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Visions in black
Is black political thought a form of American liberalism or, as many African-American commentators argue, a rejection of it? The question isn't so black-and-white, says Michael C. Dawson, the William R. Kenan Jr. professor of political science, in his new book Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies (Chicago, 2001). The rise of a black "counterpublic" in the 19th century, Dawson argues, resulted in currents of black political thought as different as abolitionist Frederick Douglass and rap artist Ice Cube. Ideologies such as radical egalitarianism, disillusioned liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, feminism, and Marxism, he says, still affect blacks' perspectives on issues such as their position in American society, their view of whites, and separatism. By studying the ideologies, he says, much can be learned about the African-American public.

The touch cortical area's connected to the...
University researchers have come the closest yet to understanding how functionally complex brains evolve: by adding new areas to the cortex, surmise Elizabeth Grove, assistant professor in neurobiology, pharmacology, & physiology, and postdoctoral fellow Tomomi Fukuchi-Shimogori in the November 2 Science. The two have discovered a simple molecular mechanism that controls the in-utero development of specialized areas in the cortex-including those that oversee vision, touch, and memory. The mechanism, Fibroblast Growth Factor 8, is a signaling protein that's known to orchestrate how the body's limbs and organs are organized. But apparently it's involved in cortical development too: when the researchers, experimenting on mice embryos, surgically moved Factor 8 from the front to the back of the cortex, the mice were born with a duplicate set of the touch neurons associated with their whiskers. Similarly, Grove suggests, an area of the human brain that originally processed primitive sounds may have doubled or tripled during evolution, creating advanced capacity for vocalization, speech, and language.

Not all broken families are alike
Teenagers living in broken families are on average less likely to graduate from high school and attend college than those in two-parent homes. They're also more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana and engage in sexual activity at a younger age. That's according to "Good Things Come in 3's: Single-Parent Multigenerational Family Structure and Adolescent Adjustment," a working paper in which Harris School assistant professors Thomas DeLeire and Ariel Kalil examine the U.S. Department of Education's 1988 National Educational Longitudinal Study. But not all broken families are alike. Indeed, teenagers living with their single mother and at least one grandparent turn out at least as well and often better than teens in intact families.

As the hawk flies
In his new book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (Norton, 2001), John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison distinguished service professor of political science, formally advances his "offensive realism" theory. In a post-Cold War world where no international authority reigns, he argues, hegemony is the only insurance of security. Of little consequence are trade, treaties, or the bonds of international organizations-even an ally's intentions are uncertain, so states must be ready to strike first when danger lurks.

Let your emotions be your guide
Emotions such as grief, fear, anger, and love seem to be alien forces that disturb our thoughts and plans. But they are also intelligent appraisals of a world beyond our control, argues Martha C. Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund distinguished service professor of law and ethics, in Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge, 2001). She suggests that emotions-particularly compassion-should play a role in private and public reasoning.



  > > Volume 94, Number 2

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Wealth of notions
  > >
The remains of the day
  > >
A new Chicago seven
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Beyond the bomb
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The life and tomes

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