From Britannica Blog, a forum on the Obama Presidency. How he ticks: Five of the most revealing moments of the Obama presidency. Why the tax fight is Obama’s pivotal moment. Peter Berkowitz on Obama and the state of progressivism, 2011. If progressivism rests on the twin pillars of egalitarianism and technocracy, a serious look at the behavior of movement leaders may indicate how a shift in emphasis from one to the other affects the movement as a whole. Culture before politics: In freeing creativity, progressives can once again capture and carry forward our national imagination. The progressive agenda scorecard: How much was achieved before the 2010 election? From The American Interest, how do we explain the puzzling weakness of liberal populism? Francis Fukuyama investigates. David M. Ricci on his book Why Conservatives Tell Stories and Liberals Don't: Rhetoric, Faith, and Vision on the American Right. One Nation Under God: Powerful new rhetoric on the religious right pits Obama and big government against "God’s America" and promises to galvanize Christians in 2012. Tea’d Off: Republicans who excused extremism in the name of victory have unleashed a monster, warns Christopher Hitchens. Walking Dead: With Republicans in charge of the House, will '90s-style subpoenas and scandals rise from the crypt? (and more and more) From Time, a cover story on Sarah Palin: What does she want? Read the label: The new political group No Labels shows why labels exist (and more) — and perhaps they should have followed the advice of its own name.

A new issue of The Global Spiral is out. Plagiarism, be it an art or a science, is all the rage in some circles these days. A review of Signals: Evolution, Learning, and Information by Brian Skyrms. From New York, a special issue on "The Year in Culture". Scanners gone wild: Europeans protest Google Street View; in the U.S., full-body airport X-rays set us off — are we objecting to the same thing? The experience of a unified mind and the possibility of an everlasting soul are connected — but there is scant evidence to support the existence of either. Field Guide to the Conspiracy Theorist: When does incredulity become paranoia? Radio personality and filmmaker Alex Jones believes an evil cabal of bankers rules the world. “Check your premises” is an injunction that runs as a subtheme through Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, and it is a phrase that seems to be growing more pertinent every day. Madame de Stael as a political thinker: Too often dismissed as a salonniere, she was a woman of multiple literary and political talents. Are we laying the groundwork for powerful new monopolies in the content and information business? An interview with Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch (and more). Manners make the mannequin: Is it moral to fake kindness? Looking for music manuscripts, scholar Craig A. Monson uncovered surprising stories of what went on inside convents. Using beauty as an advertising tool — does it always work?

Twelve great reasons to love a great country: An excerpt from The American Patriot’s Almanac by William Bennett and John T. E. Cribb. The Royal "We": Politicians make strong statements about what "the American people" think, but the electorate doesn't speak in one voice. American exceptionalism is an old idea and a new political battle (and a response). Does anyone else think there's something a little insecure about a country that requires its politicians to constantly declare how exceptional it is? Exceptionalism and the left: All countries are different, but does America differ from all of them, in a fundamental way? From The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead on the crisis of the American intellectual. A superpower in decline: Is the American Dream over? From TNR, American decline is the specter haunting our politics — this could be President Obama's undoing or it could provide him with the opportunity to revive his presidency; and back to normalcy: Is America really in decline? Paul Kennedy investigates. Why it’s time to worry: Can the United States go the way of Germany in the past — a great society undone by terrible social turmoil? A review of Bruce Ackerman’s The Decline and Fall of the American Republic (and more). An interview with Patrick Porter on books about the rise and fall of America. The Decline and Fall of the American Empire: Alfred W. McCoy on four scenarios for the end of the American century by 2025.

