From Esquire, an article on Jonathan Coulton, Internet famous and loving every minute of it (he thinks). Overdosing on reality: A child of the Internet goes feral in full view. It has never been easier to document our lives — but why would anyone share all this detail, or anyone else bother reading it? From PopMatters, the public display of the private individual: It is the shift from Rockwell's paranoid "I always feel like somebody's watching me" to the insistence that someone need be watching to validate private feelings; and the paradox of the new media is that for each face-to-face interaction we sacrifice, we open up the possibility of connecting with thousands of like-minded people. Listen to me: An old genre (the rant) erupts in a new venue (YouTube). Going viral: Brandon Hardesty discovered that in the age of YouTube, if you can make it in the family rec room, you can make it anywhere. From 3D Space to Third Place: An article on the social life of small virtual spaces. Post GeoCities: How online communities are born and what happens when they die. For anyone who hasn’t been following the blog You’re Talking a Lot, but You’re Not Saying Anything, Kerry Skemp recently summed up the lessons learned with the ultimate “meta-commentary” post: "Commentary on My Commentary on Commentary".
From Scientific American, a special issue on Origins, including a report on a conference on the science of origins; and an article on mysterious origins: 8 phenomena that defy explanation. Cosmic Vision: A new generation of giant telescopes will carry the eye to the edge of the universe. From The Economist, in praise of astronomy, the most revolutionary of sciences; and a look at a battle between Big Science and human hunches. More and more on The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. Michael Shermer on what skepticism reveals about science. A review of Sciences from Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities by Sandra Harding. Want more women to study science? Hire more female professors. Does science foster a universal culture? Julian Huxley thought so, and wrote this into the mandate of the UN — what happened? In the future, doing science is like blogging. From THES, do academic journals pose a threat to the advancement of science? Why don’t Americans understand science better? Start with the scientists. Why America is flunking science: Don't just blame poor education for our nation's scientific illiteracy — but our politics and pop culture. A review of Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum's Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future (and more and more).
Lawrence Davidson (West Chester): Private Control of Foreign Policy. Paul MacDonald (Williams): Rebalancing American Foreign Policy. A review of books: American foreign policy is at a crossroads. Who runs what US foreign policy, and what role has Obama carved out for himself? From New Statesman, Obama is commander-in-chief of an unprecedented network of military bases that is still expanding; but what is historically distinct about US power is that it has enabled the spread of human liberty. Why Americans see Thomas Jefferson in every would-be revolutionary around the world. A review of From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 by George Herring (and more). Matthew Yglesias reviews The Godfather Doctrine: A Foreign Policy Parable by John Hulsman and A. Wess Mitchell. A review of By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld by Bradley Graham (and more and more and more). Amid war and recession, Americans are in a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact mood — but that, says Paul Wolfowitz, is no reason to adopt the misguided doctrine of realism (and responses). The long, slow death of American triumphalism: Think of GI Joe as a modern American zombie — "he" may never have existed, but he just won't die.
An excerpt from Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics by Peter Goodwin Heltzel. A review of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South by Steven Miller. Behind the scandal-tainted C Street house is an organization big on protecting its own and small on church ties and theology. Sex and power inside "the C Street House": Sanford, Ensign, and other regulars receive guidance from the invisible fundamentalist group known as the Family (and an excerpt from The Family: Power, Politics and Fundamentalism's Shadow Elite by Jeff Sharlet, and more). A review of Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches by Robert Wuthnow. From CT, a review of World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security by Thomas F. Farr; and a review of Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960: The Soul of Containment by William Inboden. A review of Victoria Clark's Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism. Christian fundamentalism helped turn Somalia into the next staging ground for Islamic radicalism. The modern Evangelical Left does not want to defend America, and the great mid-20th century theologian Karl Barth might partly be at fault. Totally evangelical: First Jesus, then Sylvia Plath, then pot — and so on.
From the Asia-Pacific Journal, Tawada Yoko on The Letter as Literature's Political and Poetic Body. From n+1, perhaps Hamsun's Street in Norway should include a sign that says, "Knut Hamsun: Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1920. Traitor to his Nation, 1940-1945". From TLS, a review of The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction by John Sutherland; and was Arnold Bennett a modernist? The novelist is out of fashion — yet his interests and his late experiments belie his reputation. From The Nation, a review of Between Fire and Sleep: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry and Prose by Jaroslaw Anders. Tractatus Franco-Arabicus: Reading Sonallah Ibrahim's last two books, Youssef Rakha suggests an early Wittgenstein-style formulation of the kind of literary problem Bonaparte's Campaign to Egypt might present. A series of fables about Anastasia, a young beauty who dwells in the forest, has sold 11 million copies in Russia and has inspired thousands to live an eco-friendly life. From The Walrus, Jack Kerouac, Quebecois: The Americas Society divvies up a literary icon (and more on Kerouac by David Ulin at Bookforum). Germany's current bestseller list is dominated by international crime fiction, from Simon Beckett to Stieg Larsson; why do German readers love their thrillers so much?
