From Wired, a look at 7 essential skills you didn't learn in college. Hyper-libertarian Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel's appalling plan to pay students to quit college. The test has been canceled: Final exams are quietly vanishing from college. Elite colleges, or colleges for the elite? Giving preference to children of alumni during the admissions process is basically affirmative action for the rich. How a “college for all” philosophy leaves everyone behind. Religion, science, and the academy: Should universities work to keep religion away from science — or to bring them closer? Studying religion is suddenly popular, but is it really an “esoteric” field for “do-gooders”? More and more and more and more on Higher Education? by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus. John Henry Newman's vision for university revolutionised the global academy; David Grumett discusses its development and impact. Conceived as a cosmopolitan ­educational oasis, New York University Abu Dhabi is among the first products of the emirate’s ­cultural ­ambitions. Thank you for not hating NYU. What to do when college is not the best time of your life. Here is a new trend: college for people who can't read or write. Marshall Poe on ending America’s fruitless battle with college boozing. Columbia University establishes the first academic center for Palestine studies. A professor’s review of online cheat sheets: Guides to the literary canon, foreign languages, economics, popular fiction and even song lyrics are now available online or on cellphones. A review of Higher Education and the American Dream: Success and its Discontents by Marvin Lazerson. The five-year party: At “subprime” colleges and universities the emphasis is on fun, not education. A review of The People's University: A History of the California State University by Donald Gerth. The R.O.T.C. Myth: Elite colleges haven’t forced out the military — it left.

A new issue of Pink and Black Attack, an anti-assimilationist queer anarchist periodical, is out. Jeff Redding (SLU): Queer/Religious Friendship in the Obama Era. Is it really necessary for a submissive to gain basic permissions for bathrooms and smoke breaks and ordering what they would like, when out in public? A review of Socrates and the Fat Rabbis by Daniel Boyarin. The persistence of hope: Edmund Wilson’s masterpiece on the roots of communismTo the Finland Station — continues to have great resonance today. Political columnists think America is in decline — big surprise (and more). Economist Gary Becker returned to the University of Chicago because “I knew I would be challenged by the faculty, by the students” — he met the challenge. Why didn’t superstores colonize the Web the way they colonized suburbia? James Surowiecki investigates. From sex blogger to mom: Jessica Cutler is now a housewife in New York. From Dissident Voice, Michael Barker on the philanthropic-academic nexus within an anthropological context; and from, an interview with Thomas C. Patterson, author of A Social History of Anthropology in the United States. Searching for Smut: Amy Werbel is hot on the trail of Anthony Comstock (1844-1915). Frog Boy: Karen Stollznow on the death of an urban legend. Any comedian knows, the quickest way to kill a joke is to study it too closely or attempt to explain it — so how can one be serious about comedy? The 21st century has opened with ten years that have seen the vast majority of Americans go backward economically; just-released Census stats tell that tale — but not the whole income story. Jean Paul Sartre may have taught us that “Hell is other people,” but his later work shows us that other people can be the source of our completion.

Brad Stone’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek article about Facebook’s advertising strategies gets at several different ways that marketing through social media is nefarious. Leigh Alexander on how to evaluate an individual’s relative normalcy using their Facebook page. Ironically, Facebook and its 500 million friends remain largely a mystery. What Twitter learns from all those tweets: The company's head of analytics explains how Twitter mines the data users produce. If you like how the Internet remembers every single detail of your life, does that make you a hoarder? Little Brother is Watching: In the Web era, we are eroding our privacy all by ourselves. In the same vein as the popular Do Not Call list, privacy advocates would like a Do Not Track that would allow people to opt out of having their online behavior monitored. A review of Personal Connections in the Digital Age by Nancy Baym. Online as much as in the real world, people bunch together in mutually suspicious groups — and in both realms, peacemaking is an uphill struggle. Top 10 Internet-fueled conspiracies: From JFK to Obama, Roswell to Da Vinci — the great paranoias all prosper on the Web. The most important, and salient, impact of the web on viral public opinion shaping may be the UFO phenomena — an entirely new intellectual discipline, called Exopolitics (the political implications of Extraterrestrial presence), has evolved. From Nerve, a look at the most inexplicably popular YouTube videos of all time: The bizarre appeal of beef in a tube, and other internet mysteries. A review of Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People by Michael Strangelove. A review of YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture by Jean Burgess and Joshua Green. Is Hulu winning the video wars? YouTube may soon be dead — ready yourself.

