Nixon & Reagan, Margaret Mead, Evolutionary Psychology, U2, Britishness, Patton Boggs


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A Bridge Too Far

Jacob Weisberg | Democracy | 16th September 2014

Another fine discussion of Rick Perlstein's book Invisible Bridge, coupling the fall of Richard Nixon with the rise of Ronald Reagan. "Most historians view the Nixon-Reagan transition as a break in the ideological continuum. Perlstein, by contrast, sees the move from Nixon to Reagan as continuity: Both men tried to reverse what the 1960s were doing to the country. But where Nixon failed in his rearguard action, Reagan succeeded" (2,580 words)

The Great Anthropologists: Margaret Mead

Alain de Botton | School Of Life | 16th September 2014

Engaging short account of Mead's life and work. "Mead’s conclusion was that culture determined personality far more than people had previously expected. It was not sex that made women curl their hair or ‘race’ that made some nations attack their neighbours. Rather, it was social expectations and norms developed slowly for centuries, which laid the groundwork for each individual’s psychological makeup" (2,480 words)

Survival Of The Sexiest

Mal Ahern & Moira Weigel | Nation | 9th September 2014

Sceptical account of the rise of evolutionary psychology, as dumbed-down Darwinism for a consumer age in which desire is king. Survival of the fittest becomes "survival of the sexiest". As described here, the discipline is barely 30 years old, and consists largely of finding behavioural differences between men and women, particularly in matters of courtship and sex, and turning the results into newspaper articles (4,220 words)

Church Of U2

Joshua Rothman | New Yorker | 16th September 2014

Fascinating. U2 are the world's top Christian rock act. Religion inspires their music. They just don't say so openly. "While secular listeners tend to think of U2’s religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band’s identity. To some people, Bono’s lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they’re thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith" (1,980 words)

Is This The End Of Britishness?

Ian Jack | Guardian | 16th September 2014

My apologies if you feel I'm overdoing the Scottish stuff, but the independence vote is spurring much outstanding writing. In this magnificent essay Ian Jack admires the ability of the Scots, and especially the separatists, to take pride and find hope in their Scottishness; and he regrets that any strong notion of Britishness, by contrast, is absent from the debate — as it has been absent from British life, by and large, since the 1960s (5,360 words)

Fall Of The House Of Boggs

Paul Barrett | Politico | 15th September 2014

Greed, power and money: an instructive tale. Washington lobbying firm Patton Boggs was desperate for business after the 2008 crash. It joined a class-action lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador financed by a hedge fund as a for-profit investment. The plaintiffs were awarded $18bn in Ecuador; but a US court found their lawyer guilty of rigging the evidence and pressuring local judges; Patton Boggs was ruined (2,480 words)

Video of the day: Yiddish — Part One

What to expect: Jewish-American seniors explain common Yiddish words

Thought for the day

To explode a myth is not to deny the facts, but to re-allocate them
Gilbert Ryle (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Gilbert_Ryle)

A Talk in London

Come and see Browser favourites Felix Salmon (ex-Reuters) and Izabella Kaminska (FT) discuss art, 3D printing and Bitcoin on September 24th. Admission is £5, and includes a glass of wine (or two). Tickets are available here (http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myevents) .

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