From The University Bookman, the Traditionalist moment: A review of Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher; of the soul and the soil: A review of Agrarianism and the Good Society by Eric T. Freyfogle; Wendell Berry: Life and Work; and The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse by Gene Logsdon; a review of Of Time and Place: A Farm in Wisconsin by Richard Quinney; on buildings, Boomers, and the ’burbs: An interview with James Howard Kunstler; and two reviews of The Commercial Society: Foundations and Challenges in a Global Age by Samuel Gregg; and the moral foundations of economics: The final chapter of Russell Kirk’s Economics: Work and Prosperity.
The appeal of the underdog: Research is published on the scope of people’s support for those who are expected to lose, seeking to understand why people are drawn to the Rocky Balboas and the Davids (versus Goliaths) of the world. The distinction between "different" and "uncool": A new study reveals an important distinction between non-membership in a group and groups with which we want to avoid association — and also highlights the mitigating effect of social pressure. An article on the truth about lying: Our lives are filled with untruths — but why do we lie, and how can we tell when others are full of it? Shankar Vedantam on how bad ideas can be contagious. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, asks why we aren’t more compassionate more of the time. A look at how reminders of mortality bring out the charitable side. A review of The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren. More on Psychogeography by Will Self. More on Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought. Are some experiences so horrific that the human brain seals them away, only to recall them years later? How powerful is the "power of persuasion"? Yes! 50 Secrets From the Science of Persuasion lists the psychological tricks you can play on people to make them say "Yes!" to doing strange and unusual things — but the human mind is not putty that can be moulded.
From New Left Review, Zion's rebel daughter: An article on Hannah Arendt, Palestine and Jewish politics. Defending Zion: William Kristol reviews Jews and Power by Ruth R. Wisse (and more). Eric Alterman on a paradox of American Jewish political behavior: they think like liberals, but they let belligerent right-wingers who demonize and distort their values speak for them. An interview with Rodger Kamenetz, author of A History of Last Night’s Dream. In turning again to the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, which had such an impact in the 1950s and ’60s, one is startled by how much vitality they still possess.
From The New York Observer, the year’s most prominent "CeWebrity" prognosticates for you: Chris Crocker, the dude who rose to fame by tearily defending Britney, has a penchant for backside hair, an upcoming reality show and a weakness for conspiracy theories; and attack of the 21st-century falsies: Where have all the nipples gone? The idiosyncratic women of New York are becoming veritable cleavage cyborgs, eschewing lace-enhanced, natural, sexy bustlines for formidable foam facades. An interview with Sacha Baron Cohen on killing off Borat. When Hollywood comes knocking, that's probably a clue the time has come to open the door. And the secretive, centuries-old order of Freemasonry seems to be picking up its cue. Royal Cock-up: Charles and Camilla are choosing personal gratification over the survival of a 1,000-year-old monarchy. A review of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young.
From Wired, 2007 Foot-in-Mouth Awards: A list of the most entertaining tech-centric misstatements and verbal foibles from government officials, CEOs and tech luminaries; and here are the top 10 startups worth watching in 2008. The Doh! of technology: A roundup of some embarrassing technological mishaps that may have slipped under your radar. Long live closed-source software!: There's a reason the iPhone doesn't come with Linux. A look at how chip-shrinking may be nearing its limits. Google gets ready to rumble with Microsoft: The growing confrontation promises to be an epic battle that shapes the prosperity and progress of both companies. Before asking for a new Windows PC this holiday season, remember the old adage: "Be careful about what you wish for".
From Foreign Affairs, John L. Thornton (Tsinghua): Long Time Coming: The Prospects for Democracy in China; and G. John Ikenberry (Princeton): The Rise of China and the Future of the West: Can the Liberal System Survive? The rise of a fierce yet fragile superpower: The much-heralded advent of China as a global power is no longer a forecast but a reality — now we, and they, must manage its triumph. An article on Japan’s future as an international, multicultural society: From migrants to immigrants. Philosophy as activism in neo-liberal, neo-nationalist Japan: An interview with philosopher Takahashi Tetsuya. When Japan was a secret: Long before Commodore Perry got there, Japanese castaways and American whalers were prising Japan open. Jobs for life: A look at how Japanese employees are working themselves to death.
From The Philosophers' Magazine, why I have no future: Galen Strawson argues it makes no difference whether he lives or dies; Strange goings on down at the farm: Julian Baggini meets Daniel Cotterill, a farmer with a PhD who’s making his fourth metaphysical movie; finding the music again: David E Cooper recalls the day he fell back in love with philosophy; opening the big tent: Alain de Botton on being denounced as a vulgarian; and an interview with philosophical novelist Lucy Eyre. Was Jesus a revolutionary? In our age of vulgar atheistic polemics, Catholic-turned-Marxist Terry Eagleton brings a rare combination of intellectual depth and seriousness to his study of the gospels — but humanity will not find salvation in the "Good Book". The introduction to In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument by Bernard Williams. A review of Thinking Politically: Essays in Political Theory by Michael Walzer.
From LRB, a review of Don’t Kiss Me: The Art of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore; and Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice by Janet Malcolm. From TLS, the finest pen of his age, a giant of natural history, geometry and art: Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon deserves to be restored. Why doesn't anyone read Dante's Paradiso? Robert P. Baird wants to know. Chick-lit? Marriage-obsessed? Jane Austen adaptations have a lot to answer for. A review of Henry James: The Mature Master by Sheldon M. Novick. Can Zadie Smith salvage the short story? It’s often said that the short story is :in crisis"; unfortunately The Book of Other People, a colourful tome containing 23 character-driven tales by hip youngish writers, will not return it to glory. Licence to thrill: A look at how Ian Fleming’s James Bond books articulate the beliefs and fears of post-war Britain.
From Spiked, a review of The Levellers: The Putney Debates. A review of The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 by Robert Markley. A review of Birthing the Nation: Sex, Science, and the Conception of Eighteenth-Century Britons by Lisa Forman Cody. A review of The Whig Revival, 1808–1830 by William Anthony Hay. The introduction to War of No Pity: The Indian Mutiny and Victorian Trauma by Christopher Herbert. Paul Kennedy reviews The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781–1997 by Piers Brendon (and more and more). Niall Ferguson reviews God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World by Walter Russell Mead (and more from Foreign Affairs).
Raucous Caucus: It’s all flying in Iowa—turkeys, insults, Hill-i-Copters! Alan Patricof tromps, Magic Johnson grins, Bill Clinton fends; "Look inside my mouth", says Senator Clinton, then ascends. Campaigns preparing for nasty, not nice: After a primary season full of mudslinging, will Democratic voters still be able to unite around a nominee? Who's more vulnerable to right-wing attacks: Is Obama's admitted youthful drug use more dangerous than seven years of Secret Service files on Hil and Bill? Matt Bai on the Clinton referendum: How Democratic voters judge the Clinton era may well decide the race for the party’s presidential nomination. Plague of posts: How an Internet "troll" in Kentucky takes a toll on Hillary Clinton's campaign. Ladies' choice: Barack Obama's attempt to mount a feminist challenge to Hillary Clinton. As Clinton and Obama square off in South Carolina, a window opens on the fractured state of black politics. The first chapter from Black and Blue: African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party by Paul Frymer.