A new issue of Wag's Revue is out. From Business Week, Joel Stein on the return of the three-martini lunch: Whether as an alleged complement to food or a business lubricant, the boozy lunch is making a comeback. A skeptic gets schooled: An introduction to parapsychology. The Space of Philosophy: Hamid Dabashi on the controversy surrounding UNESCO's World Philosophy Day scheduled to take place in Iran next month: "Critical thought is not for smuggling" (and more). The Guatemala Syphilis Experiment: An interview with Susan Reverby, author of "Normal Exposure and Inoculation Syphilis: A PHS Tuskegee Doctor in Guatemala, 1946-48". From Ovi, Gerry Coulter on Immanuel Wallerstein's seductive fiction. From Dissent, Mark Engler on Jon Stewart's false "moderation". Listen, you living writers out there: Write us a masterpiece or two, for chrissake — we need something more solid than Urban Intellectual Fodder. We have a lot of ideas about who hackers are, but very few people have actually tried to seriously investigate the anthropology of one of the more fascinating social groups to emerge at the end of the 20th century — NYU's Gabriella Coleman studies their culture. Legal philosopher Marianne Constable studies the relationship of speech and silence to law — what does that have to do with justice? OR Books is recognizing that the bookselling world has changed, and they are changing the way they do book business accordingly. A look at the Census of Marine Life, the major international oceanographic research project involving researchers in over 80 countries. Bram Vermeer on 10 things that should exist by 2030. Watch and learn: How music videos are triggering a literacy boom. David Runciman reviews A Journey by Tony Blair (and more by Fareed Zakaria).

Liberty or tyranny: Is our passion for equality undermining democracy? Like the Beats, the Tea Partiers are driven by that principle at the heart of protest movements: individual freedom. Stephen Hayes on the the Tea Parties and the future of liberty. What the Tea Partiers really want: The passion behind the populist insurgency is less about liberty than a particularly American idea of karma (and more). Conservatives redefine the abuse of power: The GOP remains fixated on the alleged tyranny of a democratically elected president and Congress pursuing a publicly predetermined domestic agenda (and more). A Tea Party of populist posers: Americans who want to stick it to the man are instead sending money to the man (and more). A review of books on the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party’s Brain: How Ron Paul's fringe obsessions entered the mainstream. Glenn Beck is the face of the Tea Party and the heir to Rush Limbaugh — but he sees himself as much more (and more and more on Beck). The big question with Beck, as it is with a lot of figures in the latter-day conservative moment, is this: Is he evil, ignorant, performance art? If you ever find yourself in a post-nuclear holocaust environment and come across people eating beef stroganoff, odds are they'll be Glenn Beck fans. A look at how conspiracy theorists find validation from Glenn Beck. From The Nation, a special section on sex and the GOP. Why are there so many right-wing extremist women? Michael Joseph Gross delves into the surreal new world Sarah Palin now inhabits — a place of fear, anger, and illusion (and more). America’s “mama grizzlies” — homely, conservative women with their hearts set on power — are easy to mock, yet their influence is spreading (and more). The case for mockery: Social-issue extremism is a potent reminder of everything voters hated about Republican rule.

The Believer has the story of how a thirtysomething former Mormon missionary ended up writing the conclusion to the most popular fantasy series since Tolkien.

Gliese 581g is the most promising habitable world astronomers have found so far, but the chances of finding life there are vanishingly slim. From The Space Review, Andrew J. LePage on the beginnings of planetary exploration; and Jeff Foust on debating the future of human spaceflight and on space tourism and space policy (and more). We’ve been to the moon and Mars is easy, but landing on Venus? That’s tough. From Beijing Review, unidentified flying objects (UFO) are a fascinating topic that has puzzled millions of people around the world — Chinese researchers and fans of UFOs are no exception (and more and more). Phoning ET: An argument over whether to send messages to aliens. Atlas Obscura on the world's first UFO landing pad. Should we be worried about alien invasions? Michio Kaku is on the case.

