A review of The First Word The Search for the Origins of Language by Christine Kenneally. Linguists seek a time when we spoke as one: A controversial research project is trying to trace all human language to a common root. A sampling of the strange, unexpected shapes that English takes around the world: A review of Rotten English: A Literary Anthology. Ariadne's thread: Thousands of literary texts are now available online, all submitted by volunteers. Is this the most enlightened initiative since English studies was invented? Lost in the blogosphere: Why literary blogging won't save our literary culture.
From The New Yorker, Louis Menand on the biography business: A review of Shoot the Widow by Merlye Secrest and Biography: A Brief History by Nigel Hamilton. As he set out, albeit unwittingly, to change the literary landscape, Jack Kerouac started off by going the wrong way. Clive James interviews Ian McEwan, P.J. O'Rourke, and more. Monda’s World: Antonio Monda is arguably the most well-connected New York cultural figure you’ve never heard of. A review of Lex Populi: The Jurisprudence of Popular Culture by William P. MacNeil. An obsessive deference to fame, and an all-consuming preoccupation with it, has become the defining mark of our culture. But why? Literary chic: J.K. Rowling and other female authors are releasing their inner fashionistas along with their novels.
Television, how novel: People who hate television love to talk about it, not realizing they could be spending their time improving their minds—with novelizations. Todd Levin looks at the best of the oeuvre, with and without Steve Urkel. Conservatives learn to say "ay, caramba": Nearly one-third of The Simpsons’ adult audience describe themselves as conservative. From Nerve, here are the 50 greatest sex scenes in cinema. The Fetishist Next Door: The all-American appeal of Bettie Page. The Intellectual Showman: Whether or not they like his work, scholars have plenty to discuss in the career of Stanley Kubrick. Flying Solo: Paul Cantor on The Aviator and libertarian philosophy. Political theatre in a post-political age: This PhD thesis gauges the contemporary landscape of political theatre at a time in which everything, and consequently nothing, is political. Out of the Fringe and Into the Spotlight: Independent artists are using festivals like Capital Fringe to push political theater — and their pet issues — into the mainstream.
A review of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier. Into Africa: Investors eye globalisation’s final frontier. On Paper It Is Writ: From history's beginning, globalization has had winners and losers. A study suggests globalization will stall unless the gains are spread more evenly within nations. Third world way: The UN Global Compact may be the best way to draw corporations into the development process. Is its optimism justified? Five Lies My Economist Told Me: Economics prides itself on being the most scientific of the social sciences. Yet the X and Y axes can’t always capture globalization’s unpredictable turns. A look at five ways in which the world economy is pushing economists to think outside the box.
An interview with British diplomat Carne Ross, author of Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite. John Gray on how the wider conflict now engulfing Iraq lays bare the absurdity of liberal interventionism - - and the decline of US power. Like most liberal "war hawks", the Brookings "scholars" Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack falsely pretend that they were critics of the Iraq strategy to save their own reputations. Out How: Michael D. Intriligator on the economics of ending wars. The Genocide Card: Rick Perlstein on conservatives' laughable moral upsmanship on the subject of leaving Iraq.
From Reason, is he good for the libertarians? Why some libertarians don't want to join the Ron Paul revolution. Why the Republicans don't like their candidates: The GOP front-runner isn't Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney. It's "none of the above". Fred Thompson, Neocon: He has a strong claim on the neoconservative heart, and if he ends up in the White House, the moribund neocons will rise again. Jonathan Chait on Fred Thompson, humble country lobbyist.
How much worse a president would Rudy Giuliani be than George W. Bush? Kevin Baker counts the ways. See Rudy Run: Why Giuliani, despite everything, remains the Republican frontrunner. From Vanity Fair, Giuliani's Princess Bride: Judith Giuliani always dreamed big, which got her out of small-town Pennsylvania, through two marriages, and into the arms of Rudy Giuliani. But, as her husband runs for president, people are asking, "Who does she think she is?" White House, right spouse: The political wife is rising, but she is wary of partnerships that blur the professional and domestic divide.
From TAP, a review of On Suicide Bombing by Talal Asad and Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror by Mia Bloom. Science and Terrorism: We use science and technology for the management and improvement of our lives – yet it appears that our increasing technical sophistication also enables small groups and individuals to cause great harm. A prescription for terror: Is there a connection between the study of science and a readiness to commit terrorist acts? A War Best Served Cold: Did George Kennan know the best way to fight terrorism?
