From IMF Survey, a look at how Asia is playing a crucial part in reshaping the global economy. A review of Illusive Utopia, Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea by Suk-young Kim. Drukonian Moves: Bhutan is swearing by happiness — but is it such a good thing? A review of Unfinished Revolution: Indonesia Before and After Suharto by Max Lane. From Asia’s mountainous heart flow rivers on which half the world’s population depends: Kenneth Pomeranz on the Great Himalayan Watershed. China, Russia and the United States are the main competitors, and the match is particularly intense in Kabul, Islamabad and Teheran; the Great Game, however, is also played in the five “stans” — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kirghizstan. Singapore's business-friendly climate has seen the country grow by leaps and bounds but it's all based on a murky, billion-dollar illegal trade in sand. Social alientation, Thai-style: Finding the “essence” of a nation in the package of cultural archetypes presented to tourists — for a price. Mao Zedong and All That: A telling battle over China’s history curriculum. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia on the "democratic instinct". With the July Sumo tournament over, Japan has a champion but is left with many bitter memories surrounding the national sport. Burma's emerging nuclear weapons program is met with an ambiguous international response (and more).
From The Awl, here is a PowerPoint presentation about airport hotels. A review of The Titanic Awards: Celebrating the Worst of Travel by Doug Lansky. As the cable cognoscenti renews its romance with the midcentury executive class, the fashion world is observing its own long-running dalliance with a perennial 20th-century marker of privilege: the global prep complex. Jonah Lehrer on the psychology of conspiracy theories. Atlas Obscura takes a look at the Walter Benjamin Memorial, a haunting monument to the German Jewish philosopher who died while fleeing fascism. "Political scientists make me happy": Ezra Klein on the political science take on elections. From New English Review, Thomas J. Scheff on morality, emotion markers and social change. Can money buy happiness? New research reveals that reminders of wealth impair our capacity to savor life's little pleasures. You're dead, now what? The afterlife is hazardous territory for scholarly conjecture. From television to feature films, funnyman Ed Helms enjoys upending ideology almost as much as he enjoys playing music. In recent years, the subculture known as the Furry Fandom has been the subject of episodes of Entourage and CSI, and profiled in Vanity Fair. Is being a geek a personality trait or way of life? Libraries are reducing their reference collections as more reference titles move online — not all library patrons are happy about the move.
From the Journal of Democracy, Larry Diamond (Stanford): Liberation Technology. The BP accident presents an opportunity for us to reflect upon what it means to be a society reliant on complex technologies whose failures can cause disaster (and part 2). Can technology bring on a world wide social revolution? Technology is rewiring our brains: Touchscreens, TiVo, the undo button — these new technologies and others have changed the way we interact with the world. New technologies and social media are training up the next generation of superbrains, but are young people emotionally all there? New research shows that the majority of children and teenagers are not the Web-savvy digital natives of legend — in fact, many of them don't even know how to google properly. A review of The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media by Ilana Gershon. Emerging technologies now include the GNR technologies plus cognitive science and neurotechnology: the newer formulation is Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC). What does technology want? Change, and lots of it. We are not living in a time of technical decline exactly, but we are also not living in a time of great technological progress. Analog Nostalgia: Paul Waldman on making peace with the relentless pace of technological change. There’s no question that technology has overrun our lives, but a creative backlash is underway, helping human beings cope with the avalanche of data that passes in front of most of us every day through the use of computers and cell phones. A review of The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future by Martin Ford.
From The Incongruous Quarterly, Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster on impotence and fucking old; and Jaron Lanier on human sexuality. Sanctifying by attacking: How a mosque proposed for a grubby downtown street became more of a symbol than its opponents ever intended. Two cheers for American tolerance: The Ground Zero mosque controversy shows that America manages its hatreds better than others. Fifteen year old schoolgirl Carmen Bramley has become France's hottest literary property after writing Pastel Fauve, a book about a teenager who loses her virginity at 14. Want to fix immigration? Give noncitizens the vote. Do celebrities help or hinder when they hijack serious issues? Once were dinosaurs: It seems the dinosaurs didn’t die out after all. It's not just about Israel: Six more reasons why we can't let Iran get nukes. Ten years on, the mystery of the Confederate submarine Hunley remains. Mystery Writer: Does S. Larson, who signs Citibank letters, exist? Joshua Holland on why America needs more Muslims. We used to send mail, and there used to be an underground movement of artists who made mail art; Laura Trethewey tracks down the artists who made the postal system an integral part of their work to find out how mail art is faring in the age of the Internet. A summer that sucked: Dominated by oppressive heat, the oil spill and Sarah Palin, does summer 2010 rank among the worst ever?
From Words Without Borders, a special issue on sports. Tom Perrotta on the inexplicable collapse of tennis phenom Ana Ivanovic. From Mediascape, "this is what’s really cool about NFL Films": An interview with Margaret Ruffing Morris; and Sudeep Sharma on reading ESPN against niches. From NYRB, a review of Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi and A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played by Marshall Jon Fisher (and more by Mark Lamster at Bookforum). Who is World Wide Wes? Bud Shaw investigates. John Pilger on why sharks should not own sport. Can a band of American knights turn “full contact” jousting into an action sport? Soccer explains nothing: Stop looking to the World Cup for history lessons — it’s just a game and, frankly, that’s good enough. A review of Sport in the Cultures of the Ancient World. A Perfect Game: David Hart on the metaphysical meaning of baseball. Dan O'Connell writes in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Cornerback. Taking the long view, Tiger was never all that well paid to begin with when compared with the charioteers of ancient Rome. She shoots, she scores: What sports actually do for girls — and for all of us. Why are sports fans so biased? A review of Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture by Andrei S. Markovits and Lars Rensmann (and more).