From Nerve, more on the history of single life: The Erotic Other, or the history of interracial and cross-cultural relationships. An economist goes to a bar, and solves the mysteries of dating. Once again, scientists are pouring cold factual disdain on one of the warmer areas of human interaction: falling in love. Oprah gets a hold of it, and now you have every middle-aged woman talking about her vajayjay, but this seems like another attempt to sanitize, with the result infantilizing, the American lexicon. I Heart Hairy Men: Marjorie Ingall on chest pelt, furry legs, fuzzy arms, butt rug. Dr. Ruth on the paucity of health insurance policies that cover sex therapy. From NBER, a look at the changing nature of marriage and divorce. Marriage has changed more in the last 30 years than in the previous 3,000, with major economic and social consequences for how families work. From The Believer, an article on the visual erotics of mini-marriages: At the heart of every mock wedding is the simultaneous yearning to coddle and to dominate, especially during the kitten weddings.
From Truthdig, an interview with Paul Krugman, and more and more on The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman. The liberal hawks' lament: Consider the plight of the embattled liberal hawks and their lonely struggle to discredit the left. Few literary heavyweights cast their wit about like Lewis Lapham, and fewer still are capable of publishing an independent historical journal that wears its anachronisms so gleefully. A tale of two Normans: Podhoretz and Finklestein. James Kirchick on the anti-neocon fervor: Parsing the new political discourse. Are we all Lockeans now? To understand Locke is to understand ourselves. Edward Feser is a nascent philosopher on the loose and he wants to redefine conservatism. There’s Something About Barry: Goldwater has many claimants to his legacy, but most lack his rebellious spirit. Five authors charge that Regnery Publishing deprives its writers of royalties by selling their books at a steep discount to organizations owned by the same parent company.
From TLS, a review of Lateness and Brahms: Music and culture in the twilight of Viennese Liberalism by Margaret Notley; Brahms's Song Collection by Inge van Rij; and The Organ Music of Johannes Brahms by Barbara Owen. David Schiff reads Music at the Limits, a posthumous collection of Edward Said's music criticism. A review of The House that George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of about Fifty by Wilfrid Sheed. More and more on Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff. A review of Johnny Cash: The Biography by Michael Streissguth. From Seed, a review of Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia (and more and more and more and more).
The most important strategic foreign policy issue facing the next President and Congress will be how to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. Why is the Bush Administration keen on deploying a technology that doesn't work against a threat that doesn't exist? Does the concept of democracy matter at all when it comes to the issue of missile defense? "Axis of Evil" targeted by US nuclear weapons: US nuke list mushroomed in 2003 from traditional Cold War adversaries to smaller nations with nuclear ambitions. Does the Cuban Missile Crisis hold any lessons for today? Arsenal of words: Arms race chronicler Richard Rhodes says the US repeated Cold War mistakes before the hot war in Iraq, and more and more and more on Arsenals of Folly. A review of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger by Jonathan Schell. Speaking across the ages: How to design a future-proof nuclear waste bunker.
I feel your pain: New proof of "mirror neurons" explains why we experience the grief and joy of others, and maybe why humans are altruistic — but don't call us Gandhi yet. Vilayanur Ramachandran explores how brain damage can reveal the connection between the internal structures of the brain and the corresponding functions of the mind. : New research shows how the prefrontal cortex handles the work of associating numerals with matching quantities. More and more on Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought. A review of Rethinking Commonsense Psychology: A Critique of Folk Psychology, Theory of Mind and Simulation by Matthew Ratcliffe. A review of A History of Social Psychology: From the Eighteenth-Century Enlightenment to the Second World War by Gustav Jahoda.
The American Idea, as if you asked: We strive to be truer or freer or smarter or richer or perhaps just happier than our own parents were. The American Idea is about generations in reaction and reinvention. Dollywood values: What the Backwoods Barbie's theme park says about America. Talk About G-generations: Members of the "Generation After" are the ones who grew up in the shadows because the previous generation was blocking the sun. A review of Iconic America: A Roller-Coaster Ride through the Eye-Popping Panorama of American Pop Culture by Tommy Hilfiger. Dixie Chicking: An article on post-9/11 blacklisting in the entertainment industry. A review of: Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies by M. Stanton Evans. Of Lies, Catfights and Rock 'n' Roll: Official lies have always been with us. But our political life—as depicted by Maureen Dowd, among others—has been poisoned by the even more insidious unrebuttable lie. We are the Thought Police: An excerpt from What Orwell Didn't Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics. Why Orwell matters: Four writers on the relevance of Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" in a post-9/11 world.
