Maurice Adams (Tilburg): The Politics of the Belgian Constitution: Can it Be Explained? From IEET, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss the revolutionary educational system Finland has instituted and the results of that system on the education of their children; and can the world learn from the anarcho-socialist system of Finland? Elektra Kotsoni on how urbanization is swallowing the coastline of the Mediterranean. Alfred A. Reisch on the reception and impact of Western and Polish emigre books and periodicals in Communist-ruled Poland between July 1, 1956 and June 30, 1973. The late bloomer: Michael Sontheimer on the rise, fall and rebirth of Germany's capital. Angelique Chrisafis on Bugarach, the French village that was destined to survive the Mayan apocalypse. Once a route to riches and empire, the sea is now lapping at the future of Venice, as with other great maritime cities. Twenty years after the death of Ceausescu, the Romanian Orthodox Church is everywhere in Romania. Europe’s hard borders: Matthew Carr investigates the brutal border regimes of our “gated continent” and suggests the possibility of a different politics of solidarity.

From Colloquy, a special section on Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures. From Anthropoetics, Andrew Bartlett (Kwantlen): A Minimal Model for Apocalyptic Thinking; Adam Katz (Quinnipiac): The Redemption of Hostages; and Edmond Wright (Cambridge): A Linguistic Source for the Myth of the Summum Bonum, and How It Should Be Played. Blues Cruise: Steaming past Guantanamo, en route to the Cayman Islands, a boatload of Republicans ponder the plight of a party at sea. Modify your dissent: Peter Frase on the rise and fall of The Baffler. Yari Lanci reviews The Spectre of Utopia: Utopian and Science Fictions at the Fin de Siecle by Matthew Beaumont. Kissinger, Kant, and the Syrians in Lebanon: Shlomo Avineri on a nugget of philosophical diplomacy. From Political Theology, Roland Boer on Russian Communist Party’s First Secretary Gennady Zyuganov and religion. From Columbia Journalism Review, a special issue on the Hollywood star-making machinery. In the middle of the expanses of Siberia, it is most interesting to come across monks, all of whom speak Hindi as they have received their Buddhist education in India.

From American Scientist, can a computer program reproduce everything that happens inside a living cell? Brian Hayes investigates. Shine on you crazy diamond: S.E. Gould on why humans are carbon-based lifeforms. From cooling system to thinking machine: Carl Zimmer on the long, strange history of ideas about the brain. The structure of the universe is quite similar to the structure and design of other large, complex networks, like human brains and the Internet, according to a new study. What life wants: Dead matter has no goals of its own, yet life is constantly striving — that makes it a deep puzzle for physics. A new theory may explain the notorious cold fusion experiment from two decades ago, reigniting hopes of a clean-energy breakthrough. Laser beams can tie themselves in knots, just like electrical cords — but what does this tendency to tangle illuminate? The "mathematical tower" Kremsmunster Observatory was an observatory, early skyscraper, and place to reflect on all of nature and the cosmos. The quantification of everything: Vlatko Vedral on books that successfully popularise quantum physics and the science of complex systems.

Nicholas H. Smith (Macquarie): Work as a Sphere of Norms, Paradoxes and Ideologies of Recognition. Nicholas H. Smith and Jean-Philippe Deranty (Macquarie): Work and the Politics of Misrecognition. From New Left Project, an interview with Noam Chomsky on a libertarian perspective on work and education, arguing that freedom is the root of creativity and fulfilment. Perhaps a little late for the Christmas season but germane throughout the year, one may ask the question, “What is the best gift to give to a writer?” The gate opener: Elisabeth Woronzoff reviews Beginning to See the Light: Sex, Hope, and Rock-and-Roll and No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays by Ellen Willis. Dale Carrico catches Paul Krugman flirting with futurism. Economist, educator, omnivore, polymath and co-founder of Marginal Revolution Tyler Cowen highlights books about decentralised information, mass collaboration and spontaneous order. The United States and New Zealand conducted secret tests of a "tsunami bomb" designed to destroy coastal cities by using underwater blasts to trigger massive tidal waves. Sign the petition: No Death Star!

From Journalist’s Resource, Margaret Weigel on the effectiveness of policies and programs that attempt to reduce firearm violence: A meta-analysis. What can philosophy of technology tell us about the gun debate? Ned Resnikoff investigates. Robert Parry on the real rationale for the 2nd Amendment that Right-wingers are totally ignorant about. Conor Friedersdorf on the strangest conservative priority: Prepping a “2nd Amendment Solution”. What gun regulations will the Supreme Court allow? Michael C. Dorf on restricting firearms outside of the home and on originalism and the Second Amendment. Jeffrey Rosen on how gun control can survive the Supreme Court. The fiscal cliff and the gun cliff are not separated issues — the resolution of both will speak volumes about the true grit and attest to the depth of American civilization. Sandy Hook shooting thrusts “preppers” into spotlight. Preppers are getting ready for the Barackalypse: Obama's second term is very bad news for survivalists — it's also very good news for the industry catering to their worst fears. Elias Groll on America’s exceptional gun culture: Four reminders about just how entrenched guns are in American society.