Social theory, education, academia, literature and science

From TNR, a review of Inventing Human Rights: A History by Lynn Avery Hunt. A review of Another Cosmopolitanism: Hospitality, Sovereignty, and Democratic Iterations by Seyla Benhabib et al. Infantile liberalism: Russell Jacoby reviews Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber. From Harvard Magazine, an article on The Global Empire of Niall Ferguson: Doing history on a sweeping scale.

From The Nation, as Congress considers reauthorizing No Child Left Behind, Linda Darling-Hammond leads a forum of experts who examine the law, its consequences and prospects for improvement. Free to choose, and learn: New research shows that parental choice raises standards—including for those who stay in public schools. NEST+m, an allegory: The quest to make the perfect public school, which cost one high-profile principal her job and made the Lower East Side the unlikely home to a bastion of privilege.

From The Economist, winning by degrees: Europe's universities are the reluctant and unlikely pioneers of public-sector competition. Six Degrees of Honorary Degrees: A look at how many degrees separate George W. Bush from some of the world's unsavory leaders. Eric Rauchway on schoolyard killers, presidential assassins, and the science of stopping them. On Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect: Think you’re above doing evil? Think again. Cal State Long beach  would seem to be the last place to find a tried and true anti-Semite and white supremacist lecturing, but it's where Kevin B. MacDonald, "Marx of the anti-Semites" has a teaching post. The Chutzpah Industry: Alan Dershowitz is at it again, campaigning to deny tenure to DePaul's Norman Finkelstein.

From Nextbook, "The Molecule's Defiance", a previously unpublished story by Primo Levi. Orhan Pamuk resumes German book tour after death threats. An interview with Colum McCann, author of Zoli, on the Romany people, the perils of writing novels tied to history, and more. A review of To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel. Should authors conform to type? Once they've found their niche, most authors are content to plough the same furrow. And why not? It worked for Austen.

From Slate, a review of In Darwin's Origin of Species: A Biography, by Janet Browne. An article on humans, bacteria and the extended genotype: An ambitious project that promises to extend humanity's view of itself. Scientists identify gene that boosts lifespan and quality of life. Diabetes undermines male fertility: Sugar and sperm don't mix. Human spoken language may have evolved from a currency of hand and arm gestures, not simply through improvements in the basic vocalisations made by primates. The evolution of language: Evidence that the first words were movements, not sounds. Russian speakers get the blues: The language you speak can affect how you see the world, a new study of colour perception indicates. Research suggests humans break down events into smaller units. And scientists find clues to the formation of Fibonacci spirals in nature