The Appalachia of the West: California’s agricultural heartland threatens to become a wasteland. From Bookforum, Naomi Fry on California Haze: California is usually portrayed as a palm-treed Eden, wholesome and easeful, but as the Roman Polanski scandal has reminded us, this sunny vision has a lurid underside; and Sonya Geis reviews West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State by Mark Arax. Commentators continue to see California as a beacon, for better or for worse, of the future, even as it remains stubbornly sui generis. An article on California as America’s first failed state. The Coast of Dystopia: Is the California dream really, really dead? An article on how tax cuts killed California. A look at how the L.A. suburb of Downey became one of the most toxic towns. The depth of California's political suckitude is hard to fathom — it's like a contest from hell, where both parties try to outdo each other in sleaze and contemptibility. Boom: A Journal of California, scheduled to debut next February, will focus on "informed, critical perspectives about the past, present and future of the state". Will California continue to lead the fight against global warming? California's Nuclear Nexus: A faux disarmament plan has roots in the Golden State's pro-nuclear lobby. A Factory Like a City: A photo essay on a California factory slated to close. Venoco Inc., which wants to begin round-the-clock drilling in the Carpinteria area, is pouring money into a ballot initiative that would exempt it from the city's industrial development and environmental rules. Loose in Obamalandia: John Ross on Dead Man Walking in California. The Great California Wine Mystery: Why superstar West Coast vintners don't (or won't) put out inexpensive bottles.

A look at Japanese anarcho-fascist politician Koichi Toyama: “Annihilate everything that exists!” The Japanese public has become increasingly aware that Ichiro Ozawa, Secretary-General of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, is the puppet-master behind Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s cabinet. Since the Democratic Party of Japan won in the country's August national election, Japan watchers have worried the new government might try to upset the status quo and ease away from the US. Will Obama seize a rare opportunity for change in U.S.-Japan relations? Princelings, Inc.: What really unites the United States and Japan in their current doldrums? Land of the setting sun: Japan’s economy was on course to surpass America’s — what happened? Twenty years ago this week, Japan’s Nikkei index reached its historic peak of 38,916 — there are lessons from the fall for America and the world. Japan's fake economic reforms: Why Tokyo could use a little more creative destruction. From YaleGlobal, will Japan emerge from its shell? (and part 2) From 3:AM, is this the year Japan jumps the shark? Memoirs of a Vanishing Japan: With its narrow streets and dark and hidden infoldings, there’s a distinctly feminine, mysterious, and inexplicably magnetic aspect to Japan that exists in few other places in the world. Japanese women, 20, decked out, and ogled by old men: Coming of Age Day brings out the best (and worst) in Japan. Wink on Pink: Christine R. Yano on interpreting Japanese cute as it grabs the global headlines. Joe McCulloch on how manga reflects not only the mores and attitudes of a culture very different from ours but also a manner of publication unfamiliar in English-speaking environs.

New Order: A look at how "the multipolar world" came to be. A review of After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World by Dilip Hiro. From Agora, an essay on a new power structure of the world. The myriad maps of a new global order are turning out to be as ephemeral as couturiers’ spring collections. Thomas P.M. Barnett on the fallacy of an increasingly dangerous world. Restraining Order: The world may still need a lot of help, but it's time that we divvy up some of the work among our allies. Geoffrey Wheatcroft on the constraints of US foreign policy. A review of The Great American Gamble: Deterrence Theory and Practice from the Cold War to the Twenty-First Century by Keith Payne. The end of the end of history: A review of America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11 by Dereck Chollet and James Goldgeier, Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes, 1992-2000 by John Dumbrell, The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century by Parag Khanna, and The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan. In retrospect, neither The End of History nor The Clash of Civilizations prepared the US for the post-Cold War world, yet a reliable school of creative thinkers existed — even if it did include a dead apostate or two. An excerpt from Superpower Illusions: How Myths and False Ideologies Led America Astray — And How to Return to Reality by Jack Matlock. A review of Follies of Power: America’s Unipolar Fantasy by David Calleo. A review of The Only Super Power: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism by Paul Hollander. Our Faltering Rivals: The U.S. is in decline, sure — but it’s still leading. From The American Interest, James Kurth on the pillars of the next American century.

From The Weekly Standard, a cover story on The New Dating Game: Back to the New Paleolithic Age (and a response). From FT, a review essay on marriage. Dear, I "think" I might throttle you: Analytical words could help defuse the tension between a warring husband and wife. A review of Couples: The Truth by Kate Figes (and more and more and more). From The Nation, a review of A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century by Cristina Nehring (and more at The New Criterion). The Good Lord will never give you another woman’s husband — you know this, so why would you have a married man’s baby? A handful of dating Web sites are competing to impose some science, or at least some structure, on the quest for love. An interview with Carl Weisman, author of Serious Doubts: Why People Marry When They Know It Won't Last. The first chapter from Untying the Knot: Marriage, the State, and the Case for Their Divorce by Tamara Metz. An interview with John Bowe, author of Us: Americans Talk About Love (and more). With marriage less necessary than ever before, the challenge becomes, how do we make our marriages necessary and relevant? A review of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb (and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more). An interview with Wendy-O Matik, author of Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines For Responsible Open Relationships. Ted Fischer describes the evolutionary reasons for falling in love and how modernity has urged it along. From The Symptom, Jacques-Alain Miller on A New Kind of Love. When the honeymoon is over: What to do if cracks appear in a marriage, from seeking counseling to calling it quits — a review of books.

From Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, Chaia Heller celebrates the life and work of Murray Bookchin; John Clark on Bookchin's critique of the anarchist tradition; and Chuck Morse on being a Bookchinite. Alex Prichard considers the rebirth of anarchism as a scholarly subject, its future in an impact-oriented academy and its lessons for democracy. Was Emile Henry the first terrorist of the modern age? The world's first terrorists: We think of jihadism as a modern creation, but the 19th-century anarchist movement was equally nihilistic — and equally deadly. A review of Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History by Staughton Lynd and Andrej Grubacic. Colin Ward lived with the title of Britain's most famous anarchist for nearly half a ­century (and more). An interview with Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt, authors of Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. Calling Europe’s anarchist class 2008-2009: no need to smash bank windows. Refusing to Wait: An essay on anarchism and intersectionality. An interview with George Lakey on the Movement for a New Society. A review of Anarchy Alive! Anti-authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory by Uri Gordon. A review of An Anarchist's Story: The Life of Ethel MacDonald by Chris Dolan. Anarchists in the Global Justice Movement: A review of Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber. From ZNet, an essay on anarchism's promise for anticapitalist resistance. When reading the “manifestos” of today’s anarchists, one thing becomes abundantly clear: They hate capitalism more than they hate government. Can we build socialist-anarchist alliances? A communist revival: University and workplace occupations are promising indications of the return of communism, in its original sense.