From The New York Times Magazine, a special issue of the dilemmas of debt. From World Hum, here are Eight Great Stories of the Shrinking Planet (and Pico Ayer on why we travel). A look at how a Supreme Court Case tore the Republican Party in two. A review of Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness by Willard Spiegelman. An article on Freeman Dyson and the irresistible urge to be contrary about climate change. A review of Digital Barbarism: A Writer's Manifesto by Mark Helprin (and an excerpt). From Edge, lord of the cloud: John Markoff and Clay Shirky talk to David Gelernter. First Lady, Mom-in-chief, role model, fashion icon, dinner lady, serial hugger: Twelve top female writers celebrate the many faces of Michelle Obama. He told us so: An article on “Moynihan Redux: Legacies and Lessons”. A review of My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture by Susan D. Blum. A review of Zapatismo Beyond Borders: New Imaginations of Political Possibility by Alex Khasnabish. An interview with Thomas Kostigen, author of You Are Here: The Surprising Link Between What We Do and What That Does to Our Planet. A prom divided: Outside the classroom at Montgomery County High School in Georgia, segregation endures. Anyone who thinks that the Magna Carta is an infallible guide to our current liberties has another thing coming.

From Seed, the deep symbiosis between bacteria and their human hosts is forcing scientists to ask: Are we organisms or living ecosystems?; and is understanding the selfless behavior of ants, bees, and wasps the key to a new evolutionary synthesis? (and more on E. O. Wilson) Tough love for the humanities: Leon Kass delivers Jefferson Lecture, warning that, like the sciences, the humanities seem to have lost their soul. From PUP, the first chapter from Going Local: Decentralization, Democratization, and the Promise of Good Governance by Merilee S. Grindle; and the introduction to What Democracy Is For: On Freedom and Moral Government by Stein Ringen. A review of Objectively Speaking: Ayn Rand Interviewed. With health care and climate change on the agenda, the next hundred are more important than the first — get ready for the Summer of Shove. Cartoon Conservatism: Is "Little Orphan Annie" the key to understanding Obama-phobia? Scott McLemee interviews a scholar in the field of comics studies. The Eternal City: Despite New Yorkers’ powerful nostalgia for the Gotham-that-was, the city’s urban ecology has always thrived on change. From TLS, a review of Fresh: A Perishable History by Susanne Freidberg (and an interview); and a review of books on multicultural food in Britain.

From City Journal, Alain de Botton on the consolations of pessimism: In our age, as in Seneca’s, the worst is always possible; an article on HG Wells, the godfather of American liberalism; drinking Harvey Milk’s Kool-Aid: Lionized by Hollywood and California state legislators, the real Milk was a demagogue and pal of Jim Jones; and a review of The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot by Gertrude Himmelfarb. From Policy Innovations, can we evolve to become Homo sociens? You may never have the memory of Rain Man, but you can still get tips for improving your cognitive performance from this extraordinary thinker. From Christianity Today, a review of books on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The case for working with your hands: Changes in the economy have had the surprising effect of making the manual trades more attractive as careers. Chop Chop Square: The Walrus goes inside Saudi Arabia’s brutal justice system. Tim Ferriss on how one simple question — "What's the worst that could happen?" — is all you need to learn to do anything. Primordial Muse: The abundant and wide-ranging material that covered Francis Bacon's studio was essential inspiration — and perhaps reveals something of this enigmatic artist. The Numbers Guy on the growing popularity of popularity and the powerful influence of popularity on our decisions.

From NYRB, Garry Wills reviews Lincoln on Race and Slavery; Julian Barnes reviews books by John Updike; Colm Toibin reviews of Alice in Jamesland: The Story of Alice Howe Gibbens James by Susan E. Gunter and House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family by Paul Fisher (and more on Henry James at Bookforum); the crisis and how to deal with it: Here are excerpts from a symposium on the economic crisis; and a review essay on America's prisons: Is there hope? Warning: If you suffer from climate anxiety, read on at your own risk. The policies that the photographs of torture depict have already done terrible damage to America’s cause — President Obama is right not to release more of the pictures. The fights that do not want to end: Civil wars tend to last 20 times as long as international wars — why? Civil wars never end, they just move to Canada. How did "American Idol", a somewhat goofy, family-style talent show on Fox, become a bellwether of America's changing attitudes toward sexuality? "White Negroes" and "black hipsters": Blipsters just the latest chapter in half-century history of cultural swapping and stealing. No extra charge: Troy Patterson on the dubious art of infomercials. Do we take more risks when we feel safe? Fifty years after we began using the three-point seatbelt, there's a new answer.