The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

The Amityville house where Ronald DeFeo murdered his family and which became the setting for the Amityville Horror hoax.
The Amityville house where Ronald DeFeo murdered his family and which became the setting for the Amityville Horror hoax.

How to Be Good In a 2011 profile in the New Yorker, Larissa MacFarquhar writes about Derek Parfit, an Oxford philosopher who has spent most of his life trying to prove that there is such a thing as a moral absolute.

Interpreting "Physick": The Familiar and the Foreign Eighteenth-Century Body In the Appendix, Lindsay Keiter writes about the understanding of anatomy, disease, health and surgery in the West in the 1700s.

Communication With the Radicle Other On The Philosopher's Plant blog, philosoplant provides a fascinating and far out examination of sharing and communication among trees, which can be used to define our own definitions of those concepts.

Ronald DeFeo, Jr. A Wikipedia entry on the man who carried out the murders of his parents and siblings as they slept in their house in Amityville, New York, which became the setting for a famous haunting hoax the following year.

Saddam guards describe his Doritos habit In a 2005 article, the Associated Press write about two American guards who were charged with guarding Saddam Hussein following his deposal and prior to his execution, and who grew to know him quite well.

Orange Twin: Athens' Best-Kept Secret In the Red & Black magazine, Sarah Bennett writes about the founders of an Athens, Georgia, artists' collective, record label and commune.

The Disturbing Sex Life of Deep Sea Squid In a 2008 article in Der Spiegel, Philip Bethge writes about mating among squid species, which includes biting, meter-long penises and sperm packets lodged into eyes.

How Times Square Works On Gizmodo, Adam Clark Estes writes about the giant power-sucking spectacle that is the Times Square LED billboards, which at any one time consume enough electricity to power all of the casinos in Las Vegas.

Three Thrown Over the Cuckoo's Nest On Damn Interesting, Alan Bellows writes about the famous Three Christs of Ypsilanti case study, an unethical and exploitative line of research begun in the late 1950s by psychiatrist Milton Rokeach, which resulted in some truly bittersweet but clinically useless findings.

They got Hoffa-ed: Lives turned upside down in search for Teamsters boss On CNN, Jessica Ravitz writes about a small exclusive group of people who all share the common headache of having bought a house where Jimmy Hoffa was alleged to have been buried.

We must consider Gaza images: It's OK to wonder about the lives of the dead - it makes us human, and it makes us understand On Salon, Caitlin Doughty writes about the effect photos of dead bodies have on modern people and explains why it's normal to be morbidly curious.

The Itch In a 2008 New Yorker Article, Atul Guwande writes about the horrific case of a woman who scratched a phantom itch on her scalp so frequently that she bore a hole into her brain and what it's helped neurologists learn about what itches are and why we experience it, even in the presence of dead nerves.

Ebola crisis: Virus spreading too fast, says WHO The BBC writes about the current Ebola crisis in West Africa and why it's spreading so quickly.

Ebola Guidance for Airlines The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations for airline workers who suspect a passenger has Ebola.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and American Militarism In the Los Angeles Review of Books, H. Bruce Franklin writes an eye-opening review of a WWII history that convincingly asserts that none of the moral arguments used to justify the U.S. detonating atomic bombs on two Japanese civilian populations in the war stand up to historical scrutiny and, even worse, that American leaders knew it at the time they ordered the bombs dropped.

53rd & 3rd The Wikipedia entry about the Ramones song.

Restless Indigenous Remains On Meanjin, Paul Daley writes an essay about the massive amounts of remains of Aborigines, collected voraciously and brutally during the 19th century in Australia (and consequently well documented by its collectors) and how they may be honored and repatriated.