A review of Fame: From the Bronze Age to Britney by Tom Payne (and more). The accidental celebrity: Timothy L. Wood didn't write an essay comparing Obama and Hitler; he shares his story about what happened online and in his life when some people thought he did. My celebrity college roommate: The memories of people whose college roommates went on to become stars say a lot about navigating your freshman-year living situation (and more and more). Hot Celebrity Gossip!: Why we primates love personalities. Michael Jackson died a long time ago, and it's taken years for anyone to notice. With June’s celebrity deaths, Larry King confirmed his status as America’s chief mourner and grief counselor, turning his show into a postmortem inquiry (David Carradine), a jovial wake (Ed McMahon), an auxiliary hospice (Farrah Fawcett), and a star-studded trauma team (Michael Jackson). Expire, please; go kaput; die, already: It’s not a film, it’s a movie; it’s not a vinyl, it’s a record — and other trendy things that need to go bye-bye. It is sly, knowing and often nasty; politicians and celebrities are its prey; and it attacks, under the guise of wit, without proof or reason — David Denby goes on the hunt for snark (and more). An interview with Michael Musto on snark. Scott Brown on the outsourcing of snark.


From New Statesman, George Friedman on the next 100 years: The power of the US will wane — but not yet, and not in this century. Perry Anderson reviews Reflections on the Revolution in Europe by Christopher Caldwell. From H-Net, a review of Cosmopolitanism and Europe and Rebecca L. Walkowitz's Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation. From Adbusters, an article on Japanese simplicity: The only way to leave a smaller footprint would be to die. An interview with Francis Wheen: "It seems that whatever subject I pick, no matter how obscure, by time of publication it is absolutely of the moment". Like the economy, Vanity Fair's annual ranking of the top 100 Information Age powers has been truly shaken up, with new blood emerging (and more and more and more). Information Age? Bah humbug! New Yorkers get a taste of Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. When does fandom become religion, and what are the boundaries, and what are the overlaps? An excerpt from If Ignorance Is Bliss, Why Aren't There More Happy People? by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson. Why the C-word is losing its bite: Rethinking the most taboo term in English. Coin of praise: In the seemingly godless world of global capitalism, money is the only thing in which we really must have faith.


A review of Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer by Jeff VanderMeer. Is the writing workshop a crucible for an aesthetic based on shame? Mark Greif investigates. Writing advice: The world doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your MFA. A review of And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft by Mike Sacks. Lincoln Michel on appreciating The Onion’s lit humor. There seem to be an awful lot of books these days on "annualism", with the author doing something odd for a year — but why? Amazon reviewers take on the classics: What if the Internet had existed centuries ago? Students get new assignment, picking books you like: The experimental approach is part of a movement to revolutionize the way literature is taught. A look at why "reading management" software cannot identify what makes some books so complex and lovely and painful. Good novels don't have to be hard work: If there's a key to what the 21st-century novel is going to look like, says novelist Lev Grossman, this is it: the ongoing exoneration and rehabilitation of plot. From American Book Review, what's the future of fiction? (and more) Social irrelevance and self-generated canons: Poetry has lost the symbolic power needed to address shared values.


Mark Luccarelli (Oslo): From Revolution to a New Global System: Reflections on the Breakdown of “Globalization” and the Future(s) of the International Order. A review of The Liberal Project and Human Rights: The Theory and Practice of a New World Order by John Charvet and Elisa Kaczynska-Nay. From TNR, can a liberal be both opposed to imperialism and devoted to human rights?: Richard Just reviews Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror by Mahmood Mamdani and The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All by Gareth Evans. From LPBR, a review of Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror by Peter Jan Honigsberg and Bad Advice: Bush's Lawyers in the War on Terror by Harold H. Bruff. From Harper's, an interview with Jack Balkin on the entrenchment of the National Surveillance State; and an interview with David Cole, author of The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable. Cheney's Jihad: Peter Bergen on why "enhanced interrogation techniques" don't enhance U.S. interests. Christopher Jayes on why an effective investigation into the breadth of the CIA's interrogation programs must be bipartisan, similar to the work of the Church Committee in the 1970s.