Stacking the Court: The method most frequently employed to bring the Supreme Court to heel has been increasing or decreasing its membership. Benchwarmers: Everything you never wanted to know about picking judges for an important court you've never heard of. Throw restraint to the wind: And other ways for the legal left to rein in the Roberts Court. Despite his promises to do the opposite, under Chief Justice John Roberts the Supreme Court has become more divided than at any point in recent history. But is that such a bad thing?
An interview with Richard Land, author of The Divided States of America? What Liberals AND Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match. A review of A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell. An interview with Elliot D. Cohen, author of The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-hungry Government Are Turning America into a Dictatorship. Crisis of the Old Liberal Order: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who died in February at the age of 89, spent 60 years being famous as an emblem and arbiter of American liberalism, though his importance waned as liberalism's did, writes William Voegeli.
A review of The Shawnees and the War for America by Colin G. Calloway and The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears by Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green. A review of Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama by Stephen Fox. A review of What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War by Chandra Manning. A review of Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans by Jean Pfaelzer.
From Postmodern Culture, Marc Botha (Durham): How To Lose Your Voice Well; Annette Schlichter (UC- Irvine): "I Can't Get Sexual Genders Straight": Kathy Acker's Writing of Bodies and Pleasures; Steven Helmling (Delaware): How To Read Adorno on How To Read Hegel; a review of Chantal Mouffe's On the Political; and a review of After Poststructuralism: Reading, Stories and Theory by Colin Davis. A review of Dialectics of the Self: Transcending Charles Taylor by Ian Fraser.
From Cabinet, Talk to the Hand: a generalized sense that something is awry in the world of gesture is considerably older than Giorgio Agamben allows; in February 2004, French-Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan filed a libel suit in the Paris courts against philosopher Alain Finkielkraut (and the transcript); and I Can See Your Ideology Moving: An essay on Ventriloquizing Marx.
Eric A. Posner (Chicago) and Adrian Vermeule (Harvard): Constitutional Showdowns. A review of Deliberative Democracy and the Institutions of Judicial Review by Christopher F. Zurn. A review of Reflections on Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment by George Anastaplo. A review of Toward a Theory of Human Rights: Religion, Law, and Courts by Michael J. Perry. A review of Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" by David Cesarani. Mark Lilla reviews Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia by Lesley Chamberlain. Been there, shun that: American historians have, for the most part, abandoned the study of culture, writes Richard Pells.
From The Chronicle, after years of controversy, the University of Colorado has fired Ward Churchill, asserting that the decision is unrelated to his having famously insulted the victims of the September 11 attacks. From Inside Higher Ed, two articles, pro and con, on the Churchill firing. Academia's hidden crackpots: What kind of discipline would nurture a hate-filled academic such as fired professor Ward Churchill? Sentimental Revolutionaries: College Republicans pick a new leader. Colleges across the county are engaged in a grand social experiment to fuse academic and social life; a look at how chastity clubs are a new concept at elite (and liberal) campuses; how the Greeks learned to stop worrying and live with the Roman goddess of wisdom; every institution of higher learning has a slogan — something about truth or character strengthening. Then there are the unofficial slogans; and a gap year is good for the gapper, but what about mom and dad?
From The New Yorker, a review of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America by Eric Jay Dolin. A review of The Adventurer’s Handbook: Life Lessons from History’s Great Explorers by Mick Conefrey. A review of Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo by Andy Martin. A review of Crow Country: A Meditation on Birds, Landscape and Nature by Mark Cocker. An interview with Ann Patchett, author of Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. A review of Art & Morality.
He transformed 20th-century sculpture and influenced Picasso, who worked with him for several years. Julio Gonzalez, whose work is being exhibited at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, was an inspirational Cubist. A review of New York 2000: Architecture and Urbanism from the Bicentennial to the Millennium by Robert A.M. Stern, David Fishman and Jacob Tilove and New London Architecture. The re-enactment of a speech originally given by Paul Potter, the former president of Students for a Democratic Society, during the 1965 march on Washington fits into a growing subgenre of historical re-enactment as performance art.
A review of Hollywood on Trial: McCarthyism's War Against the Movies by Michael Freedland with Barbara Paskin. Are all movies inherently Jewish? A review of Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business by David Mamet. Indie world isn't for faint of heart: A horror film's on-again, off-again journey to a release date is on again, but its young makers are wiser to the process. The social acceptability of fake goods: There is something false in the outrage about deception by television. Mostly we turn a blind eye to dodgy production ethics because after all, it's just entertainment.
