From TNR, a review of Ralph Ellison: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad. The Improbable Moralist: Leonard Michaels's fiction captured his evolution from sex-obsessed misogyny to self-identified moralism. A review of Mere Anarchy and The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose by Woody Allen.
From Harper's, an interview with David Ignatius, author of Body of Lies, a post-9/11 thriller. A review of Tony Wheeler's Bad Lands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil. Of war, loss and the politics of poetry: An interview with Farideh Hassanzadeh, Iranian poet, translator and freelance journalist. A review of Speaking in tongues: PEN Canada writers in exile.
From The Village Voice, Fashion Victim: Mike Gallagher claims NYU is threatening his famous vintage magazine empire. And he wants some payback. Mega-Branding For MagaBrands: Since magazines are branded to the Nth degree anyways, the next logical step is to brand that branding. How meta! A Fond Farewell: After 13 years and hard luck, Punk Planet bids adieu. The struggle for independents: The bankruptcy of a book distributor sent shock waves through the indie publishing world, leaving small presses like McSweeney's struggling to survive. Can the Internet help keep them afloat?
Indifference at 11: TV viewers are switching off their local newscasts, and ratings are tumbling. The News Counters: An effort to measure how much time news outlets devote to different stories has begun to attract a fair amount of attention itself. An excerpt from Fair and Balanced, My Ass!: An Unbridled Look at the Bizarre Reality of Fox News by Joseph Minton Amann and Tom Breuer.
From The New York Times Magazine, The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer: How the world of online gaming spawned a multimillion dollar shadow economy measured in virtual coins, 80-hour workweeks and very real money. A review of Gamer Theory by McKenzie Wark. Next in Child Prodigies — the Gamer: Considering everything else that children do obsessively, is it bad for them to play Xbox for money?
Thinking outside the box: A look at some of the winners in a global competition to have designers dream up alternative forms for personal computers. Steve Jobs in a Box: For all its marvels, the iPhone inaugurates a dangerous new era for the Apple boss. Has he peaked? A review of Send: The How, Why, When and When Not of Email by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. On one hand, Wikipedia is indispensable; on the other, it's the ultimate resource on things that don't matter.
From Monthly Review, a review of Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century by Michael A. Lebowitz, and a series of videos of Lebowitz discussing Venezuela and 21st-century socialism. A review of Cowboy in Caracas: A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s Democratic Revolution, by Charles Hardy (and more). From VQR, one more martyr in a dirty war: The life and death of Brad Will. A review of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia by Benjamin Dangl.
A review of Whose War Is It? How Canada Can Survive in the Post 9/11 World by J. L. Granatstein. From Adbusters, an article on Canada as the United Sidekicks of America: The Stealthing of a Future Superstate; a look at Generation F*cked: How Britain is Eating Its Young; and an essay on Australia as Outlaw Nation: The Lucky Country is No Longer So Lucky. A review of Shakedown: Australia's grab for Timor Oil by Paul Cleary. Rosaries, ovaries and chicanery: A review of Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-first Century by Gary Bouma and Acting on Conscience: How Can We Responsibly Mix Law, Religion and Politics? by Frank Brennan.
From Human Rights & Human Welfare, a roundtable on George Soros, the "Israel Lobby" and anti-Semitism; and a roundtable on Mahmood Mamdani, genocide, and the Politics of Naming. Justice and foreign policy: Terrorism is an excuse for creating a fortress state isolated from the world. Marines are getting too comfortable at their dug-in bases in Iraq, the Corps’ top officer, Commandant Gen. James Conway, tells an audience at the Naval War College. What Rudy Giuliani's greedy decision to quit the Iraq Study Group reveals about his candidacy.
Form TNR, what business do Giuliani and Bloomberg have running for president? Michelle Cottle wants to know; and Noam Scheiber on the real reason Hillary's experience matters. From Salon, an interview with Hillary Clinton. There was one statewide race last fall—in Massachusetts—that should have blown any race-based concerns about Mr. Obama’s general-election bona fides out of the water. Will the Progressive Majority Emerge? New polling data shows that the majority of Americans are leaning liberal. How long will it take politicians and the media to get that? Another joker joins the race: Dave Barry is running for Prez!
