Bred to death: The pursuit of purebred perfection threatens some of our best friends (and more). Dog lovers are some of the most disturbing hypocrites around — how many times have you heard them put the lives of dogs ahead of their fellow man? Dogs have played heroic roles throughout the history of modern science in experiments that weren't always humane. Did dogs gain their social intelligence by accident? What has long been lore is now established fact: many people look like their dogs. Dogs meet DogBots: How might real dogs react to robotic dogs? From Intelligent Life, a photo gallery on extreme dogs. And Man created Dog: The dog is the most varied mammal on the planet — the variety is a direct result of human tinkering or artificial selection that began more than 15,000 years ago. Why dogs love us: In his new Duke Canine Cognition Center, Brian Hare explores the bonds that, over thousands of years, have linked dogs and humans. Stanley Coren on how dogs were created: A deeper look into our pets' history. Animal domestication is one manifestation of a larger distinctive trait of our species, the "animal connection", which unites and underwrites a number of the most important evolutionary advances of our hominin ancestors. Dog Bark Park Inn: Sweet Willy, at 30 feet tall, is the world's biggest beagle. At this hotel, even a pooch can live in the lap of luxury — but please don't use the word "kennel".
From The Utopian, a special issue on pain and pleasure, including an interview with Charles Taylor on religion, politics, and ignorance past; Michel Houellebecq on religion for immortals: "Sexual needs are more urgent than spiritual needs. But what if our sexual needs are satisfied and our spiritual needs take over?"; Damon Linker on the impossibility of sexual consensus; and Alexander Lee on a short history of desire. This week those hoping to become All Souls fellows will sit "the hardest exam in the world"; the notorious one-word essay question may have been scrapped, but candidates still have to sit the General Paper — four writers attempt one question in strictly one hour: "Would it have been better had some surviving works of ancient authors been lost?" Tim Ferriss on how Tucker Max got rejected by publishing and still hit #1 New York Times. From Slate, Emily Bazelon on the tragedy at the Virginia Quarterly Review: The suicide of its managing editor has been blamed on workplace bullying — new details suggest the real story is much more complicated. Here are 6 things you may not know about the passport (and more). From Vanity Fair, gastronomes have been trekking to the remote Spanish cove where Ferran Adria has changed culinary history with his deconstructed martinis, frozen foam, and beetroot cookies — now, to evolve his restaurant, El Bulli, the man they call the world’s greatest chef is closing it forever.
Jared A. Goldstein (Roger Williams): The Tea Party's Constitution. The perils of constitution-worship: One of the guiding principles of the tea-party movement is based on a myth (and a response). Stanley Fish on Antaeus and the Tea Party. From Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi on how corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster; and an interview with President Obama on the Tea Party, the war, the economy and what’s at stake this November. Kevin Drum on the Tea Party: Old whine in new bottles — Memo to Obama: Bill Clinton, LBJ, and FDR know how you feel. Noam Scheiber profiles the disillusioned David Axelrod. Howard Kurtz profiles Paul Krugman, disaffected liberal. Obama's forgotten base: The tragic irony of this political moment is that the people with the most faith in Obama are the hardest hit by the economic disaster, and this brute fact is driving the enthusiasm gap. The Tea Partyers aren't wrong about the growing influence of un-Americans in high places — they've just misidentified who those un-Americans are. From Boston Review, William Hogeland on Real Americans: In America the deadlock between liberalism and populism may be unbreakable. TAP debates populism: Reactions to Kevin Mattson's call for the left to abandon populism; and Robert Kuttner on how populism comes in two varieties — progressive and reactionary.
