From LRC, forcing ourselves to vote: As fewer Canadians turn up at the polls, compulsory voting is a choice to consider; and a review of Harperland: The Politics of Control by Lawrence Martin. What defines white people in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver? Christian Lander holds forth (and more and more). Never mind the acclaim of Canadian writers abroad and this fall’s wealth of literary festivals and big book prizes — there’s a shocking disconnect between the international success of Canadian writing and how Canadian literature is viewed in our schools. The Lost Canadians: They should be living in Manitoba, but due to a map-maker’s error they’re living in Minnesota — the Americans of Angle Township. The real signal of Canada’s recovery from the inferiority complex will come when we don’t even notice what the Americans are saying about us. A review of Getting Back in the Game: A Foreign Policy Playbook for Canada by Paul Heinbecker and Open Canada: A Global Positioning Strategy for a Networked Age by Edward Greenspon. Montreal is now home to a growing population of French newcomers, but what’s the allure of Quebec, and does it live up to expectations? A review of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking by Benjamin Perrin. Canadian Political Science Missing in Action: A practitioner wonders why the progressive side of the discipline has gone mute.

From ARPA, in search of intellectual history: A review essay on law, empire, pirates, and revolutions. From e-flux, could it be that contemporary art is neoliberalism in its most purified form? Neoliberalism and the Spirit of the 60s: Perhaps the Tea Party is a rejection of the neoliberal politics of anti-politics, the politics of tolerance? From First of the Month, Benj DeMott on Sean Wilentz, Lawrence Goodwyn and the burden of Southern history (and the future of an idea); and more on What Was the Hipster?: A Sociological Investigation (and more). The redistribution of hope: Optimism is on the move — with important consequences for both the hopeful and the hopeless. From World War II, Laurence Rees on Stalin the Puppetmaster. Dan Ariely tells Matthew Taylor why it's only by understanding our weaknesses that we can learn to anticipate and avoid mistakes. What does it means to be a libertarian in the digital age? Tim Lee is just the man to ask. While Christian novelists or poets are real enough, it is somewhat more problematic to speak of Christian, as opposed to pagan, literature (and a response). Overall people looking for romance online actually behave very much as they do in face to face dating and relationships. New Zealand proposes to turn its tiny Polynesian neighbour Niue into a retirement village for Australasian pensioners. Is the choice between lots of consumer comforts and lots of liberal democracy a false dichotomy?

Aside from the occasional drama backed by a superstar like Oprah Winfrey, the thoughtful Hollywood film about and by black people went out with the pager. Menthol madness: Why ban blacks' preferred cigarette? Black girls rock: With all the harsh criticism lobbed at black women over the past few weeks, it's time to celebrate their accomplishments and contributions. Negritude 2.0: An article on Jimi Hendrix, the Patron Saint of Alt-Blackness. An interview with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the new director of the Schomburg Center, the premier research center for African-American culture, on his famous great-grandfather, coming of age during the Rodney King beating and his plans for the Harlem library. The "do-it-yourself foreign aid" movement is an exciting opportunity for young people to bring help directly to children in poor countries, so where are the black humanitarians? Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on the image of the black in Western art. FDNY's black firefighter problem: Meet the black candidates who aced the FDNY supposedly racist entrance exam — and still can't become firefighters. Siobhan Brooks on how black exotic dancers are undervalued and underpaid. Reverse passing: A report that biracial people are denying their white parents seems absurd — in this country, "black" has always been a mongrel affair — but checking a census box that says "black" doesn't mean you're denying your white ancestry — it's just how we roll in America. Blacks & Whites turned out to be one of the most controversial board games of all time.