From OJR, an article on how newspapers can thrive on the World Wide Web. Tim Dowling meets the man cyberspace loves to hate; and another interview with the author of The Cult of the Amateur (and more). Even in this wonderful world of new technology, we still have to remember the old ways of doing things, writes Clive James. An article on the rise of cyberbullying. It's time to stop relying on Google to boost our lapses in memory - - if we don't make the effort we may lose the capacity altogether. Wikipedia and the intelligence services: Is the Net's popular encyclopedia marred by disinformation? Damn Spam: An article on the losing war on junk e-mail.
Richard Haass on why Iraq is more than an American problem. Bush's folly: His fixation on Al Qaeda's role in Iraq reveals the shallowness of his thinking — and of the U.S. strategy on fighting terrorism. From HNN, an article on Henry Kissinger’s lessons for George W. Bush. A review of Henry Kissinger and the American Century by Jeremi Suri. Getting out of a war requires as much planning as getting into one. Here are five questions that any administration will have to answer as part of an exit from Iraq. Joe Biden’s so-called soft-partition plan, which calls for dividing Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, seems to be gaining support as the best way out of a bad situation. Defeat Without Disaster: Fred Kaplan on the least bad plan for leaving Iraq.
A growing toll on battlefield brains: From Afghanistan to Iraq, bomb blasts are causing the U.S., British and Canadian troops who survive them a staggering number of brain injuries. Military doctors warn we've only just started to suffer the effects. An increasingly vocal minority in the US is railing against the prosecution of soldiers and marines in Iraq abuse cases, arguing that young Americans are being unfairly targeted. An article on exploring a shift in views about the Iraq invasion. As President Bush considers his options in Iraq, he may want to think about how his choices will affect his successor — and his current rivals.
From National Journal, no U.S. president is ever completely lame, but President Bush is hobbled by an unpopular war, scandal, a strong opposition and circumstance. Cognitive Dissonance: Two new studies of cable news throw light on the sources of Bush's failure-proof support. Buy a card, mock a president: You know the country has come a long way since 9/11 when Bush's face graces humorous greeting cards. Walter Mondale on how his successors helped make the office more accountable. What has Dick Cheney done to the vice presidency? From The Nation, John Nichols on why the burgeoning movement to impeach Bush and Cheney is a rational response at a time when 80 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Votescam: Hendrik Hertzberg on how at first glance next year’s Presidential election looks like a blowout. Not so fast: They've got the money, the momentum, and what looks like history on their side. But a Democratic victory in 2008 is no sure thing. Seventeen Candidates in Search of a Story: Only a few of the '08 frontrunners has grasped the importance of the campaign narrative and build a successful story around their candidacies. The Attack Ad's Second Life: Despite "macaca" and "Hillary 1984," the 30-second TV campaign spot ain't going anywhere—yet. Quick off the blog: Josh Marshall's TPM Cafe has become a platform for single-handedly exposing US presidential controversies and keeping political issues alive, leaving traditional news media trailing in its wake.
From Slate, the Torture Two-Step: Phillip Carter on Bush's new torture order and its loopholes. War Crimes and the White House: The dishonor in a tortured new "interpretation" of the Geneva Conventions. The erotic undertones of the administration's words on enhanced interrogations: Why is it the more the White House refines the rules, the pervier things get? Long before Abu Ghraib, Pfc. Lynndie England posed for photographs for her then-boyfriend Charles Graner and violated military rules: An excerpt from Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War.
An interview with sociologist Katherine Newman, author of The Missing Class, on the "near poor," that vast pool of workers who are neither officially destitute nor comfortably working-class. Richie Rich 101: More and more camps are teaching trust-fund kids to handle the wealth headed their way. Little millionaires who want for nothing, except maybe more time with Mum and Dad: An excerpt from Richistan: A Journey Through the 21st Century Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank. A review of The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co. by William D. Cohan.
Can Gates, Soros and Branson create a better world? Saving the planet used to be a hobby practiced by treehuggers and other romantics. Now it has become the business of executives and billionaires. Pragmatists like Bill Gates, George Soros and Richard Branson are outdoing themselves in a bid to save the planet by applying a good dose of entrepreneurial spirit. Worried About the Weather, and the Land: Four writers report on how the environment is faring in their parts of the globe. Here are their dispatches. A review of Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and The Battle Over Global Warming by Chris Mooney. More on The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (and more and more).
