An essay on heritage, history and literature.
Friday, February 10
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."
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
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.)
On Manoj Bhargava, who says he’s “probably the wealthiest Indian in America,” and his ubiquitous product.
A profile of Maggie Gallagher, founder of National Organization for Marriage.
Wednesday, February 8
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.
On Astana, the grandiose new capital that Kazakhstan built on the site of a remote Tsarist fort, and its striving young inhabitants.
A young woman’s attempt to flee from the most religiously conservative community in America, and to take her daughter with her:
The critical battleground in the War Between the Grunwalds would prove to be niddah, or “separation,” i.e., when the menstruating female is considered “impure” and kept apart from her husband. “It isn’t just your period,” Gitty says. After a woman stops bleeding, she has to wear white underwear for seven days, checking constantly to see if there’s any discharge. Should spotting occur, the woman takes her underwear to a special rabbi who examines the color, shape, and density of the stain. It is he who divines when it is safe for the woman to immerse herself in the mikvah (ritual bath) and be reunited with her husband.