From The Atlantic Monthly, a review of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. A review of Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats by Steve Ettlinger; In Bad Taste? The Adventure and Science Behind Food Delicacies by Dr. Massimo Francesco Marcone; and A Moveable Feast: Ten Millennia of Food Globalization by Kenneth F. Kiple. A review of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel. Putting Cambodian cuisine on the map: Little Miss Muffet might go for fried spiders, but most everybody else will go for whatever is more appealing on the menu.
From TNR, Gourmet's restaurant columnist defends gluttony. Our diets can kill, in more ways than one: A review of The Vitamin Murders by James Fergusson. A review of Julia Child: A Penguin Life by Laura Shapiro and Backstage With Julia: My Years With Julia Child by Nancy Verde Barr. To drink really hot coffee (or hot tea) is to swallow a paradox of pleasure and pain. The Jefferson Bottles: How could one collector find so much rare fine wine? Grape expectations: Global warming has blessed cool-weather wine regions with record vintages. But while savoring their gold-medal wines, viticulturists are looking to the future — and it isn't pretty.
From The New Yorker, New York Local: Adam Gopnik on fruits of the five boroughs. From New York, Verisimilitude Test: Is this really the city you know? Wake up, Manhattan: New York’s skyline is one of the most distinctive in the world. But the city should stop trading on past glories. New York state of mind: A review of Through the Children’s Gate by Adam Gopnik. Watching From a Distance: How James Kurisunkal blogged his way onto New York’s social scene from his dorm room in Urbana.
From Prospect, India's middle class failure: India's 200m-strong middle class is the most economically dynamic group on the planet, but is largely uninterested in politics or social reform. Until it begins to engage politically, India will suffer from a lop-sided modernisation. How to Unravel an Unchecked Superpower: India's history provides timeless lessons on how (and how not) to confront corporate power with protest, litigation, regulation, rebellion and, ultimately, corporate redesign. The partition evasion: Dividing territories and "unmixing" peoples is an idea whose time is past. The introduction to Hindu Nationalism: A Reader.
Robert Kahn (St. Thomas): Why There Was No Cartoon Controversy in the United States. A cartoon due to appear in Sunday's Washington Post and several other newspapers across America has been pulled after it was deemed offensive to Muslims. Frenemies at the Gate: America's most dubious partners in the the war on terror. A nation of outlaws: Scourge of the free world! Peddlers of poisonous foods! Pirates of literary works! Counterfeiters of medicine! A century ago, that wasn't China — it was us. Several countries are opening their polls to their more baby-faced voters, but are American adolescents ready (or willing) to step up to the booth?
A Guide to Media Manipulation, Republican Style: In recent years the GOP has turned the technique of making hay from their opponents' words into a reliable formula for success — with a few distortions and a little help from the media, of course. The poisonous rhetorical legacy of Karl Rove: Even Fox's Chris Wallace wants to know why Bush's newly departed advisor had to paint Democrats as traitors. David Brooks reviews The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Drew Westen (and an interview). Kevin Drum reviews Talking Right by Geoffrey Nunberg and Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America’s Most Important Idea by George Lakoff.
From FT, people have the right to choose to live wherever suits them. But when they choose to live in cities, the rest of us benefit. Why, then, are we so keen to pay them to stay in the countryside? The Simple Life: A look at why we should all be more like the Amish. A review of Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank and Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900 by Jack Beatty. From the Mises Institute, a look at why the miser hurts no one but herself. In an impressive new book, The Social Conscience, Michel Glautier asks a simple question: can a caring society exist in a market economy?
An interview with Benjamin Barber, author of Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole. A childish panic about the next generation: Many of those fretting over the state of contemporary childhood, concerned that kids are passive, cooped up and sedentary, are motivated by naked nostalgia - sometimes even by snobbery. Who's Your Nanny? Here's a crash course on the politics of nannying in the US. Where the Boys Aren’t: Latin? Poetry? Knots? A not too dangerous book, The Dangerous Book for Boys, sounds like a scary movie. A review of Hopscotch and handbags: The Essential Guide to Being a Girl by Lucy Mangan (and more).
