From The Philosophers' Magazine, a review of Darwinism and its Discontents by Michael Ruse. More on Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People by John Harris. A review of Science and Ethics: Can Science Help Us Make Wise Moral Judgments? A review of Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality by William C. Wimsatt. Trees by design: What happens when genetic engineering comes to the forest? Can plants think? This slime solved a maze. From Wired, here are the top 10 new organisms of 2007. Whatever happened to smallpox? Humanity stomps nature but is still vulnerable to humanity. A spectrum of disorders: An article on the urgent search to understand the biological basis of autism. Can a drug cure an addict? Researchers are working on a vaccine that could neuter the effects of narcotics like cocaine, but some experts warn this magic bullet could backfire. Questionable numbers for a questionable remedy: Echinacea might be useful as a cold remedy or preventative, but science hasn't shown it yet. A review of Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine by R. Barker Bausell.
From Business Week, pundits are eager to provide their predictions for the new year — here's something a little different: Ten Things That Won't Happen in 2008. President Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton again top Gallup's annual lists of "most admired" men and women. More from David Brooks on The Sidney Awards. From The Economist, a big deal: Poker is getting younger, cleverer, duller and much, much richer; for those who like leaping into the abyss, Norway is the place to do it; and an article on the poignancy of piers: Musings on a favourite memento mori. Bike-sharing is caring: Bike-sharing programs that provide cheap access to inner-city bicycles are popular all over Europe, and Beijing, and even American cities are catching on. Artists only: Young arty types congregate, create and watch a show about young arty types — all online. From TNR, the unlikely story of how a depressing Joni Mitchell song became our newest Christmas standard. For those of you who think Christmas celebrations have "lost" their spiritual meaning, think again: Some historians say they never really had any. Ubiquitous profanity prompts a debate: Some say the expression "Oh my God" is a swipe at the Almighty. Others say it's just a way of saying "wow".
From the Carnegie Council, deflecting asteroids, eradicating polio, coordinating international time, mitigating climate change—Scott Barrett explains the different incentives and actors needed to supply these global public goods, where everyone benefits and none can be excluded. UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels. A review of Interpretation and Revision of International Boundary Decisions by Kaiyan Homi Kaikobad. A review of Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity by Will Kymlicka. Must the rainbow turn monochrome in parliament? A look at how racial and religious minorities tend to be under-represented in legislatures around the world. A review of Trade, Aid, and Arbitrate: The Globalization of Western Law by Ronald Charles Wolf. A review of The Human Rights Impact of the World Trade Organisation by James Harrison. A vivid insider's account of realpolitik at the Milosevic trial: A review of Paix et chatiment: Les guerres secretes de la politique et de la justice internationales by Florence Hartmann. Covering the world: International journalism has the power the change the way readers see the world. An interview with Lakhdar Brahimi of the Institute for Advanced Study on the State of the World 2008.
From New Left Review, here are dispatches from France during Sarkozy’s first hundred days. For years the French expected their politicians to be discreet, keeping their public and private lives separate. But Nicolas Sarkozy has changed all that, courting the paparazzi and flaunting his girlfriends. Each nation establishes its borders, sometimes defines itself, certainly organises itself, and always affirms itself around its language: Against this backdrop, immigrants from ever more distant shores have arrived in France, bringing with them a different style of expression and another, more fluid, concept of language. A review of Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy by Eric D. Weit (and more). German urban planners have never been as active worldwide as they are today, and Albert Speer is the protagonist in the current success story. The first chapter from From Communists to Foreign Capitalists: The Social Foundations of Foreign Direct Investment in Postsocialist Europe by Nina Bandelj. Giles Merritt on Europe’s Russia question. In Russia, as elsewhere, a lack of transparency feeds a gangster culture that hamstrings social and economic progress.
From The American Interest, a call to service: Voluntary service on a national scale would make America stronger, more participatory democracy; unite citizens of all backgrounds in a common cause; and help address many unmet social needs. 5 myths about the poor middle class: We've all heard the compelling tale about the decline of the average American — pity it's not true. Facing diversity: The challenge for the US is to reconcile the commercial advantages of diversity with the community strains it creates. What Darwin could tell us about the "war on drugs": Although it may seem counterintuitive, the "law and order" response by our politicians only intensifies the problem. A review of Snitch: Informers, Cooperators and the Corruption of Justice by Ethan Brown. A review of Police and Government Relations: Who's Calling the Shots? Clause and effect: The best way to make sense of the Second Amendment is to take away all the commas. How a taser works: The stun gun shocks without killing—but how safe is it? Two experts take a look.
