From The Fiscal Times, Joseph White on dangerous budget thinking, the fallacy of "tough choices", and self-righteous talk about "tough choices". Lies of the ethics industry: How the champions of "good government" suppress speech and sow cynicism. With fewer reporters aggressively covering state politics, corruption will increase precisely because government is so far away. Which state government is most embarrassing? Unfortunately, it often takes a global financial crisis or a deadly coal mine explosion to remind us of the serious consequences of regulatory failure. Cass Sunstein wants to nudge us: President Obama’s regulatory czar says that incentives, not top-down regulation, can make us do the right thing. As federal performance chief, entrepreneur Jeffrey Zients takes on his toughest project yet — improving government. A review of Making Government Work by Ernest Hollings and Kirk Victor. A review of "The Declining Talent Pool of Government" by Torun Dewan and David P. Myatt. Critics say it's time for cities and states to get tough with public-sector unions — they may be right for all the wrong reasons. The U.S. Government Printing Office’s new blog Government Book Talk raises the profile of some of the best publications from the Federal Government, past and present, with entries on a history of the metric system controversy in the United States; Sprocket Man, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s superhero for safe biking; and Dr. Seuss and the U.S. Army. A look at what the federal government actually owns. Paul Light on Washington's $1 Trillion Opportunity: It's been 60 years since we streamlined our federal government — these days there are plenty of savings to be found.

Dennis Prager on global moral decline and who’s to blame for it. Is Progress always progress? Thomas Meaney reviews The Flight of the Intellectuals by Paul Berman (and more and more and more and more and more and more). Christopher Hitchens on Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan, Somali refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Flight of the Intellectuals. A review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad: From Islam to America. Is Dora the Explorer an illegal immigrant? From FishbowlNY, an interview with Josh Tyrangiel, editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, on the state of business and financial reporting (and part 2 and part 3). The population debate gets personal: It's time to take a hard look at the environmental ramifications of First World procreation. From India's Frontline, a review essay on rebels and the state: There is an underlying pattern to the rise, sustenance and demise of sub-national movements. Is social networking the future of voting? New York profiles John Stossel, Libertarian newsman; and does Warren Buffett deserve his outsider rep? George Cotkin on his book Morality’s Muddy Waters: Ethical Quandaries in Modern America. A review of The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law by Deborah L. Rhode. From The Nation, a review of Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750 by Jonathan Israel. David Ferriero, the national archivist, oversees a collection that includes original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Extremism in the defense of Rand Paul is no vice: A healthy democratic society should be grateful for those who are extremists in the defense of liberty — even when the extremists are wrong. An interview with Adrienne Mayor on books on enemies of ancient Rome.

The debate about the language of instruction in schools has obscured and hampered effective research into improving the learning of students who do not have English as their first language (and more and more). Shanghai is trying to untangle the mangled English of Chinglish. Arabic was never easy, but if the language spoken by some 240 million people with its convoluted verb forms and guttural phonology suddenly starts appearing in Latin script, then things get really complicated. Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Well, you should: Germany to promote "language of ideas". Carme Riera on why Catalan's days are numbered. How English erased its roots to become the global tongue of the 21st century. Sexy people speak their own language — and it’s Hebrew, according to America’s top movie. Ever since Partition, Hindi and Urdu have always been pitched as hostile to each other. A review of Merde Encore!: More of the Real French You Were Never Taught at School. Linguistic Apartheid: South African essayist Thomas Dreyer considers the ugly history of his native tongue. Timothy Farrington reviews Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language by Robert McCrum (and more and more and more). The language divide at the heart of a split: Belgium doesn't exist, only Flanders and Wallonia as Dutch and French communites live apart. What does French culture signify these days when there are some 200 million French speakers in the world but only 65 million are actually French? A London-based translation firm is looking for people to help translate Brooklynese. Will banning foreign abbreviations help? Many opponents to the ban say it is difficult to deliberately exclude foreign abbreviations from Chinese people's daily life. Toilets as an object of sociolinguistic research not likely? Think again.

The Brothers Grim: Theodore Dalrymple reviews Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens and The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith by Peter Hitchens. From Scientific American, a tribute to Martin Gardner: For 35 years, he wrote the Mathematical Games column, educating and entertaining minds and launching the careers of generations of mathematicians (and more). Joe McGinniss becomes Sarah Palin's new gotcha-journalist neighbor (and more). Dark Roasted Blend on the evolution of the camera. The Gulf Oil Disaster: Who's liable, and for how much? From Triple Canopy, a letter from the Demilitarized Zone, where South Korea is imagining its way out of perpetual war. We can't save South Korea: Should the US rethink its global posture? Why South Korea has to live in denial: In spite of a virtual act of war by Kim Jong Il, Seoul will produce lots of sound and fury, ultimately signifying very little. How Kim Jong-il blackmails the West into supporting his evil North Korean regime. More on The Cleanest Race by B.R. Myers. A book club on Larry Rosen's Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn. Michael Lind on John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me, the great American book that refutes Rand Paul. Adam Wilson reviews Don Juan: His Own Version by Peter Handke. Danah Boyd on why quitting Facebook is pointless. Michael Berube on rhetorical styles of the Left. From Forbes, a special report on the world's most powerful peopleMormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie, one of Mormonism’s most influential books, an all-time Mormon bestseller, goes out of print. An article on Rand Paul and the influence of Christian Reconstructionism. Roger Scruton on his book Why Beauty Matters. Only a select few people in the world get irony, and the rest think they do — and that's ironic, possibly.

From Anthropoetics, Sylvie Nelson (Victoria): The End of Criticism. From Slate, Alan Wolfe reviews Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide; and David Haglund on the Great Mormon Novel: Where is it? Germaine Greer on the literary worth of old wives' tales. What makes a bad book bad? American academics have been grappling with this question and rounding up some unusual suspects. The death of the novel has been promised over and over again, by academics and the higher hacks, but still seems no closer. Laura Miller on why men don't read books: Women editors are not the problem. From Mailer punching Vidal to Rushdie attacking Updike, here are the best feuds that sent the ink flying. Nigel Hamilton on the death of biography as we know it. In addition to precipitating the Baby Boom, the rise of the suburbs, the expansion of higher education, and a growing sophistication of the national palate, the flood of soldiers returning home after the end of World War II had a signal impact on American literature. A review of The Novel: An Alternative History by Steven Moore. Katie Barker on Sweet Valley High, the Great Retweening and why boys won't read. What ails literature? Some thoughts on the perpetual death of fiction. These books are creepy and/or hilarious to adults, but any kid who reads them is most likely in for a traumatizing treat; and a look at the 11 most surprising banned books. Why did the prospect of not finishing a book fill Julia Keller with shame, dread and self-loathing? A review of Fiction Across Borders: Imagining the Lives of Others in Turn-of-the-Millennium Novels by Shameem Black. A review of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. A review of Alberto Manguel's A Reader on Reading (and more and more and more and more).