From Mental Floss, an article on the secrets behind your favorite toys; and a look at the surprisingly cool history of ice. What girls want: Caitlin Flanagan on a series of vampire novels that illuminates the complexities of female adolescent desire. From New Internationalist, here are the nominees for Most Artful Tax Dodger (and the winner). Heil Comrade: Baader-Meinhof is flashy and violent, but the glamour hides Germany's odd history of leftist anti-semitism. From Prospect, exactly 50 years ago Michael Young published his famous dystopia The Rise of the Meritocracy; his son Toby argues that we never got the meritocratic educational elite predicted by his father, instead we got the celebrity class; and Britain has more upward social mobility than is often assumed — on some measures more than Germany; but there is least movement where it matters most for the idea of meritocracy, at the very top and the bottom. 20 best brains under 40: Young innovators are changing everything from theoretical mathematics to cancer therapy. The forgotten evolutionist: Alfred Russel Wallace charted a great dividing line in the living world. A review of Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme by Calvin Trillin. Here are 27 popular websites that became books. Will the next Einstein come from Africa? If Neil Turok gets his wish the answer will be a resounding yes.

From TAP, how do we keep Obama's youth mobilized? Nine youth organizers, writers, and progressive-policy thinkers show us the way forward; and dozens of progressive institutions are clamoring to put their agendas on Obama's desk — will the incoming president actually read them? A review of Fighting Words: A Tale of How Liberals Created Neo-Conservatism by Ben Wattenberg. David Donadio on the death of neoconservatism. A look at the greatest conspiracy theories in history. From Jewcy, an article on the problem with Jewish bigots; and a series on Islamic Eschatology to annihilationist Muslim Jew hatred. Confirmation bias: From Jonestown to tribalism to presidential politics, individuals seek the like-minded. From Mental Floss, a look at 10 famous circus performers and  4 heartbreaking (or miraculous) moments in gambling history. Why a Cuban Democrat can't win in South Florida: It's the Communism, Stupid. From n+1, Andrew Seal never dreamed that his pride-filled defense of his native state would prove prophetic. A review of Regulatory Capitalism: How it Works, Ideas for Making it Work Better by John Braithwaite. Images of Satan: Norwegian Black Metal — apparently, Mother Nature makes vicious Vikings out of little boys. A review of Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End by Philip Plait.

From ARPA, a review of The Costello Memoirs by Peter Costello and Howard’s End: The Unravelling of a Government by Peter van Onselen and Philip Senior. Every fool knows it’s a job for government: With the market having failed to restrain managers, it is no surprise that people have turned to the one institution they think can. From Geist, an article on the art of doing nothing. Funny or what: Can any English-language book top Decline and Fall for laughs? Paul Kennedy on how "soft power" can always be outmuscled. From The Hill, an article on male bonding over politics. What Nehru owed to Tagore: Like the poet, the politician saw India as a melange of cultures, without any single dominating essence. Carl Zimmer on Walter Alvarez's catastrophic career. The cautionary tale of stressed-out bunnies: Could the seminal life cycle of snowshoe hares be explained by shell shock? Scott McLemee reviews The Writer as Migrant by Ha Jin. Overland travel is back on the map — the Man in Seat 61 chooses his favourite scenic train journeys around the world. A review of The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York by Matthew Goodman. Did Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson love each other? Annette Gordon-Reed tackles one of American history’s thorniest questions.

From Transit, can democracies deal with climate change? Stanley Crouch on the end of "bad boy" thinking. From Big Think, Anne-Marie Slaughter on a plan for a networked world; and Michael Walzer on how a liberal promotes democracy around the world. What's so great about being a grown-up? Here are the 5 lamest forwarded emails (and why your mom loves them). If you think the Obama-Clinton union is a bit rocky, you should see the low-level power battles going on in Washington, D.C. A review of Athens Victorious: Democracy in Plato's Republic by Greg Recco. The long-forgotten magazine The Chicagoan epitomized the Jazz Age sound of Chicago, equal parts street tough and nightclub habitue. From FLYP, a look at the curious mind of Jeffrey Eugenides. From FP, a photo essay on Gaza’s (literal) underground economy; and it’s time for the West to realize that Mikheil Saakashvili is no saint and that Georgia is not quite an innocent victim. Brad DeLong on the Republic of the Central Banker. From Adbusters, Herman Daly zeroes in on the root cause of our financial meltdown. John Jackson on America's anthropological president. The sad demise of the dining car: Would you choose to travel long distances by train more often if you could enjoy a decent meal en route? Andrew Linklater discusses The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations by Norbert Elias.

Leon Barkho (Jonkoping): The Discursive and Social Power of News Discourse: The case of Aljazeera in comparison and parallel with the BBC and CNN. As the stoic voice of fake authority, "PC" John Hodgman discusses trivia and how humans distinguish fact from falsehood (and more). From Culture11, in praise of squares: Why scrupulous people earn more, live longer, and win at life; and is American religiosity responsible for making atheists unhappy? Jezebels with a cause: Whoever was in charge of deciding what to call each generation of feminism knew what she was doing when she settled on the metaphor of waves; well, the next wave has arrived. Just don't call it proselytizing: Nonbelievers think the time is right to better organize their nonreligion and swell the membership. Is the US too big to fail? Why are investors rushing to purchase US government securities when the US is the epicentre of the financial crisis? Bullion with a mission: Bernard von NotHaus’s crusade to establish an alternative to the dollar and challenge the supremacy of the Federal Reserve. Global insights: The world's arms trade is surging, but for how long? It's time to give voters the liberalism they want: Don't believe pundits who say there's a centrist mandate. Justin Raimondo on the resurrection of the socialist idea. Former news radio staffer Dan Shelly spills the beans on how shock jocks inspire hatred and anger. 

