This Week

Don’t Talk About It, Do It

Abstract Speed via Shutterstock

Every Friday we take a look back at the week’s headlines, centering on a theme we’ve singled out as particularly important. This week, despite the apathy that greets the idea that meaningful change is possible, protestors continued to make their voices heard. And beyond the streets we were seeing the beginnings of important change—along with the positive and negatives consequences when people start to really do it.

The key question is not whether Vladimir Putin—and Putinism—will survive. They will not:

Russia is facing growing problems of enormous complexity—economic, social, demographic, ethnic—that are impossible to solve within the rigid confines of neo-authoritarian “sovereign democracy.”

100,000 Muscovites turned out in sub-zero weather to protest Putin:

The problem is, by March, it will no longer be -10 degrees outside. If half a million, or even a million people come out—and chances are, many will—how will the security forces respond?

Sarkozy’s socialist rival’s campaign survives by putting “an American spin on cultural revival” (i.e., The New Deal):

Culture is the antidote to the current “fear of the other, the sense of decline,” and “French culture abroad is a way to make our language, our production, and paradoxically our economy more prominent,” he said.

Tips on parenting the French way:

…the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children.

Fake TV and movie violence is up, but real-world crime is down, and there appears to be a connection:

But the rest of the world hasn’t followed the United States down the path towards mass incarceration, and yet has still seen declining violence.

People who speak languages that blur “today” and “tomorrow” more likely to prepare for the future:

…if your language’s syntax blurs the difference between today and tomorrow (as do, say, Chinese and German) then you are more likely to save money, quit smoking, exercise and otherwise prepare for times to come

Notes on whether Italy can change its ways, or remain “more or less equally honored and dishonored”:

What would it mean for a country to change profoundly? What real news would we get of that and how would it feel to its citizens?

With the foreclosure settlement behind them, banks can look forward to more lawsuits and criminal charges:

“The mortgage foreclosure settlement in many ways is just the least of their problems,” said James Cox, a professor of securities law at Duke University in Durham, N.C. “The banks are not going to see the bright sunlight for some time to come.”

The internet now plays a part in most, if not all, cases of violent radicalization:

…the internet played a greater role in violent radicalisation than prisons, universities or places of worship and was now “one of the few unregulated spaces where radicalisation is able to take place.”

Willpower is the root of all happiness; a new book explains how to exercise yours to get more:

“It’s the capacity to restrain our impulses, resist temptation—do what’s right and good for us in the long run, not what we want to do right now. It’s central, in fact, to civilisation.”


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