Manuela Consito (Turin): The Organisation of Social Services in the European Welfare Market. Damjan Kukovec (Harvard): Myths of Social Europe. Can the eurozone be saved? Further European financial and political integration would be incredibly difficult to achieve, but it may be the only way to make the EU viable in the long run. An excerpt from The End of the West: The Once and Future Europe by David Marquand. From FT, a review essay on Italy (and more). After Silvio Berlusconi, Nichi Vendola: Can an openly left-wing, openly gay politician from the South revive an Italy in deep malaise? Strange Geographies: Here are some quick facts about the Netherlands. Atlas Obscura visits Skellig Michael, a perfectly preserved ancient monastery in an impossibly dramatic location on a rocky island in the Atlantic, and Las Medulas, a devastated landscape used for hundreds of years by the Romans as their primary mining site. Javier Marias on Barcelona, the most conceited of cities. Valencia is burning: Each spring, Spanish artists construct masterpieces — and then set them ablaze at the party of the year. Sex-abuse scandals involving priests have shaken Ireland but is that enough to break the grip of the Catholic Church? There is little sign of an artistic response to Ireland's crash. A review of Belgium and the Monarchy by Herman Van Goethem. Finland's underground city: Helsinki is fighting congestion by building down instead of out. Germany's bomb problem: Outside Berlin, a building boom hits a snag — unexploded ordnance. Joe Queenan says the French are now Monsieur Nice Guy. The murderer of the Princess of Cleves: Language is one area of culture that Nicolas Sarkozy can't dominate, so he mangles it with a calculated barbarity.
Anders Walker (SLU): A Horrible Fascination: Sex, Segregation and the Lost Politics of Obscenity. From Room for Debate, a series on Barack Obama and the psychology of the "birther" myth. The Huffington Pose: Using the seductive and tantalizing tricks of a modern-day courtesan, the new media mogul puts a brave new world under her spell. From the Atlas Society, David Kelley previews and reviews the Atlas Shrugged movie (and an interview), an interview with screenwriter Brian Patrick O'Toole, and an interview with executive producer John Aglialoro. Rebels with a cause: Zachariah Mampilly on the history of rebel governance, from the US Civil War to Libya. Is the dominance of the dollar bad for America? Harold Bloom by the numbers: The prolific Yale professor's literary passion "comes soaked in so much bile" toward those who love literature differently. Linda Holmes on the sad, beautiful fact that we're all going to miss almost everything. Working best at coffee shops: Why are many telecommuters most efficient in noisy public places with lots of distractions? From Out, with his provocative columns and scathing political commentary, journalist Glenn Greenwald has never shied away from controversy. "Glenn Beck threw me under the bus": An interview with Andrew Breitbart. Eric Michael Johnson on the allure of gay cavemen: Third genders, two spirits, and a media without a clue. Ruben Vives, former illegal immigrant, wins Pulitzer Prize: What a wonderful "chinga tu madre" at the Know Nothings of the world who insist illegals can't make anything of themselves in this country. The Joy of Not Cooking: High-end retailers are counting on us to spend more money on our kitchens — even as we spend less time in them. Brink Lindsey on why entrepreneurial capitalism is needed now more than ever.
Peter G Burton (Illawarra) Human Cognition: Higher Brain Function and the Science of Human Consciousness. A review of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer (and more) and The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian. Johan Lehrer on what Watson can learn from the human brain (and more). Intelligence Deficit: What will happen when computers become smarter than people? Robot pains and corporate feelings: Edouard Machery and Justin Sytsma argue that experimental results might undercut the problem of consciousness. An interview with Nicholas Humphrey, author of Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness. A review of The Ego Trick by Julian Baggini. Can science explain the self, or is that just neuro-scientific hubris? There's no need to take sides. A review of The Soul Hypothesis. A review of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary. Many of Buddhism’s core tenets significantly overlap with findings from modern neurology and neuroscience — so how did Buddhism come close to getting the brain right? From The New Yorker, an article on David Eagleman and mysteries of the brain. The way our brain is wired has much to do with the choices we make. A review of The Tell-Tale Brain by V.S. Ramachandran (and more). Strange but true — the brain is shaped by bacteria in the digestive tract. Bringing science back to hallucinogens: What can illicit drugs teach us about the brain? A review of Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality by Patricia Churchland (and more). An interview with Francis Heylighen on the emerging global brain. Ancient "pickled" brain mystery explained? For one, decapitated head's quick burial may have aided preservation.