From The New York Times Magazine, a special issue on The Lives They Lived: This year brought the deaths of many giants of politics and culture, but here we present some of the lesser-known lives. Twilight of the greats: This year saw the death of so many big names, perhaps it saw the end of greatness, too — where do we go from here to find the artists that matter? Here's a list of the 50 most loathsome people in America, 2007. Dave Barry reviews An Inconvenient Year: It was a year that strode boldly into the stall of human events and took a wide stance astride the porcelain bowl of history. The new, new things of 2007: Apple is the new NASA, Iran is the new Iraq, beer is the new water, and water is the new oil. From Business Week, a special report on the best & worst products, peoples and trends 2007. Here are seven things we should pretend never happened in 2007. The new year may bring a recession and stagnating house prices — Harvard's "professor of happiness" Tal Ben-Shahar suggests four ways to lift your spirits in 2008.

From LiveScience, a look at the top 10 weird ways we deal with the dead. An interview with Mark DeMoss, author of The Little Red Book of Wisdom. A review of House Lust: America's Obsession With Our Homes by Daniel McGinn. A review of The Scent of Desire: Discovery Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell by Rachel Herz (and more and an interview). The new book The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret claims to have definitive evidence of a long-suspected technological crime — that Alexander Graham Bell stole ideas for the telephone from a rival, Elisha Gray. Former presidents and prime ministers are anxious to find ways of continuing their work. Our tendency to persecute others is as alive today as in medieval times. A generation can always be described as "rising" but may it be described as having "fallen"? A review of Bright Young People: The rise and fall of a generation, 1918–1940 by DJ Taylor. Worth a thousand words: A good graphic can tell a story, bring a lump to the throat, even change policies, and here are three of history's best. Census sensitivity: Numbers mean power, which is why counting people is so controversial. The ugly are one of the few groups against whom it is still legal to discriminate — unfortunately for them, there are good reasons why beauty and success go hand in hand. Tony Blair seems happy to believe in all manner of things without reason or evidence. 10 great snake-oil gadgets: Some gadgets change the world, others don't. Deny all you want, they'll still believe: Why public denials may only fuel conspiracy theories. Extreme souvenir: How Sacha Pfeiffer handed money to Maoist insurgents, and lived to worry about it.

From The Black Commentator, here are reflections on black group will and identity in the 21st century: An evaluation of the Pew Survey of African Americans. Kwanzaa's lights go dim: The African American holiday is contrived and inauthentic — but it still needs our support. A review of The New Negro: Readings on Race, Representation, and African American Culture, 1892-1938. Obama can end the racial barter: Christopher Caldwell on what it means to be black or white in America. George Will reviews Shelby Steele's A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win. The Obama Effect: Have the dreams of the civil rights movement been realized or deferred? Modern discrimination: Why racism is still alive, and how conservatives can deal with it. White liberals have white privilege too: Ten misunderstandings white liberals have about race. Does Denzel always have to represent? The actor doesn't always play the do-right "race man" and that's a good thing. No racial quotas here: Critics made an issue out of race in rock music this year — they shouldn’t have.

Thomas J. Miles and Cass R. Sunstein (Chicago): The New Legal Realism. Torben Spaak (Uppsala): Relativism in Legal Thinking: Stanley Fish and the Concept of an Interpretive Community. Marc Hertogh (Groningen): What is Non-State Law? Mapping the Other Hemisphere of the Legal World. Annelise Riles (Cornell): The Anti-Network: Global Private Law, Legal Knowledge, and the Legitimacy of the State. Tonya L. Putnam (Columbia) and Jacob N. Shapiro (Princeton): Do Treaties Matter to Citizens Willingness to Punish Foreign Rights Abusers? Dinah Shelton (GWU): An Introduction to the History of International Human Rights Law. Jacob T. Levy (McGill): Self-Determination, Non-Domination, and Federalism. Samuel Issacharoff (NYU): Democracy and Collective Decisionmaking. David Stasavage (NYU): Polarization and Publicity: Rethinking the Benefits of Deliberative Democracy. Jessica Trounstine (Princeton): Modern Machines: Patronage, Information, and Incumbency in Local Politics. Ezequiel Lugo (Stetson): The Unfinished Business of American Democracy. John Smith (Rutgers): Reputation, Social Identity and Social Conflict. Asim Jusic (CEU): The Weimar Intellectual Baggage in Leo Strauss' Natural Right and History. Christopher Lowry (Queen's): Beyond Equality of What: Sen's Capability Approach and its Implications for Liberal Neutrality. An interview with G.A. Cohen, author of If You're An Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? on inequality of wealth. A review of International Law and its Others. The introduction to The Limits of Loyalty by Simon Keller.

