Weekend Reading Roundup 11/8/2010

At CQ Researcher World Headquarters in Washington, D.C., writers and editors gather 'round the pot-bellied stove every Monday morning to chat about football and interesting books and articles that we read over the weekend. Here’s a sampling. Enjoy.

Learning in Dorm, Because Class Is on the Web
Trip Gabriel, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2010

Synopsis: Online learning is now advancing on college and university campuses, including the University of Florida-Gainesville, where the most popular economics course is taught online because no lecture hall can accommodate the 1,500 students enrolled. Cost and other concerns mean that “dozens” of other courses at UF are also being taught online despite concerns among some professors, students and parents that the format diminishes the educational experience.

Takeaway: “We see this as the future of higher education,” said Joe Glover, the university provost.

Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher

A Taste for Wormwood and Gaul: The Masochism of John Stuart Mill,”
Anthony Daniels, The New Criterion, November 2010

Synopsis: English philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote powerfully of the moral law that he believed should govern the powerful: Back off forcing others to do what you think is best for them; people should determine that for themselves. "Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest," he wrote in his famous 1859 treatise, “On Liberty.” Mill knew whereof he spoke, having had his childhood crushed by an overbearing father who banned childhood friendships for his genius son so he could devote himself to studies from age 3 on. Ironically, as an adult, Mill chose to continue his slavery, attaching himself for life to an overbearing beauty, Harriet Taylor.

Takeaway: Sadly, when it comes to overcoming a bad personal history, philosophy may not be enough. What Mill learned in his unlucky life has been enough to inspire others, though.

Marcia Clemmitt, staff writer

“While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales,”

By Michael Moss, New York Times, Nov. 7, 2010

Synopsis: At the same time that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been warning consumers about saturated fats and obesity, a marketing arm of the same agency has been trying to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primary through cheese.

Takeaway: In addition to pushing Dominos and other pizza makers to add more cheese, the agency, Dairy Management Inc., also has pushed to increase the use of cheese in processed foods and home cooking.

For background, see Barbara Mantel, “Preventing Obesity,” CQ Researcher, Oct. 1, 2010

Thomas J. Colin, Managing Editor, CQ Researcher

John le Carré, Our Kind of Traitor (2010).

The author who has done more than anyone to establish espionage as a theme for serious literature has focused anew on Russia – the enemy empire of his Cold War novels. Post-Soviet Russia, le Carré’s latest novel suggests, is as successful in exporting its criminal enterprises as the Soviet Union had been in exporting revolution – in both cases finding plenty of allies in the British ruling classes. Le Carré, himself a former intelligence officer, is merciless in his depiction of bureaucrats and politicians who are forced to confront issues they’d rather evade.

Peter Katel, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher