From Esquire, meet Dana White, the King of Mixed Martial Arts: With the UFC, he has turned a bloody fringe sport into a $1 billion empire — but not without stopping at Pinkberry. From National Affairs, the health of baseball concerns all of America, and the health of ­America — perhaps especially the American family — finds itself reflected in the state of our national pastime. Baseball’s Fall Classic may not match the Super Bowl for ratings or popularity, but when it comes to American sporting nostalgia, the World Series has no peers. A review of Onward Christian Athletes: Turning Ballparks into Pulpits and Players into Preachers by Tom Krattenmaker (and more). Football and the brain need a divorce: Evidence is mounting that the game's violence is shortening players' lives. Football pared to its bare essentials: Dreamed up as a half-time distraction, the Lingerie League is taking off. A review of Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefon Szymanski (and more). Hog the ball, kid: The case for selfishness in the egalitarian sport of soccer. Here are a slew of lessons on losing you may want to consider taking on board. A review of Wicked Good Year: How the Red Sox, Patriots & Celtics Turned the Hub of the Universe into the Capital of Sports by Steve Buckley. Taking the plane to the game: Sports travel — following your team on the road to away games or vacationing at major attractions — is scoring big. Unsporting: John Swansburg on why he stopped being a sports fan. Ever wonder where sports broadcasts get their facts and figures? Sports Animal: Jesse Smith on the not-quite-animal/not-quite-human mascots of professional sports.

From TNR, Peter Bergen on the battle for Tora Bora and how Osama bin Laden slipped from our grasp — the definitive account. From Dissent, Jon Wiener on the best argument for the Afghan War — and what's wrong with it. As the Obama administration prepares to send more troops to Afghanistan, what are the problems U.S. forces will face, and what, if anything, can they do to overcome them? In Afghanistan, where avoiding civilian deaths is a top priority, U.S. military sharpshooters may have found the war that needs them most. Michael Crowley on the cult of counterinsurgency. From Boston Review, a forum on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, including Nir Rosen on why counterinsurgency doesn’t make sense — it asks soldiers, concerned primarily with survival, to be Wyatt Earp and Mother Theresa (and responses by Helena Cobban, Syed Saleem Shahzad, Andrew Bacevich, and more). A review of Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field and Empires of Mud: Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan by Antonio Giustozzi. From NYRB, Rory Stewart on Afghanistan: What could work. Sean McFate built an African army — now here's what it will take to build Afghanistan's. Lowering its sights and concentrating on order, the international community helped stabilize Tajikistan — the same approach could work in Afghanistan, too. The next Afghanistan: Pirates, Al Qaeda, unruly sheiks — Yemen has it all (and more and more). How did Yemen get so poor? (and more and more). Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: What you need to know about the organization that gave us the Christmas bomber (and more and more).

Olga Danglova (SAS): Popular Traditions, Folklore and Politics. Can the Twitterverse perfect the pizza? Walk away from your mortgage: Why should underwater homeowners behave any differently from banks? Only a poltroon despises pedantry: Introducing new words is all very well, but sticklers prefer the traditional approach to language. Are we more rational than our fellow animals? Dan Ariely investigates. More and more and more on Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals (and more at Bookforum). From The Psychologist, a special issue on the power of music. What is the age of responsibility? From sex to driving to juvenile justice to drinking, state and local laws send young people mixed messages about their own maturity — is there a better way? Singularity proponent Ray Kurzweil reinvents the book, again. Let us put aside these noisy resolutions, these petty contractions of the will; let us rather sit in the cold gatehouse of the year and cheerfully contemplate the futility of such efforts. Jagdish Bhagwati reviews Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo. From SCQ, global issues for breakfast: The banana industry and its problems FAQ. O Lucky Man: Sometimes "WTF?" is the only rational response to a situation. From The New York Times, writers consider events large and small that helped shape the last 10 years. Female soldiers in Iraq report an epidemic of sexual assault and harassment — is the military taking them seriously? The lost script: It’s a writing system called Ajami, it’s a thousand years old, and linguistics professor Fallou Ngom thinks it could help unlock the story of a continent.

Chris Phoenix (CRN): Cellular differentiation as a candidate “new technology” for the Cambrian Explosion. A study finds new species might arise as a result of single rare events, rather than through the gradual accumulation of many small changes over time. Let us contemplate one of evolution’s great works: the origin of giants. A review of Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth by Dennis McCarthy. A look at the top mysteries of the first humans and the things that make humans special. What happened to the hominids who were smarter than us, and did we mate with Neanderthals or did we murder them? Evolution’s bad girl: Ardi shakes up the fossil record. Want to find out where you fit on the human family tree? The Human Origins Genotyping Laboratory is on the case. Epigenetics, DNA: An article on how you can change your genes, destiny. Should evolutionary theory evolve? Some biologists are calling for a rethink of the rules of evolution. Research suggests our future evolution is going to lead to a devastating decline in our health. Genetically enhance humanity or face extinction: Julian Savulescu on why we must either alter our political institutions, severely restrain our technology or change our nature — or face annihilation by our own design. Philippe Verdoux on transhumanism, progress and the future. Are we too selfish to survive, and is there really a link between consumer society, moral relativism and having fewer children? An excerpt from The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by Jeremy Rifkin.