From The New York Times Magazine, can you count on these machines? After the 2000 election, counties around the country rushed to buy new computerized voting machines. But it turns out that these machines may cause problems worse than hanging chads — is America ready for another contested election? Our voting system is a loser: An interview with William Poundstone, author of Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It). Does the mass-media have political influence? It is not clear that the media imparts a bias; it could be that improving access to any media informs voters and prompts them to turn against an embattled incumbent. Vance Packard’s 1957 The Hidden Persuaders showed how sinister advertising techniques were being imported into politics. 

The rise of bibliotherapy: The idea that literature can make us emotionally and physically stronger goes back to Plato, but now book groups are proving that Shakespeare can be as beneficial as self-help guides. What is the nature of memory, and can it be captured in literature? Craig Raine considers the most successful attempts at doing so, from Wordsworth's "spots of time" to Proust's tea-soaked madeleines. A review of Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob by Lee Siegel. The great unread: Is your New Year's resolution to read more? You could always bluff it, argues Pierre Bayard (and more and more and more on How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read). More on My Unwritten Books by George Steiner.

Luis M. Garcia Mainar (Zaragoza): Authorship and Identity in the Cinema of Clint Eastwood. Usame Tunagur (Ohio) and Thomas R. Britt (George Mason): Business As Usual: Exploring the Other from Arabia to Appalachia. An interview with Alice Kelikian on film studies in the age of YouTube. Film’s new anxiety of influence: Hollywood still sets the agenda, but increasingly relies on the innovation and cultural input of foreign-born filmmakers. From The Hindu, filmmakers need to grow beyond screening constraints and liberate the rigid frame that has regulated film viewings so far. A review of Hollywood and Crime: Original Crime Stories Set During the History of Hollywood. A review of Sleaze Artists: Cinema at the Margins of Taste, Style, and Politics.

From The New York Times Book Review, a special issue on Islam, including a review of Juan Cole's Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East; a review of The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the Enlightenment by Lee Harris; a review of Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy by Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg; Tariq Ramadan on reading the Koran; Fouad Ajami on his mistake of doubting Samuel Huntington when he predicted a struggle between Islam and the West; and Lorraine Adams on how Muslim women’s voices are being heard as never before — but which ones? A review of The Politics of the Veil by Joan Wallach Scott. A review of God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 by David Levering Lewis.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, The New Atlantis revisits Hannah Arendt’s classic 1963 essay about modern science and the human meaning of our forays into space — five commentators respond to her argument and discuss its relevance today; "Americans will not like it": Michael Griffin on the global space economy; a review of Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age by Matthew Brzezinski; and a review of Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space by Michael Belfiore. A review of Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War by Michael J. Neufeld.

From CJR, Todd Gitlin on eight questions reporters should ask Obama. The Bogarting Candidate: Barack Obama's past drug use is no major sin, but his recent dissembling about it is. Drug use and the candidates: Barack Obama might have used drugs; so have a lot of other people. Ask Not: Why Obama is no JFK. From TNR, Noam Scheiber on the story of Obama's victory;.Hope Inc: John Dickerson on how Obama's message found its mark. From Newsweek, a cover story on Obama’s Dream Machine. EJ Dionne on how Iowa exposes why Democrats are in great shape for November. From Vanity Fair, First Lady in Waiting: Who needs a warm-up campaign? Michelle Obama says "it’s now or never" for the couple to take the White House.

From Foreign Policy, when Pervez Musharraf falls, too, will American leaders finally wake up and see Pakistan for what it is, not for what they wish it to be? From New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple on the pleasures of assassination. Bhutto and the candidates: David Remnick on the American election and the paradox of Pakistan. From Asia Times, an interview with Hassan Abbas on Pakistan's political future; and an article on an identity crisis for India's eunuchs. From The Hindu, a review of The Phobic and the Erotic: The Politics of Sexualities in Contemporary India by Brinda Bose and Subhabrata Bhattacharyya. A review of Sex and the Family in Colonial India: The Making of Empire by Durba Ghosh.

From the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Edward Demenchonok (FVSU): From a state of war to perpetual peace; Karl-Otto Apel (Frankfurt): Discourse ethics, democracy, and international law: toward a globalization of practical reason; James P. Sterba (Notre Dame): Rethinking global justice from the perspective of all living nature and what difference it makes; Steven V. Hicks (Queens): Rethinking nature, culture, and freedom; Charles S. Brown (Emporia): Beyond intrinsic value: undermining the justification of ecoterrorism; and Marc Lucht (Alvernia): Does Kant have anything to teach us about environmental ethics?

From Arion, Clinton W. Marrs on Paideia in America: Ragged Dick, George Babbitt, and the Problem of a Modern Classical Education; and Camille Paglia on Religion and the Arts in America. From Anthropoetics, Adam Katz (Quinnipiac): The Esthetic, the Sacred, and Originary Modernity. From Arena, instruments of idolatry: Stephen Ames asks what responses to contemporary cultural contradictions are viable today and seeks answers in the Christian traditions. Melatonin up, civilization down: An article on reading Jacques Barzun this winter. From Chronicles, contrary to expectation, advancing age leads not to greater understanding of life but to greater puzzlement and uncertainty: Clyde Wilson on unsolved mysteries.

From Americana, Ana Kothe (UPR): When Fake Is More Real: Of Fools, Parody, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; and Katherine Hyunmi Lee (Indiana State): "Hello Lover": Commodification, Intimacy, and Second-Wave Feminism on Sex in the City. From The Atlantic Monthly, how David Simon’s disappointment with the industry that let him down made "The Wire" the greatest show on television—and why his searing vision shouldn’t be confused with reality. The writers strike is inspiring ever-more-insipid fare on TV; here’s what to expect — or dread. Public access, public hate: Cable TV operators must provide a forum for the public, but it has unwittingly led to the airing of racist and anti-Semitic rants.