A review of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World's Food System by Raj Patel. Why we eat and eat what we do: An excerpt from Moveable Feasts: The History, Science, and Lore of Food by Gregory McNamee. A review of Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond Our Appetites by Lynne M. Baab. An article on ketchup vs. salsa, by the numbers. He held good taste to be self-evident: A review of Thomas Jefferson on Wine by John Hailman. The father of our coffee culture: If you're a java snob, thank Alfred Peet, who died last month. It takes a tough lady to come out in favour of drinking these days: A review of The Joy of Drinking by Barbara Holland. Food, inglorious food: Paul Levy on his decision to opt out of the macho food-writing movement. Don’t even think of touching that cupcake: It’s a haute Betty Crocker treat for us grown-ups, but devil’s food for our little angels. Table manners: A review of Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch.

A review of Rational Choice and Democratic Deliberation: A Theory of Discourse Failure by Guido Pincione and Fernando R. Teson. Bryan Caplan on the 4 boneheaded biases of stupid voters (and we're all stupid voters). An article on campaign finance as the root of all evil. Federal law limits the participation of resident aliens in the political process. But it is silent on the role of extraterrestrial aliens. Failing Electoral College: As California Republicans seek to game the dysfunctional Electoral College, a campaign is rising to establish a national popular vote (and more). Electoral Vote Shuffle: Current proposals to change the way electoral votes are apportioned via state-level legislation raise larger questions as to why our federal elections are run at the state level at all. Wake up and smell the kiwi: What New Zealand can teach about proportional representation and electoral reform.

From NYRB, Colin McGinn reviews Steven Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (and more and more and more and more and interview). From Seed, an article on the evolution of language: What songbirds, dancing, and knot-tying can tell us about why we speak. From The Chronicle, some colleges are working to keep American Indian languages from becoming a lost part of history. Vigil for the vanishing tongue: Every few weeks, one of the world’s 7,000 or so languages falls out of use. But there’s still time to thumb through the vanishing world dictionary. A Browser's Paradise: A review of Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Sixth Edition). One of the week's best invented words: Whimperative: “Would you mind reviewing the last 10 years of quarterly sales reports this weekend?” Small object of grammatical desire: It's small, flat, black - and the hyphen is disappearing from the dictionary. Why? (and more on A Farewell to Hyphens). Case study: Never mind about the hyphen: what has happened to capital letters? In a world of txtspk they don't seem necessary. Ruthann Robson (CUNY): Footnotes: A Story of Seduction.

A review of A Companion to Ancient Epic. A review of Homeric Voices: Discourse, Memory, Gender by Elizabeth Minchin. A review of The Beginnings of History: Herodotus and the Persian Wars by James Allan Evans. A review of The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens by Matthew R. Christ. The introduction to Athenian Legacies: Essays on the Politics of Going On Together by Josiah Ober. From NYRB, a review of Rome from the Ground Up by James H.S. McGregor; The Seven Hills of Rome: A Geological Tour of the Eternal City by Grant Heiken, Renato Funiciello, and Donatella De Rita; The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City by Corrado Augias; and The Colosseum by Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard. A review of Religion in the Roman Empire. A review of Pompeii Awakened: A story of rediscovery by Judith Harris and Antiquity Rediscovered: The legacy of Pompeii and Herculaneum. A review of History and Geography in Late Antiquity by A. H. Merrills.

From 49th Parallel, a review of Case Studies of U.S. Economic Sanctions: The Chinese, Cuban, and Iranian Experience. Is attacking Iran on the agenda? Immanuel Wallerstein investigates, and a review of Alternatives: The United States Confronts the World. From NYRB, Peter Galbraith reviews Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States by Trita Parsi. A review of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (and more and more). An interview with Theodore C. Sorensen on the presidential trashing of American law and diplomacy. Bush isn't Truman, and the next president won't be Eisenhower. A quick history lesson on the tired analogy of imperial decline and fall: America is no Rome (and more). The wrong lessons from Munich: Neville Chamberlain is generally accused of two grave sins, but conventional wisdom is distinctly questionable. And the argument is of more than historical interest.

