From American, soccer’s import battle: Will England establish quotas on the number of foreign players allowed on each Premier League team? From New English Review, baseball and cricket are regarded as the "national pastime" in America and Britain respectively although both have long fallen behind American football and basketball in the United States and soccer in the U.K. A look at why the Heisman is no key to NFL glory: Why do so few winners make it in the pros? Mitchellball: How the steroids report changes the Moneyball story. Even in the aftermath of the George Mitchell report, it’s useful to recall that in baseball not all cheaters are created equal.

From The New York Observer, an end of an era as Times kills recording room. Fit to print? The New York Times is intent on ripping up its own ethical rulebook and shooting itself in the foot by hiring a notorious rightwinger William Kristol. The pleasure principle: Michael Hirschorn on why newspapers should try giving readers what they want, not just what editors think they need. Switching sides: Local newspaper shake-ups are leading former journos to the dark side of media relations. The editor as curator: As newspapers expand their online operations, will editors continue to have an active — and valued — role in the journalistic process? Gawker blasts into sci-fi with a new blog, Io9, with Annalee Newitz as editor; and Gawker gets newsier; snarky backlash inevitable.

Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton on being stonewalled by the CIA: What we do know is that government officials decided not to inform the 9/11 commission to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront America. The year in oversight: The good, the bad and the ugly of the Democratic Congress' year of trying to gavel the Bush administration into order. Legal fictions: Dahlia Lithwick on the Bush administration's dumbest legal arguments of the year. Open to the public: These days, former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr pursues service and conscience in the law. A review of Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons From the White House by Egil "Bud" Krogh.

From Smithsonian, thinking like a monkey: What do our primate cousins know and when do they know it? Laurie Santos is trying to read their minds. A review of Machiavellian Intelligence: How Rhesus Macaques and Humans Have Conquered the World by Dario Maestripieri. A review of The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild by Craig Childs. A boom in panda production is good for both bears and business. A review of The Domesday Book of Giant Salmon: A Record of the Largest Atlantic Salmon Ever Caught by Fred Buller (and more). Take that, Ahab: A review of The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World To Save the Planet's Largest Mammals by Peter Heller.

Research finds the "cultural elite" brought up on opera and the higher arts, which supposedly turns up its nose at anything as vulgar as a pop song or mainstream television, does not exist. Art-world politics explained: A review of Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture by Michael Kammen. Is Cubism's revolution behind us? If you think Picasso's work didn't last, keep looking. More and more on A Life of Picasso by John Richardson. A review of Art of the Everyday: Dutch Painting and the Realist Novel by Bernard Yeazell. A review of Architecture of the Absurd: How "Genius" Disfigured a Practical Art by John Silber (and more). More and more on Peter Gay's Modernism. An interview with Umberto Eco on the value of charm over beauty.

From Taki's Top Drawer, is the acquisition of an empire an inherent betrayal of American principles, and are we, as a people, suited to the job? Scholars and the military share a foxhole, uneasily: At Harvard, some faculty and activists have been troubled that the university’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy helped revise the counterinsurgency field manual. Walter Russell Mead on why we're in the Gulf: The world would be a much more dangerous place without America as a policeman. Hungry for America: After seven long years, the world is ready—and waiting—for the return of the United States. Who should be the world's most powerful person? As Iowa's caucuses start a global ball rolling, the dream team is President(s) Clinton and Vice-President Obama.

From Slate, Christopher Hitchens on why the undemocratic Iowa caucuses are a terrible way to choose a presidential candidate; and Jeff Greenfield on where the Iowa caucuses went wrong. "I hate Iowa": The first contest in the US presidential primaries is a perversion of democracy that does not deserve to be taken seriously. Here's how our democracy's most frustrating ritual actually works: Is this really how we pick a president? Dropping out of Electoral College: Maryland is the first state to pass the National Popular Vote into law, and several others are right behind. Hold one's nose and vote for the lesser evil? Why it's wrong to "sit this one out". This is the most important election of our lifetime: The choice before Americans in November 2008 will be stark indeed.

A review of Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics by William Bonner and Lila Rajiva. A review of When Washington Shut Down Wall Street: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 and the Origins of America's Monetary Supremacy by William L. Silber. Postcards from the ledge: There is certainly a path out of the gathering banking crisis, but no guarantee that the world economy will find it. Beware of falling knives: It's tough to make money off the credit bubble—even for daredevil billionaires. Unsupported and untrue: WSJ lacks evidence to support a sweeping, front-page claim against mortgage borrowers. The match king: Ivar Kreuger was the world's greatest swindler — he would have thrived today.

From Reason, flunking free speech: An article on the persistent threat to liberty on college campuses. Tears for fears: Will a new slogan destroy Oberlin's hippie soul? Young, restless, and ready for revival: On-campus Christians are seeking holiness in unexpected numbers. An interview with Peter Wallenstein, editor of Higher Education and the Civil Rights Movement: White Supremacy, Black Southerners and College Campuses. Ending the great pill price hike: Congress, step up for college women before the year ends. Never having to say, "too expensive": Help from Harvard for an upper-middle class not up to paying the tab. A look at how Internet access is the only prerequisite for more and more college classes (and more).

From Boston Review, the testament of Mr. Cogito: An essay on Zbigniew Herbert and the limits of the political. Poetry can save the world: A review of Poetry as Insurgent Art by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. A review of Gendered Dynamics in Latin Love Poetry by Ronnie Ancona and Ellen Greene. A review of Metrical Constraint and the Interpretation of Style in the Tragic Trimeter by Nicholas Baechle. From NYRB, a review of Tennessee Williams' Notebooks; and his design for living: A review of The Letters of Noel Coward. From The New Yorker, prophet motive: a review of Kahlil Gibran: The Collected Works. From TLS, a review of Janet Malcolm's Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice. A review of Alfred Kazin: A Biography by Richard M. Cook.