Saturday, February 11

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The Me Who Knew It

On Alison Winter’s Memory: Fragments of a Modern History, and issues of memory in the 20th century.

Underlying the compelling feeling that we are our memories is a further common-sense assumption that our entire lives are accurately retained somewhere in the brain ‘bank’ as laid-down memories of our experience, and that we retrieve our lives and selves from an ever expanding stockpile of recollections. Or we can’t, and then that feeling that it’s on the tip of our tongue, or there but just out of range, still encourages us to think that everything we have known or done is in us somewhere, if only our digging equipment were sharper.

Friday, February 10

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My Debt to Ireland

An essay on heritage, history and literature.

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How Your Cat is Making You Crazy

Jaroslav Flegr and his theory about Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat feces:

If Flegr is right, the "latent" parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, "Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year."

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Much Ado About Nothing

The legacy of Barry Levinson’s 1982 movie Diner.

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Welcome to Sealand. Now Bugger Off.

Inside the attempt to turn a World War II-era antiaircraft deck (that its owner claims is an independent nation) into “the world’s first truly offshore, almost-anything-goes electronic data haven.”

Thursday, February 9

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Where's Earl?

As the hip-hop group Odd Future rose to fame, their sixteen-year-old breakout star Earl Sweatshirt mysteriously disappeared.

(After a stretch at a school in Samoa, he seems to have reappeared yesterday.)

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Obama, Explained

Taking the measure of the president, with a view to history.

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The Mystery Monk Making Billions With 5-Hour Energy

On Manoj Bhargava, who says he’s “probably the wealthiest Indian in America,” and his ubiquitous product.

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The Making of Gay Marriage’s Top Foe

A profile of Maggie Gallagher, founder of National Organization for Marriage.

Wednesday, February 8

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The World of Charles Dickens, Complete With Pizza Hut

On literary tourism:

Dickens World, in other words, sounded less like a viable business than it did a mockumentary, or a George Saunders short story, or the thought experiment of a radical Marxist seeking to expose the terminal bankruptcy at the heart of consumerism. And yet it was real.

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Tomorrowland

On Astana, the grandiose new capital that Kazakhstan built on the site of a remote Tsarist fort, and its striving young inhabitants.