From THES, is history fact or fiction? Ronald Hutton's early experience of discerning reality from fantasy has coloured his view of the subject since; the value of past masters: Historians separate fact from fiction, keeping politicians honest and clearing the way for better thinking; and whatever the genuine lessons of history, policymakers constantly make opportunistic use of the past to justify their decisions — a team of historians are fighting back against the "Bad History" all around us. More and more and more on Dangerous Games by Margaret MacMillan. From HNN, an interview with David Kaiser on what's wrong with the New History; and how do historians think? Michele Lamont investigates. How historians repeat themselves: Norman Naimark on the joys and challenges of mentoring the historians of the future. Kelly Kennington, a newly minted Ph.D. in history, hunts for academe's holy grail: a tenure-track position. A review of David Brown’s Beyond the Frontier: The Midwestern Voice in American Historical Writing. Is Andrew Roberts really an inadequate historian?: A savage review of The Storm of War puzzles Simon Heffer. The Observer profiles Andrew Roberts, the history man who loves to party. Obituary: John Burrow. The first chapter from History Man: The Life of R. G. Collingwood by Fred Inglis (and more and more). A review of The Angel of History: Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Scholem by Stephane Moses. For Benjamin, history was more than a series of dispassionate facts; he showed how the struggle for the past shapes our future. Jacob Soll reviews Thucydides: The Reinvention of History by Donald Kagan (and more and more and more).
From Granta, Javier Marias on airships and fear of flying. From Air & Space, an article on the electric airplane: Quiet, smooth, dependable — shouldn’t we be flying these by now?; and look at the perfect airplane: Fast, green, and quiet. Flights are the fastest-growing polluter in transport, and 95% of the world’s population has never been on a plane — do the rest of us have a right to fly? From Salon, Patrick Smith answers all your questions about in-flight horrors; an article on how we're blowing airline security: The TSA wastes a lot of time and money on an inefficient fight against the wrong enemy; a look back at some of the worst airline-related terrorism of the '70s, '80s and '90s; and are we safer than we were eight years ago?: We're still looking for pointy objects when we should be looking for bombs. Flying is now safer than at any time since the Wright Brothers, but beware the looming threats: exploding laptops, runway chaos, and cockpit rookies. Are some airlines just too dangerous to fly? The answer just might be yes. An interview with flight psychologist Reiner Kemmler: "We are more and more at the mercy of technology". A review of Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson by William Langewiesche (and more and more). From The New Yorker, Judith Thurman is still searching for Amelia Earhart. Enough About Amelia: She was an interesting, adventurous, and accomplished woman who lived and died unconventionally — but so did many of her peers. Here are five things Alain de Botton learned as Heathrow's philosopher-in-residence (and more and more). A look at the world's strangest airport attractions, from teeth cleaning to “4-D” movies.
Jean-Paul Fitoussi on the revolt of the meritocrats. Fashion Disaster: How the House of Versace went from rags to riches — and back again. The “death panel” episode shows how the news media, after aiding and abetting falsehood, were unable to perform their traditional role of reporting the facts. Why do we like to think everyone with autism is especially gifted? Steven Kellman reviews Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more). Steve Chapman on how America only seems polarized: We're still a country full of political moderates. An article on the underground market of sperm donors: Do you really know what you’re getting? An interview with David Plouffe on The Audacity to Win (and more and more). If you have worked in an office in the Western world in the past 25 years, you will probably have sat through a PowerPoint presentation. Squawking Hawks: The current deficit debate is for the birds. A review of The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum by Rebecca Loncraine (and more and more and more). The 8½ laws of rumor: Why some ideas spread and others die and why rumors are a regular feature of our social landscape; and it is one of life's most undervalued and instructive pleasures — so why does gossip have such a bad reputation? (and more) Should we regard suicide under the right circumstances as the logical end of the Good Life? Scientists hope a better understanding of when, where and how mammoth oceanic waves form can someday help ships steer clear of danger. Harry Reid is always interrupting Mozart or Bach or Beethoven for legislation — oh well, nobody's perfect.
