Sebastian Nestler (Klagenfurt): “Going down to South Park gonna learn something today”: On popular culture as critical pleasure and pedagogical discourse. In defense of the new judicial activists: In California and Arizona, Judge Walker and Judge Bolton are just doing their jobs. Ten infamous islands of exile: Established to banish dissidents and criminals, these islands are known for their one-time prisoners. From Cato Unbound, Glenn Greenwald on the Digital Surveillance State: Vast, secret, and dangerous. Mosque Uprising: William Saletan on Islam and the emerging religious threat to our Constitution. From cursive to cursor: Alan Jacobs on whether it matters how we write. Sheikh Your Newtie: William Saletan on the Gingrich-Bin Laden alliance. From Maisonneuve, can a friendship survive different tastes in TV? Andrew Cockburn reviews Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions by Joy Gordon. America's Most Exclusive Club: In the ultimate power move, there are people who don't own a cell phone — and they're making the world work for them. It's the ideology, stupid:  What do Robespierre, Stalin, Hitler, Che Guevara, and Mullah Omar have in common? From Dark Roasted Blend, an article on abandoned houses of super villains. From Sharp to Lovins Elite: Michael Barker on reform as progressive social change. An article on how the Vatican is searching for E.T. and other signs of alien life.

From Tehelka, can India and Pakistan mend the rifts? Yes, and here are a few good tips to make sure we get there. With Pakistan, being consistent is key. Pakistan’s leader Asif Ali Zardari is seen as a distant president, giving the impression of caring little for the plight of his country’s people and failing to live up to his early promise. From Asia Sentinel, an article on why Pakistan is not a nation. From Guernica, some Pakistanis have begun blaming Afghan immigrants for bringing “their” war into Pakistan — one Afghan baker’s story of harassment, corruption, and exile. An interview with Imtiaz Gul, author of The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan’s Lawless Frontier (and more). What is state failure? Designating Pakistan a failed state renders invisible the multiple and diverse democratizing forces that have evolved there over the last decade. Walter Russell Mead on the roots of Pakistan’s rage. From Geocurrents, a look at the geography of extremism in Pakistan (and more and more). OMG, it's Muhammad's footprint: Pervez Hoodbhoy on a miracle in Pakistan. A look at how hard-line Islam is filing the void in flooded Pakistan. The Boston Globe's The Big Picture takes on Pakistan's floods (and more). From UN Dispatch, just how dire is this crisis in humanitarian terms? The Pakistan floods are the worst humanitarian disaster in recent history. July was a cruel month for Pakistan, and more seem certain to follow.

From Esquire, just who is Newton Leroy Gingrich, really? An epic and bizarre story of American power in an unsettled age. DL Adams on Saul Alinsky and the rise of amorality in American politics. On the new aristocracy: Victor Davis Hanson pities the postmodern cultural elite. Terry Teachout on the conversion of David Mamet. From TAS, the leftist, or at least mainly leftist, pseudo-intellectuals who infest certain portions of the Internet have become very fond recently of invoking something they call "Godwin's Law", but don't be scared of it; and a philosopher-king understands that infiltrating misleading words can gain an unwarranted political advantage. That Republicans have succeeded in blaming government is testimony to their political brilliance. An interview with Terence P. Jeffrey, author of Control Freaks: 7 Ways Liberals Plan to Ruin Your Life. Alyssa Battistoni on why politicians are right not to trust the public. From TAP, forget populism: "The people" are no more virtuous or incorruptible than elites, and pandering to them won't advance liberal political goals; Tea Partiers are getting all the press, but it's the anger on the left that spells trouble for Dems in the midterms; and is progressive excitement the key to Democratic victory in the fall? From TNR, Jonathan Cohn on the stupidity of liberal apathy (and a response and more). Mixed Messages: If only Democrats could agree what to say, they might be able to say it.

