From First Things, Robert P. George (Princeton): What Marriage Is — And What It Isn't. Can you really improve your marriage or is it risky to try? One wife takes her husband through the world of marriage therapies. If your ex-spouse has run off and taken your children abroad, what are you to do? Femina sapiens in the Nursery: The conflict between parenting and career is hardwired in the female brain. Everybody hates mommy: We're "stroller Nazis" and whiny "breeders" — why is there so much contempt for mothers these days? Fatherhood gets hip: The rush of literary fathers gushing about how to raise their perfect children is upending gender stereotypes and ruining childhoods. A review of Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son by Michael Chabon (and more and more and more and more and more and more and more). Is my kids making me not smart? Stay-at-home fatherhood dulls my intellect to a nub. DNA testing has led more men to discover that their children are not biologically theirs; families are upended, and so is the law. New research suggest that “bad genes” can in fact be the keys to adult achievement — but only with the right parenting. An interview with Sue Palmer on books about toxic boys. A new study links bullying behavior by adolescents to the perception they are not treated fairly by their parents. An interview with Elizabeth Beckwith, author Raising The Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation (and an excerpt). A look at 7 things "good parents" do (that screw kids up for life). Family freeloaders: When is it okay to tell your family, "Get the hell out"?
A review of Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow by William Freudenberg. Why do Italian disasters kill so many people? Earthquakes, tsunamis: We know they're coming — why won't we prepare? Natural disasters you never heard about: Only when the death toll shatters records does the media pay attention to devastation and destruction by natural calamities. The first chapter from Megadisasters: The Science of Predicting the Next Catastrophe by Florin Diacu. 21st century threats: It’s useful to classify threats to human civilization not only on their potential severity, but also on their relative certainty. Why is everyone so eager to predict the end of the world? Apocalypse, Wow: Western filmgoers increasingly like to see it all come down as apocalypse become hot box office. A review of 2012: Science or Superstition by Alexandra Bruce. From Killing the Buddha, a series of articles in honor of 2012. First, the good news: “2012 is not a date of destruction”. 2012 or bust: Talking down to prophecy nuts is a delicate art. A look at how the Maya really did warn us about our future (unintentionally). Is Doomsday coming? Perhaps, but not in 2012. What if the world doesn’t end in 2012? Five backup cataclysms, just in case. While the apocalypse is pretty unlikely to come in 2012, it does have to happen sooner or later — here are five possible scenarios for the end of humanity. National Geographic on 10 failed Doomsday prophecies. A look at ten notable apocalypses that (obviously) didn’t happen. Here is an iPhone app for iPopUp Comics' graphic novel "Apotheosis 2012".
From Public Agenda, a report on Teaching for a Living: How Teachers See the Profession Today. Who needs mathematicians for math, anyway? The ed schools' pedagogy adds up to trouble. Skewed perspective: What we know about teacher preparation at elite education schools. Grade the teachers: A way to improve schools, one instructor at a time. From CT, a review of Homeschool: An American History by Milton Gaither; a review of Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik by Chester E. Finn, Jr.; The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need — And What We Can Do About It by Tony Wagner; and The Street Stops Here: A Year at a Catholic High School in Harlem by Patrick McCloskey. From Education Review, a review of So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools by Charles Payne; and a review of Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity by Marc Lamont Hill. Can separate be equal?: The classroom is where poor and middle-class kids should meet — to the benefit of both. Learning separately: Peter Meyer on the case for single-sex schools. Learning for a living: Liam Julian writes in defense of vocational ed. Sol Stern on E. D. Hirsch’s curriculum for democracy: A content-rich pedagogy makes better citizens and smarter kids. What Johnny needs to learn about Islam: Texas, Florida, and California revise their textbook standards. If you could create your own high-school curriculum, what would it look like? Robert McHenry on freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years.