Chapman University's Lawrence Rosenthal on how originalism is useless, and on what the legal career of John Yoo tells us about who should be teaching law.

A review of Big History and the Future of Humanity by Fred Spier. Making historical comparisons: John R. McNeill reviews of Natural Experiments of History, edited by Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, and Why America Is Not a New Rome by Vaclav Smil. From BookTV, an interview with Gordon Wood. Neal Ascherson reviews Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography by Adam Sisman (and more). A review of A Passion for History: Conversations with Denis Crouzet by Natalie Zemon Davis. Simon Schama, hacked down to size: A new collection of the television historian's ­newspaper writing is barely journalism, but the author’s cultural insights remain as exciting as ever. The "History of History Tree", part of a larger project that also maps relations within other academic disciplines, now makes it easy to trace the lineages of notable professors.

Where have all the good food writers gone? Restaurant reviews abound online but few beat the experienced writers that readers trust. Eat, drink and be merry: How a crazy application of chaos theory shows the best way to digest a medicinal drug; and how maths can tell us the safest way to cook food (in a microwave oven).

Rainfall and Democracy: Why have some countries remained obstinately authoritarian despite repeated waves of democratization while others have exhibited uninterrupted democracy? Stanford's Stephen Haber and the University of Washington's Victor A. Menaldo argue that "settled agriculture requires moderate levels of precipitation, and... eventually gave birth to the fundamental institutions that under-gird today’s stable democracies."

From Foreign Policy, travel writing ain't what it used to be: If you like your adventure stories devoid of any eating, prayer, or love, try the classics. Travel writing is dead: Eat, Pray, Love was just the nail in the coffin — an ardent traveler looks at an entire genre gone narcissistic and brainless; and travel writing lives: the nostalgists are wrong — in fact, travel writing is better than ever, and it's got more to tell us about our globalized world than dry policy writing does. Flavorwire lists 10 seminal books for world travelers. The latest edition of The Best American Travel Writing includes four essays which you can read at World Hum. Financial Times looks at the end of the guidebook: "Travel publishers are piling into the smartphone app market, hoping to persuade customers that it's worth paying for software that comes with their book's trusted tone and voice." Tony Hiss on ten books and a movie that evoke "deep travel." Maximiliano Korstanje "put[s] the non-places theory under scrutiny considering that there is no place in the world that can be termed non-place."

In the 1930s Wilhelm Reich, perhaps best known as the author of The Sexual Revolution, developed the theory that it was possible to explain the basic concepts of Marxian economics without employing complicated economic terms and arguments. Socialist Standard publishes for the first time in English an article he wrote in 1935 under his pseudonym of Ernst Parell for the Zeitschrift für politische Psychologie und Sexualokonomie while in exile in Denmark.

Multicultural steampunk is a prime example of how someone can grasp the “punk” banner by the handle and wave it for themselves.

Maebh O'Gorman (UCD): Global Warming: A Tragedy of the Commons. George Caffentzis (USM): The Future of "The Commons": Neoliberalism's "Plan B" or the Original Disaccumulation of Capital? Tara Murphy (CSIS): Security Challenges in the 21st Century Global Commons. From the Washington Quarterly, Abraham M. Denmark (CNAS): Managing the Global Commons; Ross Liemer (Tsinghua) and Christopher F. Chyba (Princeton): A Verifiable Limited Test Ban for Anti-satellite Weapons; Shawn Brimley (DoD): Promoting Security in Common Domains; and can India be a partner in shaping the global commons? James Grimmelmann (NYLS): The Internet Is a Semicommons. From Utne Reader, a series of article on the case for the commons, including an interview with Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom; and a new political dawn. An interview with Herb Reid and Betsy Taylor, authors of Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place, and Global Justice.

Eric Bain-Selbo (WKU): The Politics of the Romanticization of Popular Culture, or, Going Ga-Ga Over Pop Culture: A Critical Theory Assessment.

