Open University

Corn With The Wind
June 12, 2007

by David A. Bell Tim Flannery's piece "We're Living on Corn!" (subscription required) in the new New York Review, reviewing books by Michael Pollan and Bill McKibben, has some of the best black humor I've seen in a while (or perhaps it should just be called corny): At the base of the national food chain is a single species of grass--corn--and its growth, processing, and sale constitute a titanic industry which is focused on increasing profits rather than health and well-being. In America, foods as diverse as Gatorade, Ring Dings, and hamburgers have their beginning with corn.

Debating Richard Rorty's Liberalism
June 12, 2007

by Damon Linker [Matthew Yglesias responded to Damon Linker's piece on Richard Rorty in The New Republic, and what follows is Linker's response to Yglesias, originally published here.] Rorty certainly did claim that he and Rawls agreed about these questions, but I'm unpersuaded. Rorty was a proselytizer for anti-foundationalism, claiming (in any number of places) that metaphysics in morals or religion is, as such, a danger to liberal democratic politics.

It's Greek To Me
June 12, 2007

by Linda R. Hirshman The intellectual and policy worlds are full of talk about how liberals, including Democrats, and Democrats, including liberals, can articulate the case for liberalism. In a tentative venture into the debate last week, I suggested that Aristotle's insights into the dangers of extremism add a valuable moral insight into the current contests. Since philosophy is the business I have chosen, it is not surprising that I would think of Aristotle's Politics, when issues of political morality are on the table.

Remembering Richard Rorty
June 11, 2007

by Jacob T. Levy Via Kieran Healey, Richard Rorty has died. I saw Rorty in action, I believe, four times, three in debate-ish settings. He was an extraordinary speaker, so I count myself lucky. He and Michael Sandel formed a two-man APSA panel just as Democracy's Discontent was coming out , and Rorty was a dazzling commentator--appreciative of the book and more generous to it than many commentators, but also jabbing at it with an incredibly effective rapier.

A Georgian "foot In The Earth"
June 11, 2007

by Richard Stern I write now from our Georgian "foot in the earth," where we arrived two days ago. For the last few years, after spending eight hours at O'Hare waiting first for a plane, then for a crew, we've driven here from Chicago. The route passes through six other states, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina. We usually overnight in eastern Tennessee on the edge of the Great Smokies whose winding roads we drive over the next morning.

Two Finales
June 11, 2007

by Richard Stern Fans of Roger Federer and "The Sopranos" had a mixed weekend. Federer had some grand moments, his off-and-on speed, high- and-low spin and flat shots to Nadal's backhand threw the indominitable Majorcan for as close to a loop as we've seen, and there were enough surprising, ungettable backhands and forehands to give our beloved Federer 16 break points and the second set; but the Nadal-wall did not come down, and at crucial points, the 21 year old hit beautiful passing and drop shots which with the heat brought down the great champion ("mi amigo Roger," said the gracious win

Stopping The Republican Orcs
June 07, 2007

by Linda Hirshman Everyone who cares about politics should spend time in New York's 20th Congressional District. Our Representative, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, beat longtime incumbent Republican John Sweeney in a hot contest last year as part of the Democratic sweep. No sooner had she taken her oath than the Republicans started targeting her.

Pray For George Bush's Health
June 05, 2007

by Sanford LevinsonThe latest CBS/New York Times poll conducted between May 18-23 shows the "favorable" rating of Vice President Dick Cheney at a record low. See here. Perhaps the White House takes heart that the "not favorable" rating has actually dropped because the "undecided"s and "haven't heard"s went up by a total 14 points.

What I Learned At "the Blogging Panel"
June 05, 2007

by Eric Rauchway A while back, my department hosted a panel officially titled "Historical Scholarship and the New Media," but everyone called it "the blogging panel" anyway.

The Authenticity Gap
June 04, 2007

by David GreenbergMichael Kazin's recent post about our hunger for authenticity in presidential candidates--really, in all politicians--takes on what I think is one of the most important and difficult issues in our political culture today. Although the charge of inauthenticity sticks to some politicians more than others--and not always fairly--few if any are immune. I wrote a book suggesting that in the post-World War II era Richard Nixon became a magnet for our collective anxieties about this kind of inauthenticity.