From Mute, capital needs to sustain the fantasy of its health, efficiency and inevitability at all costs; as the crisis broadsides this fantasy, the spin-doctors are scrambling to reconstruct it; and what lies beyond the failed utopias of the modernist welfare state and the free market? A review of Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East by KE Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac. Today the division is no longer between slave and free states, or agrarian and industrial states, but between two models of industrial society. The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism was supposed to encourage sustainable development in poorer countries — but it's now part of the problem. The first chapter from Is Pluto a Planet? A Historical Journey through the Solar System by David A. Weintraub. A review of Crude Continent: The Struggle for Africa's Oil Prize by Duncan Clarke. A review of Pragmatism as Post-Postmodernism: Lessons from John Dewey by Larry A. Hickman. Clay Risen examines France’s backwards sovereign wealth fund. From New Statesman, a review of Globalising Hatred: the New Anti-Semitism by Denis MacShane; a review of A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits by Carol K Mack and Dinah Mack; and are plans to create a game based on Dante's Inferno likely to burn up or be a roaring success?

From Military Review, Amitai Etzioni (GWU): Reconstruction: A Damaging Fantasy? Research suggests that seeing the flag doesn't make Americans feel more patriotic, but it does make them feel more nationalistic and more superior to non-Americans. The first chapter from Reason and Rationality by Jon Elster. From Daedalus, a special issue on judicial independence. Why Barack Obama should nominate leading law professors for seats on the Federal Appeals Court (and more). Obama's inauguration speech is unlikely to disappoint — his words may be unremarkable; his delivery won't be.  A review of Arab Soccer in a Jewish State: The Integrative Enclave by Tamir Sorek. A review of The Liberal Defence of Murder by Richard Seymour. The first chapter from Egypt after Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World by Bruce K. Rutherford. A review of Winning the War of Words: Selling the War on Terror from Afghanistan to Iraq by Wojtek Mackiewicz Wolfe. DNA dating: Can genes help you pick a mate? Most of us, whether we admit it or not, are moral hypocrites, but oddly, hypocrisy is rooted in high morals. The next decade or so is going to see the world of video games convulsed by battles between the moneymen and the artists; if the good guys win, or win enough of the time, we’re going to have a whole new art form.

From New Internationalist, a special issue on Afghanistan. Who carries out spectacular acts of terrorism and why? From PUP, here are three chapters from Introduction to Modern Economic Growth by Daron Acemoglu; and the first chapter from Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion by Joshua D. Angrist and Jorn-Steffen Pischke. From Radical Middle, an article on reinventing the law.  From IHE, a review of Talking Out of School: Memoir of an Educated Woman by Kass Fleisher; and New School economist Teresa Ghilarducci on her adventures with Rush Limbaugh. No sex please, we're American: The most controversial books in America. From LiveScience, an imperfect body might be just what the doctor ordered for women; research suggests men may flirt with risk because they think it will help them score women; and an article on sex and cheating: When does it count? The first chapter from Global Fragments: Globalizations, Latinamericanisms, and Critical Theory by Eduardo Mendieta. A review of Annie Leibovitz at Work. A review of Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World by Sharon Waxman. Major League Baseball winds up its pitch to China, envisioning a billion fans. The introduction to Markets and Democracy: Participation, Accountability and Efficiency, ed. Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis.

From M/C Journal, Anthony McCosker (Melbourne): Blogging Illness: Recovering in Public. From Fortune, an article on three days that shook the world: The most powerful people in American capitalism convened on September 12 to try and save Lehman Brothers; and why a $1 trillion deficit is a good thing (for now). More on Ilan Stavans’s Resurrecting Hebrew. From Freedom Daily, insisting on the alleged virtue of loving one’s country mainly serves to give those in power a blank check. Jonathan Wolff proposes a definition of a super-classic: A book you have as good as read when you have read the title. The Observer profiles Roman Polanski. A look at how Rwanda's women politicians are transforming their country. A look at the world's friendliest countries: Those in search of a fresh start might head to these welcoming spots. A review of National Security Mom: Why “Going Soft” Will Make America Strong by Gina M. Bennett. James Traub on 100 years of nation building. A nation on the make: Greenland has voted to cut all ties with its Danish rulers (and more). From International Viewpoint, an article on The Communist Manifesto 160 years later; and here's a crash course on capitalism (and more on their crisis, our consequences). From Jewcy, an article on bashing Nazis, or how to feel morally superior. An interview with Matthew Alexander, author of How to Break a Terrorist.

From Miller-McCune, a look at how solar grand plans start answering basic questions. An interview with Mary Ellen O’Connell, author of The Power and Purpose of International Law. A review of The Subprime Solution: How Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do about It by Robert J. Shiller. Beyond Casino Capitalism: Bush let the gamblers run wild — here’s how Obama can rein them in. From Index on Censorship, articles by AC Grayling (and a review of The Choice of Hercules: Pleasure, Duty and the Good Life in the 21st Century) and BHL (and a review of Left in Dark Times). A review of In Search of the Black Fantastic. Politics & Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era by Richard Iton. One of the longest-running spousal debates may now be settled in favor of men and for the sake of little boys. Places and strata of memory: The idea of 1989 as an annus mirabilis in which everything changed is too crude, writes Karl Schlogel. From First Principles, a symposium on George Carey (and part 2 and part 3). From Graduate Journal of Social Science, a special issue on Queer Studies. We are all suburban now: In popular culture the suburbs are always somewhere we long to escape from — not true. Phantom pain: The daughter of a Nazi soldier recalls the spark and fizzle of her tenth New Year’s Eve.

