A review of The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB by Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov. The case of the infamous Russian arms trader Victor Bout — who has supplied guns, ammunition, and material to groups ranging from the FARC in Colombia to the Afghan Taliban — has raised many questions. It started with the launch of Sputnik and ended with the Cuban missile crisis, but for a moment it looked as if the Russian dream of unrivalled prosperity would be realised. In their remote forest republic 400 miles east of the Moscow, the pagan Mari people are once again being harassed by the authorities. An interview with Francis Spufford on 20th-century Russia. Anatol Lieven on reexamining Russian history. From elegant modernism to Stalinist kitsch, the history of the Soviet Union’s journey is written all over its facades. How does Ekho Moskvy manage to survive in a country which is thought to be authoritarian and where the regime tramples on the press? A look at why Putin is the biggest badass in world politics. Guided by Medvedev, Russia appears to be slowly refashioning its foreign policy to favor better relations with the West. Moscow would like to exchange closer ties for investment and technology — a trade that the US would be wise to support. A review of Lonely Power: Why Russia Has Failed to Become the West and the West is Weary of Russia by Lilia Shevtsova.

David S. Law (Washington U.) and Mila Versteeg (Oxford): The Evolution and Ideology of Global Constitutionalism. From Butterflies and Wheels, Jahanshah Rashidian takes a look into the psychology of dictators. Jonathan Gourlay is white, and all of his students are black — what’s the one word he shouldn’t say? A review of Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality by Theodore Dalrymple. An interview with Mia Farrow on changing the world for good. The problem with writing in coffee shops is that everyone hates the kind of people who write in coffee shops — especially the kind of people who write in coffee shops. Vogue's earliest celebrity models: The first women who made their names from gracing the pages of the magazine often led lives as exotic and unlikely as anything conjured in a photoshoot. The introduction to Market Threads: How Cotton Farmers and Traders Create a Global Commodity by Koray Caliskan. The Genius of the Tinkerer: The secret to innovation is combining odds and ends, writes Steven Johnson. Atlas Obscura profiles Caboodle Ranch, a thirty-acre non-profit center dedicated to rescuing abandoned cats. Firestorm at Forbes: Is "real journalism" at Forbes being ruined by its blogs? Reid Stowe spent 1,152 days on the open sea, the longest continuous journey ever undertaken by one person — he came back to a brand-new family, but not exactly a hero’s welcome.

Bred to death: The pursuit of purebred perfection threatens some of our best friends (and more). Dog lovers are some of the most disturbing hypocrites around — how many times have you heard them put the lives of dogs ahead of their fellow man? Dogs have played heroic roles throughout the history of modern science in experiments that weren't always humane. Did dogs gain their social intelligence by accident? What has long been lore is now established fact: many people look like their dogs. Dogs meet DogBots: How might real dogs react to robotic dogs? From Intelligent Life, a photo gallery on extreme dogs. And Man created Dog: The dog is the most varied mammal on the planet — the variety is a direct result of human tinkering or artificial selection that began more than 15,000 years ago. Why dogs love us: In his new Duke Canine Cognition Center, Brian Hare explores the bonds that, over thousands of years, have linked dogs and humans. Stanley Coren on how dogs were created: A deeper look into our pets' history. Animal domestication is one manifestation of a larger distinctive trait of our species, the "animal connection", which unites and underwrites a number of the most important evolutionary advances of our hominin ancestors. Dog Bark Park Inn: Sweet Willy, at 30 feet tall, is the world's biggest beagle. At this hotel, even a pooch can live in the lap of luxury — but please don't use the word "kennel".

From The Utopian, a special issue on pain and pleasure, including an interview with Charles Taylor on religion, politics, and ignorance past; Michel Houellebecq on religion for immortals: "Sexual needs are more urgent than spiritual needs. But what if our sexual needs are satisfied and our spiritual needs take over?"; Damon Linker on the impossibility of sexual consensus; and Alexander Lee on a short history of desire. This week those hoping to become All Souls fellows will sit "the hardest exam in the world"; the notorious one-word essay question may have been scrapped, but candidates still have to sit the General Paper — four writers attempt one question in strictly one hour: "Would it have been better had some surviving works of ancient authors been lost?" Tim Ferriss on how Tucker Max got rejected by publishing and still hit #1 New York Times. From Slate, Emily Bazelon on the tragedy at the Virginia Quarterly Review: The suicide of its managing editor has been blamed on workplace bullying — new details suggest the real story is much more complicated. Here are 6 things you may not know about the passport (and more). From Vanity Fair, gastronomes have been trekking to the remote Spanish cove where Ferran Adria has changed culinary history with his deconstructed martinis, frozen foam, and beetroot cookies — now, to evolve his restaurant, El Bulli, the man they call the world’s greatest chef is closing it forever.

Jared A. Goldstein (Roger Williams): The Tea Party's Constitution. The perils of constitution-worship: One of the guiding principles of the tea-party movement is based on a myth (and a response). Stanley Fish on Antaeus and the Tea Party. From Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi on how corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster; and an interview with President Obama on the Tea Party, the war, the economy and what’s at stake this November. Kevin Drum on the Tea Party: Old whine in new bottles — Memo to Obama: Bill Clinton, LBJ, and FDR know how you feel. Noam Scheiber profiles the disillusioned David Axelrod. Howard Kurtz profiles Paul Krugman, disaffected liberal. Obama's forgotten base: The tragic irony of this political moment is that the people with the most faith in Obama are the hardest hit by the economic disaster, and this brute fact is driving the enthusiasm gap. The Tea Partyers aren't wrong about the growing influence of un-Americans in high places — they've just misidentified who those un-Americans are. From Boston Review, William Hogeland on Real Americans: In America the deadlock between liberalism and populism may be unbreakable. TAP debates populism: Reactions to Kevin Mattson's call for the left to abandon populism; and Robert Kuttner on how populism comes in two varieties — progressive and reactionary.