From Vanity Fair, the shocking thing about Kenneth Starr’s alleged Ponzi scheme wasn’t the amount — $59 million, pocket change by Madoff standards — but his client list: Bunny Mellon, Barbara Walters, Al Pacino, Caroline Kennedy, Martha Stewart, and Matt Lauer. When you think Jews and Las Vegas, what comes to mind? Jews do wondrous things in the desert. A review of A Short History of Celebrity by Fred Inglis (and more). From Psychiatric Times, Jerry Coyne on the evolutionary calculus of depression. The Wisdom of the Mulla: Sheikh Jamal Rahman on the well-loved trickster from Islamic folklore. Why is David Lynch pimping this handbag? Sasha Watson on the new trend of "advertising films". Andrew Cuomo grew up in the shadow of his distant, cerebral father, and became his enforcer to get close to him — now poised to become the second Governor Cuomo, he hopes he’s finally perfected the balance between Mario’s intellectualism and his own aggression. The evolution of beach culture: A look at the people and places that have shaped seaside culture. You are what you eat: How your diet defines you in trillions of ways. So much for the wisdom of crowds: People often become more confident in their beliefs when they find out the majority of others disagree with them, a new study finds. Is the desire to know other people’s secrets a natural instinct — or a vulgar vice? A review of Philip Carr-Gomm's A Brief History of Nakedness.

From the inaugural issue of New Knowledge Environments, Ethan Hawkley (Northeastern): Where’s Walden? Searching, Googling, Reading, and Living in the Digital Age; and Patrick Juola (Duquesne): Guessing at the Content of a Million Books. A look at how Google counted the world’s 129 million books (and more). From Meanland, McKenzie Wark writes on publishing A Hacker Manifesto and the beginnings of a copygift economy; Sherman Young explores how the book as a physical object enables control of the industry; Emmett Stinson gives us the lowdown on book piracy and associated myths; and Margaret Simons examines all that is exciting and frightening about reading in a digital era. The unrecorded history of online publishing: An interview with Bob Stein of the Institute for the Future of the Book. A review of The Late Age of Print by Ted Striphas. From Fine Books, a look at the greatest book collector you never heard of; and an article on book collecting for posterity. From New York, a special section on Indie Bookstores: Against all odds, a small army of neighborhood bookshops has arrived. A review of The Idea of the Library in the Ancient World by Yun Lee Too. Creative new uses for books: Rob Walker on the bright future of hardbacks — as decorative objects and props. There are no bad books, just special ones. With the continuing decline of the bookstore, where do you pick up your likeminded nerds/intellectuals/David Foster Wallace dweebs?

From Politics and Culture, a special issue on integrating evolutionary research with literary and cultural theory. From the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, Franklin T. Wilson (ISU), Dennis R. Longmire (SHSU), and Warren Swymeler (UCM): The Absence of Gay and Lesbian Police Officer Depictions in the First Three Decades of the Core Cop Film Genre; and Andrew Welsh (WLU): Sex and Violence in the Slasher Horror Film: A Content Analysis of Gender Differences in the Depiction of Violence. A review of Campaign Solutions: How Challenger Candidates Maximize Money, Media, Message and Management by Joseph Gaylord. A review of The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies. From Obit, Judy Bachrach on the death of guilt: Blame and condemnation are things of the past. More on The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s by Richard Wolin. From Vice, a weird interview with Antoine Dodson, viralized within an inch of his life. Copyrighting the Bible: Sam Spade is just as fictional as the Maltese falcon but the Gospel of Judas, well, that is real — it really is the “stuff that dreams are made of”. Archeologist Patrick McGovern has found some of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to history, and he wants you to take a glug. Dissenters in Vladimir Putin's Russia have found a new source of musical inspiration: a homegrown version of Tupac Shakur and Public Enemy.

I’m American, and you? Nativist politics may well yield short-term advantages for the Republican party — history suggests, however, that the long term may be more problematic. What does an American look like? The ideals of inclusivity and diversity are losing ground in the general public. Joel Kotkin on the changing demographics of America. A review of True American: Language, Identity and the Education of Immigrant Children by Rosemary Salomone. How to speak American: The proverbial village idiot might be described as unfit to “carry guts to a bear” or “pour piss out of a boot”. Ephemera Studies is devoted to the preservation and study of ephemeral publications that provide more-nuanced pictures of American culture and life. What sort of political phenomenon is the United States? Arguably the first modern nation-state, it seems increasingly anachronistic. From TAS, a cover story on America's ruling class and the perils of revolution. Michael Lind on the fantasy of a vast upper middle class: College isn't for everyone, neither is the stock market. The crisis of middle-class America: Most families have been struggling with flat incomes for more than a generation, a long-term decline in fortunes. What the Great Recession has done to family life: Surveys continue to show that the impact is deep, widespread and grim. From New Politics, what happened to the American working class? A review of The Future of Democratic Equality: Rebuilding Social Solidarity in a Fragmented America by Joseph Schwartz. When will America be ripe for socialism? Are the American people obsolete? The richest few don't need the rest of us as markets, soldiers or police anymore. The American Dream won’t die: The US is in a demoralizing rut today, but this malaise will give way to a re-invented and vibrant society less than a decade from now.

