From Edge, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on 36 arguments for the existence of God. Jesus, the Muslim prophet: Christianity is rooted in the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, so is Islam’s version of Christ a source of tension, or a way of building bridges between the world’s two largest faiths? Dear God, please confirm what I already believe. Consumer Christianity is big business — but is it right? Greg Epstein, atheist superstar: Can Harvard's humanist chaplain save nonbelief from itself? Ship of Fools can finally and authoritatively reveal the worst verse in the Bible. Pain or prayer?: Two ways to grow a religion. Relativism vs. Pluralism: Theologically, Allen Yeh has no problems with people taking an Arminian paedobaptist complementarian stance, even though he is a Calvinist credobaptist egalitarian. A review of The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology by Paul K. Moser. Peter Singer on theology's unintended consequences: In the tumult of events such as Hurricane Katrina, the niceties of the Catholic doctrine of "double effect" can easily be lost. A review of The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason by Victor J. Stenger. The Bone Collectors: It's time to bring relics back to the Catholic Church. A look at the order by which people are admitted to heaven. Why do more women than men still believe in God, especially considering how God treats them? An interview with Bobbie Kirkhart, Atheists United's chief nonbeliever. A review of Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer.
From Bookforum, Andy Battaglia reviews Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction by Caleb Kelly; and James Gavin reviews Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music by Greg Milner. Why the music cassette has never died: Central to the lingering affection that people still have for tapes is the fact that you can compile them yourself. From PopMatters, Calum Marsh reconsiders the revival of cassette tape culture; and the needle and the damage done: The independent record store lives another day, but how long can the vinyl lifeline continue to keep them afloat? (and more on the vinyl spin cycle). Like some lumbering Frankenstein monster, the recording industry rose from the dead this summer, thanks to the very technology that’s credited with killing it. An essay on music scrobbling as a panopticism of taste. Your father’s FM radio can close up shop, as far as Steve Brachman’s concerned — the music you want is at your fingertips, and you hear it the way you like it, on your computer. Radio Your Way: Internet powerhouse Pandora may just save the music industry. By breaking music down into its component parts, Pandora Internet radio tries to figure out what kind of music you — not your social group, heroes or aspirational self — really like. Is the wired generation revolutionizing or undermining music? From BBC Magazine, is the internet stifling new music?: The internet may have been a miracle for music fans, Duran Duran star John Taylor says, but instant access to decades of recordings and artists' inner thoughts is not all good (and a response).
Nikolas K. Gvosdev (NWC): The Soviet Victory That Never Was: What the United States Can Learn from the Soviet War in Afghanistan; and Jihadology: How the creation of Sovietology should guide the study of today’s threats. Thirty years ago, Soviet airborne troops parachuted into Kabul and began a fateful occupation that became Mikhail Gorbachev’s Vietnam — here’s the inside story of how it happened. Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway on what Congress should do about the war in Afghanistan. From NYRB, Pankaj Mishra on Afghanistan and the forgotten conflict in Kashmir (and a response). Karzai's Cronies: Meet the unsavory characters surrounding the Afghan president and his new government. The price of peace: Avoiding failure in Afghanistan means embracing its patronage politics — bribes and all. Renouncing Islamism: A generation of British Islamists have been trained in Afghanistan to fight a global jihad, but now some of those would-be extremists have had a change of heart. Hanna Bloch reviews books on the real motives of global jihadists. Al-Qaeda’s Migrant Martyrs: As coalition forces struggle to withdraw from Iraq and stabilize Afghanistan, an interview with a would-be suicide bomber shows that the Islamist foe remains elusive, motivated, and on the move. From FP, a look at how al Qaeda dupes its followers; and here's the story of how Osama bin Laden escaped. A review of Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World by Najwa bin Laden, Omar bin Laden, and Jean Sasson (and more and more and more).
