Browsy Sunday

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Books

I just finished The Circle by Dave Eggers. We’re quickly moving towards the weird utopian world the novel describes, a world in which our entire lives are public and easily quantifiable. Eggers takes us us step by step into the ramifications of this brave new world. You won’t quite notice when you start to get uncomfortable, but definitely by page 371 in the paperback version. This book made me want to delete my Facebook, Instagram, snapchat and google account and go live in the woods for awhile.

I started reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. Quick side note-I got a beautiful paperback copy for $1.08 (including shipping) from Abebooks, a website that connects consumers to independent booksellers. So you don’t even have to get that icky feeling for driving not-Amazon-booksellers out of business! I’ve only read the first essay of this collection – “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream” – and it was everything I expected and more. A California cross of the musical “Chicago” and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

Shorter Reads

I’ve been thinking a lot about education as I finished up my last week of summer school. We start off in kindergarten. We learn math and sometimes handwriting (and according to these articles, we don’t learn them well enough). If we’re good enough at those, eventually we might get into an Ivy league, but what does that even mean? If you’re fed up with the status quo like these writers, here’s James Altucher’s 8 Alternatives to College. He also wrote this hilarious post this week about how to kiss girls.

This brave, brave woman wrote an amazing essay about dealing with mental illness while dating. Is dating even worth all the hassle, though? According to this charmingly cynical article, the marriage ceremony at least needs some major renovations: “Many of the skills of marriage would overlap with those of a bomb disposal expert.” And while relationships are bad, breaking up is worse

What’s worse than the American education system and being broken up with? I bet that through all the Gaza and airline troubles, you didn’t even notice the bubonic plague outbreak in China. Or how Nazi scientists created the typhus vaccine using the insides of lice that they fed on Polish prisoners of war. Other pathologies I’ve wikied this week: shingles, since I helped treat a case in the ER this week. Another person I helped had incurable back pain-and, apparently, Tylenol doesn’t help with that. Your body protects itself from diseases like these through a complex web of defenses that constantly change according to how your environment interacts with your genes. They found some of these interactions with regards to mental illness last week.

Here is a video of Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich talking to Stephen Colbert. It’s a weird experience to see their faces move with their voices. They did a fascinating podcast about purposely running voltage through your brain to improve thinking last month. Wired also ran an article about makeshift brain stimulators. Anybody willing to try one out with me? I need to do better in school.

Have an interesting week,

Ellen

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