Responsibility To Intellectual Culture
February 16, 2007

by Steven Pinker I second the concerns of Linda Hirshman and Eric Rauchway. The justification for a new book review forum is not just to create something that's fun to read but a vehicle with a responsibility to the country's intellectual culture. In that regard it should take steps to avoid some of the shortcomings of NYRB. NYRB has published some outstanding pieces, but its effects on intellectual life are questionable.

The Problem With Joseph Nye
February 16, 2007

The Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations at Harvard University is Joseph Nye. He is one of those facile meliorists who seems to believe that any and all international crises can be solved with a decent measure of good will and a bit of ingenuity. After all, his last book was Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, A Twelve Step Method. No, I'm only kidding. There's no twelve step anything in Nye's book. But ...

The State Of Russia
February 16, 2007

Everyone is writing about Russia these days. And in Moscow, Putin is planning for the future, elevating his defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, to the post of deputy prime minister.

Time For An American Review Of Books
February 15, 2007

by Jeffrey Herf Our country and our culture badly need a new weekly review of books. Currently, most of our major book reviews are failing to inform a non-specialist but sophisticated audience about American scholarship. The American Association of University Presses estimates that the 95 university presses in this country publish about 10,000 books a year. The New York Times Book Review, not to mention the book reviews at The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal devote a tiny fraction of their reviews to these works of scholarship.
February 15, 2007

by David A. Bell Three cheers to Jeff Herf for his call for an American Review of Books. Like other OU contributors, I couldn't agree more about the crying need in American intellectual life for a magazine of this sort. I do wonder, though, what form it should take, and whether a paper version similar to Britain's TLS would be financially viable. The TLS is supported by the Times of London, is printed on cheap newsprint and runs a fairly large number of ads. Even so, it charges an exorbitant $180 per year for subscriptions in the U.K.

Anne Frank's Story
February 15, 2007

Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, was a truly tragic figure. He survived the war from whose particularly Jewish ravages he tried to save his family, and became a commentator and corrective about the personal aspects of an overwhelming event. His daughter also lived on in a certain sense, as the emblematic death of the more than one and one half million Jewish children who perished in the catastrophe that wiped away more than six million of Anne's people. On the front page of today's Times there's another desolating story about Anne Frank more than sixty years after her death.

Soccer Moms Fight The Man
February 15, 2007

The New York Times today has an interesting article about the rise of moderate Democrat female legislators. Throughout the country, women legislators are gaining parity with men, and in Minnesota, Democratic security moms swept three traditionally Republican seats. Not surprisingly, Old Guard feminists are not certain how to feel about this. "Some people in Minnesota say a trend away from the old liberal feminist base signifies a triumph--the mainstreaming of female politicians who can no longer be pigeonholed about their beliefs or interests.

Best Out Of Print Book Ever
February 14, 2007

by Franklin Foer TNR has a publishing imprint housed at Yale University Press. We've been kicking around the idea of starting a line that revives out of print books, just like the fantastic New York Review of Books series. The idea is simple: There are a lot of great books that have undeservingly dropped out of circulation. Thanks to ABE Books and the internet these volumes haven't quite died. But they still don't have the life they deserve. TNR and Yale would commission new introductions to these works and reintroduce them to the broader world.

Topless Taxes, Really
February 14, 2007

A proposed bill in the Texas legislature known as the "Topless Tax" would tax patrons a $5 cover charge to enter strip clubs. The cover charge would then go directly into sexual-assault prevention and counseling services. This makes a certain amount of sense to me. Just as sin taxes on cigarettes end up funding everything from health care programs to education spending, taxing strip-club patrons to support worthy state mandates like assault prevention has a certain symmetry to it. Taxing the sex trade is as natural as taxing casinos and booze.

Poor Recall
February 13, 2007

by Darin McMahon A post a while back on the sadly unreconstructed nature of Florida's official state anthem prompted several people to draw my attention to similar atavisms in the sunshine state. Call me a carpetbagger, but I find it hard to fathom how Jacksonville's Nathan Bedford Forrest High has survived the cultural politics of the last 20 years with its name intact. Those without a close interest in Civil War military history may remember the Confederate cavalry commander primarily as the namesake of Tom Hank's character in the movie Forrest Gump.