Scott Snyder (CFR): Kim Jong-il’s Successor Dilemmas. After Kim Jong Il: The upcoming party conference will decide who will be Kim Jong Il’s successor and what direction North Korea will take in order to meet its goals for 2012. The conference of the Korean Workers' Party in Pyongyang is beginning to look like a non-event and its postponement is raising searching questions as to what's going on inside the Hermit Kingdom. From Strategic Insights, Sico van der Meer on North Korea after Kim Jong Il: Four Scenarios. As Kim Jong Il starts looking for the exit, false predictions and wild rumors abound — need some help sorting through them? North Korea's next leader may be decided today: A guide to the mysterious succession struggle. In a time when news flashes around the world and nearly everyone learns everything at the same moment, somehow North Korea has managed to keep its secrets from thousands of prying eyes. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has found an unlikely ally to help raise cash for his impoverished regime: The Dude, the pot-smoking underachiever played by Jeff Bridges in the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski. Pyongyang provocations: When North Korea makes headlines, it is never good news. What's it like to be a tourist in North Korea? Citizens, the moment you have been waiting all week for: the seventh installment of this year’s Best North Korean Story!

Calvin H. Johnson (Texas): How to Raise $1 Trillion Without a VAT or a Rate Hike. The Death of the Fittest: Why are the healthiest and wealthiest populations failing to reproduce? On reality television: An excerpt from Rich People Things by Chris Lehmann. Will the Wall Street Journal Book Review sink or swim? (and more) On "trolleyology": David Pizarro finds killing whitey is the right thing to do. A review of The Politics of Persons: Individual Autonomy and Socio-historical Selves by John Christman. My life as a carny: Nathan Comp goes on the road with rough characters, tough bosses and a sense of family. Bruce Hoffman on today's highly educated terrorists. "We must go beyond knowing to doing": In a world obsessed with the MBA degree, few have questioned its relevance in today’s business environment. A review of Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry by Geoffrey Jones. The prospect of having more years added to our lives and, perhaps, decades to those of future generations has inspired a number of new books on ageing and its implications for society. Isabel Kaplan on why we should read "soft pornography". From Business Week, how Oliver Stone got the greed right: A cadre of trading floor veterans helped Oliver Stone capture the details and nail the nuances in Wall Street. Gordon Gekko was supposed to be a villain — instead, he became a Wall Street folk hero. How Wall Street changed Wall Street: The film’s hold on the people it so roundly condemns is testament to its enduring influence on an industry with a notoriously short memory (and more).

James D. Bratt (Calvin): America, the Old? David Joseph Plante and William Niemi (Western State): The Search for the Meaning of the New Deal: Creating a Democratic Political Economy. From National Affairs, Joshua Hawley on America's Epicurean Liberalism. Do Americans really go through careers like they do cars or refrigerators? (and more) A review of There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America by Philip Dray (and more). A review of Seeking the Cure: A History of Medicine in America by Ira Rutkow. A review of Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker. A review of The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States by Carla Yanni. America’s one-child policy: What China imposed on its population, we’re adopting voluntarily. A review of Mysteries of Sex: Tracing Women and Men through American History by Mary Ryan. Religion, morality, and the death of the American soap opera: The much-maligned genre, now moribund, dealt with everything from divorce, kidnapping, and evil twins, to demonic exorcism. The first chapter from Winning: Reflections on an American Obsession by Francesco Duina. Life, Liberty, and Breaking the Rules: Bill James writes in defense of Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, jaywalkers, and all the other scofflaws that make America great. Americans are weird: Why we (especially scientists) err in thinking the rest of the world thinks like us.

From First Things, Ron Rosenbaum on Rescuing Evil: Pondering the consciences of Hitler, Hamlet, and England’s Psycho-Cabbie Killer. Judgment Day: How Arnold Schwarzenegger might just have saved California. Beauty lies at the heart of cultural, architectural and environmental progress, argues Ben Rogers, so why are policymakers still so wary of it? Girls, tattoos and men who hate women: The real problem with sensationalising misogyny is that misogyny is not sensational. Inventing Facebook: In Internet wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg, TV wunderkind Aaron Sorkin may have found his perfect subject — the wunderkind genius jerk (and more). The Pen That Never Forgets: Could a pen that records sound while you write be the key to taking good notes? Vision of Humanity is out with their 2010 Global Peace Index, a rating of the "state of peace" in 249 nations around the world. In The Secret and The Power, the bogus “law of attraction” meets the real science of the human brain. A review of The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma by Gurcharan Das. A review of The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope by Roger Scruton (and more and more). On the use and abuse of pessimism for life: The neuroscientist Raymond Tallis and the philosopher Roger Scruton discuss the human condition. Why does  seem to migrate into unrelated subjects? George Monbiot wants to know.

From Verbum et Ecclesia, Andries van Aarde (Pretoria): Theological Trends in Our Postsecular Age; Stephanus J. Myburgh (MCSA): Prejudice as Moral Action in Christian Ethical Decision-making; and Erna Oliver (South Africa): Afrikaner Christianity and the Concept of Empire. From Tehelka, did anyone get the memo about Sufism? A soft, cuddly, palatable-for-the-West version of Islam? When did that happen? From Political Affairs, Frank J. Ranelli on the immorality of Christianity. Mystery and evidence: Is it realistic to expect religion to satisfy the demands of science? Not a lot of people know this, but Benedict XVI is not the real Pope; the true Pope lives in a town of 130 people in rural Kansas — he is Pope Michael I, and he is unhappy that Benedict gets all the golf-buggies when he can’t even get everyone to call him by his proper pope-name. An interview with political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad on why he thinks Islam is a danger to society and his theories about the inevitable decline of the Muslim world. The Deity and the Decalogue: Can the Ten Commandments be understood apart from religion? A review of Sex Rites: The Origins of Christianity by Diana Agorio. An article on the crescent, Islam’s accidental symbol. Against the “Answer Bank” Theory of Religion: The world’s religions are more important for the questions they ask than for the answers they provide. Robert Wright on the meaning of the Koran. There will be blood: Butchery is always a messy business, but is religiously inspired ritual slaughter really worse than other methods?