From National Review, Mark Falcoff on a list of political terms in common usage that are, in fact, private definitions, as Orwell calls them. From The Observer, Martin Amis interviews Roman Polanski. From NYRB, Ingrid Rowland on when heaven was more interesting than hell. Jane Hamsher leads left away from White House. From Paste, here's a look at the evolution of the hipster. Kick Start: How the hell is Johannesburg going to be ready to host the World Cup next year? Marc Hauser on how it seems biology (not religion) equals morality. The Cinemascope Spectacular of Books: A volume big and obsessive enough to contain Stanley Kubrick’s never-made masterpiece, Napoleon. An article on Comcast-NBC: The end of everything we knew — or not! What do Levi Johnston, evangelicals and Oprah have in common? They all blind us to what really matters. A review of The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire by Edward Luttwak (and more). Rrrowl: Beware cougar's young niece, the cheetah (and a response: Sexism sells — but is knowing that supposed to make it less offensive?). From Wired's GeekDad, a look at 11 ways geeks measure the world; and here's an open letter to Hollywood: Stop ruining our childhood memories! Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon may be acquitted of all charges leveled against her, but her tawdry behavior and questionable ethics live on forever digitally. The coolness of strangers: Travel writers love to celebrate the kindness of strangers — Tom Swick considers the silent, unheeding majority. Dave Zirin on how Tiger Woods deserves scrutiny, but not for his love life.
Greenland is warming up: The glaciers of the world’s biggest island are speeding up and its ice sheet is disappearing at a rate faster and more worrying than science predicted. The Arctic may be down to its last few summers of being white; Johann Hari, in Greenland, asks hunters and scientists how climate change really feels. The final meltdown: Four weighty books lament the impending death of the old Arctic. When the glacier left: In surprising ways, a Himalayan village adapts to a changing climate. Curbing carbon, sustaining development: Darrel Moellendorf on the tensions in climate change mitigation. Rewiring our future: Robert Evans on fighting climate change with electric power. You can download Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets, ed. Steffen Bohm and Siddhartha Dabhi. From FP, an excerpt from The Global Deal: Climate Change and the Creation of a New Era of Progress and Prosperity by Nicholas Stern; ClimateGate supposedly reveals a scientific world gone corrupt, but really shows a political world gone mad; and has the "ClimateGate scandal" shifted our fundamental understanding of global warming? Climatologist Michael MacCracken says no. An article on the mass psychology of climate change: Scientists need "attitude". Joss Garman on how climate change deniers cost the earth. Politicians are fiddling while the planet burns — what's a voter to do? James Hansen wants to know. Will big business save the Earth? Jared Diamond wonders. To really save the planet, stop going green. Climate change is inevitable, it’s time to adapt: The really inconvenient truth — we’re toast.
From Dissent, is Obama's war in Afghanistan Just? Michael Walzer investigates. Why is the Feminist Majority Foundation refusing to abandon the women and girls of Afghanistan? Why feminists love the surge: The only way to help Afghan women is for the US to stay for the long haul. Does it matter which countries contribute to NATO's Afghanistan contingent? If a war's worth fighting, isn't it worth paying for? The new anti-war Right: If Obama thinks the left is rapidly abandoning him on Afghanistan, wait till he sees the Republican defectors. From Policy Review, Amitai Etzioni on bottom-up nation building: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. From The Nation, Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater's secret war in Pakistan: Inside sources reveal that the firm works with the US military in Karachi to plan targeted assassinations and drone bombings, among other sensitive counterterrorism operations. From Vanity Fair, tycoon, contractor, soldier, spy: Erik Prince, recently outed as a participant in a CIA assassination program, has gained notoriety as head of Blackwater — lashing back at his critics, the former navy SEAL reveals the role he’s been playing in America’s war on terror. Does terrorism work?: A review of Terrorism: How to Respond by Richard English. Surprising study on terrorism: Al-Qaida kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims. The wide green smudge that’s changing our world: A review of Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean For Our World by Vali Nasr and The New Silk Road: How a Rising Arab World is Turning Away from the West and Rediscovering China by Ben Simpfendorfer.
From Publishers Weekly, here is their annual best books list. From The New York Times, here are the 100 notable books of 2009. From Amazon, here are their Best Books of 2009. From THES, on the "giving it away" argument: Matthew Reisz assesses what open access means for book authors. The future of bookselling: Borders has gone belly-up, Amazon thrives, and doom-mongers are proclaiming the death of literature on the high street — but this could be the opening of a fine new chapter. A look at why Borders's demise is not the end of the book world. The point of diminishing returns: Publishers are beyond risk-averse, they are decision-averse — and we are all suffering from the lack of variety. Meet publishers' enemy No. 1: Sci-fi novelist Cory Doctorow is shaking up the traditional book-selling model, and apparently getting rich doing it (and more). A review of A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Baron. Is the term "out of print" now an anachronism? Scott McLemee eavesdrops on planning for a brave new world. A review of The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future by Robert Darnton. Michael Wolff on why books are bad for you. From The Awl, here's a graphic history of magazine income over the last decade (and newspapers). ZineWiki is an open-source encyclopedia devoted to zines and independent media. The airline industry is struggling, and so is magazine publishing, but a British company is profiting by combining the two. SkyMall, a catalog with altitude: The airplane publication has become an institution, a subject of mockery and fascination.
