Michael Hemmingson (UCSD): Anthropology of the Memorial: Observations and Reflections on American Cultural Rituals Associated with Death. If mating is partly about choosing half the genome of your children, do your potential partners in parenting have an obligation to disclose that they have had so much “work” done on their face and body that they now look nothing like their original phenotype?" A suspicion of beauty is vital if one hopes to have any relation to it that isn't completely compromised; as Walter Benjamin said, beauty is the other side of the coin of injustice. From The Smart Set, sorry, Peter Pan, but I'm Skipping you in a Jif: Peanut butter is a life or death matter; and in 2004, Malcolm Gladwell predicted a ketchup renaissance; five years later, at the height of tomato season, where do we stand? We can say for certain is that, in the context of the political debate in Washington, the impact of tax changes is almost always overstated. Do people take out payday loans because they're desperate — or because they don't understand the terms? High Frequency Trading: You might not have heard of it now, but get ready, because it's going to be everywhere in the next few weeks (and more and more). Bowling, basketball, BCS, baseball, and birdies: A look at Obama’s use of sport to connect.

From Scientific American, pedophiles, hebephiles and ephebophiles, oh my: An article on erotic age orientation. Lynn Barber on her liaison as a 16-year-old with an older man. Sextortion at Eisenhower High: Last year, an awkward high school senior in Wisconsin went online, passed himself off as a flirtatious female student, and conned dozens of his male classmates into e-mailing him sexually explicit images of themselves. The teacher who became a dominatrix: An academic turns to whips and chains for the paycheque, but gets pulled deeper into the sex trade. Sex and the Suburbs: Find out what Monica Lewinsky has to do with bar mitzvah gifts. Cleavage power, a scientific inquiry: A writer takes her endowments to the streets and finds not just leering but also liberation. Is group sex obscene? Depends on your definition of "obscenity" and of "public". Payoffs in bed: Do wealthy men give more orgasms? Viagra can now be bought over the counter, but hold on — look east and you will find far better, natural remedies for “exhausted passion”. How are your orgasms, Mom? Coitus Interruptus Erroneous: Would you believe that pulling out actually works? Snooping through your partner's undies has become big business, and the local man who started it all doesn't much care for his new competition.

A new issue of Peacework is out. An article on the Global Peace Index and how to achieve it. Can trade and democracy promote peace or is armed conflict deeply rooted in cultural, ethnic, and religious differences? A review of War: A Short History by Jeremy Black. From Swans, an essay on the innate nature of war. John Horgan on how humans could end war. A review of The Liberal Way of War: Killing to Make Life Live by Michael Dillon and Julian Reid. How the deaths of noncombatants fit into the rules of war. From Foreign Policy, despite valid concerns, targeted assassinations are legal and necessary; and assassination, a brief history: When we go to war, what happens when we make our enemies faceless? A review of The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity by Antoine Bousquet. A review of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict by Peter Beaumont (and more). A review of General William E. DePuy: Preparing the Army for Modern War by Henry Gole. David Bromwich on how serial war became the American Way of Life. A review of Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War by Suzanne Simons (and more). Battle paintings: "War Nerd" Gary Brecher may not know much about art, but he's got a gun.

A review of Nothing: A Very Short Introduction by Frank Close. A review of The Lightness of Being: Big Questions, Real Answers by Frank Wilczek. A review of Why Does E=mc2?: And Why Should We Care? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. An excerpt from Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar. A groundbreaking Caltech experiment may detect quantum physics where classical mechanics has ruled sovereign. From Plus, it may seem as if reality has become a whole lot bigger over the last few years — in one branch of theoretical physics, though, things seem to be going the other way; and an article on the biggest problem in theoretical physics (and five more great problems). The physics that we know: An interview with Gavin Schmidt. The laws of the universe are based on fixed constants — what happens to science when those number start to change? (and more) Look at the periodic table of elements, and you'd be hard pressed to find an element that is not used in physics. In the next few weeks, a new name will appear in the periodic table when the element with atomic number 112 receives a new name (and more). A review of Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World by Eugenie Samuel Reich.

Lawrence Weaver (Glasgow): Feeding babies in the 21st century: Breast is still best, but for new reasons. Could there be any more desperate group of consumers than new moms? A review of When Mothers Kill: Interviews from Prison by Michelle Oberman and Cheryl L. Meyer. A review of The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family by Jeremy Adam Smith. (Traditional) Fathers Don’t Always Know Best: The notion that kids can’t develop properly without a biological father was a lie when Dan Quayle asserted it in 1992, and it’s a lie when Barack Obama says it now. The Sacrifice of Isaac ('s Foreskin): An excerpt from Sam Apple's American Parent: My Strange and Surprising Modern Adventures in Babyland. The battle over a baby: Why can a lesbian couple be foster parents to older kids but have to fight to adopt a newborn? A review of Babysitter: An American History by Miriam Forman-Brunell (and more). Research finds young men living at home with parents are more violent. From Foreign Policy, a look at the world’s worst sons: The troublesome progeny giving headaches to some of the most powerful leaders on the planet. The overextended family: Is Skype bringing us together or destroying boundaries?