From Praxis, Sam Wren-Lewis (Liverpool): Towards a Complete Account of Psychological Happiness; and Bartlomiej Lenart (Alberta): Enlightened Self-Interest: In Search of the Ecological Self (A Synthesis of Stoicism and Ecosophy). A review of Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky (and more). From Obit, a look at when your birthday is a day of infamy. Is Iran's regime officially running — or merely helping — a pro-Nazi site? Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the leader of nonviolent protests in the West Bank — a potential Palestinian Gandhi — is in an Israeli jail. From The Objective Standard, an interview with Andrew Schiff on fishing nets, hut gluts, and other economic matters. When humans stampede: Edbert Hsu is studying why crowds get out of control and what can be done to control the chaos. From The Weekly Standard, Gov. Gary Johnson smoked marijuana from 2005 to 2008. Why do men cover their faces with hair? That depends on the man, and the era, and his age. A review of Seeds, Sex and Civilization: How the Hidden Life of Plants has Shaped our World by Peter Thompson. The Wounded Home Front: Robert Kaplan, a supporter of the Iraq War, reckons the costs of "small wars". The Coupon Rebellion: Bargain junkies are beating retailers at their own game (and more). On Nonproliferation: For world leaders, nuclear terrorism is an overriding common risk that can be confronted only with a common strategy — a global alliance.

John A. Humbach (Pace): Teens, Porn and Videogames: Time to Rethink Ginsberg? Ars Technica takes a look back at the evolution of Civilization, and how it captured our hearts, brains, and unblinking stares time and again. The Franchise: The inside story of how "Madden NFL" became a video game dynasty. Here is a brief history of video-game football. The video-game forum NeoGAF fosters real political discussion — no, really. Colin Nissan on a modern tale of heartbreak and video games. Mountains of men: An article on the mythology of the male body in video games. The Stigma of Gaming: People who convince themselves not to bother with videogames are missing out on some great stories. New Scientist asks the cognoscenti about the most ground-breaking video games of 2010. Social games that sway behavior: With the rise of social networks, game designers are finding new paths to desired outcomes. A look at how playing action games can hone ability to decide quickly, precisely. Purpose-driven life: Video games are worth loving, but loving them comes with shame. Paris's Museum of Arts and Trades lets you play just about every video game ever. Salman Rushdie says he turned to the world of video games for inspiration for his new book, Luka and the Fire of Life. On a hunt for what makes gamers keep gaming: Video game designers hope to harness some of the thousands of hours spent playing for tackling scientific problems and a host of other tasks. UC-Irvine is banking big on computer games as an emerging discipline. The many worlds of a video-game artist: A profile of Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s man behind Mario. A look at 9 video game Easter eggs that took years to find.

Eric Neumayer (LSE): Human Development and Sustainability. Chiung Ting Chang (Maastricht): Live Long and Prosper Without Economic Growth? Possibilities in Developing Countries. From Boston Review, a symposium: Can technology end poverty?, including contributions by Kentaro Toyama, Nicholas Negroponte, Ignacio Mas, and Christine Zhenwei Qiang. Greg Easterbrook on the United Nations Human Development Report, one of the world’s most significant documents. A new way of looking at the Human Development Index illustrates substantial differences between countries with similar levels of human development. Geocurrents tales a look at the World Bank’s Development Base Map and the developing world — and the de-developing world. How much is 50 million lives worth? Actually, $7.4 billion. Shall we discuss poverty? Immanuel Wallerstein wants to know. Is there a secret weapon for fighting poverty? What resource curse: Is it really true that underground riches lead to aboveground woes? What makes countries corrupt: If we really want to combat corruption we must deal with the broader and much harder challenges of economic development. From New Internationalist, should nation-states open their borders to refugees and migrants? Two experts debate immigration. From TED, Auret van Heerden on making global labor fair. Is the WHO becoming irrelevant? Why the world's premier public health organization must change or die.

From National Geographic, a look at the top ten discoveries of 2010. From The Nation, a look at ten things you should know about slow. Why not use the information collected on our buying habits to help us get rid of stuff? Researchers call for a "physical Internet" to ferry freight through a series of tubes. Doing a tattoo can’t be that hard, can it? Will Smith finds out with help from a dead pig. John Kampfner, the head of the London-based Index on Censorship, discusses the threats to free expression in the world, from the dictator’s muzzle to the playwright’s pen. Why do people behave badly? Maybe it's just too easy. A look at 7 modern dictators way crazier than you thought possible. A review of Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit by Loren C. Steffy. Information overload, then and now: At least since the days of Seneca, people have struggled with how to sort vast stores of data. An interview with Stephen R. Bown, author of Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled the World, 1600-1900 (and more). America’s least-hated banker: During the financial crisis, Jamie Dimon, C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, outshone his rivals — but where exactly does that leave him now? A review of Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing Of My Work! by Douglas Coupland. Planet Monocle: Tyler Brule ushered in a design revolution with Wallpaper magazine — his new global media strategy is equally rarefied, and only occasionally ridiculous.

