People Who Can Easily Beat Me Up

People Who Could Easily Beat Me Up

I like to think I'm a lover and not a fighter, but that probably means I'm a coward. If you're foolish enough to put me in a stressful situation, or even to suggest I might have to exert myself, I'm liable to collapse like a damp rag. So every now and then, I like to read books […]

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Captains of Commerce

Captains of Commerce

I can say with a great deal of confidence that all successful businessmen are greedy and corrupt, but this just means I'm jealous. I want nothing more than to be wealthy, greedy and irretrievably immoral, but unfortunately, I have neither the intelligence nor the discipline to be so flagrantly determined. At least I can read books about […]

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Famous Parents and Their Children

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It's hard having a famous parent. Even as you're living in the shadow of someone much more accomplished than yourself, you still have to contend with all the same public pressures of your illustrious ancestor. It doesn't help that people love talking about the strains of your relationship. As a great example, Galileo's Daughter, despite the title, is less […]

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His and Hers

pill 1

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 […]

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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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