From TLS, an article on John Ashbery, a poet for our times; and Byron, Shelley and Miss Havisham: How a British Prime Minister may have provided the inspiration for one of Charles Dickens's most enduring characters. Roger Kimball on how 1968's corrosive influence still harms both the left and the right. What bees and dented cars can teach about what it means to be poor — and the flaws of economics. Cuckoo for Switzerland: A small country with a skilled workforce, booming exports, and enormous prosperity has become the envy of Europe. Students of virginity: In the Ivy League, abstinence is a) philosophical, b) research-based, c) an outgrowth of feminism, d) sexy and fun, e) all of the above. The first chapter from Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk by James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer. A review of Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons by Daniel D. Hutto. How did a handful of activists manage to shake up Beijing with “Genocide Olympics” T-shirts? From FT, an interview with Nassim Nicholas Taleb on randomness. Let's stop brutalizing our kids with years of drills on the proper formation of a cursive capital "S"—handwriting is a historical blip in the long history of writing technologies. A review of The Language of Liberal Constitutionalism by Howard Schweber.
From VQR, an essay on Ezra Pound: Foreign Correspondent; an article on Pat Robertson as The Christian with Four Aces; and learning to speak: The new age of HIV/AIDS in the other Jamaica. From LRB, Jeremy Waldron reviews Worst-Case Scenarios by Cass Sunstein; and was it like this for the Irish? Gareth Peirce on the position of Muslims in Britain. As one starlet after another goes off the rails, what kind of example are they setting for American girls? Maybe a good one. The politically incorrect Deer Hunter, thirty years later: An excerpt from God, Man & Hollywood: Politically Incorrect Cinema from The Birth of a Nation to The Passion of the Christ. Here's a message for guilty liberals: Do your best, but don’t burn out on shame. An interview with Kate Torgovnick, author of Cheer! Three Teams on a Quest for College Cheerleading's Ultimate Prize. Proponents of Intelligent Design wield a powerful new weapon: Ben Stein. Sex education regressed into the Dark Ages under Bush; which candidate will now stand up for young persons' health? The newest view of Christ — activist, politician, not very Christian — is hard to square with the Bible's; now some believers even say the faith might be better off without him. From Radical Middle, a review of books on capitalism and globalization. From Discover, an article on 3 theories that might blow up the Big Bang.
From HNN, a poll find 61% of historians rate the Bush presidency as the worst ever. From the latest issue of Logos, Dick Howard on American democracy after Bush; a review of books on the Bush presidency; a review of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges; a review of Are Americans Becoming More Peaceful? by Paul Joseph; a review of Frances Fox Piven's Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America; an essay on celebrating novelist Alberto Moravia at 100; an article on sixty years of Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus; creative genius or crazy scientist? paranoid or persecuted? An essay commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Wilhelm Reich; Janos Kelemen writes in defense of The Destruction of Reason by Georg Lukacs; and how would Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit be relevant today? by Frank M. Kirkland. Tim Griffin reviews Cole Swensen’s Ours. From New Scientist, a look at why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable; and will a pandemic bring down civilisation? A case of the blues: Congressional Republicans have lost ground on every possible front — can Tom Cole turn things around? From Vanity Fair, the Bush administration lawyers who pushed for extreme interrogation techniques at Guantanamo could be charged with war crimes; Philippe Sands follows the torture trail.
From Newsweek, hang out on the highway: An article on the accessory truckers are going nuts for; and cracking down on cockfighting: Why the bloodsport remains a thriving industry. Long before DRM-cracking and Creative Commons, thinkers like Gutenberg, Kant and Locke started the freedom of information debate, and a new site archives their really old ideas. What if three-strikes laws make criminals less likely to repeat offend—but more violent when they do? A review of A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future by Roger S. Gottlieb. The past is littered with triumphant futures, and a quick look at paleofuture.com will entertain and instruct in equal measure. From Harper's, vote machine: How Republicans hacked the Justice Department. From ARPA, the letter, the spirit, and the future: An article on Rudd’s apology to Australia’s Indigenous people. Beggars can be orators: Disco Davey, Donna and Haggis were once substance abusers living on the streets; now, as a way to recover, they are donning evening gear and trying debates at Durham University. An article on ancient mechanics and how they thought. Europe makes peace with nationalism: Even in a border-free Europe, everyone wants a homeland. From Eurozine, An article on Rowan Williams and the Sharia controversy. The nukes of October: An article on Richard Nixon's secret plan to bring peace to Vietnam.
From Monthly Review, an essay on Living the 11th Thesis. Research reveals that people who wear glasses are not stereotypical geeks or nerds. The new American nerd is a beast! Former four-eyed wieners are suddenly ripped, cut, pumped, absy, hairy and huge! The Islamic Republic of Harvard? The university's latest public relations disaster — and how it could have been avoided. More on Jeffrey Sachs' Common Wealth. From PopMatters, some Amazon buyers serve as "culture jammers", expressing their contempt for advertisers through simple acts of creative customer feedback. Cultural libertarians are a growing force in America, but just how do you reach them? A new issue of Girlistic Magazine is out. A review of Muqtada by Patrick Cockburn. An interview with Carl Oglesby, author of Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Anti-War Movement. Some scientific findings may be no-brainers, but these studies uncover hidden truths in conventional wisdom. From Doublethink, people who like weird sex should protect it by making sure it never becomes normal; and adaptation, the process of turning source material—most often a novel—into a movie, has been around almost as long as the movies have — what does an adaptation owe to its source material? The introduction to Law as Culture: An Invitation by Lawrence Rosen.
