Shamkhal Abilov (Azerbaijan): The “New Great Game” Over the Caspian Region: Russia, the USA, and China in the Same Melting Pot. A review of Central Asia in World History by Peter B. Golden. An alarming number of girls in Kyrgyzstan are kidnapped and forced into marriages, where they have little choice but to consent. A review of Kazakhstan: Surprises and Stereotypes After 20 Years of Independence by Jonathan Aitken. Raffaello Pantucci and Alexandros Petersen on the clash of Eurasian grand strategies. Sergey Markedonov on Putin's Eurasian aspirations. Richard Weitz on stabilizing the Stans. From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a series on “Silly Dictator Stories”. The jerk who captured Kazakhstan: Even when larded with traditional humor and Dan Brown-like historical fantasies, political satire can be a chancy game in the land of Strategy 2030. An interview with Alex Cooley, author of Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia. A review of Afghanistan: A Political and Cultural History by Thomas Barfield. The new sound of Central Asia: The Alaev Family, from Tajikistan by way of Israel, turns traditional folk songs into infectious dance music.

Joshua Stein (Yale): George Zimmerman and the Right to Violence. From Capital Commentary, Josh Larsen on the politics of Will Ferrell. Sheelah Kolhatkar goes inside Karl Rove's billionaire fundraiser. “I don't get along with lesbians”: An interview with Camille Paglia. From Wired, Gideon Lewis-Kraus goes in search of the living, purring, singing heart of the Online Cat-Industrial Complex (and more and more). The anachronistic candidate: Philip Terzian on Mitt Romney, throwback. Katha Pollitt on women who love Republicans who hate them. A review of Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age by Susan Jacoby. Slavoj Zizek on the politics of Batman. Michael Ruse on saving Gaia from the Greens. What if this divide between literary intellectuals and physical scientists were more than just a clash of cultures? Jiro Tanaka finds out.

Cyra Akila Choudhury (FIU): Between Tradition and Progress: A Comparative Perspective on Polygamy in the United States and India. On the once-wide acceptance of same-sex unions between men in Europe of the Middle Ages: An excerpt from Sex and Punishment by Eric Berkowitz. Did a sexual revolution, led by low-ranking males and faithful females, lay down the roots of the modern family? From e-flux, Slavoj Zizek on Hegel on marriage. From The View from Hell, because humans evolved to rely on cultural patterns and coercion to enforce marital partnerships, marriage no longer really exists — all that is left to us is cohabitation relationships under the false name of marriage; a look at some behaviors and triggers that either reinforce or erode a marriage community; and is having children one of the patterns that would support, and hence predict, marital stability? A review of Debating Same-Sex Marriage by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher. From Vanity Fair, if fairness and equality don’t clinch the argument for gay marriage, consider its positive effect on an entrenched modern monstrosity — the wedding itself.

A new issue of Studies in Sociology of Science is out. Fortunately for Julian Assange, a sympathetic president was willing to throw him a lifeline; unfortunately for the movement that he represents, this also means that even the quintessential anarchist-journalist needs the protection of a state. As Romney and Ryan lie with abandon, how should journalists navigate post-truth politics? Paul Ryan’s black college girlfriend Daneeta Pope wants nothing to do with campaign. From World War II magazine, what if Hitler had not come to power? Mark Grimsley wonders. What Che and Hitler have in common: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on the rules of power. From h+, the Singhilarity Institute: Hugo de Garis on his falling out with the transhumanists. A review of The Mystical Life of Franz Kafka: Theosophy, Cabala, and the Modernist Spiritual Revival by June Leavitt.

From The Fortnightly Review, Drew Moore on genealogy in America. Nostalgia and alcohol fuel a gaming comeback: Kyle Orland on the surprising, stealth rebirth of the American arcade. A review of Coming of Age in America: The Transition to Adulthood in the Twenty-First Century. David Livingstone Smith reviews American Utopia and Social Engineering in Literature, Social Thought, and Political History by Peter Swirski. A review of Fatalism in American Film Noir: Some Cinematic Philosophy by Robert Pippin. How advertisers convinced Americans they smelled bad: A schoolgirl and a former traveling Bible salesman helped turn deodorants and antiperspirants from niche toiletries into an $18 billion industry. What 200 Playboy covers tell us about beauty in America: Era by era, a sanitized quest for physical perfection. Noel Murray on the beautiful artificiality of the American mallscape. The tacky history of the pink flamingo: From its start in Massachusetts, of all places, to its inspiration of a John Waters film, the lawn ornament has some staying power. A review of The Last Bohemia: Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn by Robert Anasi (and more). Here are Chuck Norris’s 10 favorite things about America.