An interview with Norm Stamper, a former police chief who thinks drugs should be legal, about new efforts to ban a pot substitute. Judge Jim Gray on the six groups that benefit from drug prohibition. The New Jim Crow: Michelle Alexander on how the War on Drugs gave birth to a permanent American undercaste. A review of A World of Gangs: Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture by John Hagedorn. A new analysis finds racial resentment is a major reason behind Americans’ support for harsh sentences for criminals. A review of From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America by Charles Ogletree and Austin Sarat. How the 15-year decline in violent crime is not nearly as great a success story as you might think; it's time for a broader crime bill. A new tool for fighting crime: Get serious about probation. Drastically reducing both crime rates and the number of people behind bars is technically feasible — whether it is politically and organizationally feasible to achieve this remains an open question. Prison is a young man’s world, a world of physical violence and posturing, not a place to grow old, although more and more of us are doing just that. A review of Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire by Robert Perkinson (and more and more). Alan Elsner goes inside US prisons, a wealth of wasted potential. Lawrence Levi reviews Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars by Kenneth Hartman. What happens when you put juvenile prisoners in an adult isolation lockup? (and more) David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow on the way to stop prison rape. The Rainmakers: Banking on private prisons in the fleecing of small-town America. This year, the census will count over a million inmates in the wrong place — and their home communities will suffer for it.

From Relevant, a look at how the faith of Arthur Guinness inspired the vision for his famous beer; and the Party-Pooping Church: Why do Christians seem to hate fun? New research finds exposure to a bare, illuminated light bulb — a universal symbol of bright ideas — is a catalyst to reaching insights. The unconscious politics that shape our world: An interview with Shankar Vedantam, author of The Hidden Brain. A review of Sugar: A Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott. Coping with uncertainty: An article on "Robust Decision Making". Why we hoard: The show on A&E and a new book explain the most American of habits — not throwing stuff out. From The Free Market, George F. Smith on the case for hoarding. Googling Marshall McLuhan seems just so appropriate: Who better than multi-media artist star Douglas Coupland to consider the prescient one’s reality today? A look at how beer label art matches the quirky character of the microbrews. Trust Busting: Virginia Heffernan on the Web sites of beleaguered companies. The making of the president, then and now: The great campaign books of the past are about more than the back-room drama that dominates recent releases. Kate Zambreno reviews Wetlands by Charlotte Roche. Need a zero-gravity toilet, a spare key for your Soyuz? Declassified, decommissioned, the Soviet Union's space heritage is on the market. From Sociolinguistic  Studies, a review of The Language and Sexuality Reader. From New York, how Patricia Cohen plans to seek revenge against her hedge-fund superpower ex-husband Steve Cohen. A review of You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation by Susannah Gora.

From Maisonneuve, the record store is dying, but that could merely be a symptom of a much larger problem: that perhaps the city itself is dying; and Pink Floyd’s music can no longer be sold as single downloads or as mobile ringtones — a win for artistic integrity, right? Andy Battaglia reviews Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction by Caleb Kelly. There's no such thing as religious music. Thirty years ago, a rock writer coined the term "Oi!" to decribe his favourite music; soon "punk's idiot half-brother" was synonymous with arson, racism and football violence. Musical orientalism: Orientalism in western art and literature has been much commented upon, but a Paris concert series has broken new ground in exploring representations of the orient in music. Is there such a thing as a perfect song? Yes, it exists, but you gotta have faith, maybe even in Coldplay — maybe. A look at how Pandora avoided the junkyard, and found success. From PopMatters, an article on MP3s, the death of the record store, and the birth of the closet hipster; and maybe it’s the crappy economy, or just an extension of the long-term trend in popular music toward smaller and smaller ensembles, but it sure seems like there are a lot of one-man bands out there lately. Ko Htwe explores Burma's underground music scene and finds rappers and hip-hop artists with a political message. The trouble with easy listening: iTunes and iPods — what's not to like? How about the devaluation of the music experience. If music is free, how do artists get paid? Steve Almond on why music criticism is a pointless exercise. From The Futurist, an article on reinventing the music business. Deemed music that is “not real”, electronic sounds have come to occupy and permeate spaces focused on alterity, from the fringes of academia to the disposal heap of exotica.

