From Ctheory, Ruth Miller (UMass): Eradicated Alphabets and Radical Algorithms: Script Reform, Secularism, and Algorithmic Revolution; and Jussi Parikka (Southampton): Dust and Exhaustion: The Labor of Media Materialism. Wells Tower on the Elvis impersonator, the karate instructor, a fridge full of severed heads, and the plot 2 kill the president: Remember that crazy story about the dude in Mississippi who mailed ricin to Obama and then tried to frame some other dude in Mississippi for the crime? The story is a thousand times crazier than you thought. Two Tales of One City: Blaze Burgess on the foundations of money in Menger and Marx. Holly Case on Stalin's Blue Pencil: Revising history is a brutally effective tactic — and pen and sword together are mighty indeed. The first chapter from Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner. Speak for yourself: Stuart Whatley on a meditation on the marketplace of ideas. Richard Osman on the 100 top things you honestly don't need to do before you die. From Swans, Michael Barker on Kinsey-sex and the Rockefeller Foundation (and part 2). From the Toronto Standard, is there media bias against Rob Ford? "The crack story is too elaborate to be made up". Why is there no Krugman on the center right? David Warsh wants to know.

Lloyd Green on the GOP’s backdoor impeachment scheme: Republicans have lost at the ballot box and the Supreme Court, so they’ve decided to nullify President Obama another way — keep his government from working, period. If Republicans were once the daddy party, now they're the abusive ex-husband with a substance abuse problem party. What is most striking about the present is not the virtues of moderation but of the potential power of conviction — one detects, behind all the anxiety about “extremists”, “radicals”, and “militant minorities” a degree of envy. William Boardman on minority government at work: Why don’t we call these people nihilists? Nathan Schneider on why the government shutdown is not an anarchist utopia. As polls plummet, Rightbloggers get to work on their new shutdown excuses. Robert Costa on five myths about House Republicans. Matt Taibbi on how Democrats must stop Ted Cruz's Hollywood ending. Who is John Galt? Now we know — Slavoj Zizek on financial meltdowns and government shutdowns (and more). Robyn Pennacchia on the 5 creepiest things about how the Koch brothers engineered the shutdown. Cash-strapped FreedomWorks is in state of financial disarray. America needs a grand bargain, but not on the budget — it's time to disarm the partisan war’s new weapons of mass destruction. Bruce Bartlett on the dangers of debt limit brinksmanship. If he has to, Obama should raise the debt ceiling unilaterally: Emily Bazelon and Eric Posner on how the law’s clearly on his side, and the markets won’t actually be spooked.

From The Monkey Cage, a symposium on the gender gap in academia, including Jane Mansbridge on why biases and disadvantages for women in academia persist; and can an automated tool help authors create better bibliographies and avoid gender biases? Peter Sacks reviews Derek Bok’s Higher Education in America (and more). William Chace on jump-starting American higher ed. Claire Goldstene on the emergent academic proletariat and its shortchanged students. For public colleges, the best tuition is no tuition. Watch the professor: Evan Kindley reviews Inventing the Egghead: The Battle over Brainpower in American Culture by Aaron Lecklider. Rick Perlstein on the death of democratic higher education. A bachelor’s degree could cost $10,000 total — here’s how. Self-fashioning in society and solitude: Nannerl O. Keohane on crafting a liberal-arts education. Heather Horn writes in defense of the humanities Ph.D.: Yes, the academic job market is a wasteland, but that doesn't make spending your twenties reading poetry for low pay irrational. A look at how college application fees hurt poor kids. Why are colleges giving away money to rich kids who don’t need it? They might value their rankings more than the economy. College admissions requirements in America are crazy — here’s a solution. Daniel Luzer writes in praise of the shabby, free, public university. Your stereotype of college students is bad and you should feel bad.

Jered Carr and Brent Never (Missouri): Confronting Wicked Problems in the Metropolis. Kathleen Marker (UC-Berkeley): The Role of Religion and Ethnicity in an Arab American Economy. From Student Pulse, America’s heart is in the city once again: John Gapper reviews The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving by Leigh Gallagher. Could machismo be to blame for the government shutdown? Jack Goldsmith on why we need an invasive NSA: It’s the best way to stave off the oncoming onslaught of cyber-attacks. Noam Scheiber on how Janet Yellen will be a better Fed chair because of who she hangs out with. PolitiFact launching new site dedicated to fact-checking TV and radio pundits, PunditFact. From The Baffler, networking into the abyss: Jacob Silverman on goes inside the empty bubble of SXSW Interactive. Nate Silver on the six big takeaways from the government shutdown. When Greece risks default, the IMF steps in — can the IMF have an impact on U.S. policy and debate? "Most of the idiots I know are academics": Luke Massey interviews Slavoj Zizek on Obama, stupidity and his favourite quasi-fascist industrial metal outfit — Rammstein. The Spanish firm that inspired Coke: Locals believe that the Spanish town of Aielo de Malferit is where Coca-Cola originated — and that the factory which developed the formula that inspired the world's best-selling soda has been cheated of its rightful place in history; not to mention profits.