From M/C Journal, a special issue on "coalition". Pseudo-scientists, pseudo-shamans and mass delusion: Jim Chaffee on contemporary US culture. Maurice Blanchot's journal Revue Internationale was an attempt at an engaged form of publishing in a world shaped by decolonization and bloc confrontation, yet its internationalist ambitions proved to be its downfall. Cosma Shalizi reviews The Calculus of Selfishness by Karl Sigmund. Most Anglo-Protestant Economies (APEs) do not pass the idealized Weberian test of financial probity and capitalist accountability, not even when compared with some PIGS — look at the recent record and compare some APEs and other up-and-coming animals with one of the PIGS: Spain (and part 2). From Catapult, what’s good about branding and where has it gone wrong? A look at how beautiful people really are more intelligent. Are you a Neutral Zonian? The mother of all geographical pull-down menus may well be that maintained by the CIA World Factbook, labeled “select a country or location”. From The New Yorker, a review essay on Mao and the Maoists. Luciano Floridi gets intimate with the machine language of love. Do other countries have a constitutional right to bear arms? Terry Castle, critical outlaw: Her astringent, self-revealing writings are Grade-A cultural commentary in disguise. A profile of Avinash Dixit, author of seminal work on monopolistic competition, trade, and development.

From Inside Catholic, a look at 12 myths every Catholic should be able to answer. Here are excerpts from Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times, Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI. A review of When Values Collide: The Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, and the Challenges of Leadership by Joseph P. Chinnici. A look at how Christianity arguably the most persecuted religion in the world. Herding cats on Sola Scriptura: A Truly Reformed guy has to periodically engage in the Sisyphean labor of trying to herd all the Protestant cats back into the Calvinist bag. What would Jesus do? Conservatives claim Christ as one of their own, but in word and deed, the son of God was much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe. Among the Evangelicals: Academics were slow to get around to studying this American subculture — better late than never. Save the date: Jesus is scheduled to make his second coming appearance on May 21, 2011 — are you Rapture Ready? Dealing with crazy Christians: When you want to say, "I'm a Christian, but not like them". Is just believing enough? Craig Groeschel explores the fine line between believing like a Christian, but living like an atheist. From Secular News Daily, Andrew Zak Williams on how to debate God's existence with a believer; and is religion a kind of racism? Yes and no. Is your life complete without a rock-climbing Jesus action figurine? We didn’t think so.

Robert C. Blitt (Tennessee): Russia’s "Orthodox" Foreign Policy: The Growing Influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Shaping Russia’s Policies Abroad. From Dissent, the front line in Kyrgyzstan: Who does human rights? As memories of Soviet tests fade, Kazakhstan looks to nuclear future. The state of Russia: Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin are presiding over a system that can no longer change. Will Tajikistan become the next jihadi stronghold? Abubakar Siddique on how Central Asian militants are spoiling for combat. The US is anxious to broaden its influence in Central Asia and limit that of Russia — the result, however, are questionable alliances with some of the strangest despots in the world. A review of To the Tashkent Station: Evacuation and Survival in the Soviet Union at War by Rebecca Manley. A review of Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier (and more and more and more and more). The Nazarbayev Conundrum: The West needs Kazakhstan for energy, security, and help in Central Asia, but how can it promote democracy when the autocratic president is holding all the cards? From the University of Minnesota Press blog, interviews with Alexander Vashchenko and Claude Clayton Smith, editors of The Way of Kinship: An Anthology of Native Siberian Literature. Martin Sixsmith on why Russia isn’t a democracy. The Tragic Death of the Aral Sea: Large swathes have ceded to what is now known as Aralkum desert — one of the most shocking man-made environmental calamities of the 21st century.

Robert D. Plotnick (Washington): The Alleviation of Poverty: How Far Have We Come? From Studies in Literature and Language, Zahra Khozaei Ravari (USM): Cloud Nine, As Butler Likes it. Holy Terrors: Should Christians embrace the horror film? From Plus, Eileen Magnello on Florence Nightingale, the compassionate statistician; and an article on visual curiosities and mathematical paradoxes. Meet Theo Lubke, the regulator that Goldman Sachs just hired to fight off other regulators. A review of When Doctors Kill: Who, Why and How by Joshua A. Perer and Steven J. Cina. A review of On Thinking Institutionally by Hugh Heclo. From New Geography, are developers greedy, or just misunderstood? Having a disability and surviving on a disability support pension isn’t something to be envious of — if disabled people could trade their money to have your health, they would probably do it. In this digital age, every stupid decision ends up haunting you — except, of course, in the realm of retail. Ugly animals need love too: Zoos can help save species, but are they only saving the ones we like? Lewis Lapham on Domesticated Deities: Messiahs Come to Redeem Our Country, Not Govern It (and Don’t Forget Marilyn and Elvis and Jackie O and Diana and Oprah and Brangelina and David Hasselhoff). David Barash on Hobbes vs. Rousseau: The Chilean mine showdown. A review of Ireland: A History by Thomas Bartlett.

