From Outside, the great American road trip is resurgent. Among roadside attractions, Wall Drug is an icon: the granddaddy of tourist traps. William H. H. (Adirondack) Murray spent years justifying his pioneering call to the wildest parts of North America; today, we call it camping. Adam Baer is extremely embarrassed to use the made-up word “staycation”, but acquiesces to the coercive powers of Captain Kirk. Strange Telescopes is the second installment in Daniel Kalder’s anti-tourism crusade. A look at the 20 best travel books of the past century. Here's an article debunking a dozen travel myths. From Traveler, whom to tip, how much to give, and how to give it in more than 35 countries around the world. Here are 9 things not to do when in a new country. In search of beautiful people: While great museums and fine meals are key, some travelers admit to also hoping the locals will be hot. Tourists can now visit even the most far-flung destinations, but Judith Weingarten believes that one must settle in for a long stay to get a real sense of foreign lands. Why is it necessary for people to wax lyrical about a culture other than their own just to make a holiday enjoyable? A look at 8 of the most dangerous places (to live) on the planet. Where's the remotest place on Earth?: Getting away from it all is easier said than done, as new maps of the world's connectedness reveal. A review of You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon but Get Lost in the Mall by Collin Ellard (and more).
From M/C Journal, Donna Lee Brien (CQU): Unplanned Educational Obsolescence: Is the "Traditional" PhD Becoming Obsolete? The humanities are in the same state financial markets were in before they crashed, with a growing mountain of toxic intellectual debt and overvalued research. From The American Scholar, William M. Chace on the decline of the English department: How it happened and what could be done to reverse it. What's the matter with cultural studies? Michael Berube on how the popular discipline has lost its bearings. Is sociology dead? An article on exploring genetics and social structure. Waiting for the call: Sociologists confront “economist envy” and consider their relative lack of influence in Washington. From THES, a series on the seven deadly sins of the academy (and an article on a controversy: Female students are a "perk" of the job; and a response to criticism by Terence Kealey). In terms of its core mission — turning teenagers into educated college graduates — much of the American system of higher education is simply failing (and more and more and more on Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities). Welcome to Yahoo! U: The Web will dismember universities, just like newspapers. It’s the end of the university as we know it. Today, 21st-century technology carries the potential to nudge mainstream education back toward the 16th-century vision of one-to-one tutoring.
A new issue of Quarterly Conversation is out. Tayt Harlin reviews Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser (and more and more). A review of Faulkner and Love by Judith L. Sensibar. Ron Rosenbaum on The Nabokov Code: A first encounter with Laura, his last, unfinished work. An interview with William Trevor. Joyce Carol Oates on the witchcraft of Shirley Jackson. An unlikely candidate for influence: Naked Lunch at 50 years young. From The American Scholar, a review of Ulysses and and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece by Declan Kiberd (and more). A review of Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing by Michael Slater (and more). Why are we still reading Dickens? From The Hindu, the canonisation of writers like Rushdie and Naipaul in the West enables it to think of itself as radical without really being inconvenienced; the real Other remains outside its gaze. A review of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life by Gerald Martin. A review of The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham by Selina Hastings (and more and more). The Coy Exhibitionist: Jonathan Ames has made a career out of self-exposure — or so he would like you to believe (and more). A review of Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne (and more and more). A profile of Douglas Coupland, the writer who sees into the future (and more and more on Generation A). Airplane books, junk literature, and the Western canon: All novels are lies, some lies are better.
From PUP, the introduction to The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900 by Rudi Matthee. From Middle East Report, a special issue on the Islamic Revolution at 30. From ISR, a special section on Iran: Rebellion and Reaction. From NYRB, Roger Cohen on Iran: The tragedy & the future. A review of books on Iran (and more). Should Iran bury or resurrect the Islamic Republic? A review of Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs by Ray Takeyh. Ahmadinejad II: What will the Iranian president's second term look like? Internal combustion: The Iranian regime's biggest threat may come from the inside. The post-election political contest over the future of Iran is reaching a pivotal stage. While protestors take to the streets in Tehran for democracy, another group of Iranians meets in Cairo for the return of monarchy. The making of an Iran policy: Roger Cohen goes inside the Obama administration’s struggle with its biggest diplomatic challenge. Engaging with Iran is like having sex with someone who hates you: Tehran's latest bid to run down the clock. From TNR, why is Obama repeating Bush's Iraq mistakes in Afghanistan? Michael Crowley wants to know. From NYRB, a review of books on the Afghanistan impasse. The war we can’t win: Andrew Bacevich on Afghanistan and the limits of American power. Could Afghanistan become Obama’s Vietnam — or can we bribe our way to victory? Immanuel Wallerstein on U.S. internal politics and its military interventions.