From The Economist, how to reform flawed behemoth Pemex that is the world's sixth-biggest oil producer. The introduction to Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil by James Holston. Elevating the gutter to cesspool art: The sewers of Brazil become a canvas for a subversive makeover. A look at why Chile is in no position to give pension reform advice. Greg Palast on good and evil at the center of the Earth: A Quechua Christmas carol. Kenya’s remote north has become a battleground for rising Islamism and its pro-American opponents — have aggressive post-9/11 policies fomented the very sectarianism they were meant to fight? For all its flaws, an example to others: The example Kenya can set for South Africa and the rest of the continent. Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki was hastily sworn in for a second term despite fierce accusations of election fraud. From Der Spiegel, terror, nukes and an uncertain future: What next for Pakistan? An imperfect feminist: However disappointing Bhutto was in her actions on behalf of Pakistan's women, she was a potent symbol of their potential empowerment — and symbols matter. From The Hindu, a special issue on the state of the nation. From Outlook India, a review of The Ugliness of the Indian Male and Other Propositions by Mukul Kesavan. A flourishing slum: The residents of Dharavi, allegedly Asia's biggest slum, are thriving in hardship; and a soul-searching business: The slum-dwellers of Dharavi are green. The land of a thousand bad newspaper articles: Isn't there anyone who can write about India with some complexity? Nepal's provisional parliament has approved a motion to abolish the monarchy and declare the Himalayan country a republic.

From The Observer, from student rag to literary riches: Launched in 1979 under the inspired "lunacy" of Bill Buford, Granta magazine became the home of vital new writing and launched the careers of some of our greatest novelists, and as it celebrates its 100th issue, editors past and present how a tiny Cambridge journal rose to conquer the literary world; and small is beautiful: An article on the best new journals. Lack of venues and a paucity of critical writing are Digging the grave of the book review: Book reviewing is dead; long live the book review! From The Walrus, Apocalypse Soon: An article on the future of reading. Remembrance of Things Unread: The books we receive as gifts may fill our shelves, but not necessarily our minds. An epilogue to empty pages: A review of My Unwritten Books by George Steiner. The library’s helpful sage of the stacks: Most writers remember how they first met David Smith, whose business card reads "Librarian to the Stars". Readings to put you off books: Too many academics have abandoned clarity and enthusiasm for cliquey obscurity.

From Open Democracy, what went wrong? The failure of the United States's global policy since 9/11 can be measured in the chasm between the dreams of 2001 and the reality of 2007. An interview with Thom Hartmann, author of Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America's Original Vision. A voice for freedom: U.S.-backed broadcasts remain the ultimate in "soft power". He could care less about Obama's story: American can't rebrand its image problems away in the Middle East. An interview with George Weigel, author of Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action. From Freezerbox, megatons and memory holes: An article on Richard Rhodes, Richard Perle, and the man who saved the world. A review of Prince of Darkness. Richard Perle: The Kingdom, the Power, and the End of Empire in America by Alan Weisman. Long, gone neocons: The Bush administration is no longer influenced by neocons — instead, it's governing the way its predecessors have.  More on Dangerous Nation by Robert Kagan. Slate reads the Elisabeth Bumiller's new Condi biography so you don't have to (and more and more and more). From The National Interest, Daniel Drezner (Tufts): Foreign Policy Goes Glam; and Foggy Bloggom: Bloggers are moving into the Washington establishment’s neighborhood — from K Street to Capitol Hill, will they ever feel at home?

From Wired, a look at why "anonymous" data sometimes isn't. Know who I am? A master identity thief tells his secrets. Secret surfing: How to keep prying eyes away from your Web browser, e-mail, and IM. Actually, crime does pay: How to find fame and fortune by hacking into MySpace. A review of The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet by Daniel J. Solove. About Facebook: As the old concept of privacy fades and a new one arises online, what is being lost? Personal space invaders: A look at the top science-and-tech privacy threats of 2007. Browsing ahead: You can’t do much when you’re dead, but you can still send e-mail — that’s just one Internet innovation that will loom large in 2008. The accidental innovator: Evan Williams, the founder of Blogger and Twitter, epitomises Silicon Valley's right brain. Is the Internet destroying our culture, or is it just annoying our snobs? A review of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture by Andrew Keen. Can Google "not be evil" and still fend off the government? Joshua Green wants to know. Know thyself: Or at the very least, Google thyself. The Numbers Guy on how people really search the Web (and more).

From Boston Review, half a man: Notes on gender apartheid in Iran. The left told feminists to wait for equality in 1970s Britain, today they are told to wait for it in Saudi Arabia, but the time to fight is always ripe. Here are some vile, abusive comments from Cif readers as a tiny taste of what feminists have to put up with. Girl power: What has changed for women—and what hasn't. Downstairs upstairs: Women have not escaped the kitchen; it has come after them. If a woman's sexuality is still defined by the male experience, how can this be deemed sexually liberating or empowering? A review of Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men? A Debate by Warren Farrell and James P. Sterba. A review of Rethinking Domestic Violence by Donald G. Dutton. Why Title IX matters: Women's educational equity turns 35, and there's a lot to celebrate. A review of Great Big Glorious Book for Girls by Rosemary Davidson and Sarah Vine and A Girl for All Seasons: The Year in High Heels by Camilla Morton.

Change agent? An article on Barack Obama and the burden of liberalism. A review of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg. From TCS, revisiting the stupid party: Has the emergence of a conservative intelligentsia proven to be an unmixed blessing? More on Heroic Conservatism by Michael Gerson. A review of David Frum's Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again. More on Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes and Asides from the National Review by William F. Buckley. As Hillary campaigns for the White House, Radar remembers the colorful characters from Bubba's administration. Newsmax, or Newshoax? Christopher Ruddy’s Newsmax has crossed to the Dark Side, doing a Lewinsky on Bill Clinton.