From TNR, a review of Overdose: How Excessive Government Regulation Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation by Richard A. Epstein. Dying for Lifesaving Drugs: Will desperate patients destroy the pharmaceutical system that produces tomorrow's treatments? Does Europe have higher-tech health care than the US? Jonathan Cohn investigates. Sending Back the Doctor’s Bill: Fixing the health care system may require a difficult conversation. System failure: Healthcare has no shortage of convenient bad guys. But it's the system itself — not those who exploit it — that's ultimately to blame for our healthcare crisis. A review of Citizen Moore: the Making of an American Iconoclast by Roger Rapoport.
From PS: Political Science and Politics, Pei-te Lien ( Utah), Dianne M. Pinderhughes (Notre Dame), Carol Hardy-Fanta (UMass- Boston), and Christine M. Sierra (UNM): The Voting Rights Act and the Election of Nonwhite Officials. Christopher H. Achen and Larry M. Bartels (Princeton): It Feels Like We’re Thinking: The Rationalizing Voter and Electoral Democracy. The devil in democracy: A review of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan and The Rise of the Unelected: Democracy and the New Separation of Powers by Frank Vibert.
A review of Milton Friedman: A Biography by Lanny Ebenstein. A review of Discover Your Inner Economist by Tyler Cowen. Think green: Green politics and the study of economics are beginning to share a platform, thanks to a number of new websites and books. The original Republican Party Reptile is back: PJ O'Rourke's sharp, stylish commentary on Adam Smith, champion of the free market, is already an American bestseller. As it hits the shelves in Britain, this dour 18th-century philosopher is once again the talk of the town – and the author shows the colour of his money.
"Oh, I'm kind of a philosopher, too. I LOVE Ayn Rand": Is human excellence the mark of mental illness? A review of a new edition of Disputed Questions on the Virtues by Thomas Aquinas. Virtue on the brain: Neuroscience is demanding that we put good habits at the centre of child rearing. A Mind for Sociability: Brain structure offers clues to evolution of human emotional intelligence. You know the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." For many people, though, it is broken, and we need to fix it. What's broken is the brain, especially the emotional brain, and the consequence is a life dominated by mental suffering.
A review of IQ: the brilliant idea that failed by Stephen Murdoch. Redundancy testing: Charles Murray, erstwhile champion of the SAT, has changed his mind about the test — and says it's time to scrap it. From The Black Commentator, getting black boys to read: Hip hop enters the fray (and that might not be a good thing). A review of Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade by Linda Perlstein. Joanne Jacobs on The Underdog Imperative: Win or lose, kids shouldn’t be shielded from competition.
From The New Yorker, an article on The Magical Grasp of Antiques. The E Decade: Was David Shenk right about the dangers of the Internet in 1997? From n+1, Dispatches from the Jewish Imagination: A review of Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Nathan Englander's The Ministry of Special Cases (and more and more from Bookforum). A review of Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants by Kathleen M. Barry. An article on Reason's Peter Bagge, a cartoonist who's quick on the draw. The spies who never left us: The bad guys are back, and the new cold-war thriller cannot be far behind. Why We Color Butter Yellow: An excerpt from Moveable Feasts: The History, Science, and Lore of Food by Gregory McNamee. The rise and rise of the Brutalists: Curious about who and what exactly the Brutalists are? Look no further: here's a definitive guide. An article on the first name in English dictionaries. It isn't Johnson.
A review of Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime by Joe Moran. Green Unseen: Environmentally friendly buildings don't need to look like cheese wedges. From Wired, bird, plane or SuperMensch? Jews and superheroes share a rich history. Thirty years after Umberto Eco’s brilliant essay titled “Travels through Hyper-reality” (now a paper-back book), hyper-fakery has gone global: Mickey Mouse has taken up residence in both Paris and Shanghai (and part 2). They Aren’t Sluts—Just Missbehavin’: Bad-girl mag Missbehave celebrates its first anniversary—and hot dads, sex toys, sneakers, Lily Allen. From AJR, Norman Pearlstine, Company Man: An editor revisits his role in Plamegate. From TAP, Harry Potter and the Complicated Identity Politics: J.K. Rowling subtly critiques, yet ultimately hews to, a fantasy script dependent on stereotypes culled from real-life racism.
