From THE, there was never a golden age in which academic values such as universalism and disinterestedness were not at risk, argues Bruce Macfarlane — but in an age of sponsorism and insecurity, all scholars must hold fast to the precepts that make our intellectual endeavours worthwhile; the Ivy League's autonomy has allowed its members to conquer the world — the UK must loosen the reins on its universities and establish an equivalent, Terence Kealey argues; is the balance of power in world universities rapidly tilting eastwards? The THE World University Rankings do not signal a power shift, but rather show just how far Asia still has to go, Michael Cox argues; and here are the full results of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-13. From University World News, is the Magna Charta Universitatum still relevant? Lee Adendorff wants to know. Who needs college? The majority of Switzerland’s students opt for vocational training instead of college — and that does not mean the country is dumbing down. With legislation to open India to foreign universities still unforthcoming, it remains a difficult environment for Western institutions hoping to secure a lucrative prize. Yojana Sharma on public policy studies, a discipline whose time has come.
Dakota S. Rudesill (Georgetown): Regulating Tactical Nuclear Weapons. Do no harm: Jasmine-Kim Westendorf on arguing for humanitarian intervention. From PopMatters, Nathan Wisnicki writes in defense of Taylor Swift and Gen-Y Pop Music, and Colin McGuire writes in defense of keeping it real, and live. Breaking the grip of the oligarchs: How a tragic twist of fate is fueling a revolt against Armenia’s overweening tycoons. Charles Postel on how the Occupy movement resembles nineteenth-century American populism in its anger at the avarice of bankers and financiers and in its notions of majoritarian democracy; where it differs from the old Populists is in its attitude to the state. John Dawson reviews Growth Miracles and Growth Debacles: Exploring Root Causes by Sambit Bhattacharyya. The history of Western classical music is replete with tales of female composers and performers whose accomplishments and contributions have gone largely unsung. What does sex have to do with world peace? Curt Hopkins on how crowdsourcing could crack the world's oldest writing system. Arika Okrent on 11 weirdly spelled words and how they got that way.
A new issue of Common-place is out. A review of For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence by Alexander Tsesis. Julia A. Sienkewicz reviews Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation by Kariann Akemi Yokota. An excerpt from The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy by Thomas K. McCraw (and more). A new portrait of the founding father challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder. Thomas Jefferson was not a monster: Annette Gordon-Reed reviews Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek. A review of America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837 by Alasdair Roberts. Marcy J. Dinius reviews The Fabrication of American Literature: Fraudulence and Antebellum Print Culture by Lara Langer Cohen. Dorothy Wickenden reviews Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man by Walter Stahr. Abigail Tucker on the Great New England Vampire Panic: Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, farmers became convinced that their relatives were returning from the grave to feed on the living.
From The Washington Monthly, Jeffrey Leonard on how we could blow the energy boom: America’s vast new surplus of natural gas could lead to great prosperity and a cleaner environment — but if we don’t fix our decrepit, blackout-prone electric grid, we could wind up sitting in the dark. A review of Das Recht der: Grundriss einer demokratischen Sittlichkeit by Axel Honneth. Social critique between anthropology and reconstruction: An interview with Axel Honneth. Howard Davies reviews The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off by Justin Yifu Lin (and more). The beauty and delight of mathematics: An interview with Steven Strogatz, author of The Joy of X. From Geocurrents, a look at how Bavarian separatism, a long-standing if still rather minor political movement, is finally getting some attention in the global media; and Asya Pereltsvaig on the elusive Roma and their linguistic legacy. The case of the Mormon historian: What happened when Michael Quinn challenged the history of the church he loved. Hiding in plain sight: William L. Davis on the origins of the Book of Mormon. Nate Silver isn’t a magician — he’s a demystifier.
Why are our brains so ridiculously big? Tool use and exploration may be just side effects of social skills. Ferris Jabr on why we need to study the brain’s evolution in order to understand the modern mind. Lascaux’s Picassos: Katy Waldman on what prehistoric art tells us about the evolution of the human brain. Does the brain work logarithmically? New research suggests it does, when it’s the efficient way to process information. Humans can't be empathetic and logical at the same time: Brain scans find that the two modes are mutually exclusive. A laser to the brain eliminates bad habits in rats. Brain scan shows that thinking about math is as painful as a hot stove burn, if you're anxious. This is your brain on freestyle rap. Can brain science tell us how to live? Dominic Murphy reviews The Brain and the Meaning of Life by Paul Thagard. What brain features do we need? John Smart on preserving the self for later emulation. Several projects are trying to reverse-engineer the brain; in How to Create a Mind, futurist Ray Kurzweil champions their cause. Your unconscious brain can do math, process language. Research suggests the human brain is wired for harmony. Researchers have turned human mental activity into music, and it sounds uncannily like free-form jazz piano.