From The Moscow Times, Dostoevsky Rocks: Crime and Punishment has been made into an opera; and a new television mini-series of War and Peace doesn't do Tolstoy's novel justice. A review of Classics for Pleasure by Michael Dirda. Michael Dirda reviews Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote. A review of Fallen Angels by Harold Bloom. Holy Code, Bloody Grail: A look at the unstoppable rise and rise of Dan Brown's incredibly bad book. Ken Follett thinks The Da Vinci Code is a little masterpiece. An elegy for the great American novel: If any writer believed in the existence of the Great American Novel it was Norman Mailer. He believed in it utterly, called it the "big one" and dreamed of bagging it – like a hunter in search of game. Now, he and many of his fellow hunters are gone. Can anyone take their place? The gendered reader: Old prejudices still persist and men don’t take women authors seriously. It’s time we appreciated a writer for what she is. The imaginative landscape of Pippi Longstocking's creator encompassed a profound social commitment. On the centenary of Astrid Lindgren's birth, Birgitta Steene reflects on a Swedish writer who made an exceptional contribution to literature and public life in her homeland yet who belongs also to the world (while Lindgren's heirs crack down on rip-offs). From Slate, Happiness Is a Warm Puppy: A look at the dour genius behind Peanuts; here's a very different take on "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". More and more on Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. From Cracked, a look at the 5 most unintentionally hilarious comic strips.
From The Claremont Review of Books, Stanley Kurtz reviews Resistance and Control in Pakistan; Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honour World; and Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization by Akbar S. Ahmed. Working for a western magazine in Iran, Maziar Bahari finds that he has acquired some surprisingly close acquaintances — from the ministry of intelligence, and strangely, they are all called Mr Mohammadi. From Prospect, ghosts of the caliphate: Fantasies of reviving the caliphate reveal a deep crisis of legitimacy within Sunni Islam. Risk in the Arab world: A distorted balance between risk and reward inhibits the Arab world's economic and social development. It's the politics, stupid: Saudi Arabia will only become a true ally to the U.S. in the war on terror through political reform. Arabian Heights: Oil-rich Dubai raises its international profile with towers meant to be icons — but icons of what? A review of Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace by Avi Shlaim. A History of Nonviolence: Palestinian leader Naim Ateek has long advocated nonviolence as the only way to secure peace between Israel and Palestine. So why is he so despised by hard-line Israel supporters? The prospects for a two-state solution have never seemed dimmer. So why does veteran peacenik Uri Avnery remain so hopeful? From Jewcy, an article on the five strangest solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
From Skeptic, an article on answering public questions on UFOs and aliens. An article on 30 years of Close Encounters: Spielberg, Hynek, and UFOs. A new issue of Skeptical Inquirer is out, including a model UFO debunking: A review of War of the Words: The True but Strange Story of the Gulf Breeze UFO by Craig R. Myers; an article on the (non)mysterious orbs; and is this article on conspiracies part of a conspiracy? In the world of conspiracies, Elvis is alive, Paul McCartney is dead, and the government that couldn’t prevent the 9/11 attacks continues masterminding elaborate, highly complex schemes. From Wired, an article on the best conspiracy theories (Lizard-People are running the world!) From Jewcy, not all respected academics have found that psychics and spirit mediums are quacks; a look at YouTube's top psychics; communicating with the dead: In upstate New York, mediums promise access to the afterlife — can you say hello to your deceased father? An interview with Eric Nuzum, author of The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula.
Patrick J. Egan (NYU): Explaining the Distinctiveness of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals in American Politics. Further evidence that genetics has a role in determining sexual orientation in men. Easy Out: Benefiting from the social gains that earlier generations struggled to achieve, gay and lesbian teens are coming out at younger and younger ages. A review of Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy by Michael S. Sherry. A review of The Third Sex, a quasi-scientific tour of European homosexuality, circa 1927. From Cracked, here are the next 9 children's characters that should come out of the closet.
Diana C. Mutz (Penn): Effects of “In-Your-Face” Television Discourse on Perceptions of a Legitimate Opposition. From Popper to Rove — and back: George Soros on how, despite evidence that misrepresenting the truth for political ends backfires, the American public remains susceptible. More on The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America by Ronald Brownstein. Will the real Generation Obama please stand up? Generation X, long forgotten, is toiling in the trenches and changing the face of progressive politics. They can't win: Democrats in Congress are criticized for being both unprincipled and uncompromising. Have Democrats lost their liberal spirit? An excerpt from Bruce Miroff's The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party. An interview with Jimmy Carter on Jonathan Demme's "Jimmy Carter Man From Plains". The trouble with limited government: Why even Reagan couldn't stop spending from skyrocketing — and what to do about it. Johann Hari reviews Jonathan Chait's The Big Con. A fiscal tsunami: David Walker, head of the Government Accountability Office, warns of a coming catastrophe. An interview with Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, who helped win the White House but now views the administration with a mixture of anguish and contempt. Peter Berkowitz on the insanity of Bush hatred: Our politics suffer when passions overcome reason and vitriol becomes virtue (and a response by Glenn Greenwald). Joel Surnow, creator of "24", says conservatives who lament the ideological bias in Hollywood need to stop acting like liberals. A look at the movie that tells us how politics really works in our democracy.
