The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

How Gobbledygook Ended Up In Respected Scientific Journals On Slate, Konstantin Kakaes writes about a prank by MIT students -- an algorithm that generates nonsense academic papers -- that exposed the very unreasonable and unjustified iron grip that peer-reviewed academic journals exert on science and academia after more than 100 of these papers were accepted and published.

A Mission Gone Wrong In the New Yorker, Mattathias Schwartz writes about a botched drug interdiction mission carried out by the Honduran police and the DEA that led to the death of innocent civilians and how the event is emblematic of the current US drug policy.

My Barbies Had So Much Sex. It Was Great. In New York Magazine, Ann Friedman defends the use of Barbies by their young owners as a safe and innocent way to explore sexuality and explains why that makes Barbie gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue so unforgivably creepy.

The Dead Dream of Pacifism On Hazlitt, Linda Besner writes about how the once-widespread idea that the world will surely reach an end of war, what was once considered by many to be a forgone conclusion, has been replaced by endless war.

What Happened To X-Rated Movies? On HowStuffWorks' own BrainStuff blog, my colleague Christian Sager writes about the origin of the X-rating and the MPAA, the controversial body that took it upon itself to rate movies' moral content.

The Lazy Susan, the Classic Centerpiece of Chinese Restaurants, Is Neither Classic Nor Chinese On the Smithsonian blog, Daniel A Gross tries to trace the confusing origin of the lazy Susan.

1885: Not John "Babbacombe" Lee, the man they could not hang On Executed Today, the Headsman writes about the incredibly strange attempted execution of a man, which failed three times for not apparent or explainable reason.

A Rant about "Ragnarok 2014" A Clerk of Oxford indeed delivers the rant promised by the title over a very misleading promotion by a British viking museum.

Gradually and authentically Ghost World depicts an unraveling friendship On the AV Club, Mike D'Angelo explores the subtext of the 2001 cult classic Ghost World, based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, dissecting an exemplary scene to make his point.

Is the Universe a Simulation? In the International New York Times, Edward Frenkel discusses the Simulation Theory, the idea that we most likely live in a simulated model of the universe, and the potential way we could prove it.

The End of the 555 Phone Number In Pacific Standard, Noah Davis writes about the fake 555-phone number used for decades in movies and TV shows.

Sex Charges Follow a Church's Collapse In the New York Times, Rick Lyman reports on a once-large church in a small parish in Louisiana that dwindled to just a few members, many of which were carrying out child sexual abuse disguised as Satanic.

The Meme as Meme On Medium, Abby Rabinowitz writes about the evolution of the concept of memes, or viral cultural artfacts, from their introduction as a concept by Richard Dawkins to their hijacking by Internet pioneer, Buzzfeed's Jonah Peretti.