From Le Monde diplomatique, an article on Western Sahara and Morocco (and more). From IRB, a review of The Beautiful Struggle: A father, two sons, and an unlikely road to manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel. A review of Apocalypse Then: Prophecy and the Making of the Modern World by Arthur H. Williamson. An online project by graphic designer Dill Pixels has collected together the final frame of classic movies. Call me Bush: Moby Dick is an eerily prophetic allegory of 21st-century America; it should be named as the nation's epic novel. From Cafe Babel, playing football — Iran vs Basque "Seleccion de Euskadi" or Basque "Euskal Herria"? An interview with Seth Kaplan, author of Fixing Fragile States: A New Paradigm for Development. Bye-bye boojums: Scientific names lose their sparkle. From Folio, straight to CMS: Is MS Word no longer preferred? An interview with Michael Pollan on what's wrong with environmentalism. Can Obama's plan for universal broadband turn the recession into a political nightmare resembling the 1930s? From Dark Roasted Blend, a look at the ghosts of Antarctica: Abandoned stations and huts. What’s worse, the genocide in Darfur or the horrors of North Korean prison camps? The “Dirty War Index” shrinks human atrocities into useful data.

From TomDispatch, why 2009 could eat Barack Obama alive: Political filmmaker Eugene Jarecki to idealists: Don't you dare go MIA during the Obama presidency; and the military-industrial complex used to be loaded with household-name companies; with the economy on the skids, will they again become "arsenals" for the Pentagon? A review of Finding Freedom: Hegel's Philosophy and the Emancipation of Women by Sara MacDonald. A look at Finland, whose schools rank No. 1 in global surveys, shows that a national commitment to education can neutralize political debates over school reform. An interview with Hassan I Sirius, editor of Leary On Drugs. A look at the Apollo 8 mission that changed everything. A review of Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin. A review of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey by William Tucker. The Invisible Hand of God: Adam Smith thought competition among religions was a good thing —does Hanukkah prove him wrong? From nth position, an article on doctorates & doctorettes. From The Big Money, a look at the grad students who want to stay in the tower. A review of Plato and the Art of Philosophical Writing by Christopher Rowe. 

From The Bulletin, an article on OPEC and the Prisoner's Dilemma. AC Grayling on ideas that could save humanity.  Understanding economics and economists: The introduction to The Making of an Economist, Redux by David Colander. A review of Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement by Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori. A review of Allen Wood's Kantian Ethics. Jan Tschichold, titan of typography: The man who perfected Penguin's classic paperback deserves to be remembered as one of the great designers of the 20th century. Mountain of death: How risky is it to attempt to scale the world’s highest peak? Jessica Fridrich specializes in problems that only seem impossible to solve. Does Berlusconi speak through his ass or his elbow? Talk is cheap: Consumer spending finally falters — can it be good news? Alan Dershowitz on the hazards of making the case for Israel. Rather than offering a blank check to Soviet-style behemoths like General Motors, now is the time for government to force open the market for a wide variety of Specific Motors. The introduction to Feeding the World: An Economic History of World Agriculture, 1800-2000 by Giovanni Federico. The making of an icon: Two years ago, Victoria Beckham couldn't get a ticket to a fashion show; now style insiders are queuing up to buy her clothes — how did that happen?  

From Forbes, a look at America's biggest billionaire losers of 2008; and an article on billionaire bloggers. For a decade, Mexico has offered assistance to the poor on the condition that they visit clinics, attend workshops and keep their kids in school — can that system work in the US? Tough Shift: Guatemalan workers pick up the pieces after a US customs raid. It has to be one of the stranger stories in publishing history: Straight from YouTube to book. Veteran punk rocker Ian MacKaye on what has shocked him most during the Bush Era and why Obama gives him hope. George Carey reviews Neoconservatism: Why We Need It by Douglas Murray. Where have all the neocons gone? Having wrecked the Right, will neoconservatives revert to their left-wing origins or double down on the GOP? A review of Queer Inclusions by David Rayside and Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States by Miriam Smith. The only way to avoid future financial crises is to push for robust global regulatory oversight. Independent agencies are a supposedly apolitical "fourth branch" of government, but the Bush administration tried to politicize them by appointing ideologues to run them — here's how Democrats fought back. How much should plastic bags cost? Will a five-cent bag fee be enough to alter our behaviour, and is that even the right question?

From Boston Review, just in time for the holiday season, Alex Byrne on what philosophy has to say about the existence of God, and how believers and skeptics both get it wrong; and time to adapt to climate change: Global warming and its impacts are already at hand; we face immediate choices about how to temper the worst consequences for vulnerable populations and regions. From Vox, an article on post-Columbian population movements and the roots of world inequality (and more on ancestors and incomes). From NBER, a report on the causes of rising income inequality; and a report on understanding fertility within developed nations. From Wired, games without frontiers: Why we need more torture in videogames; and Clive Thompson on how T-shirts keep online content free. The threat of punishment actually does stamp out freeloaders, tending to transform them into rule-following members of a society, a new study suggests. An interview with Thomas Dumm, author of Loneliness as a Way of Life. A review of Outgrowing Democracy: A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century by John Lukacs. New evidence suggests that white supremacists are taking advantage of lowered recruiting standards to enter the armed services. A review of The Constitution and 9/11: Recurring Threats to America’s Freedoms by Louis Fisher.