From Ovi, an article on Machiavelli and the Republic. A review of Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power by Ross King. An interview with Quentin Skinner on Hobbes on the state. A review of Reason of State, Propaganda, and the Thirty Years' War: An Unknown Translation by Thomas Hobbes by Noel Malcolm. A review of Locke, Language and Early-Modern Philosophy by Hannah Dawson. Eric Claeys (George Mason): The Private Society and the Public Good in John Locke's Thought. How much would you pay to live in an equitable society in which people get what they deserve and deserve what they get? Research suggests people can put a price tag on economic justice. From Sign and Sight, banished to the banlieues: Paris' social sciences institutes have been ordered to move to the suburbs to experience first-hand what they otherwise only talk about. From Eurozine, the events of 9/11 introduced a "state of exception". As a result, the social and political struggles of the de-classed now operate in a zone of indifference which threatens democracy. The first chapter from Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory by Randall Collins. A review of The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War by David Livingstone Smith. From PopMatters, don’t keep your philosophy under your (Mr.) hat: The point of philosophy going pop is not to exalt the ivory tower and herd people inside; it’s to give philosophers a chance to leave. Alain de Botton on philosophy within and outside the academy. Should we celebrate World Philosophy Day? And if so, what would be an appropriate way to do so?
A review of The White Book — The Beatles, the Bands, The Biz: An Insider's Look at an Era by Ken Mansfield. A review of Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America by Jonathan Gould. Here's an A-Z of Led Zeppelin, arguably the greatest rock band of all time. An excerpt from Clapton: The Autobiography (and more). It's only rock 'n' roll but we write it: A review of Wonderful Today: The Autobiography of Pattie Boyd; Ronnie by Ronnie Wood; Heaven and Hell by Don Felder; Let's Spend the Night Together by Pamela Des Barres; Slash: The Autobiography; and The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx. More on Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music by David N. Meyer. Why does the music have to end? An interview with Lou Reed. A review of Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz.
From Foreign Policy, something funny has happened to the price of oil: It no longer reflects reality. The reason is that "financial players have seized control of the oil markets". From Brown Journal of World Affairs (reg. req.), an interview with Fareed Zakaria on the Age of Petrostates. Exxon what? PetroChina is the new No. 1: A $1 trillion market cap, the world's largest, crowns the Shanghai trading debut of the Chinese state-controlled energy company. An interview with Steve LeVine, author of The Oil and The Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea. Why the economy has absorbed high oil prices fairly easily, and why it may no longer. From Financial Times, Martin Wolf on the world of runaway energy demand; a look at the limits of a smaller, poorer China; and Gideon Rachman on Russia and China’s challenge for the west. A review of: Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance — And Why They Fall by Amy Chua (and more).
From Film Philosophy, a special issue on The Occluded Relation: Levinas and Cinema, including Simon Critchley (New School): To be or not to be is not the question: On Beckett’s Film; Reni Celeste on The Frozen Screen: Levinas and the Action Film; Colin Davis (London): Levinas, Nosferatu, and the Love as Strong as Death; Lisa Downing (Exeter): Re-viewing the Sexual Relation: Levinas and Film; and Sam B. Girgus (Vandebilt): Beyond Ontology: Levinas and the Ethical Frame in Film; and Kirk Boyle (Cincinnati): Reading the Dialectical Ontology of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Against the Ontological Monism of Adaptation; and John Orr (Edinburgh): Hitchcock and Hume Revisited: Fear, Confusion and Stage Fright. From n+1, here's the thinking man's guide to Slavoj Zizek's The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. A review of History on Film/Film on History by R. A. Rosenstone. A review of Movies and the Moral Adventure of Life by Alan A. Stone. A review of Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle and the American Action Movie by Eric Lichtenfeld. An interview with Brian De Palma on his new film, "Redacted," and rape as a metaphor for the Iraq war. Feel the sting of my foam sword: A must-see documentary about LARPing.
From ants to people, an instinct to swarm: Researchers are discovering simple rules that allow thousands of animals to form a collective brain able to make decisions and move like a single organism. An article on stress, pain, and Paris Hilton: A cardboard cutout of the reality show star reveals a curious gender difference in mice. Facts prove no match for gossip: Why do we gossip? Evolution may hold some surprising answers. A review of Evolution (in Action): Natural History Through Spectacular Skeletons by Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu and Patrick Gries. The evolution of creationism: After their notorious legal defeat, intelligent design proponents are resurfacing with insidious new assaults on science. Here are five bad evolutionary designs. The real culture war in science isn't about science at all — it's about language. And to fight this war, we need to change the way we talk about scientific knowledge. A review of Scientific Irrationalism: Origins of a Postmodern Cult by David Stove. Mad science: Some experiments are crazy, some downright disgusting — Alex Boese reveals his favourite examples of wacky research. From Discover, an article on the 5 best and worst science based movies of all time.