From The Economist, here are three fearless predictions on technology in 2008. From Popular Mechanics, here are 10 tech concepts you need to know for 2008. The laptop wars: Will charity or profit end the digital divide? One clunky laptop per child: Great idea — shame about the mediocre computer. From The New Yorker, an article on Google squaring off with its Capitol Hill critics. An article on Google the Destroyer. Google's gaping deficit: How a giant of the net has bred the conditions of its demise. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, is launching a new kind of search tool, with results that rely on users' input and open-source software. With a final keynote speech, Bill Gates holds forth on the "second digital decade" and bids farewell as a "Guitar Hero" (and more).
From Open Democracy, the world’s third spaces: Between national and global levels, a fresh landscape of territory, authority and rights is being opened — it may look messy, but it is part of a new reality in the making, says Saskia Sassen. In the globalizing world of the 21st century, are we ready for democracy to be applied internationally? Too often national elections cause horrible violence or bitter disputes — what if they were all handed over to a UN election squad? Observe early and often: The United Nations should establish a monitoring unit devoted not to elections, but to the work of election commissions. Madeleine Albright on why democracy is inevitable no more. Second life: Dictatorships have gotten good at keeping democracy at bay — it wasn't supposed to be this way.
From The Chronicle, many of our best and brightest high-school students found out last month whether they had been accepted by early decision to the colleges of their choice — but most of those decisions were more or less preordained by social class. Getting in gets harder: The children of the baby boomers are flooding colleges with applications, making the process more competitive than ever. How to get into college despite the disadvantage of privilege: A review of Acing the College Application by Michelle Hernandez and What High Schools Don't Tell You by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross. Defining diversity down: A proposal to make it easier to get into California colleges.
From First Science, a brief history of infinity: The paradoxical twists and turns of infinity have baffled many great thinkers. From Space.com, an article on the enduring mysteries of the outer Solar System. A look at how the thrashing guitars of heavy metal bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden could help explain the mysteries of the universe. What if the Big Bang wasn't the beginning of the universe, but only one stage in an endlessly repeated cycle of universal expansion and contraction? No dice for slow roll: A finding challenges popular theory of universe's origins. Fifty years ago, a paper appeared in the journal Physical Review with an answer to a physics puzzle: superconductivity. A colleague of the late Sir Fred Hoyle says his friend never got his due for explaining how the universe got its elements.
From NYRB, they'd rather be right: Michael Tomasky reviews Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again by David Frum and They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons by Jacob Heilbrunn (and two interviews with Frum). More on Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription by William F Buckley Jr. A review of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg (and more and more and more on bizarro history; and an interview). How power-grabbing Russian president Putin has an "ideological ally" he’d like you to meet: FDR. From TAS, an article on Reagan, Rush, and conservatism as the political law of gravity.
From Der Spiegel, an article on the xenophobia at the heart of German politics; and a look at how right-wing radicals are gaining traction with Germany's first anti-Islamic party. Latkes and vodka: Immigrants from the former Soviet Union are transforming Jewish life in Germany. How the Holocaust happened: A review of The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939–1945 by Saul Friedlander. Two memoirs of life in Auschwitz: A review of Une Vie by Simone Veil and Il M’appelait Pikolo by Jean Samuel and Jean-Marc Dreyfus. A somewhat macabre parlor game to play with one’s acquaintances: speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. Third Reich to Fortune 500: Here are five popular brands the Nazis gave us. An essay on romanticizing Germany's urban guerillas.
How the Lesbians finally muscled in: A review of Treasure House of the Language: the Living OED by Charlotte Brewer. A look at : The word of the year. What's the word? Or phrase, as the case may be: The experts gather tomorrow to decide on the top expression for 2007. You didn’t hear them here first, but chances are that in 2007 you caught these phrases somewhere. When things are bad, it’s natural to look ahead. Perhaps that’s why we hear those phrases so often from politicians, sports figures and others in times of trouble. A book of slang used by teenagers has guaranteed its own inauthenticity just by being published. Language past its use-by date: Good literature draws on neologisms, but not the fleeting wordplay of headlines and pub gags.
From The Economist, the new (improved) Gilded Age: The very rich are not that different from you and me; or less different, perhaps, than they used to be. The introduction to Inherited Wealth by Jens Beckert. Rich Kid Syndrome: America’s burgeoning money culture is producing a record number of heirs—but handing down values is harder than handing down wealth. An interview with David Cay Johnston, author of Free Lunch: How The Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves At Government Expense (and Stick you With the Bill). A review of The Selfish Capitalist: The Origins of Affluenza by Oliver James. Spoil yourself: Luxury may mean excess, vulgarity and obscene waste — but it’s also a basic humanist instinct.
From Vanity Fair, between them, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have made 13 of the 100 top-grossing movies of all time; yet they struggled for more than a decade with the upcoming fourth installment of their billion-dollar Indiana Jones franchise, " Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (and interviews with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). A review of The Rough Guide to Film: An A-Z of Directors and Their Movies. A review of The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger. A review of Making Waves: New Cinemas of the 1960s by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. A review of Movies and the Modern Psyche by Sharon Packer. Un-Hollywood: In Russia, films promote the state.
From TAP, it seems like everyone is coming around to the charms of Barack Obama — that doesn't mean that he's home free yet. Can Obama build a movement? Michael Gerson wants to know. Is there a better chance for a man of color, than for a woman, in the White House? Lessons from Hollywood and TV. Hillarycare: How Clinton pulled it out in New Hampshire. Rally for him now: How black America can revive Obama's campaign. Why were the political futures markets so wrong about Obama and Clinton? Glenn Greenwald on the role of political reporters: Why should reporters assigned to cover campaigns engage in predictive analysis at all? Last stop for the Bloomberg '08 Express? Speculation about a presidential bid dampened after the mayor’s visit to Oklahoma.