A review of A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith by John Rawls. Cornel West, Jurgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Judith Butler discuss "Rethinking Secularism: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere" (and more). Jay Michaelson on how religion is actually spirituality. From PUP, the first chapter from Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things by Ann Taves. A review of The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures by Nicholas Wade (and more on the evolution of the God gene). A review of Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps. Sharon Begley on why religion may not be hard-wired. The ethics of being a theologian: The religion researcher is related to the theologian as the biologist is related to the frog in her lab. Mathew Iredale meets Bernard d’Espagnat, the winner of the £1million Templeton Prize. A review of Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Bentley Hart. Atheists, it's time to stand up to Jesus: Civility has its uses, but atheists should not be afraid to mock faith to undermine religious power. Having lost the power of the gun in the West, apologists of religion have a new weapon: being offended. Is there an atheist schism, are there really two camps of non-believers? How to be agnostic: Mark Vernon argues against atheism and belief. Here's the complete text of Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary by Kenneth W. Daniels.
From The Chronicle, a special report on journalism and academia, including thinkers on how the decline of news media will affect higher education; and a look at how philosophy and journalism, two well-known approaches to truth seeking, make strange companions — and invaluable ones. Journalists need to stop being so lazy and unimaginative — here are 22 ideas for changing the way news is produced. A report by Leonard Downie Jr., formerly of The Washington Post, sets forth a number of ways to pay for journalism — one of them is government money. Columbia, the leading journalism school in the country, has placed its imprimatur on the idea of government funding of the news. From Vanity Fair, can newfangled web ads save journalism? Matt Pressman investigates. Will "anarchist" American news website Spot.us save journalism? From The Monthly, here's a short history of the media future. The "time bomb" effect of biased news: A study shows that over time even the most sophisticated readers can be manipulated. The media sucks: Sometimes, there aren't two sides to a debate. Polarized news?: An article on the media's moderate bias. Thomas Edsall on why journalism should own its liberalism — and then manage it, challenge it, and account for it. Taking on the "Democrat-Media Complex": An interview with conservative Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart. The smart move: Give Frank Rich a show on Fox News. Summers as an intern at the Houston Chronicle helped turn Molly Ivins from a River Oaks girl into the most distinctive liberal voice in Texas journalism (and more and more and more). From TAP, a look at how Kathleen Parker became America's most-read woman columnist; and twilight of the op-ed columnist: What is the fate of the syndicated newspaper columnist in a world where online punditry is plentiful?
From TED, Robert Wright: on the evolution of compassion; Dayananda Saraswati on the profound journey of compassion; Faisal Abdul Rauf on finding your compassion; James Forbes on compassion at the dinner table; Jackie Tabick on the balancing act of compassion; and Robert Thurman on expanding your circle of compassion. From On the Human, Dan Batson on empathic concern and altruism in humans. Can a vision of a more empathic world change the way we behave toward each other? Edward Dolnick reviews The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society by Frans de Waal (and more and more and more and more and more and more). New research finds those who feel a strong connection to the natural world have a more caring attitude toward others. The idea that evolution explains selfishness well and altruism poorly is starting to stink — can we please bury it now? Noah Lederman on lessons in altruism from geneticists and baboons. A review of The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci. A review of On Kindness by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor (and more). Jonathan Zittrain on how the Internet is made up of millions of disinterested acts of kindness, curiosity and trust. A review of Why We Cooperate by Michael Tomasello. The goodness of crowds: When large numbers of people give a little, they accomplish a lot. It pays to be nice: A look at how emotions shape our economic decisions. Research suggests a genetic tendency to depression is much less likely to be realized in a culture centered on collectivistic rather than individualistic values.
From LRB, a review of books on Roland Barthes. The "Should We Stay or Should We Go?" Matrix: Where our top opinion-makers stand on the Afghanistan question. Was Y2K a waste? Farhad Manjoo investigates. How viable is modelling as a job and how realistic is the prospect of earning a living out of it? A review of Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism by Alison Piepmeier. From the latest issue of Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, Jenny Gunnarsson Payne (Stockholm): Feminist Media as Alternative Media? A Literature Review; and Piotr Konieczyny (Pitt): Wikipedia: Community or Social Movement? From Forbes, here's a special report on the world's most powerful people. Anachronistic arrogance: How scorning our intellectual mothers and fathers makes us real dumb real fast. Jesse Larner on the health care speech Obama should give but won't. Want real reform? Let's start with Congress. Richard Ross spent five years traveling over three continents, photographing the interiors of bomb shelters for Waiting for the End of the World. Mount Rushmore carvings will be first test of plan to guard historic sites from ravages of weather and pollution by creating accurate 3D models. A whistleblower says estimated oil reserves figures were distorted by US pressure. High in protein, low in fat, delicious, ubiquitous: why not eat bugs? Quiet, please: Libraries are being transformed into rowdy social spaces, with disastrous consequences. Start using these words: Impress friends, woo the opposite sex, and increase self-esteem with these wholly unnecessary vocabulary enhancements!
