10 July 2010

the (not so) weekly TLTR's

The Neuroscience of Screwing Up
The reason we’re so resistant to anomalous information — the real reason researchers automatically assume that every unexpected result is a stupid mistake — is rooted in the way the human brain works....

The Moral Life of Babies
The mental life of young humans not only is an interesting topic in its own right; it also raises — and can help answer — fundamental questions of philosophy and psychology, including how biological...

Opium Made Easy
...whether or not the opium poppies in your garden are illicit depends not on what you do, or even intend to do, with them but very simply on what you know about them. Hence my warning: if you have any desire to grow opium poppies, you would be wise to stop reading right now.

Love, Sex, Freedom and Paradox
Today more than 100 million women around the world start their day with this tiny tablet. So small. So powerful. But in surprising ways, so misunderstood.

Dead Man Driving
In a crash, everything in the car becomes a potential weapon. A collapsible steering wheel can crush the ribs of an unrestrained driver. A and B pillars perform like baseball bats in the hands of a Mafia hit man. Seatbelts crack clavicles, bruise spleens, burst bladders. Even the gentlest of restraints -- the airbag -- can shatter limbs and leave alkali burns on eyes.

Connecting the Dots
In the fall of 1973, the Syrian Army began to gather a large number of tanks, artillery batteries, and infantry along its border with Israel. Simultaneously, to the south, the Egyptian Army cancelled all leaves, called up thousands of reservists, and launched a massive military exercise, building roads and preparing anti-aircraft and artillery positions along the Suez Canal.

The lion and the tiger
Armenia excels at chess. Its top player now has a shot at becoming world champion. How did this tiny country become a giant at the game?

Head Case: Can psychiatry be a science?
You go see a doctor. The doctor hears your story and prescribes an antidepressant. Do you take it?
However you go about making this decision, do not read the psychiatric literature. Everything in it, from the science (do the meds really work?) to the metaphysics (is depression really a disease?), will confuse you.

The Distant Executioner

During World War II, snipers were seen as a spooky, merciless “Murder Inc.” by other soldiers—the brutal intimacy of their kills made them a breed apart. But in Afghanistan, where avoiding civilian deaths is a top priority, U.S. military sharpshooters may have found the war that needs them most. Going inside the world of Texas Army National Guardsman “Russ Crane,” who has dropped a Taliban fighter at 806 meters, the author discovers the sniper’s special talents and torments, and why it helps, in Crane’s view, to have God on your side.

Death Becomes Him
Over the past decade, Ludwig Minelli has helped more than 1,000 people kill themselves and has turned Zurich into the undisputed world capital of assisted suicide. Minelli sees himself as a crusader for what he calls “the last human right”—and he believes that helping more and more people to die advances his cause. Even if you believe in an absolute right to die on your own terms, how far is too far in the quest to secure that right?

The Marketing of No Marketing
Pabst Blue Ribbon -- P.B.R., as fans call it -- is currently enjoying a highly unlikely comeback. In 2002, sales of the beer, which had been sinking steadily since the 1970's, actually rose 5.3 percent. From the start of 2003 through April 20, supermarket beer sales are up another 9.4 percent. It is endorsed in ''The Hipster Handbook,'' a paperback dissection of cool, and is popping up in trendy bars from the Mission District to the Lower East Side. Sales in Chicago are up 134 percent.

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