The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

Phineas Gage, Neuroscience's Most Famous Patient On Slate, Sam Kean delves into the misunderstandings surrounding the 19th-century's luckiest unfortunate person, Phineas Gage, who took a tamping iron through his brain and lived to another 12 years.

The truth behind Francis Bacon's 'screaming' popes The art website Phaidon investigates interpretations for Francis Bacon's series of unsettling screaming pope studies.

Amazon Should Make the Postal Service Its Own Personal Courier On Wired, Marcus Wohlsen writes about the possible co-option (and ultimate rescue) of the US Postal Service by Amazon to become its delivery arm.

The Founder of Mother's Day Later Fought to Have It Abolished On Mental Floss, Jonathon Mulinix covers the origin of Mother's Day and it quick evolution into a consumerist day to the mental and emotional detriment of its creator.

The Conspiracists In the London Review of Books, Richard J Evan wades deeply into a mystery that's created a series of interrelated conspiracy theories since it took place in 1933 - the burning of Germany's legislative house, the Reichstag.

Satanists slated to perform 'black mass' at Harvard claim they don't believe in the supernatural In the New York Daily News, Carol Kuruvilla writes about an upcoming piece of performance art at Harvard University by the increasingly publicity-minded Temple of Satan.

Amid outcry, black mass at Havard is called off In the Boston Globe, Travis Andersen And Derek J Anderson write about the backlash against the black mass at Harvard which led to its cancellation.

You are what you eat; or rather, what you grow to eat The staff of The Economist write about an hypothesis that seeks to answer a longstanding question: Why are many Asian societies collectivist, while the West is typically individualist?

The Great Extinction In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Justin E.H. Smith writes about the mass extinction humans are driving and how it is, rationally, an entirely natural phenomenon.

The Big Sleep On Mosaic, Frank Swain writes about current research into induced hibernation among non-hibernating animals -- humans in particular -- in order to slow down metabolism enough that tissue and function is preserved during a medical emergency.

The Last Secret of the H.L. Hunley On All Kinds of History, Mike Dash investigates an overlooked piece of history, the strange life and possible faked death of James McClintock: early submarine designer, bomb maker, huckster and perhaps murderer.

The Placebo Phenomenon In Harvard Magazine, Cara Feinberg writes about Ted Kaptchuk, one of the respected researchers applying science toward an understanding of the placebo effect and how to use it in medicine.

What Killed My Sister? In The American Scholar, Priscilla Long writes about current avenues of research into schizophrenia, a personal topic as it is the condition that led to her sister's apparent suicide in 1986.

How to Honor the Dead We Cannot Name On Slate, Charles B. Strozier and Gabriel Knowles offer a profound criticism of the new September 11 Memorial in New York, including allegations that its curators have subverted the rights of the survivors of the unidentified dead.