From Commentary, an article on crime, drugs, welfare—and other good news. How do Americans feel about the economy? Four writers provide snapshots of their local economies. From Newsweek, Robert Samuelson on The (Impossible) American Dream. Winning the rat race by quitting it: You may not know it, but you want to avoid the upcoming crush of Christmas consumerism — let Thanksgiving be your guide. The Insatiable Consumer: Ignore the naysayers — nothing can stop the American holiday shopper. Luxury brand executives are not selling "dreams", as they like to suggest; they are hawking low-cost, high-profit items wrapped in logos. Robert Kuttner on the future of the corporation. Forget about startups, says Intel's co-founder Andy Grove: It's large companies that generate real change: Apple upended the music industry, Wal-Mart may reinvent health care, now if only G.E. would build an electric car.

Menagerie, not museum, for words that live: The newly published Sixth Edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary reflects the transformations unfolding in the unabridged third edition of the O.E.D. Tracing the history of Helvetica: A film about a font?! Yes, and it's gripping, too, showing how a sleek typeface has encouraged good design and helped to shape big ideas. Will the increasingly cozy relationship between Hollywood and publishing companies change the way novelists approach their work? For more than a decade, inventors have tried to come up with a high-tech version of that most sacred of analog content delivery systems: the book. Amazon debuts Kindle just as the National Endowment for the Arts says reading is fading. A review of The New Granta Book of the American Short Story. The art of fiction and the art of the interview: A review of The Paris Review Interviews, Volume II. A review of The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973-1982. Saul Bellow on God: An excerpt from Do You Believe? Conversations on God and Religion by Antonio Monda. A review of The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993 by Charles Bukowski. From LA Weekly, a claim that Charles Bukowski was a Nazi sympathizer delays effort to save his bungalow. Christopher Hitchens says "Martin Amis is no racist".

From Nerve, a look at how Alfred Kinsey's own sex life changed American culture, and an article on the erotic appeal of the Lands' End catalog. From Jewcy, a brief encounter with America's best sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Mating in captivity: An article on reconciling the erotic and the domestic. A review of Love and Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships by David Levy. Midwestern Kink: Dry academia—and slightly wetter hotel antics—at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Why aren’t all people beautiful?: Maybe the genes that make hot males make distinctly un-hot females. Don’t Blame It on Rio: The porn star Vanessa Del Rio burned herself into the corneas of masses of American males now in their 30s and 40s. Why do men like porn more? Studies of monkeys offer insight. No real sex please, we're ironic: Neither our literary elite nor our popular culture displays a serious attitude to sex. Flaccid prose: Modern literature doesn't do erotica very well — thankfully the Bad Sex awards exist to warn us of the worst offenders — and Norman Mailer wins it.

From The New Statesman, the Beijing Olympic Games have been described as the superpower's "coming-out party". The authorities are also slowly realising that the arts will play a central role in improving China's international image (and more and more). From Prospect, the giant city of Hefei is almost unknown outside the country, but it aspires to be China's Silicon Valley by 2020, and its aspirations are emblematic of China's future. America's emobyte deficit: China’s youth surpass their American rivals online. Many of the products shoppers buy are made in China. How do workers there feel about efforts to curb consumerism — and the market for their goods? Ethics, ecology and enlightenment: An interview with the late Ramachandra Gandhi on philosophy, exclusivist politics and being the Mahatma’s grandson. The capitalist communist: How poetic Marxist Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has transformed business prospects in West Bengal. An article on Pakistan's valley of extremism and a look at how you helped build Pakistan's bomb. Urban space, niche repression: Saskia Sassen on how Pakistan's arc of protest leaves Lahore, its most historic and political city, unmoved.

From The New York Times, Magazine, patients without borders: What do the uninsured in America do when they need health care? Some turn to a volunteer medical group that was set up to provide free services in third world countries. The market made me do it: Health insurance that disappears when you need it. Advances in science and medicine mean we are living longer than ever, but how much is life worth? Within spitting distance? The era of personalised medicine takes a step closer, but it is not quite here yet. From TNR, a review of How Doctors Think and Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance. Dr. Drug Rep: During a year of being paid to give talks to doctors about an antidepressant, a psychiatrist comes to terms with the fact that taking pharmaceutical money can cloud your judgment. Would you take medication that had no pharmacological effect? Maybe you already have. Don't feed the humans: The medical establishment's ridiculous definition of "overweight" is unhealthy. A look at the 10 most insane medical practices in history.

