From The New Yorker, can the Kindle really improve on the book? Nicholson Baker investigates. Why 2024 will be like Nineteen Eighty-Four: How Amazon's remote deletion of e-books from the Kindle paves the way for book-banning's digital future. Amazon's deletion of novels from Kindle devices shows that buying an ebook isn't like owning a real, secondhand tome. The artists’ book: Appreciating a book means more than an interest in its literary content and illustrations. The book cover, once disposable, is now as much part of a work's identity as the words inside. Bibliovision: Books, which as objects of desire have seemed to have scant place in Hollywood’s slick, visual sensibility, have a new role in the business of television. A review of Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome by William A. Johnson and Holt N. Parker. A look at how Target can make sleepy titles into best sellers. Book Seer bases its recommendations on the last book you read; shame it does such a bad job — or does it? Never build a relationship on books: The new dating site from Borders promises happy endings. Closing the book on a bad read: Kelly Jane Torrance on cutting your losses without guilt. James Purnell has been using his time to rearrange his bookshelves alphabetically; bad mistake — here's why.
From TLS, a review of Anthony Grafton's Worlds Made by Words: Scholarship and Community in the Modern West and Roger H. Martin's Racing Odysseus: A College President Becomes a Freshman Again. John Sexton is determined to transform NYU into the first truly global university — and he’s starting in Abu Dhabi (and more). From The Chronicle, will higher education be the next bubble to burst? Why Barack Obama thinks community colleges are the key to fixing higher education. From IHE, an article on the case of the disappearing liberal arts college. They didn't teach genderfuck, iteration, or micropolitics when I was in college, but times have changed — liberal arts is due for an update (and more). Bottom line: The Week delivers a solid liberal-arts education in 40 minutes. A look at eleven unusual majors your college probably didn't offer; and here are six college perks that might make you jealous. "Animal House" at 30: College students find new ways to channel their inner Bluto. Why they call Yale the "Gay Ivy". Bogus college stereotypes: Are Cornell students suicidal, is Dartmouth all Republicans, is Vassar really gay? From Inside Catholic, the University of Chicago has just announced that its students are not, in fact, humans, but magicians trapped inside of monkeys.
From M/C Journal, Greg Shapley (UTS): The Re-Wiring of History; and Jina Huh and Mark S. Ackerman (Michigan): Obsolescence: Uncovering Values in Technology Use. Information Overload: In the Google Age, media literacy is crucial — and in short supply. Seth Hettena reviews Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know by Randall Stross. What today’s students do not realize is that what Google provides is sometimes fact and oftentimes opinion — but never answers. An interview with Scott Rosenberg, author of Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook are supposedly cheapening language and tarnishing our time, but the fact is we are all reading and writing much more than we used to. A review of Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal (and more and more and more and more and more and more and more). From PopMatters, both Twitter and Facebook are attempts to inject organic humanity into the cold, artificial realm of networking technologies; and in an age where Twitter and Google seem to be taking over the world, how do people communicate information in a meaningful and memorable manner?
A review of Zhivago's Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia by Vladislav Zubok. A review of Western Marxism and the Soviet Union: A Survey of Critial Theories and Debates since 1917 by Marcel van der Linden. An excerpt from Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War by Stephen Cohen. A review of What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa by David Murphy. More and more on The Rise and Fall of Communism by Archie Brown. Gal Beckerman reviews Orlando Figes's The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia. A review of Rethinking Marxism: from Kant and Hegel to Marx and Engels by Jolyon Agar. We would be better off taking a few doses of “vulgar” Marxism and preparing to join the transition from a post-political psuedo-left to the Next Left. Christopher Hitchens remembers Leszek Kolakowski (and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more). George Scialabba reviews Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone by Stanislao Pugliese. The Soviets mandated health spa retreats for their workers, but sometimes people just want to enjoy a little quality time with their family. Little is left today of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War's most famous monument. Communist Clock: Tiny communists hammer away on the Olomouc Astronomical Clock in Prague.
From The Wilson Quarterly, America’s enduring love affair with big spending is fetching up against some unromantic realities; but a lifelong saver assures us that there are worse fates than socking it away for a rainy day. A review of The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen. Utopia isn't a dirty word: As the left searches for meaning, it would do well to reflect on Christianity's utopian vision for humankind. How did Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic hide from the world as a bioenergy-channeling, alternative-medicine-peddling, bearded and, well, nutty guru? Suddenly, a wider world below the waterline: Coastal states have now made their bids for vast new areas of continental shelf, and a look at the unplumbed riches of the deep — and why they’ll wait a while longer before being disturbed. Ants make more rational decisions than humans do, according to a new study. How in the world did people deal with the heat of August without air conditioning? Lots of ways, both time-tested and experimental. From TLS, an article on Marion Wallace-Dunlop, painter, suffragette and the first modern woman to starve herself for politics. Is the "Obama birth certificate" conspiracy theory becoming a threat to Obama? Or to the Republican Party? A review of Color-Blind Justice: Albion Tourgee and the Quest for Racial Equality from the Civil War to Plessy v. Ferguson by Mark Elliott.