Jeremy A. Blumenthal (Syracuse): Abortion, Persuasion, and Emotion: Implications of Social Science Research on Emotion for Reading Casey. An op-ed on the quiet campaign against birth control. From TNR, why the Dems should not shut up about gays and marriage vows. Are civil unions a 600-year-old tradition? A study reviews historical evidence, including documents and gravesites, suggesting that homosexual civil unions may have existed six centuries ago in France. From Nerve's "History of Single Life", an article on Casanova. From Forbes, a special report on the Best Cities For Singles, and Stop Singlism! Discrimination against the unwed may be the last socially acceptable prejudice in America. I kid you not: Why are the childless considered freaks? Frankly, they're doing themselves and society a big favour.
From MRZine, a look at how DePaul violates Norman Finkelstein's contract and further undermines academic freedom. The (new) idea of a university: A review of Ivory Tower Blues: A University System in Crisis by James E. Cote and Anton L. Allahar and What's Wrong With University: And How to Make It Work for You Anyway by Jeff Rybak. Leaving art out of history: American academics' focus on social history ignores the contributions of music, art and literature. The loss is ours. Are college campuses safe? Yes. The Virginia Tech massacre has had the unfortunate effect of injecting fear into the school selection process. Shocking tales of the underground: At campuses across the nation, undergrads insist on making rumors about utility tunnels into the stuff of legend.
From Inside Higher Ed, The Professor’s Ten Commandments, Thanks to Notorious B.I.G.: Phil Ford explains why the best advice for new faculty members comes from hiphop. Affirmative Action Backfires: Have racial preferences reduced the number of black lawyers? Finding Their Voices: Ignacio Evans and Jermol Jupiter make a good argument for supporting Urban Debate Leagues in inner-city public schools. Ward Churchill and Multiculturalism: Why American schools are becoming anti-American. A review of Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard Kahlenberg (and the introduction).
A review of Letters to a Young Teacher by Jonathan Kozol and A Class Apart: Prodigies, Pressure and Passion Inside One of America's Best High Schools by Alec Klein. An interview with Stephen Law, author of The War for Children's Minds. Noah Feldman on Universal Faith: Religion can have a place in public schools. It just can’t be for believers alone. An interview with Gore Vidal on education in America today. How High-IQ Kids Are Neglected in School: The years of effort to raise standards in America’s schools has come at the expense of one group: America’s super-smart kids. Labels Aren't What Kids Need: Applying "gifted and talented" labels to school kids is bad for everyone. Here are the Top 5 myths about girls, math and science.
From Prospect, Beyond good and evil: For 60 years, Nicholas Mosley has written novels that are widely admired but not always understood. Rejecting realism, his work addresses symbolic truths—notably the idea that good and evil are inseparable. It's an approach that has put him at odds with the literary establishment. Outing an Unfinished Novel: Edmund White takes liberties with a Stephen Crane fragment. Comic versions of books need a novel angle: There's no point in turning books into pictures if the pictures add nothing to the words. The dirty snobbery about smutty books: The vast amount of shameless smut in 'highbrow' books doesn't stop them being respected. The rules change when the fun is aimed at the mass market.
From The American Spectator, a review of Counterpoints: Twenty-Five Years of The New Criterion on Culture and the Arts, ed. Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer; and Roger Scruton on Art, Beauty, and Judgment. The introduction to Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art by Olav Velthuis. The artless branding of Frida Kahlo: The centennial of the artist's birth is being marked by exhibits, merchandise, and family dissension. The Jailhouse Jackson Pollock: Donny Johnson is a convicted murderer who has been kept in complete solitary confinement for the past 18 years. He started painting in order to stay sane, using dyes extracted from M&Ms and a home-made brush. Now his paintings sell for $500 each.
Time and again pop impresarios demonstrate that individuals rather than corporations do best in the music business. Svengalis marry art and commerce much more effectively than faceless organisations. They are classic lone entrepreneurs, willing to back hunches, take risks and bet against the crowd. Ebony and Imus: Cornel West hangs with Prince and challenges—not denounces—hip-hop. A review of Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies by Pamela Des Barres. A triumph of style over substances: A review of W Axl Rose: the Unauthorised Biography by Mick Wall. An interview with Brad Warner, author of Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, and Death.