From Esquire, an article on Jonathan Coulton, Internet famous and loving every minute of it (he thinks). Overdosing on reality: A child of the Internet goes feral in full view. It has never been easier to document our lives — but why would anyone share all this detail, or anyone else bother reading it? From PopMatters, the public display of the private individual: It is the shift from Rockwell's paranoid "I always feel like somebody's watching me" to the insistence that someone need be watching to validate private feelings; and the paradox of the new media is that for each face-to-face interaction we sacrifice, we open up the possibility of connecting with thousands of like-minded people. Listen to me: An old genre (the rant) erupts in a new venue (YouTube). Going viral: Brandon Hardesty discovered that in the age of YouTube, if you can make it in the family rec room, you can make it anywhere. From 3D Space to Third Place: An article on the social life of small virtual spaces. Post GeoCities: How online communities are born and what happens when they die. For anyone who hasn’t been following the blog You’re Talking a Lot, but You’re Not Saying Anything, Kerry Skemp recently summed up the lessons learned with the ultimate “meta-commentary” post: "Commentary on My Commentary on Commentary".


From Scientific American, a special issue on Origins, including a report on a conference on the science of origins; and an article on mysterious origins: 8 phenomena that defy explanation. Cosmic Vision: A new generation of giant telescopes will carry the eye to the edge of the universe. From The Economist, in praise of astronomy, the most revolutionary of sciences; and a look at a battle between Big Science and human hunches. More and more on The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. Michael Shermer on what skepticism reveals about science. A review of Sciences from Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities by Sandra Harding. Want more women to study science? Hire more female professors. Does science foster a universal culture? Julian Huxley thought so, and wrote this into the mandate of the UN — what happened? In the future, doing science is like blogging. From THES, do academic journals pose a threat to the advancement of science? Why don’t Americans understand science better? Start with the scientists. Why America is flunking science: Don't just blame poor education for our nation's scientific illiteracy — but our politics and pop culture. A review of Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum's Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future (and more and more).


Lawrence Davidson (West Chester): Private Control of Foreign Policy. Paul MacDonald (Williams): Rebalancing American Foreign Policy. A review of books: American foreign policy is at a crossroads. Who runs what US foreign policy, and what role has Obama carved out for himself? From New Statesman, Obama is commander-in-chief of an unprecedented network of military bases that is still expanding; but what is historically distinct about US power is that it has enabled the spread of human liberty. Why Americans see Thomas Jefferson in every would-be revolutionary around the world. A review of From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 by George Herring (and more). Matthew Yglesias reviews The Godfather Doctrine: A Foreign Policy Parable by John Hulsman and A. Wess Mitchell. A review of By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld by Bradley Graham (and more and more and more). Amid war and recession, Americans are in a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact mood — but that, says Paul Wolfowitz, is no reason to adopt the misguided doctrine of realism (and responses). The long, slow death of American triumphalism: Think of GI Joe as a modern American zombie — "he" may never have existed, but he just won't die.


An excerpt from Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics by Peter Goodwin Heltzel. A review of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South by Steven Miller. Behind the scandal-tainted C Street house is an organization big on protecting its own and small on church ties and theology. Sex and power inside "the C Street House": Sanford, Ensign, and other regulars receive guidance from the invisible fundamentalist group known as the Family (and an excerpt from The Family: Power, Politics and Fundamentalism's Shadow Elite by Jeff Sharlet, and more). A review of Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches by Robert Wuthnow. From CT, a review of World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security by Thomas F. Farr; and a review of Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960: The Soul of Containment by William Inboden. A review of Victoria Clark's Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism. Christian fundamentalism helped turn Somalia into the next staging ground for Islamic radicalism. The modern Evangelical Left does not want to defend America, and the great mid-20th century theologian Karl Barth might partly be at fault. Totally evangelical: First Jesus, then Sylvia Plath, then pot — and so on.

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