David Gunkel (NIU): The Machine Question. Taking over from evolution: Arthur Saniotis and Maciej Henneberg on how technology could enhance humanity. What does the word “post-human” actually mean? Of course, we’ll be merging with machines, but what’s the final product? From The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness, Giulio Prisco on Transcendent Engineering. How can one promote longevity in the polarized atmosphere of contemporary USA politics? Registering to vote is the first step. Do you want to be immortal, really? Yes, really. Would it be boring if we could live forever? George Dvorsky wonders. Immortality will arrive via Singularity, nanotech, or genetic engineering, say 800+ transhumanists. Nikola Danaylov on 17 definitions of the technological Singularity and on the top 10 reasons we should fear the Singularity. Luke Muehlhauser is facing the Singularity. For four years, Singularity University has deployed “exponentially advancing technologies” to address humanity’s biggest problems; now the elite Silicon Valley school is planning to exponentially advance itself.
A new issue of Sojourners is out. Michael S. Pardo (Alabama): Rationality. Will humans lose the battle with microbes? Bacteria have become increasingly resistant to the drugs we've come to rely on — only a concerted effort can avert a public health crisis. Could bingo in its purest form be hip? Time to investigate. A review of Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex) by Peter Bart. The Special Ops community is stunned by the news of an unauthorized account of the Osama bin Laden takedown by one of their own; now the Navy brass say they might come after the author. Anthony Laden on his book Reasoning: A Social Picture. Hayes Brown assures Judge Tom Head the UN has zero interest in invading Lubbock, Texas (besides, the UN would lose). A world map shows every hurricane in recorded history. Daniel W. Drezner on intellectual power and responsibility in an age of superstars.
From The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness, Giulio Prisco on how to cope with death. The world is a mess: Rafael Melo on how the problem with life is desire. Should it be legal for a doctor to give that one final prescription for suffering? Scott McLemee considers a book on death with dignity. Members of The Cult of Life can be quite dangerous, as they look and sound normal, may approach you in an affable manner, and generally claim to be concerned with your well-being. A review of The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death by Jill Lepore. Why not commit suicide? Fil Rabat on why he’s sold on anti-natalism (and part 2) Michael Dowd on a scientific honoring of death and on the sacred side of death. How long do you want to live? New discoveries may bring a steeper increase in life span — but not everyone wants it. If life after death is a fact, wouldn’t our favorite activities somehow unconsciously resemble it? Raymond Tallis on the case for assisted dying. Are goals ever worth accomplishing? A “horrible person who happens to be right about life” wonders. Emily Landau on Rakoff and Hitchens on death, with nothing afterward.
Andrea Louise Campbell (MIT): America the Undertaxed: U.S. Fiscal Policy in Perspective. Writer and philosopher Julian Baggini has been commissioned by the National Trust to spend a week at the White Cliffs of Dover exploring what this much loved stretch of the Kent coast says about our Britain. The evolution of revenge porn: As he readies a new site, Is Anyone Up founder Hunter Moore proves he just can’t get enough. From Dilbert’s PHB to The Office, the incompetent manager is such a popular trope that it’s in danger of becoming a tired cliche — but a recent study has confirmed a counter-intuitive idea proposed over 30 years ago: that promoting those who perform best may, in fact, be a losing strategy. A review of Models. Behaving. Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life by Emanuel Derman.
A look at how a 500-million-year-old “mistake” led to humans. The dawn of humanity is illuminated in a special edition of the Journal of Human Evolution, 50 years after the Leakeys. New fossils recast a flat-faced oddity as a star species in the first chapter of the human story — perhaps even as our oldest known truly human ancestor. The Paranthropines were to our Australopithecine ancestors (such as Lucy) what neanderthals are to you and me: a closely related sister lineage that ultimately died out — however, they’re interesting for the opposite reason neanderthals are. Was human technology superior to neanderthals’? James Miller on an economic rationale for resurrecting Neanderthals. Futurist Stewart Brand wants to revive extinct species. What we really know about our evolutionary past and what we don’t: A review of Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters by Daniel J Fairbanks, Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins by Ian Tattersall, and Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature by David P Barash. David Barash on a short list of just a few human evolutionary mysteries, puzzles of human nature that are as yet unsolved. Paleolithic diets have become all the rage, but are they getting our ancestral diet all wrong? (and more)
Tom Medvetz (UCSD): “Scholar as Sitting Duck”: The Cronon Affair and the Buffer Zone in American Public Debate. A review of Crazy U by Andrew Ferguson and In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic by Professor X. Welcome to College Insurrection, aimed to give conservative and libertarian student writers a larger platform and audience. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that the main thing conservatives learn in college English classes is how to complain about college English classes. From Radical Notes, Raju J Das on academia as a site of class struggle. 25 years later, Allan Bloom is just as misunderstood and necessary as ever. Richard Thompson on the conservative pushback on campus. A survey finds that social psychologists admit to anti-conservative bias. It might not be seismic, but there is a shift in academia away from the faddish and back towards the traditional. Jonathan B. Imber on misunderstanding intellectual diversity. Agnotology, the art of spreading doubt, distorts the scepticism of research to obscure the truth — areas of academic life have been tainted by the practice.
