From Mute, the computer, it has been argued, inspired a wave of post-war "imaginary futures", yet, prior technological developments were similarly animated by fantasies and anxieties about the transformation of human capacities — here are three critical histories of modernity's futuramas firmly back down to earth. Minor tragedies, rejections in love, trouble at work: The Web site Vie de Merde is allowing the French to express their daily frustrations — and make each other laugh. The introduction to Pop Finance: Investment Clubs and the New Investor Populism by Brooke Harrington. A look at the 10 worst musicals of all time. The political psyche: What makes politicians behave the way they do? A look at how long memories may ensnare a dictator in Suriname. A review of The Philosophy of Derrida by Mark Dooley and Liam Kavanagh. Meet John "Dubya" McCain: If you like George Bush's foreign policy, you'll love the GOP's current candidate. Max Weber was wrong about disenchantment: A review of Re-enchanting the World: Maya Protestantism in the Guatemalan Highlands by C. Mathews Samson. Alan Keyes has deserted the GOP — will his new party take him? Save the Mount: Why Edith Wharton's house is an architectural treasure. Alan Gilbert reviews Peter Schjeldahl's Let’s See: Writings on Art from the New Yorker.

From The New Yorker, what can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even? Jared Diamond wants to know. From CQ Politics, a look at how top lawmakers try to turn blogs to their advantage. From Seed, putting the "invisible hand" to work for nature could reshape the values of capitalism; and a look at how governments reconsider the risk of Near-Earth asteroid and comet impacts. Here's a reconsideration of Richard Dawkins and his selfish meme. Is there moral progress? Peter Singer investigates. Can Obama really end the war? Is he really a Marxist? Or just the next McGovern?  How Brazilian waxes make our era less like the freewheeling '60s and more like the Victorian years. Michael Roth reviews Leo Bersani and Adam Phillips's Intimacies. Sex, Nazis, and Videotape: An article on the inestimable entertainment of the Max Mosley scandal. The "Father of Negritude" Aime Cesaire dies at 94. Let's dump Earth Day: Affection for our planet is misdirected and unrequited. We need to focus on saving ourselves. A review of Analytic Philosophy: The History of an Illusion by Aaron Preston; and a review of Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought by Paul Redding. A review of The Historical Figure of Jesus by E. P. Sanders. How blue is your collar? The bloviating white men of political television are obsessed with maintaining their blue-collar cred.

From First Principles, an article on the “Higher” Education of Whittaker Chambers: Columbia University, nihilism, and despair. From Slate, an article on the top 10 dumbest sports trends. Rattawut Lapcharoensap reviews David Goldblatt’s The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Soccer. Even hard-core skeptics can't help but find sympathy in the fabric of the universe—and occasionally try to pull its strings. Love and Consequences, the cartoonishly racist faked memoir that duped The New York Times, was quickly yanked off the shelves after it was revealed to be a fake, but here's a copy. From Newsweek, a cover story on The Divorce Generation. An interview with Martin Kihn, author of A$$hole: How I Got Rich and Happy by Not Giving a Damn About Anyone and How You Can Too. Holes in the Earth: At last count, there were more than 170 known impact craters on our planet. A review of The Agnostic Inquirer: Revelation from a Philosophical Standpoint by Sandra Menssen and Thomas Sullivan. The sight of Spain's new Defence Minister inspecting the troops is the most striking sign yet that women are the must-have factor in politics; but is the shift in power real or merely cosmetic? (and more) The age of entitlement: The diverse values and disputes of the baby boomers retain a strong influence on society. A review of On Desire: Why We Want What We Want by William Irvine.

From Prospect, many 68ers now feel ambivalent about their heritage — was too much of value discarded, and were the hippies just carriers of a new strain of capitalism? (a symposium); and many geneticists now think that the behaviour of our genes can be altered by experience—and even that these changes can be passed on to future generations. Tim Harford on how a new way to count national income could change how we think about immigration and development. Young and post-modern in NYC: Karen Karbo reviews Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake. From The New York Observer, an article on The Brooklyn Literary 100. From Foreign Affairs, Fareed Zakaria on on The Future of American Power; After Guantanamo: Kenneth Roth on the case against preventive detention; Andrew S. Natsiosa (Georgetown): Beyond Darfur: Sudan's Slide Toward Civil War; a review of A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein; and a review of The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation by Strobe Talbott. How do military reservists balance the two sides of being "citizen-soldiers"? Scott McLemee asks the researchers. A review of Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century by Tony Judt (and more).

From PS: Political Science & Politics, Susan A. MacManus and Andrew F. Quecan (South Florida): Spouses as Campaign Surrogates: Strategic Appearances by Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates’ Wives in the 2004 Election. From Dissent, an article on The "New" New Left, the new breed of liberal writers who have emerged on the web; Michael Walzer on the Tibetan Intifada; an article on the Israeli-Palestinian marketplace; and an essay on understanding African American inequality in the twenty-first century. Is the world reverting to a struggle between great powers? Or is the democratising spirit of 1989 still alive? Robert Kagan and Robert Cooper debate. How did the Democrats lose in 1972, and by a historic margin? An excerpt from Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein (and a review). From TLS, is there any subject on earth that isn't grist to Slavoj Zizek's intellectual mill? Terry Eagleton reviews In Defense of Lost Causes; a review of David Reynolds' Summits: Six meetings that shaped the twentieth century; a review of books on the mad worlds of Thomas Middleton. Marxist professors or sensitive students? Michael Shermer and Greg Lukianoff debate academic freedom. From Commonweal, Thomas J. Reese, SJ on reforming the Vatican: What the Church can learn from other institutions.