An excerpt from Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary. Tales of Persia’s Wondrous Past: The Shahnameh mourns the loss of Iran’s pre-Islamic civilization and all that falls prey to time. Francis Fukuyama on Iran, Islam and the rule of law: Islamic political movements have been one form of revolt against arbitrary government. All (Muslim) politics is local: A review of Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of the Middle East by Gilles Kepel and The Crisis of Islamic Civilization by Ali Allawi. A review of The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics by Faisal Devji (and more at Bookforum). Mute Muslims: Why doesn't the Islamic world speak up about the Uighurs? A review of Islam and Violent Separatism. From WPR, is the long-predicted decline of political Islam about to occur? From The Economist, in an ideological contest between radicals, populists and moderates, speaking out can still carry a heavy personal cost; we should love heretics, not kill them, says unconventional scholar Abdullahi an-Na’im; and wanted: Islam’s Voltaire, where freedom is still at stake. The erasure of Islam: Ziauddin Sardar on the shadow cast over Islamic culture by the Enlightenment. A review of From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy by Kenan Malik.
Hsuan Hsu (UC-Davis) and Martha Lincoln (CUNY): Health Media and Global Inequalities. Der Spiegel goes inside a creepy global body parts business. From Harvard Magazine, a cover story on Atul Gawande, “slightly bewildered” surgeon and health-policy scholar — and a literary voice of medicine. No waiting: Here's a simple prescription that could dramatically improve hospitals — and American health care. From Slate, an article on the GOP's health care solution: It's Republicans, not Democrats, who are trying to kill the elderly; you thought the health care battle was ugly — just wait for the climate fight; and is TARP profitable? The filibuster begins: Gregory Koger on the fundamentals of filibustering — but is it constitutional, and well, how did we get here? A look at the rise of the 60-vote Senate. The case for busting the filibuster: It's time to abolish this undemocratic holdover from the days of slavery and segregation. A Clash of Camelots: Within months of J.F.K.’s death, the president’s widow asked William Manchester to write the authorized account of the assassination; Sam Kashner chronicles the toll the 1967 best-seller, The Death of a President, exacted before it all but disappeared. Torchlight Parades for the Television Age: David Greenberg on the presidential debates as political ritual.
Was Robert Capa's famous Civil War photo a fake? Even if he acted from the best of motives, what Capa did now seems indefensible (and more, and here's a history of photo fakery). William T. Vollmann on the ethics of photography. An article on Helen Levitt's idiosyncratic photographs. An article on Phil Stern, chronicler of cool. An interview with Howard Bingham on Black Panthers 1968. On a whim, a young couple went to the legendary rock festival Woodstock, only to be captured in a memorable image by Burk Uzzle (and more). A look at the spectacular financial collapse of Annie Leibovitz, one of the world’s most spectacular photographers. Photoshop is praised for making people look their best and dissed for setting the bar too high. Eirik Johnson's theatrical photographs of former boomtowns built on salmon and timber carry the sense of a way of life and work that is on the cusp of slipping away. Lazy journalists love pictures of abandoned stuff. The Impossible Project is trying to reinvent analogue instant film made so popular by Polaroid in the 1960s and 70s (and more). Just as vinyl records are making a comeback with hipsters everywhere, so too is analog photography. Here are 10 photography pet peeves to throw down a black hole.
Mikhail Valdman (VCU): A Theory of Wrongful Exploitation. From the Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy, Matthew Talbert (WVU): Implanted Desires, Self-Formation, and Blame. Jason Kawall (Colgate): In Defense of the Primacy of Virtues. Just desserts: Brad Hooker asks if the idea of desert belongs at the foundation of ethics. A review of What Is Good and Why: The Ethics of Well-Being by Richard Kraut. A review of Freedom and Value: Freedom's Influence on Welfare and Worldly Value by Ishtiyaque Haji. A review of The Autonomy of Morality by Charles Larmore. A review of The Moral Skeptic by Anita M. Superson. Research suggests power tends to bend a person’s moral outlook, making one less likely to believe bending the rules is acceptable behavior. A review of The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy by Melvin Rogers. The study "There Must Be a Reason: Osama, Saddam and Inferred Justification" calls unsubstantiated beliefs "a serious challenge to democratic theory and practice". Is a smarter world a better world?: John Gray reviews The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen (and more and more). With a billion people living on less than $1 a day, is buying luxury shoes ethical? Eating meat isn't bad for the planet — it's our system of raising the animals that's wrong.
From THES, Matthew Reisz interviews George Scialabba, the Harvard provocateur with independent views who fears the death of the public intellectual. An age of illiteracy is at hand, right? Andrea Lunsford isn't so sure. A review of The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War by Alexander Waugh. Would liberals really be happier if Obama were more like LBJ? For Jacques Verges, no client is indefensible — but does his defence of a top Khmer Rouge leader undermine the principles he has spent his career proclaiming? More and more and more on Spent: Sex, Evolution and the Secrets of Consumerism by Geoffrey Miller. A review of Hunting Evil: the Nazi War Criminals Who Escaped and the Hunt to Bring Them to Justice by Guy Walters. A review of New Studies of Old Villains: A Radical Reconsideration of the Oedipus Complex by Paul Verhaeghe. A review of In Search of Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea by John Armstrong (and more and more and more). A buyer’s guide to happiness: Money can improve your life, but not in the ways you think. Lies of Mass Destruction: The same skewed thinking that supports a Saddam-9/11 link explains the power of health-care myths (and more and more). Down with tHE CAPS LOCK KEy and other less-than-useless things.