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.