From TLS, an article on John Ashbery, a poet for our times; and Byron, Shelley and Miss Havisham: How a British Prime Minister may have provided the inspiration for one of Charles Dickens's most enduring characters. Roger Kimball on how 1968's corrosive influence still harms both the left and the right. What bees and dented cars can teach about what it means to be poor — and the flaws of economics. Cuckoo for Switzerland: A small country with a skilled workforce, booming exports, and enormous prosperity has become the envy of Europe. Students of virginity: In the Ivy League, abstinence is a) philosophical, b) research-based, c) an outgrowth of feminism, d) sexy and fun, e) all of the above. The first chapter from Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk by James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer. A review of Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons by Daniel D. Hutto. How did a handful of activists manage to shake up Beijing with “Genocide Olympics” T-shirts? From FT, an interview with Nassim Nicholas Taleb on randomness. Let's stop brutalizing our kids with years of drills on the proper formation of a cursive capital "S"—handwriting is a historical blip in the long history of writing technologies. A review of The Language of Liberal Constitutionalism by Howard Schweber.

From VQR, an essay on Ezra Pound: Foreign Correspondent; an article on Pat Robertson as The Christian with Four Aces; and learning to speak: The new age of HIV/AIDS in the other Jamaica. From LRB, Jeremy Waldron reviews Worst-Case Scenarios by Cass Sunstein; and was it like this for the Irish? Gareth Peirce on the position of Muslims in Britain. As one starlet after another goes off the rails, what kind of example are they setting for American girls? Maybe a good one. The politically incorrect Deer Hunter, thirty years later: An excerpt from God, Man & Hollywood: Politically Incorrect Cinema from The Birth of a Nation to The Passion of the Christ. Here's a message for guilty liberals: Do your best, but don’t burn out on shame. An interview with Kate Torgovnick, author of Cheer! Three Teams on a Quest for College Cheerleading's Ultimate Prize. Proponents of Intelligent Design wield a powerful new weapon: Ben Stein. Sex education regressed into the Dark Ages under Bush; which candidate will now stand up for young persons' health? The newest view of Christ — activist, politician, not very Christian — is hard to square with the Bible's; now some believers even say the faith might be better off without him. From Radical Middle, a review of books on capitalism and globalization. From Discover, an article on 3 theories that might blow up the Big Bang.

From HNN, a poll find 61% of historians rate the Bush presidency as the worst ever. From the latest issue of Logos, Dick Howard on American democracy after Bush; a review of books on the Bush presidency; a review of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges; a review of Are Americans Becoming More Peaceful? by Paul Joseph; a review of Frances Fox Piven's Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America; an essay on celebrating novelist Alberto Moravia at 100; an article on sixty years of Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus; creative genius or crazy scientist? paranoid or persecuted? An essay commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Wilhelm Reich; Janos Kelemen writes in defense of The Destruction of Reason by Georg Lukacs; and how would Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit be relevant today? by Frank M. Kirkland. Tim Griffin reviews Cole Swensen’s Ours. From New Scientist, a look at why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable; and will a pandemic bring down civilisation? A case of the blues: Congressional Republicans have lost ground on every possible front — can Tom Cole turn things around? From Vanity Fair, the Bush administration lawyers who pushed for extreme interrogation techniques at Guantanamo could be charged with war crimes; Philippe Sands follows the torture trail.