His and Hers

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According to Jonathan Eig, there are four people primarily responsible for the birth control pill: incendiary feminist Margaret Sanger, iconoclast medical researcher Gregory "Goody" Pincus, devoted philanthropist Katherine McCormick, and Catholic OB/GYN John Rock. Eig weaves their stories together in The Birth of the Pill. Pincus runs his medical institute on a wing and a prayer, […]

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Lives in Science

Lives in Science

It's easy to think of scientists as loners absorbed in their own thoughts. Sometimes they are. Their real lives, however, can be just as interesting as the wonderful ideas spilling out of their heads. It's great fun to watch big ideas bounce from mind to mind over the course of centuries. James Gleick's Isaac Newton is a short, accessible biography […]

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Rabies, Cancer and Syphilis

Rabies, Cancer and Syphilis

Once, I went to the emergency room because I thought I had chest pains. It turned out to be a very expensive nothing, but hypochondria has its benefits. For one thing, it encouraged me to read all sorts of fun books about horrifying diseases. Rabid deals with rabies, an illness that has scared us for centuries. The book […]

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The Americas Before the Mayflower

The Arawak greet Christopher Columbus on his landing on Hispaniola.  Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

As children, most of what we learned about the Native American population of the Americas was based on what colonists and conquerors saw after they had already left their mark on the land and people. But, what was life in the Americas like before Europeans arrived? And, what happened in the century after Columbus landed? 1491 by […]

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How to Bury a Corpse

How to Bury a Corpse

If you've ever planned a funeral, or if you've ever spent your idle time thinking about death, you've no doubt felt yourself oddly curious about the details of the funeral business. No matter if you want to be buried, cremated, launched into orbit or shot out of a cannon, there's plenty of research to be done. […]

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Make A Difference Day

Source: U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Wallace Ciccarelli Jr., Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" If you're unsure of how to answer that question and want to do more, Make A Difference Day is for you. Founded more than 20 years ago by USA TODAY Magazine and Points of Light, Make […]

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They’re All Lying to You

They're All Lying to You

Maybe you're the type who trusts in the basic goodness and honesty of your fellow man, who can calmly walk through life, confident in the truth of what average people and organizations have to say for themselves. As far as I'm concerned, that makes you a sap. They're all lying to you. Books told me […]

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I Like Sports?

I Like Sports

I'm a Bears fan, born and raised. I don't have a choice in the matter. When I was a kid, my family had season tickets that were about as high up in Soldier Field as you could go, and I like to think I still follow the sport. But then again, I'm not much into […]

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Say You Want a Revolution

Say You Want a Revolution

A little rebellion now and then can be good for one's constitution. Maybe one day you'll find yourself mad about something or other, and you'll want to take your fight to the Man. Before you do, remember that other people have tried it before, and there are plenty of lessons to learn. Thomas Paine and the […]

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Building a Mystery, Part II: Reza Aslan

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The question that concerns many of the faithful and skeptics alike is, who was Jesus, really? Reza Aslan attempts to answer that question in Zealot. Tellingly, the subtitle is "The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." This is because we have so little outside of the gospels to go on for Jesus' life. Part of […]

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