From Archeology, a special section on archaeology's hoaxes, fakes, and strange sites, including "Bogus! An Introduction to Dubious Discoveries". The New York Times on the buzzwords of 2009. Seth Godin has made his latest book, What Matters Now, available as a free PDF download. Why The Simpsons no longer matters: An interview with John Ortved, author of The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. From First Things, Michael Novak on three precisions: Social justice, common good, and personal liberty. MeiselPic: What your Facebook friends might look like if they were super-hot models. In a troubling corollary to the truism that a picture is worth 1,000 words, a new study suggests stereotypical imagery can largely negate the central point of a lengthy text. An interview with Jacqueline Leo, author of Seven: The Number for Happiness, Love, and Success. A review of xkcd: Volume 0 by Randall Munroe. A review of Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life by Bill Minutaglio and W. Michael Smith. A report calculates that American households collectively consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. A better question for environmental design would be: "How much does your household weigh?" We don’t need Oprah Lite or Oprah 2.0, we need someone who’s a true Oprah-in-Training, and the only person who can claim that title is Kathy Griffin. An interview with Charles Cumming on books on espionage. The military-consumer complex: Military technology used to filter down to consumers — now it’s going the other way. A review of Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars by William Patry.
And please take advantage of Special Holiday Savings from Bookforum, with offers of 1 year (5 issues) for only $12.00, or 2 years (10 issues) for $24.00.
A new issue of Words Without Borders is out. From The Guardian, what we were reading: Love them or hate them, these are the 50 books that defined the decade. From The Times, here are the 100 best books of the decade. From The Telegraph, here are the 100 books that defined the noughties. From The Latin American Review of Books, a review of Happy Families by Carlos Fuentes; and novelist Cecilia Szperling mines the literary roots of her Confesionario series of reading-performances and argues that these can loosen the straitjacket of good taste imposed on Argentine writers by the ghost of Borges. What Would Jane Do? How a 19th-century spinster serves as a moral compass in today's world. A review of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece by Declan Kiberd. This book has no ISBN: A review of Comparing Conrad: Essays on Joseph Conrad and His Implied Dialogues with Other Writers by Paul Kirschner. Not only connected: Brooke Allen reviews Concerning E. M. Forster by Frank Kermode. Thanks partly to his miserable end 40 years ago, Kerouac has lost some of his lustre as a counterculture icon, but that was never what he wanted to be. Christopher Hitchens on Stieg Larsson, the author who played with fire. A funny thing happened in the movie theater the other day: An article on Walt Whitman, denim salesman. The Savage Detectives and 2666 make literature feel like a matter of life and death; Scott McLemee interviews Marcela Valdes, a prominent Bolano-logist (and here's Alex Abramovich's review of The Savage Detectives).
David Harvey (CUNY): Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition. A new issue of Turbulence is out, including an editorial: Life in limbo; and Massimo De Angelis (East London): The tragedy of the capitalist commons; what would it mean to lose? On the history of actually-existing failure; and people from across the global movement explain what they were wrong about back then (and more). From Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an article on recent experiences in left regroupment and reconstruction; and a lesson from Seattle for Copenhagen: Vigorous activism can defeat the denialists. From YES!, Rebecca Solnit on the myth of activist violence during the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle; and Walden Bello on the meaning of the 1999 Seattle WTO protests (and more and more and more). From The Indypendent, from Seattle to Detroit: 10 lessons for movement building on the 10th anniversary of the WTO shutdown; and did the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization actually make a difference? A decade later, does No Logo still matter? Leftist icon Naomi Klein reflects on the book that launched her career and the pitfalls of being a political symbol. Samir Amin on how the current crisis is neither a financial crisis nor the sum of multiple systemic crises, but the crisis of the imperialist capitalism of oligopolies. From The American, Jeffrey Friedman on how understanding what caused the financial crisis is crucial to capitalism’s future — once we see what really happened, we find a conception of capitalism different than that entertained by either its conservative defenders or its liberal critics.
Aaron Maltais (Uppsala): Global Warming and Our Natural Duties of Justice: A Cosmopolitan Political Conception of Justice. From YES!, a special issue on climate action. Will Wall Street destroy progress on climate change, too? Goldman Sachs bets on global warming. The Real Climate Scandal: Shocked by the hacked emails? Wait till you see what the other side’s been up to (and more). From Mother Jones, a look at the dirty dozen of climate change denial. Climate Reporting 101: The press should say the global warming debate is a fight between science and ignorance. It’s always snowing on the Drudge Report. Johann Hari on how the protesters offer the best hope at Copenhagen. Cooperating in Copenhagen: Climate change is one of so many pressing problems that are less about "good politics" and more about good sense. A review of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse by David W. Orr. A review of Now or Never: Why We Must Act Now To End Climate Change and Create A Sustainable Future by Tim Flannery. An interview with Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom: "Climate rules set from the top are not enough". Geoengineering's big break: If the summit fails, radical climate experiments may not be far away. Technological schemes to combat global warming are viewed as wacky or impractical, but they belong in the mainstream debate on climate change. 12 crazy futuristic water buildings that may help humans survive climate change catastrophe. Geography is "no longer a neutral subject": Climate change has made it "the new history", both more dynamic and more frightening.
