From Philosophical Transactions B, a special issue on rationality and emotions is free online, as is all Royal Society Publishing content until the end of February. From Hilobrow, Tom Nealon on the Parnassus of Titon du Tillet. Above all, God save our awful anthems. After 20 years The Simpsons is almost as established as Disney; Bee Wilson compares and contrasts two giants of pop culture. From The Atlantic, Derek Thompson on the 10 American ideas of the decade. The first chapter from Social Conventions: From Language to Law by Andrei Marmor. Here's the latest Edge Annual Question: How is the Internet changing the way you think? The Trials of Tony Judt: Even as ALS tightens its grip, the historian remains outspoken. The journal First of the Month has reinvented itself, both online and in print; Scott McLemee looks into its latest anthology. NYU Libraries acquire the Kathleen Hanna Papers for their new "Riot Grrrl Collection". From Vanity Fair, what has happened to Gore Vidal, the witty, tough-minded subversive of American letters, the 20th century’s only possible answer to Oscar Wilde? Christopher Hitchens wants to know. From NYRB, David Cole on getting away with torture. There’s an app for this: Joanne McNeil on how to follow the world of ideas on the go. From Standpoint, a look at why Philip Blond is overrated and Michael Oakeshott is underrated. Why skeptics should embrace the supernatural on television. From THES, a review of The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood by Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman; and a review of Personal Responsibility: Why It Matters by Alexander Brown.

Alan Sears (Windsor): Queer Anti-Capitalism: What's Left of Lesbian and Gay Liberation? An article on how Larry Kramer's boundless outrage has changed the course of AIDS. Form Curve, Michele Fisher on how to build a better queer. Meet the fearsome gay gangsters of Bash Back: They're here, they're queer, and they're not going home until they kick some ass. Why does mixed-martial arts have such a following in the gay community? Kings of Queens: Gays on TV once helped promote tolerance — now they may be hurting it. The Secret Lives of Queer Leading Men: How Howard Bragman, Hollywood’s coming-out guru, helps gay actors tell the truth. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix played hustlers in My Own Private Idaho, but heads inside Hustlaball and talks to real hookers about the life of a sex worker; and once an unfortunate but understandable option for a beaten-down sexual minority, public sex no longer has a place in modern gay culture — as so many closeted politicians and celebs have proven. A review of Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America by Mary L. Gray. Gay boys in oil city: The fight for GLBT rights in rural America is far from over. Coming out in middle school: How 13-year-old kids are dealing with their sexual identity — and how others are dealing with them. What’s good for the kids: A look at what gay parenting teaches us all. Gay-friendliness as Spain's latest export: Spain is paving the way for equality in other Latin American countries. More on When Gay People Get Married by MV Lee Badgett.

Todd L. Duncan (PU): Untangling the Hard Problem of Consciousness. From New Scientist, a look at how our brains build social worlds. It’s one of the more frustrating aspects of human nature: The harder we try not to say or do or think something, the more likely we are to slip — and often at the worst possible time. What is the speed of thought?: Faster than a bird and slower than sound, but that may be besides the point — efficiency and timing seem to be more important anyway. A look at how menus manipulate your mind. Illusions can tell us much about how our brains work, but first we need to know how each one works. A review of Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention by by Stanislas Dehaene (and more and more and more on your brain on books). From Edge, Stanislas Dehaene on signatures of consciousness. My brain on my mind: Priscilla Long on the ABCs of the thrumming, plastic mystery that allows us to think, feel, and remember. Portrait of a Multitasking Mind: What happens when you try to do three things at once? Anatomy of a brain fart: When your brain gets bored, it unleashes the stupidest of all stupid mistakes. What can patterns in hallucinations tell us about the structure of our brains? How to train the aging brain: To keep a middle-aged mind sharp, shake up what you already know. Blame it on the brain: The latest neuroscience research suggests spreading resolutions out over time is the best approach. Ray Tallis on why you won't find consciousness in the brain. When smarter people's brains are scanned while "at rest", long-distance connections appear stronger.