From F&D, a special issue on reinvigorating the Millennium Development Goals. Bono on how the MDGs can live up to their promise. It’s been 10 years since world leaders created eight antipoverty goals to be achieved by 2015 — here are three suggestions to aid and inspire the process. So what’s wrong with the MDGs? Can the MDGs be saved? From FP, the MDGs aimed too high, and millions will still be poor and suffering in five years' time, but screaming for billions more in aid money makes light of the significant gains that have been made; and with just five years left, how much good has been done? From Five Books, an interview with Jeffrey Sachs on the MDGs; an interview with Richard Jolly on children and the MDGs; and an interview with Roger Thurow on hunger. A report argues that most of the world’s poor people no longer live in poor countries — as the world’s hungry dips below 1 billion. A look at why big agriculture is the only option to stop the world going hungry. Research suggests developing countries may not benefit from adopting international treaties. An interview with Linda Polman, author of The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid? Make health care, not birth control, the priority: Claiming that our inbred propensity to war can be prevented by aggressively reducing the birth rate is a de facto declaration of war on the world’s poor. A world too full of people: Politicians of western countries avoid talking about population control, but if we invest in family planning we might just save our planet. Bright lights, big city: Does it work for girls in the developing world?
Jonathan Crowe (Queensland): Levinasian Ethics and Animal Rights. Emmanuel Yujuico (IDEAS) and Betsy Gelb (Houston): Getting Digital Statecraft Right: How to Use Technology to Promote Development. An interview with Sam Hoffman, author of Old Jews Telling Jokes: 5,000 Years of Funny Bits and Not-So-Kosher Laughs. Dagger-clawed little people: Did being an island help Sri Lanka evolve a particular type of hominid? Primitive Instincts: Where modern man can learn to live like his ancestors. The Unfriendly Skies: Why do we have to return our seats to their upright and locked position? Fans of geo-trivia may be interested in locating the world’s shortest land border between sovereign states. The enigma of George Price: He derived an equation for the evolution of altruism, yet he died believing himself a failed good Samaritan. Warning: This fad may kill you: Korean trends tagged with deadly warnings in Thailand. Everything Alright? Adam M. Bright on improv as a way of life. With the Left in disarray, Italian politics has, over the last months, been dominated by the increasingly bitter rivalry between Fini and Berlusconi — in other words, between the democratic Right and the destructive Right. Revolutionaries inside the Capitol: A review essay on early American history. Transhumanism is the “Most Dangerous Idea in the World” and that danger, that essential threat to what we are, is why we must promote human enhancement.
From Bookforum's Paper Trail blog, an interview with Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution: "You can know some very important things about a historical and political era by looking at the lives of teenage girls."
William Robinson (UCSB): The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Cyclical, Structural, or Systemic? John Mixon (Houston): Neoclassical Economics and the Erosion of Middle-Class Values: An Explanation for Economic Collapse. From Monthly Review, Robert Pollin on the Wall Street collapse and return of reality-based economics. From The Economist, a series of experts answer the question: "How have the financial crisis and recession affected the way economics is taught, and how should economic instruction change?" A review of Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression by Jack Rasmus. The crisis, 3 years and counting: The current economic recession emerged as the overarching contradiction that is influencing the development of the other social contradictions currently inherent in most capitalist societies. When financial and economic systems fail, trust in the state and its institutions pays the price; after the economic crisis and its exposure of the irresponsibility of global capitalism, the first step to restoring social trust is understanding what went wrong. If a pure market economy is so good, why doesn't it exist? Books published by university presses often signal trends, and this season a cluster of fascinating titles examine our collective hallucination about the so-called free market system. The one thing that a thousand books written from within the financial crisis won't contemplate is the possibility of an unhappy ending for capitalism. A review of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang (and more and more and more).
The inaugural issue of Jacobin is out, including an introduction; an interview with Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and Things I've Been Silent About; Bhaskar Sunkara on why we loved the Zapatistas; let them eat diversity: An interview with Walter Benn Michaels (see Bookforum for more); a review of Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? by Thomas Geoghegan; and a demand for less work and more free time could be the thing that activates the formation of a new collective political subject with the capacity to pursue a class politics appropriate for the 21st century. In the season premier of The Simpsons, where Lisa and her friends are watching the Nobel Prize announcements, they announce Jagdish Bhagwati as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, but then they flash to their betting pool of nominees. From New York, a special issue on Who Runs New York? From The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell on why the revolution will not be tweeted. Ezra Klein interviews experts on how to kick-start job creation, including Andy Stern, Dean Baker, Mark Zandi, Heather Boushey, Michael Lind, an anonymous (ex-)hedge fund manager, Rep. Paul Ryan, David Walker, and Rob Shapiro. This is what you need to know: Very Serious People have no special monopoly on wisdom; and in times like these, when the usual rules of economics don’t apply, they’re often deeply foolish, because the power of conventional wisdom prevents them from talking sense about a deeply unconventional situation.