Chenyang Li (NTU): China’s Meritocratic Examinations and the Ideal of Virtuous Talents; and Confucian Conception of Freedom. Donghua Chen and Junli Jerry Yu (Nanjing) and Oliver Zhen Li and Bernard Yin Yeung (NUS): Of Poetry and Ethics. Li Hongbin, Li Lei, Binzhen Wu, and Yanyan Xiong (Tsinghua): The End of Cheap Chinese Labor. Marisol Sandoval (City University London): Foxconned Labour as the Dark Side of the Information Age: Working Conditions at Apple’s Contract Manufacturers in China. As it adjusts to the end of its run of sustained, double-digit rates of annual economic growth, China is staking a great deal on the idea that growth and urbanisation are linked. Seeking truth from facts: Nick Holdstock on Bo Xilai; and on learning the wrong lessons in Xinjiang. An excerpt from Morality of China in Africa: The Middle Kingdom and the Dark Continent by Stephen Chan (and more). Alexander Kim on how China chases Central Asian pipe dream. China takes aim at Western ideas. Where is China's Gorbachev? Matt Schiavenza on why the country hasn't had — and isn't likely to have — a political reformer in the mold of the former Soviet leader. Will WeChat be China’s first top-100 global brand? In China, it's the grandparents who “lean in”. Looks good on paper: A flawed system for judging research is leading to academic fraud. Opening the floodgates: The great rivers of China are being dammed, regardless of the consequences. Matt Schiavenza on the peculiar history of foot binding in China. China lost 14 million people in World War II — why is this forgotten?

Mikolaj Barczentewicz (Oxford): Who Made the United States Constitution? Steven R. Morrison (North Dakota): The Conspiracy Origin of the First Amendment. Robert Hunt Sprinkle on slavery and guns, America’s “peculiar institutions”: How are U.S. “gun rights” today an extension of a right created to preserve slavery? The introduction to The Long Decade: How 9/11 Changed the Law, ed. David Jenkins (and Chapter 10: Citizenship and the Limits of Due Process Since 9/11). Robin Bradley Kar reviews Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law by Margaret Jane Radin. On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, Antonin Scalia discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy (and more). Scalia's legal reasoning is lousier than his New York interview. David Cole on the Roberts Court: What kind of conservatives? Ian Millhiser and Nicole Flatow on abortion, big money in elections, and eleven other huge cases the Supreme Court will hear next term. Nora Caplan-Bricker on how the Supreme Court could endanger victims of domestic violence. Ray V. Hartwell reviews The Supreme Court vs. The Constitution by Gerald Walpin. Andrew C. McCarthy on the plot to save America: There's a little-known loophole in the Constitution that will allow states to get America back on course. Chris Radomile on 4 constitutional debates America's founders never saw coming.

Lucia H. Seyfarth (Penn): Child Soldiers to War Criminals: Trauma and the Case for Personal Mitigation. John Martinez (Utah): Graceful Losers. If cities are our future, do we even need the U.S. government? Tim Lacy on the First Things school of history: Culture Wars to 2013. The recent hype around 3D printing has revolved mostly around the capacity for these printers to make guns, but could this new, futuristic technology also be used for such good as addressing global food scarcity and security? Yochai Benkler on how the NSA gets negligible intel from Americans' metadata — so end collection. Books don't want to be free: Evan Hughes on how publishing escaped the cruel fate of other culture industries (and more). Waterboarding is a big joke at Cheney roast: Ben Smith on a sentimental evening at the Plaza for Cheney, Rumsfeld, Mukasey, and Lieberman. David Weigel on gerrymandering denialists. Zack Beauchamp on how racism caused the shutdown. Economists and fellow policy makers give a warm welcome to Janet Yellen’s nomination as US Federal Reserve chair (and more). Dan Amira and Jonathan Chait on the 8 most plausible ways a debt-ceiling catastrophe could be averted. If nobody's too worried about a default, there's less urgency to avoid it — so if everyone could be more worried, then we could be less worried. The Daily Default Dashboard is now “Getting kind of scary”. Should we root for economic catastrophe? Maybe!