From Mother Jones, Blackwater, Erik Prince's expanding global private army, is at your service—and the war in Iraq was just the beginning. A review of The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee. A look at how the desert metropolis Dubai is reinventing itself as an art center. Trade secrets: John B. Judis on the real problem with NAFTA. YouTube for Smart People: Big Think seeks to smarten up the Internet by getting up close and intellectual with the most creative thinkers alive. More and more on Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner and Panicology by Simon Briscoe and Hugh Aldersey-Williams. A review of Princesses and Pornstars: Sex, Power, Identity by Emily Maguire. A review of Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America by Richard Zoglin. A review of Vanishing America: In Pursuit of Our Elusive Landscapes by James Conway. An interview with Immanuel Wallerstein, author of European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power. From The Root, an article on the perilous politics of hair. A review of The Language of Belonging by Ulrike Hanna Meinhof and Darius Galasinski. From Der Spiegel, a special report on the story of Curveball and how German intelligence helped justify the US invasion of Iraq.
From Democracy, a review of Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America's Tradition of Religious Equality by Martha C. Nussbaum; Ron Paul's America: Michael Tomasky reviews Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism by Bill Kauffman; Brave New World War: Genetic engineering will soon turn science fiction to fact; why we need a new global treaty to control it; and the future of progressive governance depends on the unglamorous, little-noticed world of regulation. Is the Internet eroding America's Puritanism — or making it worse? Gary Kamiya wants to know. A review of Randall Kennedy's Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (and more from Bookforum). It Ain't No Joke: Hip-hop, like most other arts, intentionally pays humor less mind because, hey, it's not supposed to be taken seriously! But seriously. From IHE, an article on why professors should embrace Wikipedia. From Ord&Bild, an article on the rebirth of religion and enchanting materialism: Habermas, Onfray and Dawkins and the trivializing of life's wonders. Every election cycle we bemoan the character-driven election coverage, but nothing seems to change. A review of Harper Lee's All Literature Is Gossip. Right at the end: Jeffrey Hart on how William F. Buckley had the courage to admit that the movement he started may be finished.
From TLS, a review of Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence; a review of The Dress of the People: Everyday fashion in eighteenth-century England by John Styles; and a review of books on jihad and radical Islam. A review of Beyond Practical Virtue: A Defense of Liberal Democracy Through Literature by Joel A. Johnson. A review of books on baseball. From Salon, is it coming to a soup kitchen near you? Here's how we'll know if the current recession is turning into something much worse. From The Nation, is this The Big One? Jeff Faux investigates; Robin Blackburn is for a social bailout: Let's reinvent progressive economic policy, starting with our own sovereign wealth fund to deal with urgent social needs; and who are they calling elitist, and why do conservatives continue to feel oppressed by the "liberal elite"? A review of Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths by Stefan Timmermans. Striking a blow for science: A review of Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics by Tom Rogers. Why blog? Reason No. 92: Book deal. More on Matt Bai's The Argument. Flat Earth Society: A look at the two-dimensional world of Thomas Friedman. From Popular Mechanics, here are 7 energy efficiency myths debunked. Martin Amis may not know much about Islam and 9/11, but he knows what he hates (and more; and more from the latest issue of Bookforum).
From Mittleweg, Harald Weilnbock on trauma melancholia and other (ab-)uses of trauma concepts in literary theory (and part 2 and part 3). George Soros on the false ideology at the heart of the financial crisis. A review of Ha-Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. The 2.0 Decade? Readers come up with names for the era now winding down — Scott McLemee looks back on it all. Andre Glucksmann and Bernard-Henri Levy write an open letter to Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel on NATO. From The Hindu, roots, migration and exile: An interview with Jhumpa Lahiri on her new book, her voice as a writer and her continuing interest in issues of identity and immigration (and more and more; and migration, assimilation, and inebriation: Jhumpa Lahiri talks with Bookforum). Wiki Woman: Eve Fairbanks on the battle to define Hillary online. American voters are a contradictory bunch: They say they want social welfare, but don't want to pay for it; they claim they are left-leaning, but vote for center-right candidates. More on The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad by John Stape. From The New York Observer's First Annual Survey of Magazines, big, fat, glossy, but will they make it into the future? From GQ, an interview with Karl Rove. From Slate, Fixing It 2008: A series of articles on repairing some of the worst Bush administration screw-ups.
From The Atlantic Monthly, Ross Douthat on The Return of the Paranoid Style: How the Iraq War and George W. Bush sent the movie industry back to its favorite era—the 1970s (and more); meet Oleg Khintsagov, a small-time hustler in Russia who can get you dried fish, furs, Turkish chandeliers and weapons-grade uranium — he’s not the only one (and more); Calcutta has been renamed; now, with investment on the rise, tech companies moving in, and a growing middle class, can it be reborn? (and more); an English critic decries the decline of his language—and his civilization; Christopher Hitchens reviews Ezra Pound: Poet A Portrait of the Man & His Work Volume I: The Young Genius 1885–1920 by A. David Moody; and a review of Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler. Prophet and pastor: To Martin Marty, his former professor, congregant, and friend, Jeremiah Wright has been both. Gore and Edwards may have the most party clout, but there’s only one person Hillary will finally listen to — her name isn’t Bill. A review of Max Kozloff’s The Theatre of the Face: Portrait Photography Since 1900. Testing Horace Mann: How some extremely contemporary problems at one of the city's most prestigious schools—a Facebook scandal, a tell-all-novelist history teacher—were resolved through old-fashioned exertion of influence.