here's some TLTRs for the weekend (handpicked from my Instapaper archive)
Letters From an Arsonist
Thomas Sweatt torched Washington for decades. He killed more people than we thought.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
In the late 1950s, three men who identified as the Son of God were forced to live together in a mental hospital. What happened?
What Did Jesus Do?
Reading and unreading the Gospels.
Its mysterious power may be a clue to a new theory about brains and bodies.
To Be or Not to Be?
More people die of suicide in King County than from traffic accidents or murder, but no one likes to talk about it. A few words about the history, meaning, and practice of suicide, from third-century Christian death cults to the Aurora Bridge.
Breeding for God
In Europe, the fertility advantage of the religious over non-believers has historically been counterbalanced by the march of secularisation. Not any more. Secularisation in Europe is now in decline, and Islam continues to grow. Europe will start to adopt a more American model of modernity
The teen-ager behind Chatroulette.
Stealing Mona Lisa
The shocking theft of the Mona Lisa, in August 1911, appeared to have been solved 28 months later, when the painting was recovered. In an excerpt from their new book, the authors suggest that the audacious heist concealed a perfect—and far more lucrative—crime.
Ten things we don't understand about humans
We belong to a remarkably quirky species. Despite our best efforts, some of our strangest foibles still defy explanation.
During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah Khomeini imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan. The trinkets were meant to be inspirational. After Iraq invaded in September 1980, it had quickly become clear that Iran’s forces were no match for Saddam Hussein’s professional, well-armed military. To compensate for their disadvantage, Khomeini sent Iranian children, some as young as twelve years old, to the front lines. There, they marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies. Before every mission, one of the Taiwanese keys would be hung around each child’s neck. It was supposed to open the gates to paradise for them.
(more will come)