From Der Spiegel, an article on the global food crisis and the fury of the poor. When Jesse Had Game: Some see him as a discredited relic of the past, but he was once a young firebrand who inspired a generation. A review of Defining Art, Creating the Canon: Artistic Value in an Era of Doubt by Paul Crowther. Is Takashi Murakami Japan's Andy Warhol—or its Walt Disney? The introduction to Reluctant Crusaders: Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy by Colin Dueck. The introduction to Cunning by Don Herzog. The literary world seems hormone-driven — no clinical studies have been conducted, but informal research has turned up the following exchange. Jeff Greenfield on why the Democrats won't have a brokered convention. Thomas Schaller on how to survive a Colbert interview. How the West was changed: An article on the degradation of the townspeople after World War II in the American Western. Richard Dawkins on Gods and earthlings: The "science of intelligent design" is science fiction. Chalmers Johnson on why it’s time to flee the country. Rupert Murdoch is launching an old-fashioned newspaper war against The New York Times — not since William Randolph Hearst took on Joseph Pulitzer have we seen such a fight. Abolish all "taxes": Stop saying “taxes” and start calling them “dues”, which is a term rooted in social obligation and duty.

From YUP, an excerpt from The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability by James Gustave Speth (and an interview); an excerpt from The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain (and an interview); and an excerpt from Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (and an interview and more). Sacre Bruni! Gorgeous, stylish, occasionally nude: Does Mrs. Sarkozy matter? Here in Transylvania, it feels okay to be proudly English: As nationalities proliferate, the English want their turn. A forthcoming book takes a fresh perspective on how poststructuralism conquered America, and Scott McLemee checks it out (and more from Stanley Fish). Why species extinction matters — not just to the environment, but to the human psyche. From National Journal, Ronald Brownstein on The First 21st-Century Campaign. From CT, an article on how to save the Christian bookstore (Hint: Stop making it so religious). Brian Thomas Gallagher reviews Alex Abella’s Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire. Huzza for Commerce: An article on the emancipatory power of the American hotel. Neuroaesthetics, the latest trend in literary theory, provides a window on the academy's weaknesses.

From Prospect, from '68 agitator to staunch supporter of George W. Bush's Iraq war—what explains Hitchens's political journey? Does life have meaning? If so many people today feel that life is a sound and fury signifying nothing, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Richard Rorty are partly to blame. In the second Foreign Policy/Prospect list of top public intellectuals, here are the thinkers who are shaping the tenor of our time. From Words Without Borders, a special issue on China. Men Evolving Badly: American manhood is in crisis, judging by a surge of manifestos such as The Decline of Men, The Disposable Male, and Save the Males. The introduction to Apocalypse: Earthquakes, Archaeology, and the Wrath of God by Amos Nur and Dawn Burgess. Rebecca Reich reviews Christopher Robbins’s Apples Are from Kazakhstan: The Land That Disappeared. From The New York Times Magazine, a special issue on the environment. Thomas Frank on Obama's touch of class. As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously noted, there are no second acts in American lives — England, however, is a whole 'nother story. The premise of Rayo Casablanca's 6 Sick Hipsters is enticing: someone is murdering those atrocious denizens of Williamsburg, Brooklyn known as hipsters. Shakespeare for Everyone: Ron Rosenbaum on the most interesting books, movies, and Web sites related to the Bard.

From Critical Inquiry, Danny Postel interviews Tzvetan Todorov. From Modern Age, Roger Scruton on why conservatives are conservationists. An interview with Morgan Spurlock on "Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?" People don't read anymore; translation is expensive; the Internet!: At the London Book Fair, the sky was most definitely falling. Jorg Guido Hulsmann on the political economy of moral hazard. Small-town people of modest means and limited education are not fixated on cultural issues — rather, social issues are the opiate of the elites. Robert Pinsky on frequently asked questions about poetry. Friends Indeed: As we click with more pals online, the idea of friendship multiplies. Arthur Brooks on why free people are happy people, especially when strong personal morality guides their choices. Matthew Price reviews Samuele F. S. Pardini’s The Devil Gets His Due: The Uncollected Essays of Leslie Fiedler. Jon Chait on how conservatives have perfected working class PC. Media hypocrites love personality politics: Why is the GOP smear machine so good at re-creating the social dynamics of high school, pitting the Republican jocks against the Democratic nerds? Who is the working class, and what makes it vote the way it does? Barack Obama's going to be the bitter one at the end of this. A review of Warrior's Dishonour: Barbarity, Morality and Torture in Modern Warfare.

From The New Atlantis, Yuval Levin on science and the left: The past and future of the “party of science”; an essay on neuroimaging and capital punishment: Brain scans and the conflicted aspirations of neuroscience (and a look at the limits of neuro-talk); an article on The Moral Life of Cubicles: The utopian origins of Dilbert’s workspace; Thomas Merrill reads Descartes’ Discourse on Method; a review of Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed from Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves by Andrew Szasz; a review of When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine by Barron Lerner; and more on Love and Sex with Robots by David Levy. Chris Mooney on how lobbyists screw scientists over and over and over again. Michael Tomaksy reviews Martin Amis's The Second Plane: September 11, Terror and Boredom (and more and more and more and more). From TNR, Michelle Cottle on the Clinton campaign's fatal psychodrama: Hillaryland is a far more conniving place than you had imagined. A Confederacy of Dunces: Here's the Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere. Bill Moyers interviews Martha Nussbaum on Liberty of Conscience. A review of The World We Want: How and Why the Ideals of the Enlightenment Still Elude Us by Robert B. Louden.