From 2000, Csaba Gombár explains why, as an eastern European, he could only take the western countercultural "revolution" seriously in retrospect and why contemporary societies don't share the Enlightenment's belief in radical progress (and part 2). A better tomorrow? Bosnia is yet to throw off the horrors of its past. But the citizens, especially youngsters, seem ready to embrace a new future. From Sodobnost, portrait of a moment in the life of a nation: A decade and a half after Slovenia's declaration of independence, political and cultural life in the country is stagnating. A moderate sense of national spirit and collective self-love may be the only way forward. Peripheries and borders in a post-western Europe: Europe is taking not just a post-national form, but also a post-western shape.
From Prospect, Leaving Baghdad The al-Hayalis were set to join the hundreds of thousands of middle-class families who have fled Iraq since the invasion. Just before their departure, calamity struck. From LRB, Burn Rate: Ed Harriman writes about making money and losing ground in Iraq. A review of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. From The American Conservative, The Surge That Failed: Six months of Bush’s new strategy hasn’t made Iraq safer or more stable. Sorry, Mr. President, You're All Out of Troops: But maybe France can help solve the Iraq mess. Which Iraq War do you want to end? We're fighting at least three of them. Juan Cole on Bush: In the footsteps of Napoleon.
Is the president imploding? His aides are jumping ship, his inner circle is torn apart by feuds and his orders are being ignored. Bush has 17 months left in the White House, but he is now a rudderless leader. The resignation of Alberto Gonzales has brought a smile to the faces of many Bush Administration critics, but will it bring real change? A New Agenda for Justice: Here are 10 priorities that would help the next attorney general guide the department back on course. Cass Sunstein on how to prevent another disastrous Attorney General. Benjamin Wittes on cleaning up Gonzales's mess. Gonzales quits, but plenty of Bush's loyal losers hang on: A look at The Unqualified, the Unscrupulous, and the Bush White House. All the President's Flunkies: Why Bush stands by his incompetents.
James Cockayne (IPA): The Global Reorganization of Legitimate Violence: Military Entrepreneurs and the Private Face of International Humanitarian Law. From The American Interest, Edward N. Luttwak on Why Weapons Are So Expensive: Though computers constantly get cheaper and more powerful, new high-tech weapons end up costing more and more. What's wrong with the U.S. military? So a new industry was born, known in the trade as "Intelligence Support Systems", complete with its own annual conference. If you’re in Dubai next February, drop by. Homeland Insecurity: Anti-terrorism efforts vary from the marginally effective to the utterly pointless. A review of In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror by Anthony Romero and Dina Temple-Raston. A review of Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State by by Norman Solomon.
From The Nation, a review of books on Katrina and New Orleans. Reckless Abandonment: Is the Bush administration leaving Katrina-ravaged neighborhoods to die on the vine? A review of Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City by Billy Sothern. In Nature’s Casino: With the cost of natural disasters far beyond the insurance industry’s ability to pay, a new market has sprung up to spread the risk. But how do you calculate the odds of catastrophe? A review of Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand. Climate Change and the Threat to the U.S. Coast: If you thought Katrina was the big one, wait till you see what's coming to your neighborhood.
From Political Affairs, an essay on Nature, Society and Human Survival. A review of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization by David R. Montgomery. From Grist, are scientists overestimating — or underestimating — climate change? (and part 2 and part 3). It's tempting to think that if you scare the shit out of people that mass mobilization against global warming will at long last ensue. Call of the mild: Scientists are being asked to set aside their professional reticence and become vocal crusaders - for the sake of the planet. A review of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben. Big Oil's Particular Profits: How oil companies are taking advantage of basic thermal science to squeeze billions of dollars a year out of consumers' pockets.
Joseph Raz (Oxford): (1) Reason, Reasons and Normativity; (2) About Morality and the Nature of Law; (3) Can There be a Theory of Law?; and (4) The Argument from Justice, or How Not to Reply to Legal Positivism; Ilya Somin (George Mason) and Neal Devins (William and Mary): Can We Make the Constitution More Democratic? Steven Douglas Smith (San Diego): Our Agnostic Constitution. Larry Alexander (San Diego): What Is Freedom of Association, and What Is Its Denial? James Fowler (UCSD) and Sangick Jeon (UC-Davis): The Authority of Supreme Court Precedent. Peter Westen (Michigan): Why Criminal Harms Matter: Plato's Abiding Insight in the Laws.