Owen Anderson (ASU): The Search for the Absolute: Analytic Philosophy as an Insufficient Response to Idealism. Banu Tumkaya (Akdeniz): Philosophical Thought Experiments Versus Scientific Ones. From Essays in Philosophy, a special issue on Ordinary Language Philosophy: A Reappraisal, including Sally Parker Ryan (Pacific): Reconsidering Ordinary Language Philosophy: Malcolm’s (Moore’s) Ordinary Language Argument; Alberto Voltolini (Turin): Is Wittgenstein a Contextualist?; Jeff Johnson (Saint Catherine): Grice’s Unspeakable Truths; Constantine Sandis (Oxford Brookes): The Experimental Turn and Ordinary Language; and Jonathan Trigg (Louisiana-Lafayette): The Philosophy of Ordinary Language Is a Naturalistic Philosophy. From Konturen, a special issue on Between Nature and Culture: After the Continental-Analytic Divide, including Jeffrey S. Librett (Oregon): Introduction: Analytic Philosophy as a Post-structuralism?; Paul M. Livingston (UNM): The Breath of Sense: Language, Structure, and the Paradox of Origin (an a response by Samuel C. Wheeler and a reply and a response and a reply); Bonnie Mann (Oregon): What Should Feminists Do about Nature?; Catrin Misselhorn (Tubingen): Empathy and Dyspathy with Androids: Philosophical, Fictional, and (Neuro)Psychological Perspectives; and Martin Klebes (Oregon): If Worlds Were Stories. A review of Reason in Philosophy: Animating Ideas by Robert B. Brandom (and more).

From Review of Biblical Literature, a review of The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany by Susannah Heschel; and a review of Jesus in an Age of Terror: Scholarly Projects for a New American Century by James Crossley. Why have UFOs changed speed over the years? Martin S. Kottmeyer wants to know. From Hilobrow, here are some reasons why Joseph Campbell should go back on the shelf. Women have traditionally been seen as nothing more than beautiful distractions on a magician’s stage, but now, they’re breaking the stereotype to create their own brand of illusions. A review of Unbelievable: Investigations Into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena From the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn. Go on and help philosopher Stephen Law write an introduction to his new book to make it more snappy and appealing. The wager of immortality: From an analogy to what is, we discover, with the perfect sanction of reason, grounds for the hope of what may come to be. For a long time, Samantha Fountain had one mission: figure out a way to allow women to pee like men. Bilge Ebiri reviews Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield. Social scientists have been surveying young people for decades, looking for trends in thinking and behavior, but assessing a generation’s collective personality is a far slipperier territory.

From Swans, Michael Barker interviews Robert Arnove, author of Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (and a review); Dennis Buss, author of "The Ford Foundation in Public Education"; Peter Seybold, author of The Development of American Political Sociology: A Case Study of the Ford Foundation's Role in the Production of Knowledge; Mary Anna Colwell, author of Philanthropic Foundations and Public Policy: The Political Role of Foundations; and Edward Berman, author of The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy: The Ideology of Philanthropy. Behind the Billionaire Pact: Some 40 philanthropists worth a combined $230 billion are publicly pledging to give away their fortunes (and more on why sharing the wealth isn't enough, and more on philanthro-capitalism). On philanthropy, what gives? Experts say that our own sense of self-worth plays into whether or not we give or don't give our hard-earned dollars to charity. The real liberal elite: Now that more liberals are as rich as Republicans, do we risk forgetting the poor and working families? The simple truth is that the wealthy are undertaxed compared with everyone else. Peter Laarman on why taxing the rich is the godly thing. Soak the very, very rich: James Surowiecki on building a smarter tax code (and more). The Reagan Revolution is stealing our future: Tax cuts for the rich are pure theft. William Gale on five myths about the Bush tax cuts. The liberal case for regressive taxation: Why progressives should not oppose a value-added tax. If the debate over tax policy is going to be accurate, it's probably worth diversifying our terminology.