From Harvard Business Review, an article on Gillette's strange history with the razor and blade strategy; a look at why companies should insist that employees take naps; and if you're a caring and empathic guy, but you've noticed that you're a lot more likely to come home from work with a headache than a promotion, chances are you've been banging into a glass ceiling—the same glass ceiling that stops women from rising to the C suite.

A review of the current state of the field of the Evolution of Colour Categories, and some lovely renditions of the humble color wheel. What is there to say in the face of color, a visual phenomenon that so often seems to elude linguistic expression? A lot, it turns out, in the right hands, especially when approached by slant, ambush, or asymptote—the following six books make such an approach. What colors do Internet companies prefer for their logos? You might assume that they run the spectrum equally, but you’d be wrong. Why pink?, asks Ophelia Deroy, who then explains why color matters. New research finds that how we feel about a color depends on our relationship with that particular shade.

Today, a principal tenet of geology is that a vast majority of the world’s oil arose not from lumbering beasts on land but tiny organisms at sea. An article on Nigeria as the oil pollution capital of the world. Mud and butterflies: Why do Swallowtails and Sulphurs swarm Alberta’s oil rigs? From the Center on Contemporary Conflict, James E. McGinley's "Oil and Conflict: Fatal Attraction? A Correlational Examination of Oil Resources and Armed Conflict." Journey to Extreme Oil: Big Oil's future lies in such forbidding places as Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East. The Gulf at the gas station: Can we calculate the true cost of our dependence on oil? How to ruin OPEC's birthday: The Middle Eastern oil cartel celebrates its 50th anniversary—here's how to keep it from running our lives for another half-century. When people think of OPEC, thoughts of rich Middle Eastern oil sheiks in robes immediately come to mind—but how accurate is that picture? A. F. Alhajji on an inconvenient truth about OPEC. Why are we still prospecting for oil when we can’t afford to use existing reserves? George Monbiot wants to know.

From The Boston Globe, an article on Marty Peretz and his unique place at the nexus of academe, media, and politics.

John Doria and Kristopher Paul Musselman (Saint Joseph's): Ethics at Goldman Sachs.

James Morone (Brown): Ideas Meet Institutions and the People Rise Up: Four Ideas and the Strange Century of Health Reform. Paul Starr on how even as supporters of reform knew they had to battle to get it passed, now they need to wage another campaign to implement it. Jacob Hacker says if reform is to succeed, progressives will have to fight for a stronger government role, including a public option — in fact, the next health-care fight might be even harder than the last one, as conservative groups backed by wealthy donors are attacking the legislation at the state level. Republicans are planning on trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act if they take back power in the upcoming midterm election. Is there really a chance the ACA will be repealed? Randy E. Barnett (Georgetown): Commandeering the People: Why the Individual Health Insurance Mandate is Unconstitutional. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a short video explaining how health care reform will work and a timeline for implementation. "The Incidental Economist" Aaron Carroll on what makes the US health care system so expensive. A review of Tracking Medicine: A Researcher’s Quest to Understand Health Care by John E. Wennberg.

From Salon, are Danica McKellar's math books bad for girls? An article on teaching math as narrative drama. A review of Mathematics and Reality by Mary Leng. Crowdsourcing peer review: A claimed proof that P doesn't equal NP spurs a massive collaborative research effort. An interview with Alex Bellos on books on maths. In the eye of the beholder: Adam Frank on art, Justin Bieber and the best equation ever. A review of What's Luck Got to Do with It? The History, Mathematics, and Psychology of the Gambler's Illusion by Joseph Mazur. Christopher Shea on what excites a mathematician. A look at how Singapore math is being adopted in more US schools.

Kristopher Eugene Nichols (Barry): Jesus Follows the Socratic Method, a detailed analysis and comparison of the trials of Socrates and Jesus of Nazareth.