From the Independent Institute, Ben O'Neill (UNSW): The Threat of Virtue: Why Independence and Integrity Threaten the State; and Robert Higgs on why we couldn't abolish slavery then and can't abolish government now. America through the reality lens: Reality TV shows surely give one pause about the future of the country. Paul Berman remembers John Patrick Diggins, 1935-2009. An American expert on poker challenges the idea that it encourages reckless, addictive, spendthrift behaviour. James McManus, who teaches a course on the literature of poker, says we can learn a lot about life, and the American mind, from the game (and more and more and more and more and more and a review of Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker). The Tijuana of the Caspian: At the border between Azerbaijan and Iran, everything’s for sale: sex, booze, tattoos — and maybe some revolutionary fervor. Here's a list of fifteen new text acronyms you should memorize to protect your teenager — and yourself. From Wired, an article on modeling human drug trials — without the human. From Britannica, a forum on multitasking: Boon or bane? From Democracy, a review of Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by John Krakauer and America's Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force by Beth Bailey. A review of Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service — A Year Spent Riding across America by James McCommons. An interview with Bethanne Patrick, managing editor and host of The Book Studio. A case for the cultural importance of sex in art: A review of 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom by Alan Moore.
Are too many students going to college? There's a growing sentiment that college may not be the best option for all; higher-education experts to weigh in. Peter Berkowitz reviews The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University by Louis Menand. The first chapter from No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life by Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford. Are our colleges teaching students well? No — here's how to make them. Open Access Encyclopedias: In the age of Google and Wikipedia, can higher education create online reference works that are free, scholarly, and economically viable? From The Daily Beast, a look at the smartest (and dumbest) college towns. From Wall Street Journal on Campus, should guns be allowed on college campuses? The ban of the ROTC program at the elites is in its 40th year, yet the students are hardly antimilitary, the opposite, in fact — is it time to bring ROTC back? Shhh, my roommate’s here: A new policy limiting sex in Tufts dorms has students blushing in embarrassment. FreeHarvardEducation.com: Does anyone own what universities teach? “Academic Politics” is an important subject, and not just for your gen-ed distributions. A sociologist and an economist look at collegiate grade inflation and find a bogeyman that doesn't frighten them at all. An interview with Michael Oriard, author of Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the BCS Era. A defense of the lecture: Adam Kotsko questions the idea that small discussion-based courses are ideal in undergraduate education.
From LRB, a review of The Lightness of Being: Big Questions, Real Answers by Frank Wilczek. An interview with David Bainbridge on accessible science. A review of What's Wrong With Science? Towards a People's Rational Science of Delight and Compassion by Nicholas Maxwell. The Genesis 2.0 Project: Compared with the market-driven, killer-app insta-culture of the Digital Age, the new Large Hadron Collider exists in a near-magical realm, a $9 billion cathedral of science that is apparently, in any practical sense, useless (and more). Mind over matter: Keeping a place for thought experiments in an empirical age. A review of Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal by Heather Douglas. From The Scientist, ill-judged predictions and projections can be embarrassing at best and, at worst, damaging to the authority of science and science policy. Chris Mooney and Michael Specter debate science, anti-science and Denialism (and more and more). From Skeptic, a special issue on Carl Sagan. From Popular Science, a look at the Best of What's New 2009. David Brown on what’s wrong (and right) with science journalism. The science behind superheroes: They use their extraordinary powers to battle crime and save lives — and a sprinkling of science behind their abilities. An interview with James Kakalios, author of The Physics of Superheroes. Norman Levitt reviews Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara. Here are six radical projects that will change science forever. A review of The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery (with essays inspired by Microsoft’s Jim Gray).