From The American Interest, a review of Democracy’s Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World’s Most Popular Form of Government by Michael Mandelbaum and Supercapitalism by Robert B. Reich. A review of Deirdre McCloskey's The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. From Policy, an inquiry into the nature and causes of the happiness of nations: People’s actions tell us what makes them happy; an essay on how liberal capitalism delivers the satisfaction of personal achievement; and an article on why capitalism is good for the soul: Capitalism provides the conditions for creating worthwhile lives. Why life is good: A dangerous gap exists between our personal experience, which is mainly happy, and our view of a society in decline.
A tale of two mayors: Two would-be presidents are biding their time. A presidential run by New York mayor Mike Bloomberg would be a monument to egotism; even worse, it might prevent the nation from ridding itself of today’s destructive policies. Bloomberg's mistake: New York's mayor is touted as a "post-partisan" presidential candidate — but who are the real partisans here? Scratch Bloomberg's surface, find a Democrat. For the moment, Bloomberg’s flirtation with a third-party run is a plutocrat’s relatively harmless indulgence of ego and curiosity, but he may get serious. CNN's Lou Dobbs for President? He says no, sort of. Campaign Therapy: What the crazy, fringe candidates of election 2008 say about the rest of us.
From Azure, an article on Israel's electoral complex; and an essay on Zionism's new challenge. From Commentary, there are good grounds for hoping that the dangerous experiment revived at Annapolis will fail. From Reset, a special issue on the Annapolis summit. Mearsheimer and Walt on Israel's false friends. Yo, anyone who fears Iran: George Bush is heading off for a tour of the Middle East — he will not be greeted as a conquering hero. If George W. Bush added a tour of Israel's "security barrier" to his visit, he might understand how essential a political solution to terror is, rather than a military one. Of Braveheart and Bush: The Mideast is no aberration — just ask the Scots. A paper finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.
A new issue of Catalyst is out. Intellectual’s survival guide: A review of Worst-Case Scenarios by Cass Sunstein. A review of The Choice of Hercules: Pleasure, Duty and the Good Life in the 21st Century by AC Grayling. If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness how would it affect the way you live those remaining days? The power of being influenced: Network theory reveals the best way to spread ideas. Putting space between beauty and politics: In searching for one's identity, discomfort can be an asset. Manners, courtesy, and world survival: If good manners are ultimately a socially sanctioned form of lying, where is the harm? At least those who practice them, doing their small part to ward off social mayhem, are in good company.
From TNR, Jed Pearl on the year in (books on) art: Not only are they beautiful to look at, but a couple of them are also truly insightful. When an artist retires, how long is too long? "I’m just a garrulous old woman": Anne Bell, who helped save Europe’s art heritage, tells of her remarkable life. Art without the artist: Today's art world is filled with "originals" that an artist never touched. From The Hindu, an article on art as spectacle: Despite increasing interest, the autonomy and subversive potential of art seem threatened. Arts study a culture shock: Oxford University reports idea of upper class forming cultural elite no longer valid. Homies are where his art is: The barrio figurines left their creator rich but unfulfilled — then he cast his brother as a model of mutual redemption.
The United Nations wants more people to appreciate the potato's potential to fight world hunger. People in many parts of the world indulge in the curious practice of eating dirt, also known as geophagy, but why they do so has remained something of a mystery. Still with us: Two pre-modern ailments are making a comeback. Unintended victims of Gates Foundation generosity: Donations to fight AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa have inadvertently put many of those with other basic healthcare needs at risk. A review of Bad Samaritans: Rich Nations, Poor Policies and the Threat to the Developing World by Ha-Joon Chang. Tim Harford on measuring the effectiveness of foreign aid. Young economists show big goals such as curbing corruption can be addressed in little, randomised and quantifiable steps.
From Reason, here are some positive thoughts about negative campaigning; and a look at how authenticity wins in Iowa as phonies take a pounding. How to turn blue collars into blue voters: An article on the psychology of the working-class male. Our decisions about which politicians we trust often come down to a simple question: "How do they talk?" Group dynamics sway voters: A study of people making choices about music sheds some light on the process of choosing a president. Lawrence Lindsey on what we want in a president: Ruthlessness is important when it comes to foreign enemies; charity is essential for domestic opponents. Stirred, not shaken: Americans say they want change, and think they want it, but there is room for doubt. Bryan Caplan on 5 myths about voters: Many claims about how American democracy works — and how American voters think — just aren't true.
From The Bulletin, if people refuse to limit their resource consumption and subsequent carbon emissions, should we think about ways in which to limit the world's population? Experts confront the final taboo in environmentalism. There is nothing new, let alone sinister, about population control: Even before climate change became the central issue of modern politics, advocates were waging a battle of birth control — the issue now is how to tackle the cult of breeding in a way that is sustainable. Having kids really does make you think more about the world's future — luckily, today's children live in a culture of environmentalism. From Wired, a look at how the next victim of climate change will be our minds.
From Slate, can the CIA tapes investigation truly be an independent one? Dahlia Lithwick investigates. The introduction to Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad by Marnia Lazreg. An interview with Tara McKelvey, author of Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War. Tom Engelhardt on how Bush took us to the dark side. From HNN, an interview with Charlie Savage, author of The Return of the Imperial Presidency; and is Bush inventing another constitutional power? George McGovern on why Bush must go: Nixon was bad — these guys are worse. More on The Fall of the House of Bush by Craig Unger. Boy, was it time for an update: Here's TPM's Great List of Scandalized Administration Officials.
From Rolling Stone, an article on the death of high fidelity: In the age of MP3s, sound quality is worse than ever. Ripped to shreds: In the dying days of the music business as we once knew it, record labels are waging war on leaks—only to discover that many of the saboteurs come from within the industry itself. It's official: From the mighty executive to the humble songwriter to the savviest analyst, nobody has a clue what's going on in the music industry. Stop the music: Before the derogatory term elevator music was slapped onto it, there was a radio station format known as "Beautiful Music". From New Statesman, a review of Music at the Limits by Edward Said. More and more on The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross.