A dish best served boiling hot: The great theme of cinema at the moment is vengeance, and our appetite for punishment seems to be getting more ferocious. In the world of business, it’s all about the numbers; in the world of ministry, it’s all about the numbers as well. There is nothing simple about the diaphanous idea of a fiscal constitution, that’s for sure. What is compulsory national service but a type of slavery? 1588 and all that: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto punctures a few national illusions. The End of the Amazon: Brazil can save its rain forest — the question is, does it want to? Can Brazil save the world from climate change? Hearts and minds: An article on the Peace Corps in the Age of Obama. Many cosmological theories not only see our universe as one of many but also claim that time does not exist; Lee Smolin argues against the timeless multiverse. To protect an ancient city, China moves to raze it. Why is the frat boy culture so sleazy and sex-crazed? A review of Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification by Rae Langton (and more). Going down in the downturn: More women are turning to sex work in a bad economy — does it beat working at McDonald's? This just in: You’re a terrible mother — and you’re going to die. Frying Nemo: Do fish feel pain?

From National Geographic, the forgotten faithful: Followers of Jesus for nearly 2,000 years, Arab Christians today are disappearing from the land where their faith was born. A review of Hard Surface: In Search of the Canadian Road by Peter Unwin. An interview with Knute Berger’s Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes on Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice. An interview with Charter '08 member Sha Yexin, author of Jiang Qing and Her Husbands. Can China go green? Beijing has big plans to curb pollution and start a cleantech industry, but the global recession and looming trade frictions will test its resolve (and more). A review of David Holmgren's Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change. Authoritarianism's new wave: Today's undemocratic governments are smarter and more sophisticated than ever before. A review of Detlev Claussen's Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius (and more). Missing links: There’s a divide between what we should know about science and what we learn from most newspapers. Is interracial marriage legal? Here's the story of one man’s contribution to multiculturalism. A review of Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity by Marc Auge. A review of The Life and Death of Democracy by John Keane (and more and more).

From SciAm, an article on the science of economic bubbles and busts. In These Times on the only road out of crisis: Yes, it is socialism, but nationalize the banks already. More on The Frock-coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels by Tristram Hunt. Eric Boehlert on why the GOP lost the Web race. Burqa politics in France: What happens when feminism and sexual liberation become tools for nationalism? Year of the Cougar: Why older women pursuing younger men are all over TV and movie screens this year. Sherlock Holmes is renowned for being super-rational, yet his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, claimed to speak with the spirits of the dead. And Data for All: Why Obama's geeky new CIO wants to put all government information online. The outrageous and mysterious popularity of LOLCats has provided an updated take on the personification of cats, as well as a bizarre new translation of the Bible. Depression 2.0: Scott Thorson learned the hard way that some days a guy can’t win. As the World Turns: Global soap operas speak the universal language of heartbreak. A review of The Pleasure Center: Trust Your Animal Instincts by Morten L. Kringelbach. A review of Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis. A review of Is God a Mathematician? by Mario Livio.

Paul B. Stephan (Virginia): The Problem with Cooperation. How many countries to run the world? David Rothkopf wants to know. We need greater global governance: The crisis reveals the weakness of nation-based regulation. Alexander Wendt on the inevitability of world government. From PUP, the introduction to The Politics of Global Regulation. "If only our financial regulations were dumber": It's not a cry you hear often, but it may be the most cogent criticism of the convoluted regulatory approach of recent decades. Who regulates the regulators? Obama's far-reaching proposal for financial regulations is a mixed bag — can Congress improve the project? Tax us, please: President Obama needs to ignore any outrage and impose a gas tax now. Something Wicked This Way Grows: The first video game about the Iraq war provoked a firestorm of its own; a realistic game about the second invasion of Fallujah might be a bit too ambitious. A review of A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century by Cristina Nehring (and more and more and more). Why does the idea of an insincere truth-seeker seem so intuitively implausible? The lost art of conceding defeat: At the upper reaches of society, we litigate ever more readily and accept misfortune with ever less stoicism. Is an ugly baby harder to love?

From New Statesman, throughout the 1940s, George Orwell was formulating the ideas about language and politics that found their ultimate expression in Nineteen Eighty-Fourtelling the truth sometimes involves abandoning your friends; and a look at how Orwell’s novels of the 1930s prefigure the horror of Nineteen Eighty-Four (and more and more). Cigarette smoke so permeates George Orwell’s stories it almost leaves stains on one’s fingers when reading his books. A review of The Rise and Fall of Communism by Archie Brown (and more and more). Well, what did you expect? The burgeoning culture of complaints delivers no surprises for Alan Ryan. A review of Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever by Walter Kirn (and more). Splice Today goes down the YouTube white supremacy rabbit hole — it's deeper than you think. A review of Before Prozac: The Troubled History of Mood Disorders in Psychiatry by Edward Shorter. A review of Anticapitalism and Culture: Radical Theory and Popular Politics by Jeremy Gilbert. Britt Peterson reviews The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf. A review of The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East by Neil MacFarquhar (and more).