A review of Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line by Adrian Burgos Jr. Athletes of the sky: A review of A Very British Coop: Pigeon Racing from Blackpool to Sun City by Mark Collings. There's a huge market in the US for books of the political analysis and investigative journalism sidelined by the mainstream press. But are enough Americans picking up copies to make a difference at the polls? Vintage Classics may have had TS Eliot's theory on tradition in mind when it launched its latest wheeze, which involves the pairing of past and modern masters. A dream life of parties, glamour - and lavatories: A review of Wicked Whispers: Confessions of a 3am Gossip Queen by Jessica Callan. Like Florida without the humidity: A review of Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son by Kevin Cook.
A review of Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul by Karen Abbott (and more). From Asia Times, Burmese literature has yet to acquire an international reputation, even though it is rich with a sense of the oppression in the military-run country. It's hard for a literary agent to contact a client hiding in the jungle. Though the U.S. capital is home to scores of memorials, just a handful of them command the attention of most visitors. Clay Risen takes a tour of Washington’s other monuments. Andrew Keen says the internet is populated by second-rate amateurs - and that it is swiftly destroying our culture. A review of Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk (and more). Jan Herman is still pondering why Noam Chomsky's recent article, "Imminent Crises: Threats and Opportunities" was listed on the right wing cultural site Arts & Letters Daily, which delivers best ideas at high speeds (As if!)
From The Globalist, corruption plagues all walks of society today, including governance and education. But is corruption necessarily bad for developing countries? An article on why the US should ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Team colours: Can sport really unite a multiracial nation? What used to be forged on battlefields are now being attempted on sports fields. God's ambassadors: The Vatican has one of the world's busiest but least-known diplomatic services. Does it deserve its special status? A review of Doomsday Men by PD Smith and The Atomic Bazaar by William Langewiesche (and more and more). Brain Drain II: Immigrants let glass ceiling gather dust: Reports shine the light on a global labour market in which talented newcomers aren't sticking around for a breakthrough job.
The meaning of Europe is reconciliation: An interview with Ferdinando Riccardi, columnist for Agence Europe. Preparing for tougher times: Belarus's president Alyaksandr Lukashenka is worried about the future. Sven Lindqvist's Terra Nullius recounts Europe's disastrous collision with the peoples of Australia. A review of The Boys From Dolores: Fidel Castro's Classmates From Revolution to Exile by Patrick Symmes. Since last year's historic elections, political and economic progress in Congo has stalled, while war drums are rumbling in the country's east. In an interview with Der Spiegel, prominent Russian writer and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn discusses Russia's turbulent history, Putin's version of democracy and his attitude to life and death. A review of Planet India by Misa Kamdar. The Bored Whore of Kyoto: A look at how European johns line up to tap Russia's carbon reduction potential.
The truth about the Arab media: Arab liberalism flourishes in London. From Forward, Martin van Creveld on how Israel is training for the wrong war. What if I'm kidnapped by terrorists? A how-to guide for hostages overseas. The least useful reaction to terrorism is to dismiss it as an inscrutable evil: A blind faith in the moral superiority of our own way of life will only hinder efforts to tackle violent extremism. An excerpt from Security First: For A Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy by Amitai Etzioni (and part 2). "I won't be an Uncle Tom": Prominent German-Iranian author Navid Kermani speaks to Ali Fathollah-Nejad about Islam and Iran, European values, and why he won't have anything to do with the Islam industry. Peter Beinart on how to deal with dictators. Michael Crowley on how K Street cashes in on the Armenian Genocide.
Alan Dershowitz says being a pro-Israel liberal doesn’t mean being lonely. Howard Kurtz on A Blog That Made It Big: The Huffington Post, trending up and Left. George H. Rosen on the American leap of faith — and ignorance. Time was that the g-word was unpronounceable by critics on the right or left. It is a measure of how much the world has changed since September 11, 2001, that the prospect of genocide shocks neither. An article on Greg Palast, progressives and investigative journalism. An interview with Columbia University's Glenn Hubbard, co-chair of Governor Mitt Romney’s Economic Advisory Committee. Crafting a Better Political Apology: Why politicians apologize badly, and how they could improve. (Are you paying attention, David Vitter?) On Stage Left An interview with Kate Clinton, political humorist. A review of Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency by Nigel Hamilton. An article on blue-state G.O.P. Senators: Who will survive?