What We Are Reading Today: A Real Right to Vote: How a Constitutional Amendment Can Safeguard American Democracy

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Updated 24 February 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: A Real Right to Vote: How a Constitutional Amendment Can Safeguard American Democracy

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Author: Richard L. Hasen

Throughout history, too many Americans have been disenfranchised or faced needless barriers to voting. Part of the blame falls on the Constitution, which does not contain an affirmative right to vote. The Supreme Court has made matters worse by failing to protect voting rights and limiting Congress’s ability to do so. The time has come for voters to take action and push for an amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee this right for all.
Drawing on troubling stories of state attempts to disenfranchise military voters, women, African Americans, students, former felons, Native Americans, and others, Richard Hasen argues that American democracy can and should do better in assuring that all eligible voters can cast a meaningful vote that will be fairly counted. He shows how a constitutional right to vote can deescalate voting wars between political parties that lead to endless rounds of litigation and undermine voter confidence in elections.


What We Are Reading Today: A Monetary and Fiscal History of the United States, 1961–2021

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Updated 19 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: A Monetary and Fiscal History of the United States, 1961–2021

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Author: Alan S. Blinder

In this book, Alan Blinder, one of the world’s most influential economists and one of the field’s best writers, draws on his deep firsthand experience to provide an authoritative account of 60 years of monetary and fiscal policy in the US. Spanning 12 presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Joe Biden, and eight Federal Reserve chairs, from William McChesney Martin to Jerome Powell, this is an insider’s story of macroeconomic policy that hasn’t been told before—one that is a pleasure to read, and as interesting as it is important.
Focusing on the most significant developments and long-term changes, Blinder traces the highs and lows of monetary and fiscal policy, which have by turns cooperated and clashed through many recessions and several long booms over the past six decades. From the fiscal policy of Kennedy’s New Frontier to Biden’s responses to the pandemic, the book takes readers through the stagflation of the 1970s, the conquest of inflation under Jimmy Carter and Paul Volcker, the rise of Reaganomics, and the bubbles of the 2000s before bringing the story up through recent events — including the financial crisis, the Great Recession, and monetary policy during COVID-19.

A lively and concise narrative that is sure to become a classic, A Monetary and Fiscal History of the United States, 1961–2021 is filled with vital lessons for anyone who wants to better understand where the economy has been—and where it might be headed.

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Empire of Climate

What We Are Reading Today: The Empire of Climate
Updated 18 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: The Empire of Climate

What We Are Reading Today: The Empire of Climate

Author: David N. Livingstone

Scientists, journalists, and politicians increasingly tell us that human impacts on climate constitute the single greatest threat facing our planet and may even bring about the extinction of our species. Yet behind these anxieties lies an older, much deeper fear about the power that climate exerts over us. 

“The Empire of Climate” traces the history of this idea and its pervasive influence over how we interpret world events and make sense of the human condition, from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations to the afflictions of the modern psyche.

Taking readers from the time of Hippocrates to the unfolding crisis of global warming today, David Livingstone reveals how climate has been critically implicated in the politics of imperial control and race relations; been used to explain industrial development, market performance, and economic breakdown; and served as a bellwether for national character and cultural
collapse. 


REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level

REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level
Updated 18 April 2024
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REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level

REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level

LONDON: Don’t say it too loud, but we might, finally, have reached the point when good TV adaptations of hit videogames become the norm, rather than the exception. Hot on the heels of “The Last of Us” and “The Witcher” comes “Fallout,” an eight-part series based on the post-apocalyptic world explored in the series of famed Bethesda games.

In an alternate future, with the world devastated by a global nuclear war, a community of wealthy individuals retreats to a series of underground vaults to ride out the fallout. Some 200 years later, wide-eyed vault dweller Lucy (Ella Purnell) is forced to leave the safety of her underground home when her father is kidnapped by raiders from the surface, kickstarting a journey that will not only make her confront the horrors of the unlawful society above, but also sees her meet a revolving door of eccentric (yet equally horrifying) characters along the way. Among these are Maximus (Aaron Moten), a squire in the militaristic Brotherhood of Steel, and The Ghoul (Walton Goggins), a terrifyingly mutated former actor now forging his way as a bounty hunter.

The key to the success of “Fallout” is that your enjoyment of the show is not dependent on whether or not the previous paragraph made any sense to you whatsoever. Rather, creators Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, along with developers (and executive producers) Christopher Nolan and Lisa Joy have taken the wise decision to create a world wherein knowledge of the wider “Fallout” universe is a bonus, but not a prerequisite. So even if this is your first introduction to the world of Pip-Boys, gulpers and Vaulters, you won’t be penalized, and you certainly won’t feel like you’re missing out.

The world of “Fallout” is a gloriously gritty, bloody and savage one, but it’s also one of razor-sharp humor and fiendish satire — not least thanks to Goggins’ phenomenal turn as The Ghoul. Acerbic and frighteningly violent, The Ghoul is the very embodiment of the savage, unforgiving wasteland, and Goggins has a blast with perhaps the role of his career to date. Lucy is the polar opposite, and Purnell is equally as great as the naïve-yet-capable young woman entirely unprepared for the muck and murder she emerges into. Throw the two together with a razor-sharp, witty script and top-drawer production values and you have a show that’s about as much fun as you can have without a controller of your own.


What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality

What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality
Updated 17 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality

What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality

Author: Paul Sagar

What makes human beings one another’s equals? That we are “basic equals” has become a bedrock assumption in Western moral and political philosophy. 

And yet establishing why we ought to believe this claim has proved fiendishly difficult, floundering in the face of the many inequalities that characterise the human condition. 

In this provocative work, Paul Sagar offers a novel approach to explaining and justifying basic equality. Rather than attempting to find an independent foundation for basic equality, he argues, we should instead come to see our commitment to this idea as the result of the practice of treating others as equals. 

Moreover, he continues, it is not enough to grapple with the problem through philosophy alone — by just thinking very hard, in our armchairs; we must draw insights from history and psychology as well.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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Updated 16 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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  • The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals

Author: William Golding

“Lord of the Flies” is a coming of age novel by British novelist William Golding. First published in 1954, the title has since become a classic of modern literature.

It tells the story of a group of British boys who find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes during a wartime evacuation.

The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals. As the boys struggle to survive and establish order on the island, their society gradually descends into chaos and savagery.

The title refers to a severed pig’s head, symbolizing the evil and primitive instincts that take hold of the boys.

The main characters in the novel include Ralph, a charismatic and responsible boy who tries to maintain order and establish a signal fire to attract rescuers; Jack, a power-hungry and savage boy who becomes the leader of a group of hunters; Piggy, an intelligent but socially marginalized boy who serves as Ralph’s adviser; and Simon, a quiet and introspective boy who experiences a deep connection with nature.

As the story progresses, the boys’ civilization erodes, and they succumb to their primal instincts, engaging in violence and tribal warfare.

“Lord of the Flies” explores the destructive potential of unchecked power, the loss of innocence, and the conflict between civilization and savagery.

The novel has always been subject to various interpretations and perspectives by different readers and scholars. Much of it has been analyzed through the lens of allegorical human nature, political and social commentary, and even Freudian psychology.

“Lord of the Flies” has left a lasting impact on literature and popular culture through its exploration of universal themes, and its enduring relevance in contemporary society.

Its portrayal of the human condition and the fragility of civilization continues to resonate with readers, making it a classic that is worthy of being read again.