From Slate, a series of articles that examine the unavoidable presence of sex in science and culture. From Commonweal, Charles Taylor on Sex and Christianity: How has the moral landscape changed. The Joy of Texts: A review of Sex in the Bible: A New Consideration by J. Harold Ellens. For many Muslims in the west, meeting members of the opposite sex can be tricky. Can “wedding banquets”, where hundreds of young Muslims speed-date, offer a solution? How to be a Latin lover: Forget all those modern guides to dating. If you want to find a partner, the ancient Romans can tell you all you need to know. Charlotte Higgins explains what we can learn from Ovid's Ars Amatoria. A review of Virgins: A Cultural History by Anke Bernau (and more). The endless in and out: Iris Radisch on the necessity and futility of Alice Schwarzer's current anti-porn campaign.

Their New York Film Festival: Baumbach, Schnabel, Anderson, the Coens! When was the last time the New York Film Festival could claim bragging rights to such an impressive roster of local talent? The New York auteur is back. The world of film festivals: There are festivals for every audience, every taste, if only you know how to find them. Completely Immaterial: Steven Spielberg gets insulted, and the town goes insane. A review of Hollywood Undercover: Revealing the Sordid Secrets of Tinseltown by Ian Halperin. An interview with Kristin Thompson, author of The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood. Despite the movie business's reputation for waste and excess, there are few places more ruthlessly scheduled, more efficiently choreographed than a film set. Unless that set happens to be in Russia.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education, a series of articles on diversity in academia, including an essay on how the professoriate is increasingly diverse, but that didn't happen by accident; some evangelical professors say they are discriminated against, but others ask whether that is because of faith — or politics; gay professors face less discrimination, but many still fight for benefits; fewer than 30 black women hold full-time jobs in philosophy departments, but the number has inched up in recent years; the perspectives of single academics need to be brought more directly into teaching and scholarship; hiring foreign scholars in the name of diversity does little to help the education of minority youth in the United States; to infer anything about a person's character or sensibility on the basis of physical racial characteristics is legally suspect—yet that is what "diversity hiring" practices require us to do; elite colleges must do more to help low-income students succeed; and the college-guide market has exploded, with books and rankings that cater to students of all ethnic origins, faiths, and interests.

Strike Out: Daniel Gross on the sorry little conflict between GM and the UAW. Driven to strike: But the short walk-out is over. Remember our real Iranian friends: What Michel Foucault and Jean-Paul Sartre have to teach us about how to respond to President Ahmadinejad's US visit. After "yuck", the farce of O.J. Simpson's book: If I Did It reads like a self-absorbed counseling session (and an excerpt). Who cares about the weak dollar? What currency devaluation means for the average Joe. If Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize, will he run for president? Believe it or not, Britney Spears’ poor performance on the MTV Video Music Awards was the culmination of a process reaching back to Plato. Applaud the outcry over Jena. But what about stopping the injustices inflicted on black people every day — like crappy schools, underemployment and unequal sentencing?

From The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, a review of Understanding China and India: Security Implications for the United States and the World by Rollie Lal; and a review of Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. A review of The Dragon and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 BC to the Present by Harry G. Gelber. An interview with Susan Shirk, author of China: Fragile Superpower. Will human rights advocates bring home any medals from the Beijing Olympics? Ian Buruma investigates. Directors Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke's differences aren't just commercial, nor even merely stylistic: as 5th and 6th generation filmmakers, respectively, their competing visions are about national representation — and what can stand up against Hollywood popularity. From PINR, an article on the economic factors behind the Myanmar protests. Is a brutal crackdown about to happen in Burma? The junta's boxed in, and the lesson of history bodes ill for the demonstrators. And so it goes... (and more) Should it be Burma or Myanmar?