From TLS, a review of The New York Stories of Edith Wharton. A review of Geoffrey Hartman's A Scholar's Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe. A review of Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir by David Rieff. A review of Touch and Go: A Memoir by Studs Terkel (and more). Romancing the locomotive: A review of Soul and Other Stories by Andrey Platonov. An interview with Ian McEwan on why atheists crave atonement, his long-lost brother and Martin Amis’s beef with radical Islam. From Harper's, an article on Washington Irving’s legend of the Arabian astrologer. Richard Ford is the dazzling chronicler of the real America; he talks about suburban beauty, literary "product" — and why the country is in danger. A review of The Temptation of the Impossible: Victor Hugo and Les Miserables by Mario Vargas Llosa. Out of South Africa: Did J. M. Coetzee leave the land of his birth because the government denounced one of his books as racist? The moral agent: Joseph Conrad wrote action-packed adventure stories, which were also modernist classics — Giles Foden celebrates an enduring master on the 150th anniversary of his birth.
From Vanity Fair, the muckraker’s progress: For decades, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt has been working to catch “family values” politicians in bed with the wrong people, offering up to a million dollars for each hypocrite exposed — he’s eyeing some juicy targets this election cycle. An interview with former White House press secretary Tony Snow on President Bush, declining party loyalty, liberal media bias, and more. The GOP's ambassador of ill will: He went from plumbing to public relations — now, as the party's communications chief, Danny Diaz is leaking bad news about the opposition with style. The endless campaign: Karl Rove on why we need longer primaries—but a shorter process. In praise of the primaries: Iowa and New Hampshire perform a vital function. From Mother Jones, primary color: Already sick of the 2008 horse race? We’ve got a fact-based cure for the election blahs. Are you a political expert, or are you misinformed? These five levels of awareness will show you where you stand. You say you won't vote for a candidate who isn't trustworthy? You're lying to yourself. A resume can’t buy you love: No matter how much Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Rudy Giuliani brag about being tested and vetted, it’s not experience that will be decisive in determining the next president. Paul Krugman on a thought for progressives: Bush isn't the problem — and the next president should not try to be the anti-Bush. What does Barack Obama have in common with Stephen Colbert? An article on matching candidates with celebrities.
From New Left Review, Perry Anderson on a reckoning of global shifts in political and economic relations, oppositions, and theoretical visions that offer exits from the perpetual free-market present. A review of Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World by Timothy Brook. A review of Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium by Ronald Findlay and Kevin H. O'Rourke. Buy some stuff, enslave somebody: Why are we so disconnected from the slave labor that produces so many of our products? Anarchists in the aisles: Shopdropping is the practice by anti-consumerist artists of leaving fake products with political messages on shelves. Reverend Billy's crusade against "shopocolypse": A homespun preacher, equal parts Borat, Jimmy Swaggart and Michael Moore peddles his anti-consumer message to Mall America. Outlet for exclusivity: How a "premium" brand manages the dance with the mass market. From The University Bookman, a review of Understanding the Process of Economic Change by Douglass C. North; and a review of The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity by Gene Sperling and The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth by Benjamin M. Friedman. A look at how morality – defined as individual values and convictions about the scope of application of norms of good conduct – is an important factor in individual behaviour and thus economic outcomes.
Divided states: A patchwork of local laws reflects the complicated, contradictory national debate over immigration policy. A review of Debating Immigration. Economic research suggests that the intensity of reactions seems completely disproportionate to immigration’s real economic impact on the local population. From Reason, an article on why the Right shifted on immigration, and how Tancredoism took over; guests in the machine: Guest worker programs may be the best hope many of the world's poorest people have for improving their lives; and an interview with Laura Maria Agustin, author of Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry.
From The Nation, Barbara Crossette on why an age of hope is over (and more). From Newsweek, a hero for democracy? As Pakistan threatens to fall into chaos, the martyred Benazir Bhutto may become in death what she never achieved in life (and more by Christopher Hitchens). What's next for Pakistan? Musharraf's handling of the protests that will follow Benazir Bhutto's funeral will decide Pakistan's future (and more). The question of what happens next is almost impossible to answer, especially at a moment when Bhutto herself seemed to be the only answer (and more). Here's an op-ed Bhutto wrote after October's unsuccessful assassination attempt.