Why it's okay for Hollywood to adapt every franchise on earth: How a cinematic purist learned to stop worrying and love the movie makeover. Hollywood hits the books: Mr. Fox, Sherlock Holmes and a crew of wild things leap to the screen. A review of Firestorm: American Film in the Age of Terrorism by Stephen Prince. Professor Parini Goes to Hollywood: Can this poet find success on the big screen? TV’s next dimension: Why goofy 3-D glasses are in your future. A review of Channeling the Future: Essays on Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. From Time, Jay Leno is the future of TV — seriously. Leno may now dominate prime time, but Letterman has triumphed by doing something more interesting: He’s grown up. Does late night TV still matter? With the greatest shake-up in network late-night television since King Carson left his throne, now is a perfect time to ponder where late-night television is today. Cheap and cheerful: American television comedy was supposed to be dead. And now your moment of Zen: An article on the cultural significance of "The Daily Show". Dr. Seuss and the origins of The Simpsons: How many times must Matt Groening have watched The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T? It seems like the lowest of lowbrow TV — and yet. After beginning as a radio program 72 years ago, "Guiding Light," the longest running drama ever on broadcast television, comes to a close. The Dying of the Light: Fear not, serial fans — the format existed before soap operas and isn't going anywhere. Could changes in advertising kill television?: A review of Chaos Scenario by Bob Garfield.
From Vanity Fair, Levi Johnston writes about everyday life at chez Palin. Frank Schaeffer on how the ugly side of Evangelical Christianity is very much to blame for the anti-Obama hyperventilating. The Obama Haters: We still don't understand how fringe conservatism went mainstream. More and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more on Irving Kristol. Bill Moyers interviews Sam Tanenhaus, author of The Death of Conservatism (and more). From Salon, a series on the making of Glenn Beck (and part 2 and part 3). Glenn Beck's Party: The message of the GOP is being delivered by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (and more from City Journal). United States of Paranoia: Phantom menaces populate the imaginations of Americans across the political spectrum, not just those on the populist Right. From TNR, Jonathan Chait is in the middle of nowhere: Splitting a baby is actually a bad thing; a look at the two most distorted words in the political dictionary: "bipartisan" and "centrist"; and left-handed compliment: Why can't liberals accept victory? What happened to populism: Paul Krugman and Thomas Frank, liberal keyboard messiahs, differ in the strength of medicine they offer Barack Obama. Pluralists vs. Technocrats: There is an important divide running through the middle of Democratic policymaking that gets very little attention. From Esquire, an interview with Bill Clinton (and more). A review of True Compass: A Memoir by Edward Kennedy (and more and more and more and more).
In 2005, he said the housing boom would cause a recession, and mortgage lenders laughed, calling him "Mr. Bubble"; wouldn't you like to know what Robert Shiller has to say today? Questioning a chastened priesthood: Jeremy Clift profiles psychologist Daniel Kahneman on the economic crisis. From Critical Review, Jeffrey Friedman on a crisis of politics, not economics: Complexity, ignorance, and policy failure. From National Affairs, Luigi Zingales on capitalism after the crisis. A year after the crash, a few financial giants are back to making millions, while average Americans face foreclosure and unemployment — what's wrong with this picture? The Deal of the Century: As our financial system entered free fall last September, an epic battle for power and, above all, cash was being waged between Barclays and JPMorgan Chase. Laurence Grafstein on the real banker boondoggle: What the finance industry owes us. From The Huffington Post, a look at how the Federal Reserve bought the economics profession. Eliot Spitzer on the nine questions Ben Bernanke needs to answer before the Senate confirms him to another Fed term. Is Bernanke a follower of John Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman? (and more and more and more on In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic by David Wessel). A review of books on Keynes (and more and more and more). Richard Posner on how he became a Keynesian: Second thoughts in the middle of a crisis. David Gordon reviews Posner's A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of ‘08 and the Descent into Depression (and more).