Rebecca Adler-Nissen (Copenhagen): Diplomacy as Impression Management: Strategic Face-Work and Post-Colonial Embarrassment. From Standpoint, Daniel Johnson on the Wise Orientalist and the Flying Dutchman. Jed Pearl on the wildly overrated Andy Warhol. Foxy Ladies: Why one network applies so much makeup. An interview with Joan Walsh, author of What's the Matter With White People? Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was. Reverend Billy on Occupy and 350.org: You come down here and embrace! A review of Sincerity: how a moral ideal born five hundred years ago inspired religious wars, modern art, hipster chic, and the curious notion that we ALL have something to say (no matter how dull) by R. Jay Magill, Jr. Tom Vanderbilt on the single most important object in the global economy — the pallet.
David Pilling reports on the rise of a new generation of Japanese — wanting to think for themselves but struggling for independence. Thitinan Pongsudhirak on calming the Asia-Pacific. Ethnic Chinese at last see a new future opening up in Indonesia. Multibillionaire loses his fortune: Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei has a taste for fast cars, beautiful women, and the ostentatious spending of vast wealth that may not have been his own. Where nationalism still matters: Guy Sorman on how Asia’s simmering political tensions defy conventional wisdom. North Koreans in South Korea: Sonia Ryang is in search of their humanity. The violence against minorities in Indonesia has reached new, terrible heights; while Islamist hardliners target Christians and supporters of the Islamic Ahmadiyya, the state turns a blind eye. The myth about Singapore is that economic growth can take place in an authoritarian state unhindered. Nationalism makes a comeback: Ethan Epstein on Japan’s new islands. Tensions in the South China Sea are ratcheting up. What’s behind North Korea’s strange architecture? When the chips are down: U.S. casinos discover Macau's murky side.
Lucinda Vandervort (Saskatchewan): Sexual Consent as Voluntary Agreement: Tales of “Seduction” or Questions of Law? Paul H. Edelman (Vanderbilt): The Myth of the Condorcet Winner. From Random House of Canada’s new online magazine Hazlitt, Hari Kunzru on Werner Herzog: The director is present; Chris Randle on the Gothamist Movement: From Deco to dystopian — an architectural survey of Batman comics and movies; and Linda Besner on the quiz book as Bible: Quizzes — be they Civil War or Tintin themed — promise answers in this life, highly knowable answers. The New York Review of Magazines reviews Yes! magazine. Has intellectual history had a Kuhnian Revolution? Dead celebrities fared better and better against other dead persons as the twentieth century progressed. A review of Bioethics: All that Matters by Donna Dickenson. If you see posts floating around the Twittersphere that the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden is dead, don’t believe it.
From The Atlantic Monthly, the presidential debates this year may well determine the election's outcome — James Fallows on how they might unfold. Stanley Kurtz on how Obama is robbing the suburbs to pay for the cities. Brian Tashman on the craziest Obama conspiracy theory gets even crazier. Like a Boss: When it comes to being a rich guy, Mitt Romney should own it. Ezra Klein on the best case and the worst case against the Obama administration. From The Washington Times, Wes Vernon reviews The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor by Paul Kengor; and Jay Cost reviews The Corruption Chronicles: Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government by Tom Fitton. Roger Berkowitz on Grover Norquist and the Muslim takeover of America. Schmooze or lose: Obama doesn’t like cozying up to billionaires — could it cost him the election? (and more) An interview with Michael Grunwald, author of The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era (and more). Here are excerpts from The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck.