Luigi Mazza (Politecnico di Milano): Strategic Planning and Republicanism. From Foreign Affairs, it is time to ask a fundamental question that few in an official or political position in the United States seem willing to ask: Has it been a terrible error for the United States to have built an all but irreversible worldwide system of a thousand or more military bases, stations and outposts? Waste Land: Gregg Easterbrook on the Pentagon’s nearly unprecedented, wildly irrational spending binge. The neglected book Critical Intellectuals on Writing offers insights into how prominent scholars produce their work; Scott McLemee makes a recommendation. Even economists are lost in the jungle: In the past couple of years, the reputation of economics has suffered badly, as people ask why this well-paid priesthood failed to predict the financial crunch. This is your brain on metaphors: Our brains are wired to confuse the real and the symbolic — and the implications can be as serious as war and peace. Why do people get so agitated when discussing hipsterism? Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction provides some clues. From The Atlantic Monthly, shockingly error-prone and brutally expensive, our federally funded system of dialysis care is failing — a year-long investigation reveals why and what may lie ahead for health-care reform; Carl Elliot on how to spin pharmaceutical research; and information technology is on the brink of revolutionizing health care — if physicians will only let it. The Tragedy of the Talk Show Host: Miscast in the age of viral humor, the late-night star remains eternally freaky — and oddly reassuring. Not only is National Public Radio a last bastion of calm, reliable reporting, it reaches more people than Fox News; but as NPR celebrates its 40th anniversary, it suffers from one glaring bias: against the author.

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