Friday, July 26th, 2013


Remember What Never Happened?

My friend used to like to share a childhood memory of the morning the two of us saw a couple of river otters when we woke up earlier than the other campers on an overnight trip. It is a morning I remember well. But here's the thing. The friend who liked to tell the story wasn't even awake when I saw the otters. I actually shared that experience with another friend. False (or in this case, borrowed) memories are not rare. According to the NYT's James Gorman: "Not only are false, or mistaken, memories common in normal life, but researchers have found it relatively easy to generate false memories of words and images in human subjects." And now, scientists at M.I.T. say they've successfully created false memories in a mouse. At least they think they remember doing that.

+ Go ahead, remain silent: Could the government get a search warrant for your thoughts?


Beyond the Limit

The man at the helm of the Spanish train that derailed and killed at least eighty people recently posted about his speeding exploits on Facebook. "I'm at the limit and I can't go any faster or they will give me a fine."


Weekend Reads

"Does anybody play the drums?" Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Who and the birth of the mega rock tour. And somewhat related, my old McSweeney's piece: An open letter to the guy who puked next to me at a heavy metal concert.

+ Judith Tebbutt: My six months held hostage by Somali pirates.

+ "At school, I was the woefully Aspergian weirdo that few if any kids liked, overwhelming my peers with television trivia they didn't care to hear and derailing lesson plans with digressive questions my teachers were sick of me asking. But at home, I retreated to the Internet where I was no longer the overweight 3rd grader who had on more than one occasion had birthday party invitations returned to her. I was Tom, the charming 17-year-old boy who had successfully wooed a teen mom from Arizona he'd met on Yahoo!Games." I was a catfish. This story is has an anonymous byline, so maybe we're being catfished as we read it.

+ Buzzfeed: "Nothing is more emblematic of the American dream than chaotic mining and drilling towns such as Williston, North Dakota, and the people who flock to them in search of fortune. And no one knows better how these communities work -- and don't -- than the traveling topless dancer."


Short People Got Reason

According to a couple long term studies, tall people are more likely to get cancer.

+ "Walter Keller had nearly lost his battle with leukemia when he went to Penn's Carl June and his group of researchers for a radical new cancer treatment. What happened next may change medicine forever."

+ "It was the right thing to do." George H.W. Bush reflects on his decision to shave his head in support of a young boy battling leukemia.

+ Researchers at Harvard say that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of suicide in adults.


This is Your Brain on Weiner

John Cuneo has created an excellent New Yorker cover that pokes fun at Anthony Weiner and the frenzied members of the media who are covering each detail of his recent sexting past. But in many ways, the cover also implicates all of us. And it's not just about our obsession with stories like these. It's about our obsession with tiny screens.


It Was Inevitable…

Jonathan Franzen, Margaret Atwood, and other writers share their thoughts on what makes an inviting and memorable opening sentence.


Turn Away From These Towns

Slate sets out to determine which American city has the worst drivers. In Baltimore, people can't stop driving into other cars, and in Philadelphia, brotherly love expressed between a bumper and a pedestrian is disturbingly common. But neither of those cities topped the list.


The Seventies

He was huge in the Sixties, and now Mick Jagger is celebrating his 70th birthday. (70 is the new cooler than you.) Here are some memorable video clips. My favorite Mick moments are his live versions of Gimme Shelter with the ridiculously talented Lisa Fischer.

+ From Texas to Chicago, InFocus has a great set of photo collections that celebrate America in the 70s. It's nice to be reminded of the last era during which my attire made sense.


Shattering Bats

"A long shard of wood flew at a teammate, Tyler Colvin, sprinting home from third base, impaling him a few inches from his heart. Though Colvin scored, his season was over." What brought scientists from the Forest Service and execs from Major League Baseball together? A quest for a maple bat that feels good to hitters, but that doesn't endanger players (and fans).


The Bottom of the News

Hans Lienesch has categorized and rated more than 1,100 varieties of instant ramen. "The only times I don't do reviews are when we go on vacation -- and usually when we go and do something it's noodle related." It's sort of a stretch to call instant ramen "noodle related."

+ If you are headed to the Jersey Shore this summer, then pull up your pants. It's the law.

+ People are sunbathing in Siberia.

+ The story of life, as told by the movies.