The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

Book of Lamentation. On the New Inquiry, writer Sam Kriss contributes what is easily the best article we've read this year, an essay that purports to be a book review that takes the AmericanPsychological Association's revered Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (the DSM-V) as an experimental dystopian novel.

1/3, 1/3, 1/3. Author Richard Brutigan writes a short story about a trio who have come together to publish a novel. After reading the this for the first time this week, it has become Josh's newest favorite short story.

AI is over: this is artificial empathy. On The Kernel, science writer Greg Stevens writes about a developing technology called Mattersight, employed during customer service phone calls. Mattersight collects data from your voice and surmises your mood, then relays this information to the representative you end up speaking with. Stevens makes the case that this is creepy.

Cargo Cult Science. In this super-70s commencement address (a nude woman in a hot tub makes an appearance in the text) to CalTech's class of 1974, physicist Richard Feynman bids them to be honest to themselves as scientists and provides a framework for doing good, honest work that truly benefits all humankind.

The Last Ride of a Cleveland Hells Angels Informant. In the alternative-weekly Cleveland Scene, reporter Vince Grzegorek writes about the former vice president of the Hells Angels' Cleveland chapter during the 1970s who turned informant for the feds and disappeared into a life of paranoia, arthritis and trying to be good before ending it with a double homicide/suicide/arson.

Facebook Feminism, Like It or Not. On The Baffler, author Susan Faludi incredulously reports on the rise of Lean In, an online community and movement led by Facebook's COO, which purports to seek the advancement of women by tapping their rugged American individualism. Faludi asks if this is really just capitalism in feminist clothing and supports her inquiry with an investigation into the origin of the feminist movement in the U.S.

How Cereal Transformed American Culture. On Mental Floss, writer Ian Lender provides an interesting article on the origin of breakfast cereal and its symbiotic co-evolution with American popular culture and mass media.

The psychology of spiritualism. In The Guardian, writer David Derbyshire, with the help of Stuff You Should Know's mascot skeptic, Richard Wiseman, discusses the mental hokum, fine motor movement and fraudulent tactics that conspired to create and support the 19th-century spiritualism craze. If you're into having your imaginative fun thoroughly explained, you will enjoy this article.

Grumpy Ole Glenn Danzig Is Angry About Everything. In the Village Voice, reporter Maggie Serota has an interview with the founder of the bands the Misfits, Samhain and Danzig, Glenn Danzig about such things as the current state of punk rock and his right-leaning political views.

The Charitable-Industrial Complex. In the New York Times, Peter Buffet, son of billionaire Warren Buffet, contributes an op-ed about the use of charitable giving as a means of "conscience laundering" as well as a mechanism to ensure the continuation of the increasing equality gap between the world's rich and poor.

Fast-Food Wages Come With A $7 Billion Side of Public Assistance. On Bloomberg/BusinessWeek, writer Susan Berfield covers a recent study that found the U.S.'s fast food workers receive $7 billion in welfare assistance, with McDonald's employees requiring $1.2 billion of that to subsist.

Jeepers Creepers! Why Dark Rides Scare the Pants Off Us. In Collector's Weekly, reporter Lisa Hix interviews two aficionados of dark house rides, popular boardwalk and amusement park attractions like tunnels of love or fun houses, and explores the history and evolution of the rides.

Of Wolves and Men and Delicious Little Girls. Atlas Obscura contributor Annetta Black delves into the bloody historical coexistence of wolves and Western Europe and how outbreaks of wolf attacks led to legends of beasts and werewolves.

Citing "Terrifying" Surveillance Tactics, Yet Another U.S. Privacy Service Shuts Down. Slate's Ryan Gallagher reports that CryptoSeal, a privacy service that allows users to send untraceable emails has shuttered its business rather than hand over its encryption keys the to the NSA, the U.S. government's surveillance arm.