The Political Fictions Project: New York invites seven writers to submit short stories featuring contemporary political figures (and from Bookforum, Morris Dickstein writes on fiction and political fact, and more). From TNR, is John Boehner a character from Mad Men?; and the accidental politician: How Sarah Palin resembles Joe McCarthy. Beauty queens, sex tapes and the Christian Right: Lasciviousness and hypocrisy have embarrassed Carrie Prejean and her supporters, but in every problem dwells an opportunity. The disastrous politics of Rapture: An excerpt from Patience with God by Frank Schaffer. How the Religious Right stole Christmas: Sectarian grinches and persnickety pundits have turned the season of peace into a festival of carping. From Salon, an article on Glenn Beck's white nationalist fans (and more). Much like the Depression-era demagogue Father Charles Coughlin, Glenn Beck is promoting a mass movement — should his bosses be pulling the plug? Tea-party style activism has taken some nutty turns before — the Hitler references, the Holocaust pictures — but Walter Fitzpatrick III may be about to push anti-Obama activism to new heights. Doing "Right" in Vegas: Nevada's James Edward McCrink funds hate and denial groups. A major defection in the conservative blogosphere: Charles Johnson, founder of Little Green Footballs, announces a final break. Changing the tone: Most citizens want to be heard, but we can't let an angry minority speak for them. All isn't fair: E.J. Dionne Jr. on how to fight extremism with civility. Political Science: A look at the psychological differences in the U.S.'s red-blue divide.
Can the polis live again?: The modern world has withered public space and its virtues. Serious information used to be relayed in words, graphs and charts, while pictures were just pretty window dressing — that's all changing. Opening of world's tallest tower marks end of Dubai era. Armchair Travelers: The Renaissance writers and humanists Petrarch and Boccaccio turned to geography to understand the works of antiquity. 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair team up for a new monthly national survey. A memory study looks at why we repeat ourselves. From NYRB, Timothy Garton Ash on Velvet Revolution: The Prospects. A look at the psychedelic secrets of Santa. The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers: From the brains behind Iran's Green Revolution to the economic Cassandra who actually did have a crystal ball, they had the big ideas that shaped our world in 2009. Jonathan Littell is this year's winner of the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards (and from Bookforum, Leland de la Durantaye reviews The Kindly Ones) Why do authors find it difficult to write about sex? Peter Singer on how it's not whether we ration health care, but how. Could world finance be on the brink of cataclysmic change?: A review of The Future of the Dollar. It bleeds, and yes, it leads: In Hong Kong and Taiwan, yesterday's gruesome crime is today's digital cartoon. Cornel West's latest book is a memoir; Scott McLemee thinks it marks the end of the line. Sounding board, sage on foreign policy, twister of senatorial arms: Joe Biden could be the second-most-powerful vice president in history. Safe to say: Language indicates a shift in our thinking about sex, pain and death.
From Vanity Fair, questioning C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein, C.O.O. Gary Cohn, and C.F.O. David Viniar, Bethany McLean explores how Goldman Sachs navigated the collapse of September 2008, why it has already set aside $16.7 billion for compensation this year, and which lines it’s accused of crossing. The new AIG report reveals how the Treasury secretary — and U.S. taxpayers — were fleeced by Wall Street banks. Arnold Kling on the root of the financial crisis: A dearth of knowledge at the nexus of decisions. Martha Coakley and Elizabeth Warren on the right way to regulate: Why we badly need a federal agency that protects consumers. Thomas Frank on how we hear much less nonsense about the wisdom of markets these days. New consensus sees stimulus package as worthy step. How to do a second stimulus: Another vast, sprawling package, including every spending measure anybody ever thought of, is out of the question. Fed up with federalism: How America's commitment to states' rights is undermining our economic recovery. Going beyond short-term fixes: We need massive, permanent federal investment in infrastructure and public services, not symbolism like a new WPA. John Judis on the case for deficit spending: How the Obama administration is misreading the recession. Give us fiscal austerity, but not quite yet. William Greider on how deficit spending is a cure for our troubles, not the cause — if Obama reduces the red ink, the Great Recession could be born again. Hey Obama, here are 9 big ideas to beat unemployment. So much gasbaggery, so little time: Why Obama is obsessed with summits.