From The New Yorker, Past Perfect: Retro opulence on Central Park West. Cultural observers weigh in on architectural changes in the Persian Gulf and how they may be reshaping the world: A review of Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism. Art and Anarchism Thrive Together: Realizing the Impossible looks at political expression from a global perspective. The artless branding of Frida Kahlo: The centennial of the artist's birth is being marked by exhibits, merchandise, and family dissension.

Just for the record: OK Hollywood, here are the dos and don'ts of the celebrity profile. His Kind of Town: Horton Foote, at 91, is still working as a writer in New York and Hollywood. But in his plays he returns, as always, to the small Texas community of his imagination. A review of I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski by Bill Green. Movies are supposed to be about getting lost in emotion. But one scientist has broken down the film industry to cold, hard facts. Dean Simonton has done a statistical study of thousands of movies to determine what makes them critical darlings or box-office hits. 

From OJR, how the New York Times can fight back and win: Rupert Murdoch has the Times in his sights. But a Web 2.0 strategy could help the Gray Lady regain her glowing countenance; and the Los Angeles Times tells its readers: "Shut up". A Times editorial attacks the concept of reader comments on news stories, declaring Google a greater threat "than Osama bin Laden". Thanks to the web, readers now run the show. But is this good for journalism?

From Foreign Policy, The Terrorism Index: More than 100 of America’s most respected foreign-policy experts see a world that is growing more dangerous, a national security strategy in disrepair, and a war in Iraq that is alarmingly off course; it’s not easy representing one of the world’s most vulnerable nations. Not only must you confront such problems as endemic poverty, entrenched corruption, and ethnic violence, but you have to defend your government from ferocious criticism in the media. To get the other side of the story, FPTV sat down with ambassadors from seven of the worst-performing countries on the 2007 Failed States Index.

From American Diplomacy, a review of Divide and Perish: The Geopolitics of the Middle East by Curtis F. Jones. From TNR, why the U.S. must act in Darfur—right now. Forgotten: Despite years of war and now the looming threat of famine, Somalia’s desperate situation is largely ignored by the international community. A review of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle. The age of Google Earth is troubling for someone born with the explorer gene: A review of Lost Oasis: In Search of Paradise by Robert Twigger. A review of Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World by Stephen O'Shea.

From Dissent, Globalization's Mad Scientist: A review of The Rebel Within: Joseph Stiglitz and the World Bank; and Globalization and Its Discontents and Making Globalization Work by Joseph E. Stiglitz. Jeffrey Sachs on Breaking the Poverty Trap: Targeted investments can trump a region's geographic disadvantages. Poor’s for thought: Physicists help map out an answer to the big question: why are poor countries poor

From The New Yorker, Beware Bailouts: James Surowiecki on the Fed and the market meltdown. Should central banks act as buyers of last resort? What would Bagehot do? Look out. This crunch is serious: What to expect as Wall Street's woes spill over onto Main Street. A review of Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas. With the markets in turmoil, familiar questions arise about the bond-rating agencies. Counterfeit Nation: America’s reliance on dubious credit goes all the way back to the country’s founding. The Unforgivingness of Forgetfulness: Why did so many home buyers ignore recent lessons and start viewing real estate as such a certain and profitable bet? 

How civilisation has begun to look more vulnerable: A review of A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilisations by Clive Ponting and Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery. A review of Chris Mooney's Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming.  Gambling on tomorrow: Modelling the Earth's climate mathematically is hard already. Now a new difficulty is emerging (and more). Can ceramics make our air cleaner? A novel process makes fossil fuels burn cleaner. Though pricey, it's highly promising. There's just one catch. A review of The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (and the book's webpage). 

Mark Lilla on The Politics of God: After centuries of strife, the West has learned to separate religion and politics — to establish the legitimacy of its leaders without referring to divine command. There is little reason to expect that the rest of the world — the Islamic world in particular — will follow. From Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens' book tour—for God Is Not Great—takes a few miraculous turns, including the P.R. boost from Jerry Falwell's demise, a chance encounter with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and surprising support for an attack on religion. A life worth living for: Santayana’s writings provide an answer to militant atheists such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens.

From The Washington Monthly, an introduction to A Different Kind of College Ranking; America's Best Community Colleges: Why they're better than some of the "best" four-year universities; Built to Teach: What your alma mater could learn from Cascadia Community College; Inside the Higher Ed Lobby: Welcome to One Dupont Circle, where good education-reform ideas go to die; and this year's national university and liberal arts college and community college rankings. Thousands of students are wasting their own and taxpayers' money on "Mickey Mouse" higher education courses.

He Didn’t Worship the Market: When Colorado Christian University notified Andrew Paquin, an assistant professor of global studies, that his contract would not be renewed, he knew that not being sufficiently guided by Christ wasn’t the problem. But it might have been that he wasn’t sufficiently capitalist. Why study war? Victor Davis Hanson on how military history teaches us about honor, sacrifice, and the inevitability of conflict. Guantanamo in Germany: In the name of the war on terror, our colleagues are being persecuted - for the crime of sociology. Higher education doesn't secularize students: An interview with Mark Regnerus, author of Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers. A review of The Battle Over School Prayer: How Engel v. Vitale Changed America by Bruce J. Dierenfield. A review of Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard D. Kahlenberg.

From CT, a review of Benjamin Franklin's Printing Network: Disseminating Virtue in Early America by Ralph Frasca; a review of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debby Applegate; and a review of From Nature to Experience: The American Search for Cultural Authority by Roger Lundin. A review of The House the Rockefellers Built: A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America by Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin Dalzell (and more). A review of Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties by Kenneth D. Ackerman. From TLS, Anthony Holden reviews Conrad Black's Richard Milhous Nixon: The invincible quest.