James D. Ingram (New School): The Politics of Claude Lefort's Political: Between Liberalism and Radical Democracy. The Failed States Index 2008: Foreign Policy ranks the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away; and where the Security Council fears to tread: Somalia is the most dangerous failed state on the planet, and even international troubleshooters are keeping their distance. Nixonland or The Age of Reagan? Rick Perlstein and Sean Wilentz try to figure out which president continues to have the stronger hold over our political culture. From American Diplomacy, an article on the new face of Central Asia. Encounter Books, the conservative publishing house run by Roger Kimball, will no longer send review copies to The New York Times. Is everything spinning out of control? The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. A review of Stop Me If You’ve Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes by Jim Holt. Kate Carraway has got one sex trick left, and she's saving it for marriage. The abusive exploitation of the human religious sentiment: Michael Burleigh as historian of “Political Religion”. Network Nation: The New Deal isn’t coming back; can Democrats find a fresher way? Is the matter in the universe arranged in a fractal pattern? Why internships in journalism are bad for young people, and bad for the industry.

From Wired, a special report on The End of Theory: In the era of big data, more isn't just more — more is different. A review of Complaint: From Minor Moans to Principled Protests by Julian Baggini. From National Journal, the history of the selection of modern-day vice presidential nominees is chock-full of blunders caused by haste or miscalculations. There’s the real vice president list, the bluff list and the self-serving list (and more). Not my fault: As White House memoirs have become more accusatory, they have also become less illuminating. The mysterious power of itching may be a clue to a new theory about brains and bodies. Bulging panties and oversized tax evasion: An article on the secret lives of the super rich. A review of More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want by Robert Engelman. An interview with Rachel Maddow on gay marriage and the youth vote. Is Japan closer to Western society than Turkey? Kenzaburo Oe and Orhan Pamuk debate. Can a robot, an insect or God be aware? Our intuitions about consciousness in other beings and objects reveal a lot about how we think. An interview with Robert Mundell, an economist who matters. A review of Descent into Chaos: How the War Against Islamic Extremism Is Being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid. More and more on Muqtada by Patrick Cockburn.

From n+1, the problem with the post-catastrophic novel, in the end, is that it enforces a false distinction between what is and what will be; and the only time the novel can count on is now, and the catastrophes that need describing are neither exotic nor hypothetical. What poetry demands: An interview with Christian Wiman, author of Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet. A review of Poets on Prozac: Mental Illness, Treatment, and the Creative Process. Argentine fiction, an evolving story: The new generation of emerging writers came of age during great social upheaval, reflected in their work. A review of The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick. A review of One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs. Towards a World Parliament: An article on US foreign policy and reorganizing the United Nations. A review of The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation by Strobe Talbott. Thomas Frank on conservatives and their carnival of fraud. Here's how the Supreme Court's left-leaning justices can fight back against the conservative majority. Does one abused woman = 100 abused puppies? America has 3,800 animal shelters, but only 1,500 for battered women.

From Foreign Policy, here's the list of the World’s Top 20 Public Intellectuals. With the death of Julian we have something different: To all intents and purposes we can say that paganism died as a credible political and social force in the last days of June 363. A review of Postmodern Spiritual Practices: The Construction of the Subject and the Reception of Plato in Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault by Paul Allen Miller. A review of The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen by Jeffrey Symynkywicz. A review of Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides Are Wrong in the Race Debate by Kenan Malik. A review of The Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century Politics With an 18th-Century Brain by George Lakoff. Did Hitler’s crimes justify the Allies’ terror-bombing of Germany? Patrick Buchanan on morality, Trotskyite vs. Christian. From The New Yorker, an article on multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson’s relentless quest for global influence; and on an unlikely ambassador for the Central African Republic. I don’t (but I might soon): The tide is turning on gay marriage — when will the GOP notice? The next blue chip: Finding the future in Futurism. Beyond Hillary: Herewith, some ideas on how to build a critical mass of female officeholders. Jennifer Gilmore reviews Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love by Lara Vapnyar. For alien life-seekers, new reason to hope.

From Scientific American, an article on the neuroscience of illusion: How tricking the eye reveals the inner workings of the brain. More and more on Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind by Gary Marcus. A review of American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent (and more and more and more and more). Pimp Daddies: Radar salutes Hollywood's creepiest father figures. Guatemala's Francisco Marroquin University is a bastion of libertarianism, drawing potshots from both sides of the political spectrum. An interview with David Sedaris, an iconoclast with a sense of humor. Chris Hedges on what it means when the US goes to war. Perceived wisdom may tell us to slow down our lives but maybe pressure brings the best results. Ross Benjamin reviews How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Sasa Stanisic. A review of Music, Philosophy, and Modernity by Andrew Bowie. Why care about Tibet? The absolutism of China's stance has stifled debate; but Tibetan culture produces its own leadership. A review of I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World by Mike Edison. A review of Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It by Elizabeth Royte.