From the International Journal of Zizek Studies, Sheila Kunkle (Vermont): Embracing the Paradox: Zizek’s Illogical Logic; Roque Farran (Conicet-UNC): The Concept of Citizenship in Postmarxist Theory: The Return of the Political and the Issue of Madness; Federico Bellini (Siena): Beckett’s Ticklish Characters: Reading Beckett through Zizek; Luke John Howie (Monash): Representing Terrorism: Reanimating Post-9/11 New York City; Kareen Ror Malone (UWG): Female Rivals: Feminism, Lacan & Zizek try to think of something new to say; and Slavoj Zizek on Notes Towards a Definition of Communist Culture. From First Things, Edward T. Oakes, S.J. on Slavoj Zizek, religion and violence; and a review of The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? by Slavoj Zizek and John Milbank (and more). A review of Violence by Slavoj Zizek. Hollywood Today: Slavoj Zizek on a report from an ideological frontline. From Democracy Now, an interview with Slavoj Zizek on a bunch of stuff (and more from New Statesman on why he rejects mainstream political theory, why he supports Barack Obama, and why we need Marx more than ever). Time to revive communism: A review of First As Tragedy, Then As Farce by Slavoj Zizek (and more and more). Post-Wall: Slavoj Zizek on neo-anti-Communism. From zizekspeaks at Twitter, "When Lacan writes, Do not sacrifice your desire!, he exhorts you to dare". A review of Zizek: A (Very) Critical Introduction by Marcus Pound. So you'd like to know what the hell is Zizek talking about (and a clip from "Zizek!")
John Hartley (QUT): Lament for a Lost Running Order? Obsolescence and Academic Journals (and a reply). From The Chronicle, here's a manifesto for scholarly publishing. Publishing genius: A graduate student in Baltimore proves that a small press can hit the big time. There should be two more scholarly periodicals in medicine: "Duh!", for findings that never seemed to be in doubt in the first place, and "Huh?", for those whose usefulness remains obscure. Is there any point to "frivolous" academic research? From THES, academic styles of referencing are confusing and outdated, so why not simplify the whole thing?; and knowledge transfer is often perceived as a concept that is limited to science, but Hannah Fearn discovers it is equally relevant for the arts and humanities. The first chapter from Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humanities. From IHE, can scholarship in the humanities be done outside the ivory tower? Scott McLemee goes to Iowa to find out. How is the university, specifically the humanities and social sciences, with its rampant anti-Americanism, anti-intellectualism, muddle-brained identity politics, hostility to the unvarnished truth and all the rest to be re-conquered and restored to sanity? (and part 2) AcaWiki, a "Wikipedia for academic research", allows scholars, students, and bloggers to easily post summaries, and discuss academic papers online. PH.Dotcom: What if professors could lecture 24-7? Blog culture invades academia. From Harvard, Louis Menand on the Ph.D. problem: On the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy’s self-renewal. A review of Socrates in the Boardroom: Why Research Universities Should Be Led by Top Scholars by Amanda Goodall (and the first chapter and a video).
From the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, a special issue on China’s Politics under Hu Jintao. From The Economist, a special report on China and America. From the Asian Review of Books, a review of Military Culture in Imperial China by Nicola di Cosmo; and a review of Friends and Enemies: The Past, Present and Future of the Communist Party of China by Kerry Brown. John Lee on why China's 60th birthday is nothing to celebrate. A review of Will the Boat Sink the Water? The Life of Chinese Peasants by Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao. From The Atlantic Monthly, in Yunnan province, two Americans struggle to save an ancient town from kitsch; and James Fallows thought China was killing him, but that was unfair. Tom Scocca reviews The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China by Hannah Pakula and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order by Martin Jacques. A nation attacked by terrorists or an oppressed minority?: However one interprets the recent violence in Xinjiang, it was far from unexpected. China's race problem: Ethnocentrism might foil its quest to become the next superpower. The Hermit Kingdom: Is North Korea an unchanging, irrational Stalinist dictatorship? Four days in North Korea: In Pyongyang, the lights go out at 9 p.m. Here are some surprising findings in North and South Korea. Simon Schama says comedy rubs shoulders with catastrophe at the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two Koreas. The world of underground tattooing: South Koreans are starting to embrace tattoos, but they have to go to underground parlors to get them.