[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] The great Tim Noah, who is napping on a beach finishing his book, has an excellent regular feature on this eponymous blog called Morning (or Afternoon) Reading Assignment, where he recommends articles or reports to readers. This is slightly off-topic, but I want to recommend to people not a new article but a new (or rather relaunched) magazine. It's called The Caravan: A Journal of Politics and Culture. After being discontinued almost 25 years ago (it was established in 1940), Caravan came back with a vengeance last year.
The Stranger's Child By Alan Hollinghurst (Knopf, 435 pp., $27.95) As one looks back to the founding years of literary modernism in Europe, it is possible to discern a parting of ways that occurred on or about the eve of World War I. Along one twilit and at times tortuous path ventured Yeats and Henry James at the head of their few stragglers, while down the other broad thoroughfare strode the forces of the avant-garde, led by Pound, Joyce, and Eliot. Pound’s exhortation to “make it new” was a clarion call to stir the blood of young men already feeling the ground quaking under their boots.
The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages By Nancy Marie Brown (Basic Books, 310 pp., $27.95) A study of twenty member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (recently re-named the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC—the international body that represents Ummah al Islam, with a permanent delegation to the United Nations) found that between the years 1996 and 2003 those countries spent 0.34 percent of their GDP on scientific research, one-seventh of the global average.
The politics of anti-politics is a great American comedy. Contempt for Washington has become one of the primary qualifications for elevation to Washington. Those who despise government are desperate to join it; those who despise politics are politicians. And those who cherish government and cherish politics are ominously instructed by their consultants to be silent. Inside the system they pretend that they are outside the system, and denounce the institutions as if they are not talking about themselves.
The Pirates Of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World By Jay Bahadur (Pantheon, 300 pp., $26.95) The monsoon winds are dying down and the Indian Ocean is getting smooth again. This happens at the end of every summer, and September marks a new season: pirate season. Somalia’s wily, indefatigable buccaneers are just coming off their summer break.
This article is a contribution to 'Is There Anything That Can Be Done? A TNR Symposium On The Economy'. Click here to read other contributions to the series. One of the problems with the news cycle is that perennial issues—problems and solutions both—tend to get ignored in favor of things which have changed in the last few hours or days or weeks. As a result, when it comes to the global economic crisis now in its fourth year, one of the key potential solutions has been left all but ignored from the outset: making improvements to labor mobility.
I’m in London, having arrived on Saturday evening. The Sunday morning papers had absolutely nothing about the enormous riot in Tottenham the night before. But the online press had plenty—except who exactly was doing the rioting. I got all my news all day from this—shall we say incomplete?—source. The front pages of the print press on Monday, however, had almost nothing else. (Except, de rigueur,the disastrous news of advanced capitalism in further collapse.) The headlines were a bit different Tuesday morning.
As they have with the Great Depression, economic historians will argue for decades about the origins of our current crisis. But, surely, we can agree that the failure of international economic cooperation in the early 1930s—and worse, the sequential adoption of beggar-thy-neighbor domestic policies—made matters worse at a time when enlightened statesmanship could have made them better for everyone. Similarly, the current crisis is not just a U.S. problem or a European problem; it is a global problem that requires a coordinated global response.
Today, the computer security company McAfee released a report detailing its discovery of a massive cyber attack that went on for as long as five years. The attack hit the governments of the United States, Canada, South Korea, India, Vietnam, and Taiwan; major corporations in a variety of industries; defense contractors; non-profit organizations; the International Olympic Committee; and the United Nations. Though McAfee said it believed the attack was carried out by a nation-state, it declined to name names.
The scene is rugged Western desert; the music is corny countrylite. A lone motorcyclist rides across the frame. Text flashes on screen: “IN 6 DAYS.” Followed by: “Did not become famous with his band ‘Wizard.’” What does any of this have to do with Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign? Well, that’s kind of unclear. In the days leading up to the announcement of his candidacy in mid-June, Huntsman released three Web videos, featuring the same lone rider, the same cheesy music, and a random fact about the former Utah governor.