Category Archives: Idea of the week

A new look at Rococo

The Rococo style of European art has always left me cold: too pastel, too frivolous, too pretty. I’m more into  the Renaissance painters and the Impressionists. But with UCSD art historian William Norman Bryson as my guide in his new … Continue reading

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The Democratic Peace: a figment of our imagination?

Ever since Immanuel Kant argued that democracies were bound to be more peace loving than autocracies, theorists and policy makers have been in love with the “democratic peace.” Today it’s a bedrock of American foreign policy. Both Democrats and Republicans … Continue reading

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American News Media course from UCSD

News media surround us like the air we breathe, but we’re barely aware of how they operate and how they influences the way we think. But if you tune into American News Media (feed, booklist), a new course taught by … Continue reading

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Why are we so fat?

Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco, thinks he knows the culprit. It’s the sugar in all those sugary sodas, sugary sports drinks and fruit juices that we down so casually each day. He lays out … Continue reading

Posted in Academic podcasts, Biology, Health, Idea of the week, iTunesU, Lectures | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s wrong with the war on drugs?

What is the single policy change that would bring about the largest reduction in drug abuse and the largest reduction in crime? Is it Legalize marijuana, cocaine and heroin? Increase enforcement and jail the drug kingpins? Double the tax on … Continue reading

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Why the West Rules – For Now

Ian Morris is nothing if not ambitious. A professor of history and archaeology at Stanford University, Morris has written a new book, Why the West Rules – For Now in which he attempts an audacious unified field theory of history … Continue reading

Posted in Academic podcasts, Archaeology, Books, Five-star professors, History, Idea of the week, iTunesU | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Does God have a physical body?

Brace yourself for this one: the God of the Hebrew Bible has a real physical body. That’s what biblical scholar Benjamin Sommer argues in his lecture The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel: Part I (website, iTunes) … Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Bible, Five-star professors, History, Idea of the week, iTunesU, Jewish studies, Lectures, Religion | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Lyric poetry reveals China’s individualistic side

Want to really annoy a Harvard professor? Just tell Comparative Literature Professor Stephen Owen that Western tradition is individualistic while Chinese tradition is collective. “I thought I’ve told people for 20 years this is not true, and it keeps coming … Continue reading

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The pursuit of happiness

Just what did Thomas Jefferson mean when he wrote that our inalienable rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Modern Americans are pretty sure they knew what he was talking about: our freedom to build our families and … Continue reading

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Critiquing social psychology

A few years back I listened to a UC Berkeley class on social psychology, and heard about scores of experiments that had tried to tease out basic principles of human behavior by bringing people into a laboratory setting and presenting … Continue reading

Posted in Academic podcasts, Courses, Five-star professors, Idea of the week, Psychology | Tagged , | 2 Comments