castles in the air.
From The Nation, a review of Wallace Stevens: Selected Poems, edited by John N. Serio; and a review of Death in Spring by Merce Rodoreda. The uses of erotic poetry: Poetry is an ideal form for expressing, and understanding, one of our deepest drives. It seems an amusing twist of fate to learn that Dan Brown and David Foster Wallace were in a creative writing workshop together at Amherst college. From TLS, a review essay on William Golding and the capacity for evil: An ambitious and complicated late starter who did not understand the impulses behind his own books (and more and more); and a review of books on Rainer Maria Rilke. Mark Arax reviews Imperial by William Vollmann (and more and more and more and more and more and more). They're no bodice rippers, but Amish romances are hot. From NYRB, a review of books on Samuel Johnson (and more and more). Fashion in literature: Want inspiration for what to wear? Read a good novel. Ted Kennedy, Victorian Hero: Darwinian literary critics on how to tell the "bad guys" from the "good guys". A Thornton Wilder boomlet of recent years has just entered an especially captivating phase. A review of books on Emily Dickinson. Out of this word: The greatest science fiction imagines universes wholly unlike anything we have ever seen before (and more). Julian Baggini meets Guillermo Martinez, the Argentine novelist with maths on his mind.
A review of Taking Sports Seriously: Law and Sports in Contemporary American Culture by Jeffrey Standen. At long last, the sports mortgage: In lean times, teams try "equity seat rights" to raise money. From NBER, an article on game theory and major league sports: Pitchers appear to throw too many fastballs; football teams pass less than they should. How economists are tackling sports injuries: The high cost of injuries has inspired a new breed of statisticians to number-crunch the best solutions. Using some basic probability theory we can quite easily produce a reasonable probability for all the possible results of a game. The statistical problem with soccer: The tradeoff is between a beautiful game and a statistically significant one. The profound stupidity of football: A review of Why England Lose and Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. Football v. Football: An article on the NFL v. the Premiership. Football fixation: Bob Hyldburg is the biggest single-team geek following professional sports in America — here’s how he got that way. Don't bore us with the obvious: Sports talk should reveal the secret world of athletes. A look at how making up a sport helps folks regain their mojo. From Vanity Fair, Steve King surveys the development of our peculiarly modern obsession with sports outcomes — and the extraordinary timekeeping devices that have made it possible. The eyes have it: Is visual training the sports world's next big thing? Play up and play the game: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto experiences a Damascene sporting conversion.
From New York, a special issue on Money 2009: What’s it worth?; and an article on Michael Moore, Bible Thumper: In his attempt to save America from capitalism, the filmmaker has a very powerful ally. America's Teacher: Naomi Klein interviews Michael Moore on "Capitalism: A Love Story" (and more). Rational irrationality: John Cassidy on the real reason that capitalism is so crash-prone. A review of This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. From The New Yorker, a special issue on money, including Ryan Lizza on Larry Summers and the White House economic team; the history of management consulting: A review of The Management Myth: Why the "Experts" Keep Getting it Wrong by Matthew Stewart; and will consumer spending really stay down? James Surowiecki investigates. Hurry up and wait: Liberal economists think we should reduce the deficit — just not yet. So, did Obama's rescue package end up working after all? The free-marketeers who rallied against the stimulus look back and realize they had almost no idea what they were actually talking about. From Vanity Fair, good billions after bad: Donald Barlett and James Steele on how much of TARP funds ended up in the wrong hands, doing the opposite of what was needed. Heidi Moore on how the biggest government bailout is yet to come — itself. Stop denigrating government — there is no economy without it. The economic shakeup has made government employment suddenly more appealing to younger workers, but is this bad for our private sector?
From Surveillance & Society, a special issue on Gender, Sexuality and Surveillance. Is federal stimulus money being doled out to convicted sex offenders? Yes, at least if you happen to be a felon registered in Miami-Dade. Mark Caldwell reviews Licentious Gotham: Erotic Publishing and Its Prosecution in Nineteenth-Century New York by Donna Dennis (and more and more). From The Economist, a look at America's unjust sex laws: An ever harsher approach is doing more harm than good, but it is being copied around the world; and America has pioneered the harsh punishment of sex offenders — does it work? How do we pass rational sex-offender laws with psychos like Phillip Garrido on the loose? From The Nation, a look at the crusade against sex trafficking: Do brothel raids help trafficking victims escape abuse, or skirt the reality that makes recovery so difficult for the "rescued?" There's now a proposal for a global sex-offender registry. The Polanski case revives debate about the age of consent — and how America stacks up against other countries when it comes to sexual permissiveness. UNESCO finds itself under fire from American conservatives for proposing a new set of guidelines on sex education in schools as a means of helping young people avoid potentially dangerous sexual activity. From Double X, hookup hysteria: Annie Lowrey on how the right gets 20-something relationships all wrong. Girls gone wild vs. virgins till marriage: Why is sexual life in America so schizoid?