From Smithsonian, an article on the surprising satisfactions of a home funeral. A review of SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. Why bad jokes are easier to remember than the good ones. Gertrude Himmelfarb reviews The Philosophers' Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding by Robert Zaretsky and John T. Scott. An interview with Mahmood Mamdani, author of Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (and more and more and more and a review by Alex de Waal). Can a simple idea help make the world a better place? Gregory Berns believes everyone should learn to play music. I'm not looking, honest: The good news is reality exists; the bad is it’s even stranger than people thought. A review of Rebuilding War-Torn States: The Challenge of Post-Conflict Economic Reconstruction by Graciana del Castillo. A review of Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet by Mark Adams (and more and an excerpt). While muscular men perform dramatic circus acts in the brightly lit World Wrestling Entertainment ring, these three women orchestrate the complex show from executive positions.

From Slate, David Plotz discusses Good Book, his chronicle of reading every single word of the Bible (and a review); a book club on The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court by Cliff Sloan and David McKean; and an e-mail debates on making sense of the credit debacle. What's the score? Science inspired the world wide web — two decades on, the web has repaid the compliment by changing science. The task of keeping a president in touch with his public is daunting, as Mike Kelleher well knows. Matthew Yglesias on Obama's Frenemies: The more photo ops with our “enemies,” the better. Alvaro Vargas Llosa on what to make of Eduardo Galeano's "Open Veins of Latin America", the book that Chavez gave Obama. Nudge-ocracy: Franklin Foer and Noam Scheiber on Barack Obama's new theory of the state. Steven Levitt has an unusual admission to make for someone who has just finished teaching a class at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Egg head: For Martin Kippenberger, variety was a way to unify the world around him. The introduction to Iraq: A Political History from Independence to Occupation by Adeed Dawisha. Dan Ariely on why we think it's OK to cheat and steal (sometimes).

From The Philosophers' Magazine, Lara Feigel on the great unmade olfactory film; John Cottingham on whether philosophy can really offer advice on happiness; an interview with Ernie Lepore on why we still don’t understand enough about what words are; an interview with Roger Scruton on conservatism, aesthetic judgements and his status as an establishment outsider; and an interview with Jonathan Sacks on why civil society needs saving. Brad DeLong on understanding Marx. James V. DeLong on the coming of the Fourth American Republic: The Special Interest State that has shaped American life for 70 years is dying. From Edge, an interview with AC Grayling on pressing questions for our century (and Grayling on regulating armed robots before it's too late). More and more and more on Wired for War by PW Singer and Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong by Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen (and more; and more from TED; and more from Bookforum). A review of The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World's Fiercest Food Fight by Mark Caro. My other sofa is a bookcase: A look at the growing appeal of furniture that does more than one thing. A look at the top 10 craziest sex laws in America.

From Scientific American, a cover story on what makes us human: Comparisons of the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are revealing those rare stretches of DNA that are ours alone; taming humanity's urge to war: Must lethal conflict be an inevitable part of human culture?; could food shortages bring down civilization? The biggest threat to global stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries to cause government collapse; Jeffrey Sachs on the costs of expanding the government's economic role. George Packer on Irving Kristol’s long, strange trip. David Weigel on the civil war raging in the right-wing blogosphere. Phil Zelikow on keeping politics out of the law when judging torture. A review of Camus by David Sherman. From Too Much, should we double the tax rate on the rich? When Truffaut met Tarantino: Nigel Andrews pays tribute to the legendary Gang of Seven that created a new syndicate in screen culture 50 years ago in the French New Wave — the greatest criminal enterprise in cinema history. One time management system elevates the humble to-do list to cult-like status. A review of Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us: Customer Service and What It Reveals About Our World and Our Lives by Emily Yellin (and more).