Adeshina Afolayan (Ibadan): Resignifying the Universal: Critical Commentary on the Postcolonial African Identity and Development. A review of Winds of Change in South Africa (From Apartheid to Freedom) by Raphael Alade. Inside the insular and secretive Eritrea: Ruled by an intolerant autocratic regime, the proud people of Africa’s newest independent state have embraced globalisation amid sealed borders. A review of African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen by Lindiwe Dovey. While most Ethiopians have kept scrupulously silent about the terror they endured under the Derg regime, Hirut Abebe-Jiri has made loud remembrance her life’s work. The fact that the World Cup has finally come to Africa means that Fifa has stepped into a region where the game has all but collapsed under the weight of corruption. A review of The Making of Poverty in South Africa by Bethuel Setai. In Algeria, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, preparations for dynastic successions appear to be underway. A review of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden. In recent years, international attention on Sudan has focused on Darfur, but the regime in Khartoum has been concerned with its own political survival. Timbuktu preserves historic manuscripts: Arabic texts date back hundreds of years and contain invaluable information about religion, science, history. A look at the many ways Africans are dying. Change beckons for billionth African: Africa's rapidly growing population will see urbanisation, economic growth, health and climate problems. A review of Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa by Adam Ashforth.

Go with the flow: Michel de Montaigne, first and greatest writer of "essays", can cure you of broken-resolution blues. An age of fleeting plausibility: This has been a decade in which we allowed ourselves to believe the most unlikely stories — why? A review of books on Ernst Cassirer. Why Twitter will endure: So you’re drowning in a sea of information — perhaps the answer is more information. Richard Harris, pastor of Living Hope Community Church in Lakeland, wrote One Nation Under Curse about his days as a member of the KKK in Indiana and how he was called to his religious faith. If you’re a reporter in Washington, you undoubtedly know Daniel Lippman well, very well — sometimes, perhaps, a little too well. A review of Thinking About Almost Everything: New Ideas to Light Up Minds. Millions of religious believers around the world share a passionate belief in the coming of doomsday — and that means that the End of Days will remain a factor in politics at least until, well, the end of humankind. A review of Sugar: A Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott. Techno-utopian fail: From Iran to China, blogs and social-networking sites were touted by the West as the ultimate tools of democracy dissident movements; however, last year the revolution would not be Twitterised. Scary movie: A look at how Psycho loosed mayhem and chaos in American cinema. A review of The Healing Power of Ancient Literature. Nespresso, a widely popular espresso machine that uses individual capsules or pods, is the latest thing in high-end coffee. Open Democracy writers on 2010: global cracks, human prospects (and part 2).

A review of The Birth (and Death) of the Cool by Ted Gioia (and more). A trip to South Florida reveals that hip-hop, once the subject of legal and moral reprimands, has become a major fixture in the region. A review of The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera by Daniel Snowman. The blood and the Stones: Four months after the love-in of Woodstock, the Stones played a fateful, fatal concert on Dec. 6, 1969 — and its stain on rock 'n' roll has lingered ever since. Czech band helped change course of history: Avant-garde rockers Plastic People of the Universe were a thorn in the side of totalitarian regime. From The Village Voice, the decade in music genre hype: A solemn tribute to once-hot-shit trends that (mostly) won't be joining us in the '10s. One surprisingly successful technique for converting hip-hop haters and deepening the existing fan's love for the culture is to expose them to "old school hip-hop". Messiah Man: The music of George Frideric Handel "makes you want to live". From Slate's Music Club, here's a defense of Lady Gaga. Simon Reynolds's Notes on the noughties: The musically fragmented decade. What were they singing about?: A look at how barrelhouse words defines the Blues. A review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout (and more and more and more and more and more). Born and raised in internet chatrooms and DIY studios, world music 2.0 has colonised international playlists.  A review of Sibelius: A Composer’s Life and the Awakening of Finland by Glenda Dawn Goss. A review of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin D.G. Kelley (and more).

A review of How They See Us: Meditations on America (and more). A Ponzi scheme that works: The greatest strength of America is that people want to live there. A review of Dying to Live: A Story of US Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid by Joseph Nevins. Mark Arax reviews Imperial by William T. Vollmann. The Latino Crescent: An article on the changing face of Muslim America. Burn or turn: America's Navajo Indians are facing their own environmental fork in the road. From HistoryNet, a look at why cotton got to be King. From Southern Spaces, through the case of Jackson Hill, LeAnn Lands describes the turn toward residential segregation in early twentieth-century Atlanta. A Man and His Plan: You have probably never heard of Francis Everett Townsend, but his enormous and controversial legacy is with us today. Hard times revisited: A review of Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon and Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein (and more and more; and more at Bookforum). A review of King of the Lobby: The Life and Times of Sam Ward, Man-about-Washington in the Gilded Age by Kathryn Allamong Jacob. Myths of the American Revolution: Historian John Ferling debunks the conventional wisdom about America's War of Independence. More and more on Gordon Wood's Empire of Liberty. A review of America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story by Bruce Feiler. Orville Schell on the melting of America: The story of a can’t-do nation. From The Atlantic, is the nation in terminal decline? James Fallows on how America can rise again (and more).