From FLYP, man-made plans to engineer the climate may sound crazy, but so does a planet too hot to support life; and sometimes journalists produce both the first — and the best — draft of history. An article on a new edition of The Joy of Sex: Where have all the hairy men gone? Celebrating the original DIY: Sex can't get any safer than having it with yourself. Hot or not? Men agree on the answer, but women don't. From Radical Middle, Mark Satin on Zakaria's humanistic pragmatism and Hartzok's visionary idealism.The lessons of 1937: Christina Romer says policymakers must learn from the errors that prolonged the Depression. Population and sustainability: Can we avoid limiting the number of people? Christian soldiers: The growing controversy over military chaplains using the armed forces to spread the Word. The next global reserve currency: If history is any guide, the Chinese renminbi will soon be due to overtake the US dollar, just as the dollar replaced the pound sterling last century. Deliver us from competition: If competition in banking leads to too much risk-taking, the right remedy is better supervision. Thomas Frank on Obama and "regulatory capture": It's time to take the quality of our watchdogs seriously. A review of Justin Fox's The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street (and more and more).

From The Monkey Cage, are Republicans more likely to have affairs and get divorces?; and a look at the wit and humor of political science: "The Hobbesian World of Democrats". This week in conservative taxonomy: "premods", "pomocons" and "prefab cons". From The Atlantic, an interview with pomocon James Poulos (and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5). More with Poulos and the predicament of the individual. When will computers be smarter than us? Nick Bostrom investigates. Paint that pig: If you want to know what's wrong with the current state of America's political discourse, check out the Nico Pitney-Dana Milbank Smackdown. “You goin’ get him?”: The sociocultural significance of Donald Duck vs. Daffy Duck. David Roberts on why we overestimate the costs of climate change legislation. Capitalism in Wonderland: Why mainstream economists can't deal with the ecological crisis. The United States is experiencing what Japan did in the 1990s, but seven times faster. The appearance of a new economics journal seldom makes waves — the new Annual Review of Economics, edited by Kenneth Arrow, probably will. A review of The Evolution of God by Robert Wright (and more and more and more and more and more). What would your nugget of philosophy be? Four panellists give their views.

From The Economist, a review essay on the credit crunch. Robert Skidelsky reviews Fixing Global Finance by Martin Wolf. I, Toaster: British artist Thomas Thwaites inadvertently brings Leonard Read's classic essay "I, Pencil" to life. From Slate, here are six nonmilitary ways the president can influence Iran; and a look at how Obama is using the media to destroy and improve the traditional press conference. Carlin Romano on Obama, Philosopher-in-Chief. Politics of personal perfection: Let’s be honest — Barack Obama is better than you are. Rising Costs: Are Democrats sacrificing too much in order to pass health care reform? How to deal with a bad review: Tempting as it is, it's really not a good idea to attack your critics. A review of Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves. An article on the island of St. Helena, the world’s best-kept travel secret. An interview with Gary Shteyngart on the search for authenticity and the evolving task of travel writers. How to write a bad travel story: Sure, you could write a compelling story, but why, when you could just as easily write a snoozer? Researching her novel in five different London hotels made Monica Ali appreciate why they are such a rich source of stories and characters for writers (and from Bookforum, a review of Ali's In the Kitchen).

From Foreign Affairs, a review essay on how to succeed in Afghanistan; and which way is history marching? A review of The Legacy of George W. Bush's Foreign Policy: Moving beyond Neoconservatism by Ilan Peleg. How George Bush viewed the world — as witnessed by Timothy Garton Ash (and more). With the Iranian election, we've seen a privately owned technology becoming a vital part of the infrastructure supporting political activity — that's a problem. If the Iranian regime didn't fear women, it wouldn't bother to repress them. Will the cat above the precipice fall down?: Slavok Zizek on Iran. From Cardus, an article on religion and democracy: Habermas vs. Flores d'Arcais. Sweetness and Spite: RJ Stove on the forgotten pleasures of light verse. From Vanity Fair, an interview with Nancy Reagan. Despite its drawbacks, democracy is the right system for running a country — it just doesn't stack up as the best way of choosing a poetry professor. Letting Ordinary Joe loose on the nation: Radio producers think phone-in shows are democratic — in truth they’re stuffed with whiny, cliched invective. Dan Ariely on how we’re swayed by confidence more than expertise. From Sirens, herea are 5 reasons we still need feminism. The Susan Boyle Experience: What the wildly popular video clip was all about.

From NYRB, Michael Chabon on Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood (and from Bookforum, a review of Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen's Union). From Prospect, American authors enjoy the world’s best supported literary culture, but the latest generation seems hobbled by ease and self-congratulation. Real life isn't a gossip blog: Perez Hilton brings his Internet persona out on the town and gets clocked accordingly. A look at how celebrities stay famous regardless of talent. It Came from Wasilla: Todd Purdum on Sarah Palin. Forget the broader implications for the GOP — Mark Sanford's public breakdown was a human drama all its own (and more). The definitive guide to randy Republicans: Rating the greatest GOP sex scandals of the past 20 years. From The New York Times Magazine, a cover story on G.M., Detroit and the fall of the black middle class. A very intellectual bust up: Malcolm Gladwell vs Chris Anderson. Philip Ball debates science and religion with Sam Harris (and more). A review of Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? by Judith Butler. A review of Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. The first chapter from Inventing Equal Opportunity by Frank Dobbin. Here's an appreciation of "Conan the Barbarian" — seriously.