What does the U.N. Security Council do, exactly? The answer, it turns, out, is more than you think, and less than you might hope. From Newsweek, critics slam Ban Ki-moon for being charmless and ineffective — they'd better get used to it, because they're stuck with him; a look at when leaders radically remake their countries; Brazil's Lula is the most popular politician on Earth (and more); and Somalia is worse off than ever — why don't we care? A review of The New Plagues: Pandemics and Poverty in a Globalized World by Stefan Kaufmann. Turning point for the poor: The world needs a crisis response facility, ready to offer help for the most vulnerable countries. The G-20 nations could help both the poor and the global economy by imposing a very small tax on the prosperous foreign exchange industry. Norman Borlaug died Sept 12, but his ideas and the green revolution they produced are still transforming agriculture. From National Geographic, a special report on the State of the Earth 2010. Conformists may kill civilizations: Lack of original ideas leaves societies vulnerable to environmental upheaval. From Cultural Survival Quarterly, a look at indigenous science solving contemporary problems. Cultural relativism and Western chauvinism share one basic principle, claims Kenan Malik: a loss of faith in universal values. A review of Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 by Charles Murray. The nadir of Western Civilization to be reached this Friday at 3:32 P.M.
Nestor Micheli Morales (CUNY): Psychological and Ideological Aspects of Human Cloning: A Transition to a Transhumanist Psychology. You, the updated owner’s manual: Biotechnology is ushering in changes that sound freakish today but will soon seem utterly normal. From Prospect, the age of enhancement: A cornucopia of drugs will soon be on sale to improve everything from our memories to our trust in others. The introduction to Human Enhancement. Here's a report on Ethics of Human Enhancement: 25 Questions & Answers. From IEET, Nick Bostrom on the posthuman possibility space, including catastrophic risks and the concept of the Singularity; and fantasists ponder a future of superlongevity, superintelligence, and superabundance, as if wishing will make it happen — meanwhile, people are dying. A review of Mortal Coil: A Short History of Living Longer by David Boyd Haycock. Who wants to live forever? One might be tempted to respond by asking "Who wouldn’t?" Immortalism: An article on Ernest Becker and Alan Harrington on overcoming biological limitations. How fast are humans mutating? Katherine Harmon investigates. From The New Yorker, synthetic biologists are convinced that they will be able to not only alter nature but guide human evolution as well. Do transhumanists hold a set of beliefs that effectively offer an alternative to traditional religions, and if so, is that necessarily bad? It's time to play God: If Craig Venter's research leads to engineering new forms of life, mankind has hope for the future.
The internet at forty: A mid-life crisis threatens its future (and a look at its top 10 achievements). Here are 50 things that are being killed by the internet. Is the Internet melting our brains? No! Dennis Baron, author of A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution, explains why such hysterical hand-wringing is as old as communication itself (and more). From Dissent, does the Internet help or hurt democracy? The Web was supposed to bring new citizens into the political process — a new study finds that’s just not happening. Who still uses internet cafes? The teen bloggers who took over the internet: John Crace investigates the rise of the super young e-scene and profiles its biggest names. From Wired, a special report on why Craigslist is such a mess (and more and more and more and more and more). Farhad Manjoo on how to fix Craigslist: Better feedback, better search, and more openness. Wikipedia's new editing policy isn't the end of the encyclopedia's democratic age — it's business as usual. Wikipedia promises to clean up its act; does that mean no more famously wrong obituaries? A look at how search engines are about to drive dictionary sites out of business. Is Google evil? New Statesman investigates (and more and more and more). International stereotypes may have disappeared with the Ark but they seem to live on in the weird world of Google Suggest. Which site has the stupidest commenters on the Web? (and more on commenters and more on trolls).