From The Moscow Times, a review of Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile by Lewis H. Siegelbaum. The Man for a New Sudan: Roger Winter has spent two decades fighting for peace in one of the world’s most war-torn places — what there is, and isn’t, to show for it. In defense of insiders: A knowledge of how Washington works can be helpful if you work in Washington. A review of Habits of Empire: A History of American Expansion by Walter Nugent. An article on how the old-school yearbook struggles to stay relevant in mySpace age. Open borders, global future: The worldwide movement of people across borders demands imaginative and radical new thinking on migration. A review of Republicanism and Political Theory. What does it mean to be “civilized”? Tzvetan Todorov investigates. Stefanie Sobelle reviews A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds by Mac Wellman. Reflections on 180 commencements: Milton Greenberg offers some thoughts on speakers, honorary degrees, protests and the joy of the day. A review of Badiou, Balibar, Ranciere: Rethinking Emancipation by Nick Hewlett. A review of The Philosophy of Philosophy by Timothy Williamson. Making no waves: A new swimsuit is shattering records—and unleashing debate. A review of The Art of Theater by James Hamilton. From TED, Julie Taymor on theater and the imagination.

Christopher Hitchens reviews Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence (and more and more). Religious leaders, scholars and business people are meeting all over the world to argue about free speech and Islamic sensibilities — how much does this achieve? The Novelist and the Murderers: Francisco Goldman's The Art of Political Murder sparks calls for accountability in Central America's "kingdom of impunity". An article on convention cash as the biggest loophole in American politics. Sleeping around Craigslist: Two middle-aged women discover that casual sex is anything but casual. Bills, catalogs, invitations and the occasional love note lie in stacks across cities; why can’t people deal with their mail? Ian Buruma on the empire of human rights: Are Europeans and Americans simply more compassionate than Asians? A review of The Philosophy of Sociality: The Shared Point of View by Raimo Tuomela. A review of Making the Cut: How Cosmetic Surgery Is Transforming Our Lives by Anthony Elliot. From The Root, after threats of a "girlcott," race and gender still battle for the title of king. A review of How to Do Biography: A Primer by Nigel Hamilton. An interview with Mark Changizi, author of The Vision R(evolution): How the Latest Research Overturns Everything We Thought We Knew About Human Vision.

From Social Theory and Practice, Eamonn Callan (Stanford): Love, Idolatry, and Patriotism. From Philosophy and Public Affairs, Samuel Scheffler (UC-Berkeley): Immigration and the Significance of Culture. The Second Vermont Republic is seeking to build a separatist movement, but many have been shocked by its ties to racist Southern secessionists. Samuel Bowles on the economics of nice folks. A new discovery proves "selfish gene" exists. It’s mine, I tell you: Mankind’s inner chimpanzee refuses to let go; this matters to everything from economics to law. What does it mean to be human, and can science illuminate the answers? A star-studded panel of scientists gathered to discuss those heady themes. From Utne, a series of articles on creativity. Face it, it's not about talent: In Hollywood, beauty has become its own reward. When did talking go out of style? Obama's professed willingness for diplomacy should be to his credit. Wii all you can be? Why the military needs the gaming industry. A review of John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand by Richard Reeves. A review of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left by Nikolas Kozloff. Are you married? Then do not read this column. An article on the Internet and its Discontents: "The unexamined online life is not worth living". From Cracked, here are 7 innocent gestures that can get you killed overseas.

From TAP, a bad Supreme Court decision overturning race-based integration programs in Louisville, KY, and Seattle, WA, has produced a positive result. How a progressive idea ended up reinforcing inequality: A review of School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program by Susan Levine. The Malthus blues: Cheering thoughts about population. From Psychology Today, your personality isn't necessarily set in stone; with a little experimentation, the ornery and bleak can reshape their temperaments and inject pluck and passion into their lives; and whether coincidences are meaningful is a mystery, but our talent for noticing and manipulating them is increasingly clear. A review of books on the politics of oil. An interview with Paul Roberts, author of The End of Oil. A review of Cecil B. DeMille: A Life in Art by Simon Louvish. The GOP's nursing home dilemma: How a prominent abortion foe has pushed his fellow Republicans into a corner, forcing them to choose "life" or profits. Does this new edition of A Death in the Family right an injustice done to James Agee’s masterpiece by a previous editor? The misfits: The genetic legacy of nomadism may be an inability to settle. Get shorty: A sly political gesture enlivens an awards ceremony dedicated to the celebration of English. More and more on Adam Thirlwell's The Delighted States.

From TED, artist Chris Jordan shows us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like; Robert Full on how engineers learn from evolution; and George Dyson tells stories from the birth of the modern computer — from its 16th-century origins to the hilarious notebooks of some early computer engineers. Who'll unplug Big Media? The media reform movement has made a few inroads, but there's still a long way to go. An interview with Kerwin Swint, author of Dark Genius: The Influential Career of Legendary Political Operative and Fox News Founder Roger Ailes. See? The Web is changing politics. From The Journal of Democracy, the paradox of East-Central Europe is that the rise of populism is an outcome not of the failures but of the successes of postcommunist liberalism. From National Journal, a cover story on how the market for food may not be the same as for other products (and an article on an Africa like Iowa). Color of an Awkward Conversation: Life can be strange for Africans discovering blackness in America. From Eurozine, a series of articles on renowned Hungarian-French intellectual Ferenc Fejto (1908-2008). How so America's super-rich get away with acting like "just folks"? The lion who didn't roar: Why hasn't Nelson Mandela spoken out against Robert Mugabe? Research finds older voters are not always wiser voters.