Craig Calhoun (SSRC): From Common Humanity to Humanitarian Obligation: Suffering Strangers, Progress, and Emergencies. Rick Barrack on a sign of humanitarian relief that anyone can understand. An interview with Cassie Knight on books on aid work. Crushed aid: Why is fragmentation a problem for international aid? Forget aid: People in the poorest countries like Haiti need new cities with different rules — and developed countries should be the ones that build them. An interview with Ha-Joon Chang, author of Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective. From Fourth World Journal, a review of The Subsistence Perspective: Beyond the Globalised Economy by Maria Mies and Veronica Bennholdt-Thomsen. Saving the World 2.0: How do you address global hunger, epidemics, and poverty? According to Bill Gates, it takes R&D, software, and plenty of money. An interview with Stuart Rutherford on books on the global poor and their money. Is it time to revisit the Millennium Development Goals? From Developments, Paul Collier on four "critical priorities" vulnerable countries face; and a look at why we can't ignore fragile states — and how they can be rebuilt. From MR, an article on rethinking Jeffrey Sachs and the "Big Five": New proposals for the end of poverty. An interview with Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. No natural resources? Lucky you: Countries with more human than natural resources tend to be more democratic and entrepreneurial. Lester Brown on how to feed 8 billion people. Micheal O’Flynn (Limerick): Food Crises and the Ghost of Malthus. David and Marcia Pimentel on the real perils of human population growth. An interview with Nicholas Kristof on why he's hopeful about where the world's headed.

From Mute, dusting off the tedium and ash deposited by Hollywood's recent spate of catastrophe movies, Evan Calder Williams takes aim at their world-affirming pessimism and calls for some real apocalypse; and the future isn’t what it used to be: M. Beatrice Fazi dismisses conceptions of the future as linear effect of the present, instead embracing models of "atemporality" and untimeliness. Why programs fail: When one program after another fails again and again, and when the failures are not random but somehow always benefit the owning class, we have to ask, “How come?” From Minding the Campus, a look at how corrupted language moved from campus to the real world; and it is no wonder that many free-market think tank scholars must feel like they are trying to push boulder up a mountain; they are — the professors got there first and designed the obstacle course terrain. A review of A Sadly Troubled History: The Meanings of Suicide in the Modern Age by John C. Weaver. Jonathan Lee Riches seems determined to drag every star athlete, dead monarch and inanimate object into court — that’s if the zombies don’t get him first. Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently; this new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy and our own self-awareness. Can you really predict the success of a marriage in 15 minutes?: An excerpt from Laurie Abraham's The Husbands and Wives Club (and more and more). Seemingly odd couple make a proper pair: At first glance, Miss Manners and her daughter, Jacobina, an improv instructor, come across as opposites — gentle reader, you be the judge.

An interview with Charlotte Higgins on the value of classics. A review of Out of Athens: The New Ancient Greeks by Page duBois. A review of The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander (and more and more). A review of New Heroes in Antiquity: From Achilles to Antinoos by Christopher Jones. Sex in the service of Aphrodite: Did prostitution really exist in the temples of antiquity? A review of Marcus Aurelius: A Life by Frank McLynn and A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine. A review of Popular Culture in Ancient Rome by Jerry Toner. A review of Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman. A review of Conceiving the Empire: China and Rome Compared. For all our sweeping ideas about Western greatness, so many familiar parts of our days find their origin in Oriental innovation. A review of How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy. Peter Heather on globalization and the Fall of the Roman Empire. Rome lives, and her empires live within her, because they are dead, and therefore beyond the hand of time, all revenge and revision, at peace with history. A review of Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Modern Europe by Peter Heather. A review of The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages by Chris Wickham (and more). A review of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin. A review of The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire by Edward Luttwak. A review of Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades by Jonathan Phillips. Michael Toscano on the Saturnine Age and the modern genius. A review of Reinventing History: The Enlightenment Origins of Ancient History.

From The Intercollegiate Review, a look at the 50 best and 50 worst books of the 20th century. From THES, a review of Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man, and His Times by William Wallace; and a review of Michelangelo's Finger: An Exploration of Everyday Transcendence by Raymond Tallis. Art of the steal: Joshuah Bearman is on the trail of world’s most ingenious thief. The unreal art of realistic dialogue: Credible conversation in fiction is a long way from the chaos of ums and ahs that you'll see if you look at transcripts of the real thing. Can animals be gay? Jon Mooallem on the science of same-sex pairings in the wild. A review of Slow Death By Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. From abuse to usufruct: Environmentalism has introduced ideas of intergenerational equality, while economics has begun to quantify "externalities", the social effects of activities that are overlooked in market prices. Smart people, dumb decisions: Chances are you're unaware of the limits to your abilities, unappreciative of the challenges that lie ahead, and uninformed of all that can go wrong — don't worry, you're not alone. Author, publisher and literary trendsetter: Dave Eggers is all those, and he's fast becoming the conscience of liberal America too. Here's a few reasons why Dave Eggers is a great American. On the secular, foodie side of things, in a town where the "entice 'em, fleece 'em and eject 'em" philosophy is rampant, McDonald's still trumps. With a client list that reads like a roster of Fortune 500 firms, a little-known company with an odd name, the Talx Corporation, has come to dominate a thriving industry: helping employers process — and fight — unemployment claims (and more on the people who screw you out of unemployment).