From the Claremont Review of Books, a review of White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement by Allan J. Lichtman and Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right by Paul Edward Gottfried. From CQ Weekly, a cover story on the collapse of Big Tent Republicanism. A panel on The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity by Robert Kuttner. Come January, perhaps no think tank will be more piped into the executive branch than the 5-year-old Center for American Progress (and more). Obama's savvy coalition-building broke all the rules about how to run for president; if he can take the same approach in the White House, he will be a towering success. Larry Beinhart on why the economy grows like crazy amid high taxes. From Cracked, a look at the 15 worst album covers of all-time. Arbiters of Kool: 30 years after the infamous mass suicides, does the spirit of Jonestown live on? (and more) Our Canadian Republic: Do we display too much deference to authority or not enough? Literature is for everybody, writing isn't: Contrary to the popular myth, we don't all have a book in us and pretending otherwise devalues great writing. Dishing up dormice delight: Marc Abrahams on a review of the relationship between dormouse and man

From Prospect, blame it on the Brits: Most people think British power has declined over the past century, but not the Iranians; and a review of books on David Cameron. Patternicity: An article on finding meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. John McWhorter reviews The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush by Elvin T. Lim. A review of The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford. Conrad Black reviews Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood. A look at how websites that dig for news rise as watchdogs. From Edge, Christopher Badcock on the imprinted brain theory. Why shouldn't Sarah Palin get a book deal? Left-leaning Americans should welcome books from Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Why big books still matter: More and more and more and more and more and more on Roberto Bolano's 2666.(and an excerpt, a five-page sentence, and the five most unskippable passages, at New York; and from Bookforum, a review of Last Evenings on Earth and a review of Distant Star). From New Scientist, a look at why the universe may be teeming with aliens and what makes the universe tick. Do libertarians fit in a liberal world? And if they do, are they still libertarians? 

From First Things, Robert George on making business moral; Richard John Neuhaus on the deadly convenience of Christianity without culture; wresting with an angel: A review of Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein by Hilary Putnam; a review of Justice: Rights and Wrongs by Nicholas Wolterstorff; and ain’t nothing but a meanness in this world. The Forward 50 celebrates leadership, creativity, impact; it also reminds us how far we still have to go to truly repair the world. Why license marriage? Richard Epstein has libertarian thoughts on Proposition 8. Uneasy about alcohol: An article on America and the booze question. From Scientific American, an article on the X chromosome and the case against monogamy. From New English Review, an article on literature's most misunderstood novel; a funny thing happened on the way to the twenty-first century; and if we had to write a job description for politicians, with all the qualities that we require of them, what would we put? A stratigraphic analysis of desk debris: If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what is an empty desk a sign of? From IRB, a review of Not Much Left: The Fate of Liberalism in America by Tom Waldman; and Econ 101 Redux: Still dizzy from wondering why the world economy crashed? Into the realm of insanity: When mooning is a sex crime.

A new issue of Education Next is out. From LRB, a review of Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida by Elisabeth Roudinesco. From The Smart Set, an article on the myriad benefits of toilets, and why the world needs more of them; and the large mammals are our closest relatives — so why is our relationship with them so tense? From Seed, how physicist Garrett Lisi published and vetted his revolutionary work signals the potential future of an open, transparent peer review process; and reviewing peer-review: ScienceBloggers discuss the advantages of open science and debate the necessity of the current peer-review system. Here are 6 sex myths as explained by science. If you’re American, geographically inclined and a bit of a stickler, East-West cartographic incongruity is a bit of an annoyance. From Reason, Brian Doherty on 40 years of free minds and free markets: An oral history of Reason; where did the Libertarian Party go wrong? A postmortem on Bob Barr's presidential run; and how the Second Amendment was restored: The inside story of how a gang of libertarian lawyers made constitutional history. How social pressure can drive eco-consciousness: It worked with smoking in the last decade — can social stigmatization persuade people to change their behavior with respect to the environment?

From The Nation, how Wood works: A review of How Fiction Works by James Wood. Too small to fail: While the behemoths of Wall Street stumble and fall, humble local banks are doing just fine, thank you; their surprising resilience holds a key lesson for twenty-first-century global finance. A review of The Comfort of Things by Daniel Miller. Into a vacuum goes the Manhattan Institute: With the GOP in ruins, the Broken Windows group sees an opportunity. From Eat the State, "why do you hate America so much?": Jeff Stevens on un-hating America; and how Clinton doomed the spotted owl: A cautionary tale for greens in the Age of Obama. From Prospect, Michael Lind on the meaning of Obama; and Sarah Palin for poet laureate: She's not to everyone's political taste, but she's a mean poet. A drama-free transition? Obama's transition is downright boring. Reflecting on race barriers: Obama's breakthrough provokes a global race to capitalize on, and build on, his win. Is Obama the Antichrist? The winning lottery number in Illinois was 666, which, as everyone knows, is the sign of the Beast. How country music lost the election — and why that may be the best thing to happen to the genre in years. The hunt is on for more men to lead classrooms. From IHE, a look at when Austrian economics and Jesuit theology don’t mix; and an article on the illusion of race-blind admissions.