Few issues in America, aside from war and abortion, are as polarizing as guns, but why are we so obsessed by them in the first place? The hidden life of guns: NRA-led gun lobby wields powerful influence over ATF, U.S. politics. Rangers and wildlife officers are finding they must increasingly confront people with guns. Locked and loaded: A look into the minds of the gun-toters among us. From The Nation, a symposium on rebalancing drug policy. A book salon on This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America by Ryan Grim. The introduction to Scripting Addiction: The Politics of Therapeutic Talk and American Sobriety by E. Summerson Carr. Nationalist troubles: This country is guided today not by a single set of values but by three sets, with each suffering from its own mounting internal contradictions and an uneasy relationship with the others. A review of A Question of Values by Morris Berman. A review essay on books about politics and religion published between 2004 and 2007. A review of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam and David Campbell (and more and more). A review of What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church by Kenda Creasy Dean. R. Georges Delamontagne on high religiosity and societal dysfunction in the United States the first decade of the 21st century. A look at the 6 most insane moral panics in American history. The NEH vs. America: PC propaganda at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

From Swans, a special issue on Perspectives on 2010. Peter Dreier on the fifty most influential progressives of the twentieth century. How the # became the sign of our times: It's called an octothorpe, and Twitter users have made it a global symbol. Kim Jong-il's political philosophy: Delivered in prose of awesome sterility, the North Korean despot's commitment to lies is unwavering. A review of Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam by Akbar S. Ahmed. A panel on Facing the Crises of our Time: The United Nations and the United States in the 21st Century by Gillian Sorensen. From Five Dials, a special issue on Quebec. Robert Farley on the pitfalls of the emerging anti-China axis. The Voice of Reason: Former FBI agent Gary Noesner set the standard for hostage negotiation. The first chapter from The Event of Postcolonial Shame by Timothy Bewes. Ho'oponopono: How Hawaiian tradition sorts out family disputes. The Noun Game: A simple grammar lesson leads to a clash of civilizations. Narcissism is no longer considered a clinical disorder — in the age of Facebook, is that really surprising? An interview with Wade Davis on mind-altering substances and the diversity of human cultures across the world. The FBI's Alert regarding "sextortion": Why cyber blackmail, though illegal, is difficult to stop and what computer users can do. A review of Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values, and What It Means to Be Human by Scott Atran.

A review of The Extended Mind. A review of How the Mind Uses the Brain (to Move the Body and Image the Universe) by Ralph D. Ellis and Natika Newton. Albert Mobilio reviews Carl Schoonover's Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century. A review of Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain by Antonio Damasio (and more and more and more and more). Journey through the mind: Carl Zimmer on the once and future brain. An interview with Norman Doidge, author of The Brain that Changes Itself. The Human Connectome Project is a first-of-its-kind map of the brain's circuitry (and more from TED). Physicist Dani Bassett discusses the structural similarities between the human brain and that of worms — or of nearly any system that processes information. Liar, liar: Brain circuit predicts others' honesty. Brain imaging studies show different cultures have different brains. The last few decades have produced an explosion of new techniques for probing the blobby, unprepossessing brain in search of the thinking, feeling, suffering, scheming mind. Does thinking happen in the brain? Alva Noe makes sense of brain behavior. Wiring up brains: Viewed as a network of inter-connected regions, the brain faces a difficult trade-off. The Time Travelling Brain: What's the difference between walking down the street yesterday, and walking down the street tomorrow? The problem with neurotrash is that it finds its way into the culture.