The Best Stuff We Read This Week

Josh Clark

The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary. Despite the clumsy title, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie submits to Smithsonian Magazine an in-depth examination of how clowns evolved from an amusing character to someone worthy of suspicion and deep-seated fear.

Characteristics of Stab Wounds (WARNING: After clicking this link you will be presented immediately with an extremely graphic photo of a stabbed man) Published on the medical site Forensic Medicine for Medical Students, this article is worth reading not so much for the mastery of journalism it presents (it presents none), but for the facts it contains regarding stab wounds, which are unusual due how infrequently we run across their ilk.

Rowling and "Galbraith": an authorial analysis. On the Language Log blog, Patrick Juola provides a bone dry but interesting account of the "forensic stylometry" investigation used to determine if the author of The Cuckoo's Calling was, in fact, author JK Rowling. It was.

George Saunders's Advice to Graduates. On the New York Times' The 6th Floor blog, the commencement speech given by essayist and writer George Saunders to Syracuse University's graduating class this year is printed in its relatively brief, but heartfelt, entirety.

The Art of the Phony. In the New York Review of Books, art historian Charles Hope writes about the rise of the counterfeit in the world of art and how it took a millennium or two following the rise of fine art before collectors came to see well-executed copies of great art -- even those for sale -- as fraudulent affronts to both the artist and the buyer.

The Confessions of Innocent Men. Public defender Mark Bookman details a gross miscarriage of justice, two times over, that took place in Philadelphia in the early 1980s. Bookman presents the case as yet another piece of clear evidence that a confession, still the most reliable indicator that a defendant will be convicted by a jury, can be unreliable evidence of a crime.