Scareplane: If you're wondering why we only fear terrorism at airports, it's because al-Qaeda is failing. David Brooks on The God That Fails: It would be nice if we reacted to the inevitable failures of centralized agencies with resiliency instead of rabid denunciation and cynicism. Steve Coll reads “U.S. Counter-Terrorism Strategy and al-Qaeda: Signaling and the Terrorist World-View”, by Joshua Alexander Geltzer. Will profiling make a difference? Here are 5 myths about keeping America safe from terrorism. The dual role of the U.S. as a liberal democracy and a legitimately aggrieved superpower at war creates a necessary anomaly in how justice is applied. The Carter Syndrome: Barack Obama might yet revolutionize America's foreign policy, but if he can't reconcile his inner Thomas Jefferson with his inner Woodrow Wilson, the 44th president could end up like No. 39 (and more). From Time, here's a report card on Obama's first year. Stress Reliever: How Obama's best economic policy of 2009 cost us exactly nothing. The Washington Post has run a "news" article about deficit reduction penned by The Fiscal Times, an outlet backed by Pete Peterson, the Wall Street millionaire who wants to loot Social Security. A year after the biggest bailout in US history, Wall Street lobbyists don't just have influence in Washington — they own it lock, stock, and barrel. E.J. Dionne Jr. on what Harry Reid's detractors get wrong. How — and when — can Democrats get even with Joe Lieberman? Um, pathetic: Hendrik Hertzberg on Obama and the Left. What liberal revolt? Claims that Obama's base have turned on him are based on scant evidence.

From Critical Mass, a special series on the next decade in book culture. The new country club: Are designer gyms the next hub of pretentious living? A review of Changing my Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith (and more). From Slate, a series of articles on where Russia meets China. Psychologists have begun to explore the strange impulse to put off until tomorrow what could be enjoyed today. A clutch of hackneyed jingles about how marvellous the author is is de rigueur on book covers — but do they really serve any useful role? A review of Albert Camus: From the Absurd to Revolt by John Foley. An interview with Sara Maitland on books on silence. A look at the 6 stupidest things ever done with historic treasures. A review of Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls by Stephen G. Bloom. Free David Mamet: Conservative ideas get scant attention on the American stage. GIS mapping technology is helping underprivileged communities get better services — from education and transportation to health care and law enforcement — by showing exactly what discrimination looks like. A review of 100,000 Years of Beauty. A review of Proud To Be Flesh: A Mute Magazine Anthology of Cultural Politics After the Net. Master of Money: A review of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. Et Tu, Guido: On the sappy truth about Jersey Shore (and more). A review of The Vatican Secret Archives. Here's a complete list of the different kinds of people that there are. With plenty of fascinating books you’ve never heard of and zero sense of obligation, what better way to kick of ’10 than with Bookforum’s Syllabi?

A review of The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land by Thomas Asbridge and Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades by Jonathan Phillips. Hate Radio: Jeffrey Herf on the long, toxic afterlife of Nazi propaganda in the Arab world (and a debate with Richard Wolin). A review of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations by Lee Smith. How rockets transformed the Middle East arms race and made Russia the big winner. Were early Islamic historians the first to embrace post-modernism? Lesley Hazleton investigates. The fad element in suicide bombings: Abdulmutallab was just one of many young people who flock to the siren song of martyrdom. World history is historiography against the grain: The role of the Middle East and its inhabitants in the two world wars has barely been studied to this day. Does Islamist party Hizb-ut-Tahrir pose a threat to Western society? The answer may well be yes — but that doesn't mean it should be banned (and a response). An interview with Richard Bulliet, author of The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states; now splits within the world's oldest and largest Islamic political group indicate that it is at a decisive crossroads. A review of The Sum of All Heresies: The Image of Islam in Western Thought by Frederick Quinn. Life and Death in the Middle Belt: A look at the clash of civilizations taking place in Nigeria. An interview with Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi on the secular elements of the Islamic Republic of Iran.