From TED, Alain de Botton on a kinder, gentler philosophy of success. Meet John Durham, the man who may be put in charge of investigating the Bush administration's torture crimes. The introduction to The Apologetics of Evil: The Case of Iago by Richard Raatzsch. From The Hill, here's the latest 50 Most Beautiful People. From Mother Jones, let the End Times roll: When the economic Rapture comes, will collapsitarians be the chosen ones? From Wired, an essay on cutthroat capitalism: An economic analysis of the Somali pirate business model. Is cheaper health care hopeless? No — and here's an honest, detailed answer why. A review of Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis by Senator Tom Daschle. Bruce Bartlett on taxing the rich and figuring out ways to finance health care reform (and an interview). Jonathan Chait on basic health care facts: They're important. Health-Care Haters 101: Why the right is dead-wrong. Blue-dogged centrist Democrats think that going slow on health care is good politics — but if Obama loses, they lose, too. John Dean on how Barack Obama is a "fox," not a "hedgehog" and thus more likely to get it right. Three major continental thinkers died in the last year; their life stories are extraordinary (and more and more and more on Leszek Kolakowski).

From Policy, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty isn’t always convincing, but after 150 years it is still worth reading (and more). From The Philosophers' Magazine, Jonathan Riley celebrates 150 years of J.S. Mill’s classic essay On Liberty with an overview of its central arguments; Jo Ellen Jacobs argues that Harriet Taylor was the co-author of On Liberty; Richard Reeves on J.S. Mill’s rejection of the quiet; and John Skorupski on the relationship between the freedoms of thought and speech. An interview with Nigel Warburton, author of Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. By adopting the language of human rights, a new UN proposal condemning "defamation of religion" cements oppressive governments' control of free speech. A review of Philosophy and Real Politics by Raymond Geuss. A review of Messy Morality: The Challenge of Politics by CAJ Coady. A review of Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists by Susan Neiman (and more and more and more and more). An excerpt from The Death of "Why?": The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy by Andrea Batista Schlesinger. Newly research shows the meaning of liberty and freedom depends on whether a culture values the group or the individual. Beyond Independence: Robeft Jensen on how we are most free when we are most bound to others.

From The Atlantic, the summer fiction issue is out, including an essay on how literary awards are inherently subjective, but they are also the most powerful antidote we have to the decline of serious fiction; in fiction, details matter — but only imagination can illuminate the human soul; and does a national literature still have meaning in an age of open borders and polyglot cultures? Margaret Atwood, Joseph O’Neill, Monica Ali, and Anne Michaels consider the question. A review of On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction by Brian Boyd. From Bookforum, Craig Seligman on first novels: "There's also the pleasure — one part malice, nine parts love — of seeing our gorgeous friends in their gawky adolescence"; and Morris Dickstein on political fiction: "Today’s headlines make a poor backdrop for tomorrow’s fiction". Please, dear novelists, get real: How many great novels are going unwritten today, because novelists are not being urged to make journeys into reality? Dangerous dykes: Have lesbian writers cracked the male-dominated crime fiction genre? Here are surprising facts about 15 best-selling authors. An interview with John O'Brien, publisher of Dalkey Archive Press, on what's new and exciting in literature after almost 30 years (and part 2).

From The Moscow Times, an article on the paradox of an educated Russian. Why is Russia convinced that it is the victim of a campaign to make it look bad? While the West weighs how best to mobilise against climate change, Russia looks forward to an age of defrosted prosperity. Novaya Gazeta in the newspaper loved in the West, hated at home. The painful post-Soviet history of Russia's smallest republic: Can Ingushetia hold on to its independence now and what is the Kremlin's policy in the Caucasus going to be? Attempts to compensate for Belarusian lack of national pride by turning the country into a fortress and uniting nationality and religion are "insane". What went wrong with Latvia? From Eurozine, over the last thousand years, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have had multiple identities and been members of several empires; and while the Nordic countries cannot compare with France, the Netherlands, or Great Britain when it comes to classical colonialism, this is no reason not to discuss their colonial past. Can Iceland be saved? The plan to get an entire country out of debtors’ prison (and more and more and more). Olle Wastberg on the symbiosis of Sweden and IKEA: "Frankly, IKEA is doing more for the image of Sweden than all governmental efforts combined".

A review of Christopher Lloyd’s What on Earth Happened? The Complete Story of the Planet, Life, and People from the Big Bang to the Present Day. Out of our minds: How did humans come down from the trees and why did no one follow? Party Animals: A look at how early human culture thrived in crowds. A review of Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World by Hank Davis. More on Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending's The 10,000 Year Explosion. Always cited as the hallmark of man’s innovation, here is the real story behind the wheel — from its origins to its reinvention. A review of An Intellectual History of Cannibalism by Catalin Avramescu. A review of Sharon Waxman's Loot: The Battle Over Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World. From TLS, a Nabokov of the ancient world: A review of Ananios of Kleitor by George Economou. The introduction to Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism by Cathy Gere (and a review by Mary Beard). An interview with Owen Hatherley, author of Militant Modernism (and at Bookforum, Matthew Price reviews Peter Gay’s Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond). Mortality and the contradictions of modernity: A review of Genevieve Lloyd's Providence Lost.