From DoubleX, Christine Kenneally, author of The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, talks to Katherine Russell Rich, author of Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language (and part 2 and part 3 and part 4). Can computers decipher a 5,000-year-old language? Helping to uncover the secrets of the inscribed symbols of the Indus. Notions of grammatical correctness change; if they did not, the outraged e-mails would say: "Thou art wrong". Webster’s Third is the most controversial dictionary in the English language. A review of The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English. The Dictionary of American Regional English tracks the funny things we say. Two new editions of standard dictionaries try to help in the endless process of keeping German and Germans up to date. A look at the continuing appeal of Esperanto, designed to foster harmony and coexistence even in a troubled part of the world. An interview with Arika Okrent, author of In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language. For every invented language you might have heard of, there are hundreds of others that have never been spoken by anyone — and never will.
From Open Source, Ronald Prinn is talking about what was arguably the biggest little news story on earth so far this year. Sometimes, something kills nearly all life on the entire planet — but is there a regular cycle to this creation and destruction of Earth’s biodiversity? Speechless: An article on Dilbert creator Scott Adams' struggle to regain his voice. The Ultimate Obama Insider: Valerie Jarrett is one of the president’s most influential advisers — so what does she do, exactly? From TNR, the third Obama: What does Valerie Jarrett do? Michelle Cottle investigates; do progressives have any power over the Obama administration? Ed Kilgore wants to know; and make them pay: If we want to reform health care, we shouldn't be afraid to tax the rich. Fiscally conservative Democrats, not Republicans, are Obama's real obstacle on the road to healthcare reform. Are professional lobbyists loyal partisans? Gregory Koger and Jennifer Nicoll Victor find out. Stephen Walt on the Ten Commandments for ambitious policy wonks and on what Americans can learn from the British Empire. From The Faster Times, “Joe” the “Plumber” Has “Written” a “Book”. Who knew that the public library was such a hot topic? Joggers owe it all to one man who died a quarter of a century ago, Jim Fixx.
From Slate, Tim Egan, Michael Kinsley, Michael Newman, Emily Yoffe and others on a news junkie smackdown. An interview with Slate's Jacob Weisberg on the changing media landscape. Lost in cyberspace: The peculiar challenges of archiving newspapers in the Information Age. Journalism on sale: As workers in an ailing industry look for new ways to peddle their skills, piecework paid for directly by the public becomes an option. All the news that's free to print: Is charity the newspaper industry's last, best hope? The rebirth of news: The internet is killing newspapers and giving birth to a new sort of news business. Death of the Newspaperman: Don’t blame the Internet, the industry’s decline is self-inflicted. From Miller-McCune, here's a primer on media in the 21st century (and part 2). How much of a political crusader was Walter Cronkite? Todd Gitlin investigates (and more and more and more). A J-Schooler makes a name for himself: C.W. Anderson dedicated his recently-completed journalism dissertation to covering, well, journalism. How the "celebrity-journalist" myth ruined reporting: Too many people thought they might be Woodward & Bernstein; too few recognized how unglamorous the industry really is. Eric Alterman on conflicts of interest by the wealthy and for the wealthy.
From TED, Nina Jablonski breaks the illusion of skin color. From Minding the Campus, John McWhorter on what Black Studies can do. A review of The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice by Ronald Sundstrom. Brian Gilmore reviews How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon by David Roediger and What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America by Ariela Gross. Does the stress of living in a white-dominated society make African Americans get sick and die younger than their white counterparts? Research suggests brains respond less strongly to the pain of strangers whose ethnicity is different. What’s wrong with ethnic profiling? From The Root, Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. talks about his arrest and the outrage of racial profiling in America (and more); and what do you call a black man with a PhD? James Hannaham on the good news about the Henry Louis Gates fiasco. Richard Thompson Ford on why the arrest is about neither racial profiling nor playing the race card (and more). Why Gates is right — and we're not post-racial until he's wrong — but Gates forgot what black parents have always told their children (and more). Stanley Crouch on an outrageous case that shows that the old-boys network is color-blind.
From Salon, grave offenses at Arlington National Cemetery: A criminal investigation and allegations of misplaced bodies and shoddy care have roiled the famous burial ground (and part 2 and part 3). An article on U.S. role in coups: Sinister no more? John Gray reviews Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name by Timothy Garton Ash. The Independent goes inside the mind of prized intellectual Amartya Sen (and more from NS). Modern miracle: When saints intervene nowadays, it tends to be in healthcare. Healthcare for dunces: Don't know your "single-payer" from the "trigger plan"? Here are the basics. What the President ordered: Regina Benjamin is just the surgeon general Barack Obama needs. Man and machine: The real legacy of the moon race. Finding Ourselves: Apollo 11 was the voyage for its era, but where do we go now? (and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more). The future belongs to Andrew Sullivan: His coverage of the unrest in Iran was the blogosphere's moonshot, a feat of grit and daring heralding a new era in cyberspace — it was also a preview of journalism's future. More on American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone by D. D. Guttenplan (and a review by Michael Kazin at Bookforum).