From New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple on Austria and evil; Rebecca Bynum on the myth of equality; and an essay on the philosophic principles and mechanisms of democracy (and part 2 and part 3). From Vanity Fair, a look at how Jacqueline Kennedy turned the unprecedented, perilous loan of the Mona Lisa into a powerful Cold War symbol; Christopher Hitchens on America the Banana Republic; James Wolcott has lived through a lot of hair-raising times, but now he’s sure the world is going to hell in a handbasket — and, God knows, the media are only making it worse; and now that David Levine, the greatest caricaturist of the late 20th century, is going blind, is he owed more than a fond farewell? From World Politics Review, there are no quick solutions to the Somali pirate crisis. Whenever word comes out that pirates have taken yet another ship in Puntland, extraordinary things start to happen. Pirates versus weapon dealers: Looking for the good guys off the Somali coast. The Coke Coast: An article on cocaine and failed states in Africa. More and more and more on Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat and CrowdedFree World Colossus: In the new Cold War, the US is the revolutionary force. From The New Yorker, a review of Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon by Philip Kunhardt. More on Annette Gordon-Reed's The Hemingses of Monticello.

From LRB, don’t just do something, talk: Slavoj Zizek on the financial crisis. From Radical Notes, an article on how to think about the crisis. An interview with Charles Morris, author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown. From The Spectator, why only Abba can save the world financial markets. The GOP peddles economic snake oil: Suddenly Republicans are against market values? Christopher Carroll on capitalism and skepticism: why does America’s economy perform so badly under Republican presidents? Faith, belief, trust: TINA economic orthodoxy was built on superstition. From Portfolio, a look at why failed CEO's get rehired. An article on taking a hard new look at Greenspan's legacy. Capitalism in crisis: An article on the broken pact with the people. As dire as the times may seem, history isn't about to repeat itself. No depression: This time, Uncle Sam has got our back. Gary Becker on why we're not headed for a depression: No, this isn't the crisis that kills global capitalism. Jagdish Bhagwati on why the critics of globalization are mistaken: Increased global trade has actually been good for the poor in rich countries. A review of New World Disorder: the United Nations After the Cold War — An Insider's View by David Hannay. YaleGlobal examines different responses to human crises (and part 2 and part 3). From Newsweek, can bloggers save the world?

From The Wilson Quarterly, what’s wrong with American democracy? Larry Bartels on the irrational electorate; Denis MacShane on an admirable folly; Gil Troy on burying the hatchet; and Scott Keeter on poll power. From NYRB, Colm Toibin on James Baldwin and Barack Obama. From TNR, David Samuels on how Ralph Ellison explains Barack Obama. From Time, a cover story on The Limits of Race: As the economy falters, race is receding. From The Root, it's racism: Hate-fueled campaigning cannot be covered as mere political hardball; and the MILFy Way: How the GOP is using this low-grade obscenity to sell Sarah Palin. Naomi Wolfe on the Palin charade. An article on Tina Fey and the ten funniest political impressions of all time. From The Village Voice, an article on The Book of Sarah (Palin): Strafing the Palin record. Michael Kinsley on how Senator McCain lost it at a Puerto Rican casino. Form Radar, an interview with pop maven John McCain. Why talk shows like “The View” are showcasing some of the most sophisticated (and mind-numbingly stupid) conversations about the presidential race. Major shock: Two NSA linguists disclose that hundreds of Americans had their private, intimate telephone calls recorded and transcribed by Bush's illegal spying program. Nat Hentoff on The Next American Revolution: When it becomes necessary to bring King George to justice.

The French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio ("Jean-Marie who?") wins the Nobel Prize for literature, a surprise and a boon for three small houses. Though perhaps boring, who dares to argue that Le Clezio has not deserved it? French culture is alive and well, but contemporary literature is a "literature of despair". An article on how the best writers aren't all English. Why isn't there a Nobel Prize for the arts? An article on the future of reading: Using video games as bait to hook readers. From TED, will videogames become better than life? David Perry wants to know; and Steven Johnson on the Web as a city. From TLS, why Rowan Williams is the best man for the job — of appreciating the greatness of Dostoevsky; and an article on the genius of Machado de Assis, Rio de Janeiro's laureate of irony. Leading geneticist Steve Jones says human evolution is over. From Seed, a growing number of scientists argue that human culture itself has become the foremost agent of biological change; an article on the trouble with biodiversity: Life is more varied near the equator, but making sense of that has confounded biologists for 200 years; and in defense of difference: Scientists offer new insight into what to protect of the world's rapidly vanishing languages, cultures, and species. Studies suggest that efforts to appear race-blind can be counterproductive in some situations.