A new issue of OnEarth is out. Peter D. Burdon (Adelaide): The Rights of Nature: Reconsidered. From The International Indigenous Policy Journal, Shelton H. Davis (Georgetown): Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change. An interview with Roger Pielke Jr on climate change innovation. A review of The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment by Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter. The warming of Antarctica: A citadel of ice begins to melt. Geocurrents on the misleading ecological footprint model. The US and the Western world have turned to China to be their dirty manufacturer, pushing emissions and energy consumption onto them — we are misleading ourselves into believing that we’re cleaning up our act. A review of Environment in World History by Stephen Mosley. Facing the consequences: Global action is not going to stop climate change — the world needs to look harder at how to live with it. Shared natural resources underpin the global economy, but our current economic system does not ackowledge their worth — can a major new effort to assess the costs of biodiversity loss force a paradigm shift in what we value? Praise be to Gaia: A review of Tim Flannery's Here on Earth and David Suzuki's The Legacy. Indonesia's billion-dollar climate experiment: Can rich nations pay a corruption-riddled government to protect its rainforests?’s Bill McKibben on what ticks him off about activists, journalists, and climate skeptics.

Richard B. McKenzie (UC-Irvine): In Defense of Monopoly. Good Ideas for Bad Times: A look at the innovative thinkers and bold ideas that kept 2010 from being a total wash. Can psychology help combat pseudoscience? Cyber-Con: James Harkin reviews Death to the Dictator! Witnessing Iran’s Election and the Crippling of the Islamic Republic by Afsaneh Moqadam; The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom by Evgeny Morozov; and Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran by Annabelle Sreberny and Gholam Khiabany. How sex is challenging global institutions: Sex, in every sense, is leaving some huge global institutions challenged and troubled, and causing them to adjust their perspectives. Many people notice the smell of old books — some people study it, and even write monographs. The success of the $300 House will depend on the ability to create a market for the idea — how do we do that? The Atlantic turns a profit, with an eye on the Web. Mapmakers have more power than ever, but who are the mapmakers? How digital maps are changing the landscape of the 21st century. An interview with Christopher Hitchens on his Jewish grandmother, his atheism, his writing and facing his own mortality. Out of our brains: Are devices like iPhones and Blackberries actually becoming extensions of our thinking selves? Re-imagine: John Lennon wasn’t the pacifist we’ve turned him into. You can see Julian Assange's OkCupid profile from 2006.

Tibor Machan (Auburn): Contemporary Philosophy Versus the Free Society. Mathias Royce (SMC): Correlations between Redistribution and Justice in a Libertarian Setting. Against Overlordship: If conservatism is serious about the individualist configuration of ownership — a big if, to be sure — then its aspiration is to restore its identity as liberalism (and a response). Understanding libertarian morality: The psychological roots of an individualist ideology (and more). The language of liberty is sufficiently malleable that sometimes that language alone will not be decisive — you can take that as an indirect plea for it to be understood and defended in consequentialist terms, or not. Was Herbert Spencer a Social Darwinist or libertarian prophet? The estate of Ayn Rand has enjoyed a boom since the financial crisis with sales of her dystopic door stopper novel, Atlas Shrugged. Jason Lee Steorts on the Greatly Ghastly Rand. Here are 10 shameless Right-wing tributes to sociopath Ayn Rand that should make any sane person blush. A review of Libertarianism, from A to Z by Jeffrey Miron. A review of Libertarianism Today by Jacob Huebert. Jeff Riggenbach on anarchy, state, and Robert Nozick. Adam Schulman on three paths from liberty to law. An interview with Christopher Ferrara, author of The Church and the Libertarian (and more). Where are the female libertarians? Allison Gibbs on the Ladies of Liberty Alliance. High-Tech Hogwash: What’s wrong with Silicon Valley libertarianism? Congratulations, now shut up: Why Ron Paul's newfound power both pleases and worries libertarians.