Chris Burgess (Tsuda): The "Illusion" of Homogeneous Japan and National Character. From Irrawaddy, Aung Zaw examines the undistinguished military career of Snr-Gen Than Shwe, Burma's absolute ruler; and advising Burma’s generals on how to run the country’s economy is a risky business. An interview with Dilip Hiro, author of Inside Central Asia. The Party's Over: Gordon G. Chang on China's endgame. The political trends behind Malaysia's recent "Allah" controversy could undermine the delicate sociocultural balance in one of the Muslim world's most developed nations. The mother of all dictatorships: To understand North Korea, look not to Confucius or the Soviet Union, but to fascist 1930s Japan. Kellie Schmitt on the 11 foreigners you meet in China. How not to run an empire: Ignoring human rights in favor of stability is backfiring not just in Kyrgyzstan, but all over Central Asia — big time. A review of “If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die”: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor by Geoffrey Robinson. A review of Where There Are Asians There Are Rice Cookers: How National Went Global via Hong Kong by Yoshiko Nakano. If there is one major country where history is a political instrument, it is China. Unsettling the slums: John Gravois reports from Phnom Penh, where a new prosperity is transforming what was once a city of squatters. Can Asians resolve global problems? Simon Chesterman and Kishore Mahbubani investigate. They’re not brainwashed, they’re just miserable: What North Koreans really want. New Silk Roads: Roads, railways and pipelines are redefining what we mean by Asia. Jonathan Taylor reviews Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler. A review of Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times by Barry Wain.

A new issue of Public Diplomacy is out. An interview with Denis Antoine, author of Effective Diplomacy. From University World News, a profile of Manuel Castells, theorist of power (and more and more). How the sleazy used-car salesmen at Goldman Sachs tricked investors into buying their busted clunkers. Do book editors deserve a cut of the profits? Publish or Perish: Can the iPad topple the Kindle, and save the book business? Dana Rohrabacher's War: In the '80s he took up arms with Afghanistan's mujahideen; now the California Republican is fighting against Obama's surge. A Space Oddity: How an Afghan pilot became a cosmonaut — and a fugitive. David Haglund reviews Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. The Last Yugoslav: A review of Terror and Joy: The Films of Dusan Makavejev by Lorraine Mortimer. Are newspaper critics old hat amid the flood of online critics? Four and twenty: Here are excerpts from Marijuana Magazine’s special issues. The introduction to What's Eating You? People and Parasites by Eugene Kaplan. Channelling Ike: Richard Rayner on Stephen Ambrose’s imagined encounters with Eisenhower. Beauty and the Beast: Not everyone is drop-dead gorgeous, but everyone is intent on pointing that out. A review of The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture by Terry O’Reilly and Mike Tennant. The growing belief that the Internet has led to an increasingly fragmented and polarized media market may be contradicted by new research. Tweet Tweet Boom Boom: A growing community of young, sunny social-media entrepreneurs are inventing ways to amplify the urban experience with technology; in the process, they may be finally turning NY into a true tech town. The Imitation Economy: Innovation is overrated — it's time to appreciate the power of the copycat.

From The American Spectator, Quin Hillyer on the problem with Palin; R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. on conservatism and ideology; and Ben Stein on liberals then and now. From TAP, how conservative Christians get around health-care reform's individual mandate; and when we mock politicians who are outed as gay, who are we really shaming, and are we decrying homophobia — or fueling it? The Fox News Tribe: More than ever, conservatives are working to cast liberals as the other. From TNR, Barry Friedman and Jeffrey Rosen on the battle over the Court: How the right and the left learned to love judicial activism. A new wave of American populism could be good for the Jews. An interview with Charlotte Dennett, author of The People v. Bush: One Lawyer’s Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way (and more). Power struggle: Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney go inside the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. An interview with Arthur C. Brooks, author of The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future. Thomas Frank on conservatives and the market for alienation: The GOP claims to speak for the working man. Free the Forbes 400: Dan Milbank on the Tea Party's elite populism. Judicial Drama: Why you don't need to pay attention to Supreme Court confirmation hearings. From National Review, Michael Knox Beran on the descent of Liberalism. Strategies that rely on insider influence can't deliver large-scale change — but mobilizations outside government can. A review of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics through Networked Progressive Media by Jessica Clark and Tracy Van Slyke (and more). Meet your candidate: Idaho cartoon villain Harley D. Brown will save Congress.

From Obit, a review of Greg Critser’s Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging; different ways to honor the dead: The age of someone’s demise affects the way we say goodbye; and mourning in the 21st century: What form says you’re sorry for their loss? A review of Dying to Know: Bringing Death to Life by Jane Tewson. A review of Surviving Death by Mark Johnston. What implications might technological advances have on our current definition of clinical death? An interview with Michael de Ridder, author of How Do We Want To Die? There’s a time, from when someone dies to when they magically pop up at the funeral or the cemetery or as a bag of ashes, that remains a black hole, invisible to the rest of the world, and everyone’s happy with the arrangement. An interview with David Eagleman: "We won't die — our consciousness will live forever on the internet". Alix Strauss on her book Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous and the Notorious. A review of No Good Deed: A Story of Medicine, Murder Accusations, and the Debate Over How We Die by Lewis Cohen. An excerpt from Last Words of the Executed by Robert K. Elder. Near-death experiences explained: Bright lights and angels seen at the brink of death are the products of too much carbon dioxide in the blood. A review of Life After Death: The Evidence by Dinesh D'Souza. A review of After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory by John Casey. Robert Brockway on functional immortality in humans. In the last stage of life, even with the cheeriest outlook, it isn’t easy to keep thoughts of death at bay. Robert Brockway, author of Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, on isolating the human longevity gene (so we can abuse the crap out of it).

From Skeptic, William D. Stansfield on Punxsutawney Phil and animal weather predictions. An excerpt from Wild Moments: Adventures with Animals of the North. An interview with Philip Hoare, author of The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea (and more and more and more and more and more and more and more). This place is a zoo: The Rosaires love their animals like family. A review of The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies by Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson. A review of To Sea and Back: The Heroic Life of the Atlantic Salmon by Richard Shelton. A review of Being With Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World by Barbara J. King. A review of Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles (and more). Stephen DeStefano explains his book Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia. From The Humanist, humanism is under attack in the academy for its assumption of man’s superiority over animals; and the human finger points the way to what makes us truly human, says Raymond Tallis. Lawyers for animals?: Up for a vote in Switzerland. Smile: You're an animal on a Web cam. In dog-speak, "grrrr" can mean different things: Dogs have special growls for different occasions, and other dogs can tell the difference. More on Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. Form NYRB, Tim Flannery reviews books on animals. Dead Dogs: Colin Dayan on breed bans, euthanasia, and preemptive justice. From Forward, an article on Jews and animals, a very modern story. A review of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy. A review of Nasty, Brutish and Short: The Quirks & Quarks Guide to Animal Sex and Other Weird Behaviour by Pat Senson.