From The Nation, Thom Hartmann on cracking the code: How can the left be as adept as the right-wing spin machine at communicating its political agenda? Learn how to use the tools; Juan Cole on Islam, politicized: How fearmongering GOP presidential candidates are demonizing Muslims and Islam. Why are Democrats so slow to challenge their false claims of "Islamofascism"?; and Katha Pollitt on David Horowitz as a feminist: The oppression of Muslim women is a major theme among the Islamofascistly aware — if only they felt the same about other women on earth; a special section on the US and the world: The 2008 election, more than any election in decades, will turn on questions of foreign policy and national security; the time is right for a Great Debate on America's purpose and place in the world; candidates should avoid the toughness trap and rethink their commitment to outmoded security tools and veiled nuclear threats against nonnuclear states; neither political party seems ready to face the fundamental economic, environmental and geopolitical changes; why we need international law: It's time to undo the damage and reaffirm America's historical commitment to international law; and articles on how to deal with the Middle East, Muslim extremism, Iran, and Hamas and Hezbollah; and time to choose: Eight commentators to make their best cases for their chosen Democratic contenders.
From The Nation, a review of Embryo Culture: Making Babies in the Twenty-First Century by Beth Kohl and Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Our World by Liza Mundy. From Time, a look at The Great Uncircumcision Debate: More and more men claim that circumcision has made their sex lives suffer, and they're going to great lengths to re-grow their lost skin (and more). A review of Foreskin's Lament by Shalom Auslander. Some say it’s barbaric, others a matter of hygiene. But with babies dying from circumcision, should it continue? The Breast and the Brightest: Does nursing really affect your kid's IQ? Breastfeeding may or may not make children more intelligent — it all depends on their genes. Breast isn't always best: There is no doubt that breastfeeding is beneficial to our children, but we also need to look at the drawbacks. A review of Changing Conceptions of the Child from the Renaissance to Post-Modernity: A Philosophy of Childhood by David Kennedy. What teen girls are made of: An excerpt from Red: The Next Generation of American Writers — Teenage Girls — on What Fires Up Their Lives Today. Smoke this shit: Are kids across America really getting high on fermented feces, or has our national drug panic finally gone too far?
Life in the old European dogs yet: A renewed friendship between America and its once-tricky partners may prove to be longer on style than substance. Post-enlargement stress: Support for European Union expansion is under new threat. Is this the right key? The latest bunch of EU applicants will find it tough to get through the door. Is Belgium falling apart? They are fighting over electoral districts, taxes and language rights — but above all it is a struggle for influence, as the jokes over Belgium's failure to form a government begin to turn sour. You are what your name says you are: In France, dig beneath a name, and race and class rear their heads. A review of The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography From the Revolution to the First World War by Graham Robb (and more). Why can’t the English be more like the French? With the high-speed link to London about to open at last, Hortense de Monplaisir warns her fellow Parisians of the horreurs anglais that await them. From Prospect, Anthony Giddens on how recent research by the sociologist Robert Putnam may provide tentative backing for David Goodhart's arguments on ethnic diversity and trust. A review of The Triumph of the Political Class and The Rise of Political Lying by Peter Oborne, and Yo, Blair! by Geoffrey Wheatcroft. The universal spirit takes a walk: Gustav Seibt pays tribute to Thuringia and Saxony Anhalt, Germany's neglected cultural heartland. From Cafe Babel, a zone still freeing itself of Russian remnants, and EU member since 2004, Lithuania is currently undergoing an active but disoriented transition. A writer who always sees history in the present tense: No writer in Europe today has dealt more eloquently with the obligations and moral conundrums of memory than the Hungarian novelist and essayist Peter Nadas.
From HNN, an article on the politics of history: How “exceptional” is America? A review of Hakluyt’s Promise: An Elizabethan’s Obsession for an English America by Peter C. Mancall. A review of Jamestown: The Buried Truth by William M. Kelso. A review of Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall by Eve LaPlante. From American Heritage, Joseph Ellis explains just how the American Revolution was revolutionary, and a review of American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic. A review of Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton. A review of My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams. A review of Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America’s Republic by Mary Kelley. A review of The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth Century America by Wendy Gamber. A review of German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America and Traveling between Worlds: German-American Encounters. A review of Unions, Radicals and Democratic Presidents: Seeking Social Change in the Twentieth Century by Martin Halpern.