From First Things, Richard John Neuhaus reviews with God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis by Philip Jenkins; and Grooving on Jesus: An article on the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Religion is the nicotinate of the masses: Until the population can replace "god willing" with "people willing" we are all in big trouble. An interview with W. Bradford Wilcox, author of Religion, Race, and Relationships in Urban America. The NAACP's sad decline: The venerable advocacy group changed history with its civil rights leadership — so why does it seem to have lost its way?
From ARPA, a review of The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent by Richard Florida. From The Nation, Zyklon B on the US Border: A grim history lesson of what happened in the 1920s when fears of alien infection inflamed American eugenicists; and history is full of examples showing that policies designed to exclude immigrants are doomed to fail. From Radical Middle, an article on liberal vs. conservative vs. holistic immigration reform. The 1.8 Million Solution Jonathan Rauch on a simpler, better immigration plan. Speaking of Tongues: Bilingualism is a huge advantage in today's world. But as a policy goal, it is unrealistic.
Wealth of experience: US business is coming to terms with a world in which international know-how is increasingly important. It's one of those vast social upheavals that everyone understands but that hardly anyone notices, because it seems too ordinary: the long-predicted "cashless society" has quietly arrived. Slaves to the office: Technology promised to bring an end to the daily grind, but it has only extended the office's reach to the commuter train and the home. Now that work is supposed to be "fulfilling", it is potentially endless.
Katha Pollitt reviews The Dangerous Book for Boys: The book does no boy a favor by resuscitating the Anglo-imperial manly ideals. And what about girls? A review of Medicalized Masculinities. Elusive, but not always unstoppable: People end their own lives for many reasons, only some of which are well understood—but governments should not simply shrug their shoulders. Can the dreaded "quarterlife crisis" be conquered? Actually — does it even exist? Flak mounts a five-day investigation into the angst of being young.
From Psychology Today, an article on The Art of Trash Talk; do young minds and civil society really crumble from four-letter words? Or does cursing play an important role in our language?; and a look at how slang helps soldiers bond and cope with the frustrations of war.
From Mute, far from being a right, British higher education in the age of top-up fees is a commodity with a hefty price tag attached. For most students, write the Committee for Radical Diplomacy, it offers a basic schooling in debt and recasts learning as a down-payment on a dubious future. On track to cause a stir: A history professor and train enthusiast Chris Harvie is now "ideas generator" for Scotland's first minister. Get Sorbonnized: Newly elected President Sarkozy recently announced plans to reform French education, beginning with the Sorbonne.
From Foreign Policy, an interview with Shaul Bakhash, husband of Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who was arrested in Iran. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is returning to his alma mater, Princeton University, to teach courses on government health policy. Why Antioch Matters: The demise of a unique liberal arts college reflects a series of lamentable trends in higher education.
From Inside Higher Ed, the inevitability of intimacy: Moving to the tenure track means rethinking walls between professional and personal identity; liberal arts colleges are poised to sit out “beauty contest” part of rankings — while backing new way to share information, and as more college presidents drop out of U.S. News' popular rankings, hundreds of schools are helping put together a consumer-friendly alternative (and more and more). A look at how small colleges tip admissions in favor of male students.
From The Nation, the radical corporate overhaul of NYC public schools is draining the soul from education and reducing learning to a series of standardized tests and progress reports; and corrupt college administrators have sold out students and buried them in a mountain of debt. A look at how commercial banks and private firms are dictating who goes to college. Jonathan Chait on how conservative con men corrupt campus. Looking Out for Number One: American students are great at advocating for others, but do very little advocacy for themselves.
From The Humanist, Encouraging Science: New research suggests that elimination of the "stereotype threat" can level the mathematical playing field for men and women. But does it all add up outside the experimental lab? A look at how critical theory sucks life from pop culture classes. Education, education, entertainment: Computer games are being developed into specialised and highly sophisticated learning tools. Matters of the Mind: Want something more substantive than YouTube? Here's where to find highbrow videos on the Web.