From New York, a look at how Dan Rather’s last big story is himself. From Radar, Grumpy Legend of American Journalism Ben Bradlee sounds off on JFK, Watergate, Iraq, Hillary Clinton, and Carl Bernstein's strange choice in women. The Vigilante Journalist: Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi discusses the war, campus politics, and his brief obsession with Thomas Friedman. How What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer took Mark Halperin off course: Did a great book inspire a generation of bad political journalism? (and more) From The Village Voice, an article on Rudy's ties to a terror sheikh: Giuliani's business contracts tie him to the man who let 9/11's mastermind escape the FBI. Hounding the Bush Dogs: Meet the candidates who are taking on conservative Democrats. The poll numbers are up, and he’s finally performing well, but how do we know if Barack Obama has a knockout punch? (and an interview) A review of A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win by Shelby Steele. The Ideal Opponent: Who are our potential presidents hoping to run against in the general election? Here's a rundown of the front-runners' ideal match-ups. Read, weep, and vote: A review of "writing" from the presidential candidates. iPower to the People: A look at the perils and promise of point-and-click politics.

From the Internet Review of Books, a review of Leading Ladies: American Trailblazers by Kay Bailey Hutchison; and a review of Taking on the Big Boys: Or why feminism is good for families, business and the nation by Ellen Bravo. Scapegoating campus feminists: Are women’s studies departments really endangering America? Forever Young: Suzanne Somers says special hormones can keep women young in Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones — should they listen? A review of Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women by Caryl Rivers. Nine rules for buying the right handbag: The handbag is either a symbol of nesting or a tool of enslavement — either way, buying one's a bitch. A bitch for president: The rise of Clinton as the first female frontrunner proves the word remains as incendiary as ever. Let's not be disingenuous: Is "bitch" a bad word? Of course it is. It Takes a Village to fail to thank its female leader, no matter how good she is. A review of Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories by Katha Pollitt (and more). Waiting for Good Joe: Do coffee shops discriminate against women? Which is the most talkative gender? It all depends. So much advice, so little time: Ever since Mrs Beeton put pen to paper, women have devoured guides to living happily ever after, and this Christmas, record numbers will hit the shelves — but are they any good? 

From NYRB, Avishai Margalit reviews Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine by David Shulman. Young pioneers toil in the Israeli desert: The Negev Desert is a desolate place — not somewhere you would expect to find young Israeli students. But a small group of them has chosen to live there, to work for their country's future and for peace. From Monthly Review, a critique of the Arab Left: On Palestine and Arab unity. A review of Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Memoir by Sari Nusseibeh. A review of books on the formation of Hizbollah and Hamas, and what they bode for the Arab world’s future. An article on why Hamas should have been invited to Annapolis. The real two-state solution: President Bush's peace summit for Israelis and Palestinians ignores a painful truth — one that we are already living in the Middle East. Anatol Lieven on how America holds the key to Mideast peace: The greatest hope lies in US patriotism and the extent to which the establishment takes the Islamist threat seriously. A review of Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Amy Dockser; Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present by Michael B. Oren; and Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft by Michael Makovsky.

From First Science, China has the world's longest-running observations of the sky — tough based in astrology, they are of unique importance to astronomy today. From New Scientist, has observing the universe hastened its end? The ice-cream scoop taken out of the universe: An article on a patch of the heavens that contains far more nothingness than the rest of space. The monster of the night skies: The comet 17P/Holmes has astronomers around the world scratching their heads in confusion. The heavenly body just keeps getting bigger — and is now twice the diameter of our sun. An article on how Earth's twin became so hellishly hot. Form The Space Review, an article on exploding Moon myths: or why there’s no race to our nearest neighbor; and a review of The Wonder of It All by Ronald A. Wells. The man who launched the Space Age: An interview with Oleg Ivanovskiy, the engineer who put Sputnik into space. A review of Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War by Michael J. Neufeld.

David R. Stras (Minnesota): The New Politics of Judicial Appointments. A review of The Next Justice: Repairing the Supreme Court Appointments Process by Christopher Eisgruber. Cass Sunstein reviews Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can't End the Battle over Guns by Mark V. Tushnet. Robert Dahl reviews The Genius of America: How the Constitution Saved Our Country and Why It Can Do It Again by Eric Lane and Michael Oreskes and A More Perfect Constitution: 23 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution and Make America a Fairer Country by Larry J. Sabato. A review of Broken Government by John Dean. A review of The Squandering of America: How the Failure of our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity by Robert Kuttner. As frustration takes hold in the land of optimism, Americans are beginning to resemble Germans: They are collectively depressed over the Iraq War, the weak dollar and the aging of the baby boomers.