From Slate, why are you not dead yet? A special series on the science of longevity by Laura Helmuth. Are we really getting sicker as we age? Even though we’re living longer than ever, the prevalence of major diseases among the elderly has held relatively steady. In labs around the world, researchers are trying to reverse aging — does the latest research suggest breakthroughs? Anti-death behavior: Philosopher and author of Immortality Stephen Cave talks with Susie Neilson about elixirs of life, the fallacy of the singularity, and why we should all get up early to meditate on our inevitable demise. Want to live indefinitely? Try cryonic freezing (and part 2). From Cryonics, an interview with Aubrey de Grey. Aschwin de Wolf on marketing cryonics and on being born too early. Fear of immortality: Americans don’t want to extend their declining years — but what if you could stay young? Adam Leith Gollner on his book The Book of Immortality, Belief, and Magic Behind Living Forever (and more and more). Could 8-year-old Gabby Williams be the key to immortality? Max Rivlin-Nadler wonders. Franco Cortese on Immanuel Kant and why morality necessitates immortality, and on three specters of immortality. Dilbert’s Scott Adams on choosing your immortality: Someday you'll be a robot with a locket holding your last human cells. Time magazine wonders if "Google can solve death". An article on how to get the world to do something about death. Clare Davies on how death has become too sanitised — it needs raucous laughter and a little bit of living to make it real again. Death gives meaning to life? No — death is meaninglessness. No, extreme human longevity won’t destroy the planet.

Javier Sajuria (UCL): Is the Internet Changing Our Conception of Democracy? An Analysis of the Internet Use During Protests and its Effect on the Perception of Democracy. Hadas Eyal (Hebrew): The Proof is in the Pudding: Putting Digital Technology to the Test — Political Movements and Success in the Competitive Political Communication Arena. Vasilis Kostakis (Tallinn) and Stelios Stavroulakis (P2P Lab): The Parody of the Commons. David Golumbia (VCU): Cyberlibertarianism: The Extremist Foundations of “Digital Freedom”. Eli Dourado on reinterpreting cyberlibertarianism in light of its failures. The tech intellectuals: Henry Farrell on the good, bad, and ugly among our new breed of cyber-critics, and the economic imperatives that drive them. Are tech entrepreneurs replacing Wall Streeters as the rich bad guys in the popular imagination? Noreen Malone on how popular culture has soured on Silicon Valley's hotshots. From Dissent, Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington. Bryce Emley on how Google flushes knowledge down the toilet: Search engine optimization is filling the Internet with misinformation about human bathroom habits and more. Mira Burri reviews Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age by Ian Brown and Christopher T. Marsden. The Internet is a human right: Increasingly, it looks like one of those things we human need to ensure a healthy, meaningful life is the internet (and more). Joshua Kopstein on how Silk Road, the eBay of illegal drugs, came undone.

Michael G. Bennett (Northeastern): The Apocalyptic Presidential Right of Publicity. Noel B. Salazar (Leuven): Imagineering Otherness: Anthropological Legacies in Contemporary Tourism. Daniel Luzer on the lives of dictators’ wives: The fancy clothes and charitable works aren’t incidental — the dictator’s spouse is an important part of maintaining power. Kathleen Biddick reviews Pornographic Archaeology: Medicine, Medievalism, and the Invention of the French Nation by Zrinka Stahuljak. Kevin Drum on how we were sold an economy-killing lie once again, the Beltway fell for cherry-picked data — and you paid the price. What's killing poor white women? For most Americans, life expectancy continues to rise, but not for uneducated white women — they have lost five years, and no one knows why. Eric Schlosser: If we don't slash our nukes, a major city is going to be destroyed. Louis Menand reviews Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser. Katie Roiphe on the Philosopher and the Student: Was the saga of Colin McGinn really a clear-cut case of sexual harassment? Joshua Tucker on how political scientists are taking advantages of new tools and sources of data to study politics in new and exciting ways. Erik Wemple on Mike Allen, Politico and “Morning Joe”: Inseparable. James Hamblin on how what we eat affects everything. Captures the times: Man brandishes gun on San Francisco train, riders absorbed in their phones don't notice, gunman randomly kills a university student.