Dylan Kissane (CEFAM): Anglosphere United? Examining and Explaining 20th Century War Time Alliances in the English Speaking World. Geoffrey Wheatcroft on how the "special relationship" has long been a foreign policy myth — the day has finally come for a peaceful separation between two English-speaking powers. David MacDonald (Guelph) and Brendon O'Connor (Sydney): Australia and New Zealand – America’s Antipodean Anglosphere Allies? Sean Rehaag (York): Bisexuals Need Not Apply: A Comparative Appraisal of Refugee Law and Policy in Canada, the United States, and Australia. A review of Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1939 by James Belich (and more). A review of The Anglo-Saxon Library by Michael Lapidge.

From The Common Review, a profile of Jonathan Gottschall, a professor who believes criticism needs science's exactitude, its collaborative style, and its willingness to let ideas fail. There is no such thing as sexual intercourse: Pascal Boyer on how many academic radicals are sheep in wolf's clothing. Why do they hate us? Professors, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, feel that they're under siege.

"Why Humanities?": An upcoming conference gathers some of the leading voices in the humanities to discuss the value of their field. The turning away from the humanities reflects a deeper problem of a loss of confidence in the “values” conveyed by a traditional humanistic education, the decline of the traditional “high” arts, and their detachment from everyday life. More on Martha Nussbaum's Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Dan Edelstein wonders if elite colleges, are unintentionally diverting students from the humanities. Avoiding the coming higher ed wars: Myths about how research is funded and why the humanities are impoverished need to be overturned if public higher education is to thrive again in the United States. From The Common Review, what is the crisis in the humanities? Daniel Born wants to know. The crisis of the humanities officially arrives: A recent decision at a state university shows just how imperiled the humanities are. Can the humanities survive the 21st century, and if so, will it be at universities? Tom McBride on the day he almost saved the humanities. David Pickus (ASU): Walter Kaufmann and the Future of the Humanities.

Trail blazers in the world of academia: Look is the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a Doctor of Humanities! What are you going to do with that? This question is the one that is classically aimed at humanities majors — what practical value could there possibly be in studying literature or art or philosophy? Is a philosophy degree better than an MBA? Humanities majors aren't destined to flip burgers — in fact, some of the liberal arts are surprisingly useful in business.

The crisis in liberal arts education: Questions about the direction and pertinence of a liberal arts education mirror questions being asked about the classical university as a whole. The Unbearable Lightness of Declaring a Liberal Arts Major: Faced with a deadline to choose her major, Angela Chen hunts down interview subjects to learn where their studies got them, no matter her mother’s loathing of the liberal arts. Heather Mallick on why an arts degree is the most practical education you can get. The Good Letters: Mark Anthony Signorelli on the decline of literary education and its consequences. Robert Pippin writes in defense of naive reading: Have critical theory and the encroachment of the sciences on literature gone too far?

From The Scriptorium, Allen Yeh on two approaches to the Great Books: chronological vs. thematic. Columbia beats Harvard: James Piereson on rival core curricula in the Ivy League. From schoolhouse to statehouse: Rachel Tabachnick on the curriculum from a Christian nationalist worldview.

From the UK's Prospect, in praise of dead white men: Efforts to make education more "relevant" to black people can be both patronising and harmful — the Western literary canon should be taught to everyone. It is the degree of choice for the Westminster elite, claiming six cabinet members and three Labour leadership contenders among its alumni — why does Oxford's politics, philosophy and economics course dominate public life? A course load for the game of life: To better understand the post-college world, students need foundations in economics, statistics, finance and psychology. Are the social sciences becoming global? Yes, but with some caveats.

From Graduate Journal of Social Science, a special issue on Inter/Trans/Post-Disciplinarity: Explorations of Encounters Across Disciplines. From Cosmos and History, a special issue on Transcending the Disciplinary Boundaries.

Materialism has had its day: To understand the ideas that drive human activity, including economics, we need a new field that combines the arts and sciences. The evolution of ecology: The discipline began from natural history and has grown to encompass physics and engineering — now it needs to meet the social sciences and the humanities. Can physics save social sciences? A review of Making Social Sciences More Scientific: The Need for Predictive Models by Rein Taagepera. Seeking to move "beyond near-term funding cycles," leaders of the National Science Foundation plan to create a strategy to support the social sciences over the next decade. A review of Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal by Heather Douglas. Living the fact-value distinction: Can a good social scientist be a good Catholic, too?