60s Nostalgia... Or A 60s Nightmare
February 27, 2007

The SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) is back! Or is it? Actually, I hadn't noticed that it was. But Maurice Isserman, an honest American historian at Hamilton College with an SDS past and a familial Communist background, has written a story for the current Chronicle of Higher Education on whether or not the organization actually exists and what it really is. Isserman can't resist a bit of nostalgia for the old mole, and he writes about this gently and gracefully.

Science Doorstops Worth A Look
February 26, 2007

by John McWhorter In the vein of using this blog to shine a light on authors who don't get the attention they deserve, two books on how genetic data is revising what we know about early human migrations by Stephen Oppenheimer have been major eye openers for me. The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa, from 2003, shows how data from mutations in mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome are now allowing us pinpoint the pathways that humankind took from Africa in often bracing detail.

Partisan Dance
February 25, 2007

by Jacob T. Levy There is a nice dilemma at work in Canadian politics at the moment; I've never seen anything quite like it. Elections are coming up soon in Quebec and at the federal level. At the federal level, Stephen Harper's current minority Conservative government is hoping to gain enough seats to become a majority, but isn't by any means guaranteed even to remain a minority government.

Detainee Chic
February 25, 2007

In this week's TNR, Jeffrey Rosen's terrific chronicle of his visit to Guantanamo Bay contains a funny aside: Those notorious orange jumpsuits (65 poly/35 cotton) are apparently "made in South Africa for the Bob Barker Company." The Bob Barker?? Alas, no, it seems the longtime "Price Is Right" host has not transitioned into the detention-gear supply biz. However I did Google up the actual Bob Barker Company in question, and its website is a real hoot.

The Problem With Bill Maher
February 24, 2007

If I were a conservative bent on converting the country to my ideology, I'd make sure more people watched Bill Maher's HBO show, Real Time. The audience, which is clearly chock-full of robotic liberals, breaks up every potentially good conversation by mindlessely clapping for even the most negligible talking point.

Kerry's Book
February 23, 2007

You are not going to believe this. John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry have written a book. When the Public Affairs Books Spring catalogue came along a few weeks ago, it didn't have a title. But by now, on the publisher's web site, it does. And, my God, would you believe it? It's called, This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future. Do you imagine that they've made room for Al Gore? It's 352 pages and cost $26.00, minus your discount at Powell's. I've not seen it.

Vilsack's Not All Bad
February 22, 2007

Like Scott Lemieux, I wonder who gave Tom Vilsack the idea that the key to electoral success lay in proposing deep cuts to Social Security. A bit of an odd campaign strategy. On the other hand, after poking around the Vilsack '08 website, trying to find something nice to say about the guy, I should mention that he does have, hands down, the most ambitious energy and climate-change plan of any candidate in the field thus far. Not only is Vilsack proposing a 75 percent reduction in U.S.

Breaking News: Women Sexualized In Media
February 20, 2007

From today's Washington Post feature "Goodbye to Girlhood": "Throughout U.S. culture, and particularly in mainstream media, women and girls are depicted in a sexualizing manner," declares the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, in a report issued Monday.

More On Soros And Jet Blue
February 19, 2007

On the evidence in Talkbacks to The Spine, some readers are annoyed with me for what they think is my picking on poor George Soros. Well, if you care about responsible capitalism--which maybe Soros doesn't--the performance of Jet Blue in the past few days has been nothing less than appalling. I know that Soros can't be blamed for the weather. (That's clearly George Bush's fault.) But the founder and leading stockholder of an airline does have some duty to its passengers. The stock is not doing badly, down to $13.56 from its year high of of $17.02, but way up from its low of $8.93.

Nader's Devastating Ego
February 19, 2007

Someone at Sunday lunch reported that he'd heard on the radio that Ralph Nader was thinking of running for president again. I tried to confirm it on a Nader web site, and somehow was sent to MySpace. There is some kind of Nader venue there. But I couldn't find anything more conclusive than an ad for a Nader T-shirt. Still, his ego is so enormous--isn't it anomalous that a saint should have an enormous ego?--that he might be considering a third try.