Form Ovi, an article on Heroic Materialism in Western Culture (and part 2). A review of Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government by Michael Mandelbaum. Leo Strauss has been blamed for the rise of the neocons and even the invasion of Iraq. Now one of his disciples hopes to clear his name. The first chapter form The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism, ed. by Paul Pierson and Theda Skocpol. A review of The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk by Gerald J. Russello. An article on the pragmatism of Russell Kirk. Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism is not exactly a title you would expect to encounter at National Review.
The first chapter from The Unnatural History of Science by Alan Wallace. The introduction to The Great Brain Debate: Nature or Nurture? by John E. Dowling. Mind over matter? Many philosophers and scientists have argued that free will is an illusion. Unlike all of them, Benjamin Libet found a way to test it. Out of your mind, not out of your body: Out-of-body experiences can now be created at will. Studying them sheds light on the nature of consciousness. Real Out-of-Body Experiences: By providing wrong but matching views and feelings, scientists mentally "teleport" people outside their own bodies. Viral and virtual: A plague in a computer game may have epidemiological lessons for the real world.
The Unexpected Fantasist: The Portuguese novelist and Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago is a stubborn atheist, an unreconstructed Communist, an ornery political polemicist — and the creator of some of the world’s most magical, imaginative, sweetly lyrical fiction. Caribbean Odyssey: When he first read Derek Walcott's poems, VS Naipaul was overwhelmed by the talent of his fellow West Indian, who, at the age of 18, was already a master. The young poet had created a new language to describe both the beauty and the limitations of island life. VS Naipaul as the great offender: Few writers get up noses like VS Naipaul, but his views on Islam, Gandhi and English Lit courses have a ring of truth.
From New York, Watching Matt Drudge: He hides, but craves attention. He is prurient and prudish, powerful and paranoid, an icon of the right who seems obsessed with making Hillary Clinton our next president. And he has America caught in the grip of his contradictions; and somewhere at the intersection of policy porn and score-settling memoir lies the big-name political tract, and fall is often the season for them. Which will make the biggest media splash possible? Never mind the Journal's editorial independence. Pray for the New York Post's. Already Chewed News: What Jack Shafer's beloved newspaper has been reduced to serving.
A review of This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House, and Hollywood by Jack Valenti. How violent taboos were blown away: Bonnie and Clyde shocked and thrilled the world when it was released in 1967. But the legacy of this savage classic is that it opened the floodgates for all forms of screen violence over the next 40 years. Where TV Is Good for You: With perhaps the exception of Homer Simpson, Americans tend to denounce television even as they devour it. TV Is Good for You: If you are a woman in rural India, at least. Vint Cerf, aka the godfather of the net, predicts the end of TV as we know it.
Moises Naim on The Free-Trade Paradox: Why is trade booming while trade talks are crashing. A review of The White Man’s Burden: Why The West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly. A review of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier. An excerpt from Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization by Michael Goldman. A business version of Doctors Without Borders, Executives Without Borders, could help alleviate poverty by targeting the developing world’s persistent economic ailments, says Jonathan Ledgard, a journalist based in Africa.
From Perspectives on Politics, Jeffrey W. Legro (Virginia): What China Will Want: The Future Intentions of a Rising Power. From Foreign Affairs, The Great Leap Backward? China's disastrous environmental record is about to bring the house crashing down. A review of A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni; and China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood by Jeff Gammage. A review of Inside the Red Mansion: On the Trail of China's Most Wanted Man by Oliver August. A review of China: The Fragile Superpower by Susan L. Shirk and China Road: A Journey Into the Future of a Rising Power by Rob Gifford.
Not quite the pact that was: China, Russia and the countries sandwiched between them can stage a fine military show—but they are not about to merge into a new monolith. From Exile, Top Ten Pieces Of New Cold War Bullshit: Everyone knows the old Marxist cliche that history is repeated first as tragedy, and then as farce. The making of a neo-KGB state: Political power in Russia now lies with the FSB, the KGB's successor; and Putin's people: The former KGB men who run Russia have the wrong idea about how to make it great. Here are ten reasons why Russia can’t trust Uncle Sam.