In "Rap and Metal on Planet Islam" (page 56), the Dubai-based James M. Dorsey explores the ways underground music is shaping the culture and politics of the Middle East. Dorsey, 59, previously served as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and is now writing a book on soccer. He says he's "followed the Middle Eastern heavy metal scene for years" but isn't actually much of a metal fan; instead, he's "always been fascinated by the social and political role it plays." In "a part of the world in which there is little public space for people to express themselves," he explains, it takes "commitment and courage" for music fans to persist in the face of authoritarian governments and clerics.

On page 62 Keith Whittington, a professor of politics at Princeton, reviews Reputation and Power, Daniel Carpenter's new history of the Food and Drug Administration. Whittington, 42, says that the history of regulation in the United States is largely "a shift from common law and courts to statutes and bureaucracies." Whittington, a science fiction fan and occasional golfer, is a successful author in his own right: His most recent book, Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy (Princeton University Press), won the American Political Science Association's best book award in two categories: Politics and History, and Law and Courts.

In "The Year of YouTube Advertising" (page 26), reason's Burton C. Gray memorial intern, Armin Rosen, joins Managing Editor Jesse Walker in looking at 2010's wildest online campaign ads. A recent graduate of Columbia University, Rosen, 22, has written for The New Republic and previously interned at both the Columbia Journalism Review and "an extremely left-wing news outlet based at the U.N." A self-confessed music geek and "avid urban cyclist," Rosen reports that he turns "into a complete and utter pig as soon as I'm straddling a bicycle."