From NBER, research suggests welfare reform has led to more work but less education, and a look at how changes in Social Security have affected retirement. Zac Bissonnette on why college is a waste of money. From Forbes, a writer and reader on why book publishers fail. Making books: A veteran editor offers a year-end report on the mood in the book publishing industry. Three new books offer competing versions of J.F.K.'s assassination. Le Grand Old Party? What the Republicans can learn from France's Socialist Party. God must have parachuted him to Earth: These days Lech Wałesa is a non-person even if his face pops up on television from time to time. Plato was a backpacker: Frank Bures looks a long way back to fellow traveler Plato and the seeds of wisdom. More on Rose George’s The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. More on 2666 by Roberto Bolano. The Real Community Organizer: Craig Newmark on Craigslist, libertarianism, online democracy, and nerd values. Footprint of the Fittest: Can we identify how cultures evolve — and if so, can we change our collective course for the good of the planet? Satirists thick and thin: From Juvenal to Armando Iannucci, satire is an ancient and necessary art. As 2008 turns to 2009 at the end of this month, an extra second will be added to every clock — but who decides exactly what time it is?

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