The Daily Digest of Arts and Argument

D.L. Ashliman’s Folklore and Mythology Web site is an incomparable guide to fairytales ancient and modern. For tales of frog kings click here, for child-custody battles (timeless Elián González tales, you could say) click here, and for various versions of Snow White click here

A new book on Darwinism by bioethicist Peter Singer splits the difference between left and right: Human nature may not be cooperative, says Singer, but that doesn’t mean society must be competitive. And by the way, whatever happened to Darwin’s collaborator, Alfred Russell Wallace?

What with all these Guggenheims and Tates, ours is an era of museum gigantism, says Matthew Debord in Feed. But Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times wonders whether we can find enough great art to put in them. Also, Hilton Kramer savages “MoMa 2000.”

THANK INDIA Martha Nussbaum reads India’s constitution as a challenge to the feminist view that privacy is antithetical to equality. Related: Roe vs. Wade.

QUANTUM COMPUTING = LIFE A new book wonders whether the universe is essentially a quantum computer—and physics and computer science nothing more than “different ways of describing the same phenomena.” Also, Thomas Powers reviews Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, a play about the moral dimensions of physics. And novelist A.S. Byatt considers how the scientific consciousness is transforming art.

Eating oysters may alleviate a testosterone deficiency. Also, Andrew Sullivan’s paean to the male libido  and Culturebox’s reply.

BETTY FRIEDAN’S LIFE SO FAR Friedan says her husband attacked her. He denies it: “I am proud of what Betty did in the world, but she is slightly on the insane side,” he tells the Boston Globe. “He was no wife-beater,” says Friedan, “and I was no passive victim. I’m very hot-tempered and so is he. He’s bigger than me. So I ended up with the black eyes.”

“Over the past few years, Americans of the educated class have … taken perverted sex, which for centuries has been thought to be arousing or sinful or possibly dangerous, and … attempted to make it socially constructive.”—David Brooks in an excerpt from his new book, Bobos in Paradise. —Related: Why is there so much sex on television?

HIS HUMAN STAIN “[Philip Roth] has become a vulgar naturalist of the emotions, a kind of H.G. Wells of the inner life—bludgeoningly explicit, crudely emphatic, always turning the convoy of consciousness into a freight train of emotions,” says James Wood in the New Republic. OK, OK, but can he write about African-Americans? Brent Staples says, yes, he can, and darned well. “[The novel’s] particular hero-fool is arguably the most socially intriguing character to whom Roth has ever devoted himself,” says Lorrie Moore in the New York Times Book Review.  Charles McGrath interviews Roth.

It’s illegal to sell wine without a license, though that hasn’t stopped countless people from selling it over the Internet. Will states seek federal help in outlawing such operations? Related: The New Republic on the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

Martin Garbus defended Lenny Bruce and Timothy Leary, hid the Pentagon Papers in his attic for reporter Daniel Ellsberg, and fought to protect the copyright of work by Samuel Beckett, Robert Redford, Al Pacino, and John Cheever. Now, pitting the First Amendment against copyright law, he’s embracing the cause of hackers.

What did John F. Kennedy really say during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Turns out to be less than we thought. Sheldon Stern, a former historian at the Kennedy Library, writing in the Atlantic, shows how the accepted transcripts get it wrong.

“Almost all of the current student struggles,” Liza Featherstone argues in The Nation, “whether over tuition increases, apparel licenses, socially responsible investing, McDonald’s in the student union, the rights of university laundry workers, a dining-hall contractor’s investment in private prisons or solidarity with the striking students in Mexico, focus on the reality of the university as corporate actor.” Related: William Finnegan on anarchists on campus.

Rainer Maria Rilke “displayed qualities of bad faith, selfishness, and cruelty,” writes Brian Phillips in the New Republic. But he was also “a visionary: a man who saw farther than his fellows, whose preternatural powers of intuition enabled him to transcend his own anguish, and emerge surrounded by perfect, ennobling truths salvaged from the depths of his soul.”

Illustrations by Nina Frenkel. Photographs of: Betty Friedan from AFP; John F. Kennedy from Bettmann/Corbis.