From The Space Review, Jeff Foust on SETI at 50. Alien life: The discovery of life on other planets may be just around the corner — but will we recognise it when we see it? Whether alien culture resembles our own depends on one big question: do they have sex? If we ever find aliens, there's a good chance they'll be intelligent machines, not biological systems as we know them. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence: An interview with astronomer Seth Shostak. SETI's challenge to religion: Would encountering intelligence elsewhere in the universe be a problem for anthropocentric religions? More of The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence by Paul Davies. The discovery of potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system is imminent, but no one really knows when we might learn whether any of those distant worlds are inhabited. What is "super Earth"? Scientists have discovered a planet only slightly larger than the Earth orbiting a distant star — could it host life? The space-shuttle program is coming to a quiet end — is the same true for the era of space exploration? Now is the time to prepare for people to go out and explore space — why? Because it’s there! The European Space Agency and Russia's Institute of Biomedical Problems plan to simulate a 520-day mission to Mars. Advertising the early space race: Brian Doherty on the men who sold the Moon. A review of Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs by Mark Pilkington.
Scott Snyder (CFR): Kim Jong-il’s Successor Dilemmas. After Kim Jong Il: The upcoming party conference will decide who will be Kim Jong Il’s successor and what direction North Korea will take in order to meet its goals for 2012. The conference of the Korean Workers' Party in Pyongyang is beginning to look like a non-event and its postponement is raising searching questions as to what's going on inside the Hermit Kingdom. From Strategic Insights, Sico van der Meer on North Korea after Kim Jong Il: Four Scenarios. As Kim Jong Il starts looking for the exit, false predictions and wild rumors abound — need some help sorting through them? North Korea's next leader may be decided today: A guide to the mysterious succession struggle. In a time when news flashes around the world and nearly everyone learns everything at the same moment, somehow North Korea has managed to keep its secrets from thousands of prying eyes. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has found an unlikely ally to help raise cash for his impoverished regime: The Dude, the pot-smoking underachiever played by Jeff Bridges in the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski. Pyongyang provocations: When North Korea makes headlines, it is never good news. What's it like to be a tourist in North Korea? Citizens, the moment you have been waiting all week for: the seventh installment of this year’s Best North Korean Story!
Calvin H. Johnson (Texas): How to Raise $1 Trillion Without a VAT or a Rate Hike. The Death of the Fittest: Why are the healthiest and wealthiest populations failing to reproduce? On reality television: An excerpt from Rich People Things by Chris Lehmann. Will the Wall Street Journal Book Review sink or swim? (and more) On "trolleyology": David Pizarro finds killing whitey is the right thing to do. A review of The Politics of Persons: Individual Autonomy and Socio-historical Selves by John Christman. My life as a carny: Nathan Comp goes on the road with rough characters, tough bosses and a sense of family. Bruce Hoffman on today's highly educated terrorists. "We must go beyond knowing to doing": In a world obsessed with the MBA degree, few have questioned its relevance in today’s business environment. A review of Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry by Geoffrey Jones. The prospect of having more years added to our lives and, perhaps, decades to those of future generations has inspired a number of new books on ageing and its implications for society. Isabel Kaplan on why we should read "soft pornography". From Business Week, how Oliver Stone got the greed right: A cadre of trading floor veterans helped Oliver Stone capture the details and nail the nuances in Wall Street. Gordon Gekko was supposed to be a villain — instead, he became a Wall Street folk hero. How Wall Street changed Wall Street: The film’s hold on the people it so roundly condemns is testament to its enduring influence on an industry with a notoriously short memory (and more).