Other People’s Words

I haven’t had time to finish my writing this week, so I’m going to point you towards some other people’s stuff instead. While you read through these, imagine me relaxing peacefully on the couch with my kids. I’ll be reading a book, the little man will probably be watching The Big Bang Theory, and the daughter will be giggling at something she is watching on the computer (we won’t know what, because she has her headphones on). That is where I hope to be this evening if all goes well.

“The Psychology Behind Costco’s Free Samples” from The Atlantic
People love free, people love food, and thus, people love free food. Retailers, too, have their own reasons to love sampling, from the financial (samples have boosted sales in some cases by as much as 2,000 percent) to the behavioral (they can sway people to habitually buy things that they never used to purchase).

“Fantastically Wrong: Europe’s Insane History of Putting Animals on Trial and Executing Them” from Wired
On September 5, 1379, two herds of pigs at a French monastery grew agitated and killed a man named Perrinot Muet. As was custom at the time, the pigs—the actual murderers and those that had simply looked on—were tried for their horrible crime, and sentenced to death. You see, with their “cries and aggressive actions,” the onlookers “showed that they approved of the assault,” and mustn’t be allowed to escape justice.

“Why Do Erasers Suck at Erasing?” from The Atlantic
You’re using pencil, fast and furious, to scribble notes when you make a mistake. Maybe after all these years you’re still mixing up b’s and d’s. No matter, because on the other end of your writing implement sits its perfect counterbalance, that predecessor to the delete key: the eraser. Only when you flip over your pencil and rub, the eraser doesn’t do its job. In fact, it makes it worse—smearing black graphene all over and perhaps even ripping the page.

“The Forgotten Story of Classic Hollywood’s First Asian-American Star” from BuzzFeed
Anna May Wong never scandalized Hollywood with her string of fiancés, like Clara Bow, or an outré sex philosophy, like Mae West. Ultimately, the scandal of her career had little to do with her, or her actions — it’s the way that Hollywood, and the audience that powered it, remained so hideously stubborn about the roles a woman like her could play, both on and off the screen. Wong was a silent-film demi-star, a European phenomenon, a cultural ambassador, and a curiosity, the de facto embodiment of China, Asia, and the “Orient” at large for millions.

“The Last Amazon” from The New Yorker
Superman débuted in 1938, Batman in 1939, Wonder Woman in 1941. She was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard. A press release explained, “ ‘Wonder Woman’ was conceived by Dr. Marston to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations and professions monopolized by men” because “the only hope for civilization is the greater freedom, development and equality of women in all fields of human activity.” Marston put it this way: “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”


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