From The Chronicle, the art of living mindfully: Nothing is ever certain, says the psychologist Ellen Langer — we should make the most of that. Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life — and less time talking about the weather? Are we look­ing for mean­ing in all the wrong places? A review of The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy by Michael Foley. An interview with Anthony Seldon on books on how to be happy. The rap on happiness: The fashion is to bemoan happiness books and positive psychology as the work of morons. Harness the power of happiness: Richard Layard and colleagues offer a way to reverse the decline in our sense of wellbeing. An interview with Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. Hedonic Indicators: Bhutan takes the next step in democratizing happiness. Endless economic growth hasn’t made us happier, so why do governments still tie well-being to wealth? Presenting a new, made-in-Canada benchmark for progress. We know it can’t buy us love — but can money buy happiness? Happiness Is: Making more money than the next guy. David Brooks on the Sandra Bullock trade: Research suggests the gap between success and happiness boils down to personal bonds. A review of Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness by Willard Spiegelman. Nicholas Kristof on our basic human pleasures: Food, sex and giving. Research suggests the evolution of fairness was driven by culture, not genes. From Greater Good, empathy's not a uniquely human trait — apes and other animals feel it as well, suggesting that empathy is truly an essential part of who we are; and new research shows how cooperation prevails across the animal kingdom; what can humans learn from other species?

A review of Shaping America: The Supreme Court and American Society by Edward F. Mannino. A review of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life by Melvin I. Urofsky. Richard Posner reviews Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court by Jeff Shesol (and more and more and more). A review of The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution by Barry Friedman. Justice Obama: Should the president's next Supreme Court pick be himself? (and more) POTUS v. SCOTUS: In John Roberts, Obama finds the perfect enemy. Judicial sensibilities: When the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the president get into a tiff, could the nation’s highest court fall to pieces? Promises, promises, promises: Stern words for John Roberts’s Supreme Court. Roberts versus Roberts: Just how radical is the chief justice? Jeffrey Rosen investigates. Impeach John Roberts: The Chief Justice lied (and more). From Writ, Michael Dorf on Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, and the Noble Lie; and Justice Scalia suggests that the legal academy is out of touch — is he right? Here's a humanist view of Justice Scalia. From The New Yorker, what will the Supreme Court be like without liberal leader John Paul Stevens? (and more) The unfathomable Supreme Court penchant for talking politics. SCOTUS has freed companies to spend aggressively on election ads, but the public won't know where the money's going. Why the Citizens United v. FEC ruling is bad for politics and the market (and more). An article on Citizens United and the battle for free speech in America. Lawrence Lessig on the new constitutional amendment America needs. The recent ruling left some observers to cry the sky is falling — a look at some past decisions that really did merit Chicken Little’s exclamation.

From Skeptic, Deepak Chopra and Michael Shermer debate the Great Afterlife; David Naiditch looks at why Alaska’s High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is such an attractive target for conspiracy theorists; you can learn to be a psychic in 10 easy lessons; a review of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein; and tap that unused 90%!: Anatomy of an education myth. Why global capitalism is tipping towards collapse, and how we can act for a decent future. A review of New Capitalism? The Transformation of Work by Kevin Doogan. From New Geography, a look at why there is no "free market" housing solution. After teaching at Brown for forty years, Abbott Gleason was diagnosed with Parkinson’s; with his energy failing and his muscles shrinking, he finds himself re-examining some cherished beliefs and discovering joy in what he’d once dismissed. A review of Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change by Adam Kahane. The truth shall set us free: Shakhawat Hossain investigates whether media can be both free and fair. The last of the bohemians: Tom McDonough celebrates the subversive poetic vision of the Situationists. Finding the belongers: Colette S. Coleman on life in Tortola. Do be so sentimental: Studies show that nostalgia has powerful evolutionary functions. Tax forms, credit agreements, healthcare legislation: They're crammed with gobbledygook, says Alan Siegel, and incomprehensibly long; he calls for a simple, sensible redesign — and plain English — to make legal paperwork intelligible to the rest of us. A review of Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. More on Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto.