Weekend Reading

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  • The rise of American authoritarianism
    The American media, over the past year, has been trying to work out something of a mystery: Why is the Republican electorate supporting a far-right, orange-toned populist with no real political experience, who espouses extreme and often bizarre views?
    I’m equally fascinated by American politics, as I am horrified by the potential impact of Trump winning the whole damn thing. Given UK follows US… Boris for PM? Dear God.
  • Sleep Munchies: Why It’s Harder To Resist Snacks When We’re Tired
    There’s lots of evidence that getting too little sleep is associated with overeating and an increased body weight. The question is, why? Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.
    Given I’ve had crap sleeps all week, I can confirm that I have eaten ALL THE FOODS.
  • Confessions of a Phony Telephone Psychic
    Every morning for more than three years, I woke up with the fear that someone would call me out as a fraud. The same scenario ran through my mind: A woman stops me on the street, grabs my arm and starts calling me a crook, a fake, phony and heartless rogue.
    Con artists, fraudsters, and the psychology they play on are always interesting (think ‘Derren Brown’) but this is a view from the other side (no not THAT other side…).
  • I helped eight people end their lives. By the time you read this, I’ll have ended mine
    Between 1999 and 2001, I helped eight people die—including the poet Al Purdy. Now, as I prepare to take my own life, I’m ready to tell my story I met the Québécois filmmaker Claude Jutra in 1963, when he visited McMaster University for a showing of his first feature, À tout prendre.
    Powerful feature, sad, uplifting and challenging.
  • The gendered way we’ve learned to ask questions is terrible for both men and women
    On paper, there was nothing glaringly wrong with the guy: he was attractive, smart and claimed to like deep-dish pizza as much as I did. In real life though, he was a jerk–and conversationally catatonic. In the 45 minutes we’d spent together at dinner, he had asked me only a single question.
    Despite being a man, I’ve always struggled at casual conversation and use questions as a way to ease myself in to them. I’ll be rephrasing many of them after reading this.
  • Mojave Phone Booth
    Situated in the middle of the Mojave desert, over a dozen miles from the nearest pavement, a lone phone booth sat along a dirt road, just waiting to become an international sensation.
    From the wonderful quirky podcast 99% invisible, the wonderful quirky story of a phone booth in the middle of nowhere and the community it spawned.
  • How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable
    The presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show – and Donald Trump is making a mockery of it. The first thing you notice at Donald Trump’s rallies is the confidence.
    I know, another article about him, but education is key to making him stoppable. And he must be stopped.
  • Everything Is Crumbling
    Nearly 20 years ago, psychologists Roy Baumeister and Dianne Tice, a married couple at Case Western Reserve University, devised a foundational experiment on self-control.
    Willpower is infinite? I, and my waistline, beg to differ!
  • When George Martin met The Beatles: The story of Love Me Do
    In May 1962, The Beatles were in the middle of their residency in Hamburg when an excitably-written telegram arrived from London. Their manager informed them he had secured a recording contract with a subsidiary of EMI Records, and they should return home for their initial recording session.
    More sad news about a man who was as much a part of the Beatles as the Fab Four themselves. Nice story of their beginnings.
  • “Apparently I don’t get to decide this”: A second Wachowski sister comes out as transgender, after tabloid bullying
    Lilly Wachowski, one half of the sibling filmmaking duo behind The Matrix, has come out as a transgender woman. Her sister, Lana, did the same in 2012.
    The kind of thing I don’t personally care about – gender is not binary, love is not finite, sexuality is not static – but worth highlighting this. Live and let live people!
  • What Happens When the Surveillance State Becomes an Affordable Gadget?
    When Daniel Rigmaiden was a little boy, his grandfather, a veteran of World War II and Korea, used to drive him along the roads of Monterey, California, playing him tapes of Ronald Reagan speeches.
    It’s one thing finding ‘Stop Stealing My WiFi Douchebag’ when you scan for WiFi connections, but this opens up a whole other world of possibilities. Scary scary possibilities.
  • DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis on how AI will shape the future
    DeepMind’s stunning victories over Go legend Lee Se-dol have stoked excitement over artificial intelligence’s potential more than any event in recent memory. But the Google subsidiary’s AlphaGo program is far from its only project — it’s not even the main one.
    If you ever played The Sims (or the variants of) then read this. Ultimately, YOU have led us all to this day and the beginning of the end!!