From TomDispatch, why 2009 could eat Barack Obama alive: Political filmmaker Eugene Jarecki to idealists: Don't you dare go MIA during the Obama presidency; and the military-industrial complex used to be loaded with household-name companies; with the economy on the skids, will they again become "arsenals" for the Pentagon? A review of Finding Freedom: Hegel's Philosophy and the Emancipation of Women by Sara MacDonald. A look at Finland, whose schools rank No. 1 in global surveys, shows that a national commitment to education can neutralize political debates over school reform. An interview with Hassan I Sirius, editor of Leary On Drugs. A look at the Apollo 8 mission that changed everything. A review of Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin. A review of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey by William Tucker. The Invisible Hand of God: Adam Smith thought competition among religions was a good thing —does Hanukkah prove him wrong? From nth position, an article on doctorates & doctorettes. From The Big Money, a look at the grad students who want to stay in the tower. A review of Plato and the Art of Philosophical Writing by Christopher Rowe. 

From The Bulletin, an article on OPEC and the Prisoner's Dilemma. AC Grayling on ideas that could save humanity.  Understanding economics and economists: The introduction to The Making of an Economist, Redux by David Colander. A review of Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement by Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori. A review of Allen Wood's Kantian Ethics. Jan Tschichold, titan of typography: The man who perfected Penguin's classic paperback deserves to be remembered as one of the great designers of the 20th century. Mountain of death: How risky is it to attempt to scale the world’s highest peak? Jessica Fridrich specializes in problems that only seem impossible to solve. Does Berlusconi speak through his ass or his elbow? Talk is cheap: Consumer spending finally falters — can it be good news? Alan Dershowitz on the hazards of making the case for Israel. Rather than offering a blank check to Soviet-style behemoths like General Motors, now is the time for government to force open the market for a wide variety of Specific Motors. The introduction to Feeding the World: An Economic History of World Agriculture, 1800-2000 by Giovanni Federico. The making of an icon: Two years ago, Victoria Beckham couldn't get a ticket to a fashion show; now style insiders are queuing up to buy her clothes — how did that happen?  

From Forbes, a look at America's biggest billionaire losers of 2008; and an article on billionaire bloggers. For a decade, Mexico has offered assistance to the poor on the condition that they visit clinics, attend workshops and keep their kids in school — can that system work in the US? Tough Shift: Guatemalan workers pick up the pieces after a US customs raid. It has to be one of the stranger stories in publishing history: Straight from YouTube to book. Veteran punk rocker Ian MacKaye on what has shocked him most during the Bush Era and why Obama gives him hope. George Carey reviews Neoconservatism: Why We Need It by Douglas Murray. Where have all the neocons gone? Having wrecked the Right, will neoconservatives revert to their left-wing origins or double down on the GOP? A review of Queer Inclusions by David Rayside and Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States by Miriam Smith. The only way to avoid future financial crises is to push for robust global regulatory oversight. Independent agencies are a supposedly apolitical "fourth branch" of government, but the Bush administration tried to politicize them by appointing ideologues to run them — here's how Democrats fought back. How much should plastic bags cost? Will a five-cent bag fee be enough to alter our behaviour, and is that even the right question?

From Boston Review, just in time for the holiday season, Alex Byrne on what philosophy has to say about the existence of God, and how believers and skeptics both get it wrong; and time to adapt to climate change: Global warming and its impacts are already at hand; we face immediate choices about how to temper the worst consequences for vulnerable populations and regions. From Vox, an article on post-Columbian population movements and the roots of world inequality (and more on ancestors and incomes). From NBER, a report on the causes of rising income inequality; and a report on understanding fertility within developed nations. From Wired, games without frontiers: Why we need more torture in videogames; and Clive Thompson on how T-shirts keep online content free. The threat of punishment actually does stamp out freeloaders, tending to transform them into rule-following members of a society, a new study suggests. An interview with Thomas Dumm, author of Loneliness as a Way of Life. A review of Outgrowing Democracy: A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century by John Lukacs. New evidence suggests that white supremacists are taking advantage of lowered recruiting standards to enter the armed services. A review of The Constitution and 9/11: Recurring Threats to America’s Freedoms by Louis Fisher.