From Index on Censorship, an interview with Ai Weiwei, star of the avant-garde, on challenging the status quo; and a look at how China’s online pioneers are pushing the boundaries of free speech. From Hoover Digest, Gary Becker, Richard Posner, and Niall Ferguson on on the subprime-mortgage meltdown. A review of Law and Irresponsibility: On the Legitimation of Human Suffering by Scott Veitch; and a review of Human Rights and Empire: The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism by Costas Douzinas. Imperialism for Beginners: A review of Tycoon's War: How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer by Stephen Dando-Collins. A review of The Constitution and America's Destiny by David Brian Roberston. Daydream achiever: A wandering mind can do important work, scientists are learning — and may even be essential. Machiavelli's daring gift: The Prince has elicited admiration, fear and contempt. A review of Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics by Dagmar Herzog. From Lilith, political imperatives: Seven independent, Jewish and frankly feminist activists on what to do next. A review of Multiculturalism without Culture by Anne Phillips. An interview with Cass Sunstein on the Homer Simpson in all of us.

A new issue of Education Next is out. The other pride parade: It's fine to celebrate heterosexuality, just be straight about your intentions. A review of Falun Gong and the Future of China by David Ownby. John McCain and Barack Obama both say America should lead the world; do they know what follows? From National Geographic, Charles C. Mann on Our Good Earth: The future rests on the soil beneath our feet. This place is the bomb: Something wild is happening on Christmas Island, once ground zero for nuclear test explosions. Hugh Andrew publishes the books others won’t touch because he believes they contain dying voices that must be revived. From CUP, an excerpt from Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future by Orrin H. Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis; and an excerpt from Humanity's Footprint: Momentum, Impact, and Our Global Environment by Walter Dodds. From Eat the State!, an article on the Global Poverty Act, the most important bill you've never heard of; and even if you're a vegetarian and you line-dry all your laundry, it's still not a good idea to fly to Greece for a week. The Greeks and the Chinese, doing business for aeons, and the lofty theory, and tough reality, of a link between two peoples who have always known the meaning of diaspora. A look at the top 10 endangered languages

From LRB, what works doesn’t work: Ross McKibbin on politics without ideas. From LRC, Andrew Ng goes beyond entrenched divisions in the United States and Canada; progressivism’s end: In Obama, both Americans and Canadians can see the promise of something new; and more on American distractions. From FP, here's a list of Obama’s 10 worst ideas. From Monthly Review, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson on Jeremiah Wright in the Propaganda System. From ITT, Slavoj Zizek on the Audacity of Rhetoric. From n+1, Aziz Rana on Obama and the Closing of the American Dream. From The Root, an article on Obama and the Suicidal Left: Why the black intelligentsia needs to stop hating on the Democratic nominee; and from Clarence Thomas to Sarah Palin, nobody plays cynical identity politics like the GOP. From TAS, Morning in America: With one bold masterstroke, everything that was so wrong with American politics has been made right. Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick on the complicated business of judging Sarah Palin. The Second Vermont Republic is a network that aims to dissolve the United States and, in particular, return Vermont to an independent republic. From Radar, Lynn Harris charts the origins of cougar mania. From IL, Richard Dawkins on freedoms lost and gained. From Standpoint, Cynthia Ozick on writers, visible and invisible; and what do we mean by "art"?