N.B. Not actually on the bench, but really getting into this three-day-week thing
- Prince of the Forty Thieves - "He was a Baptist who became a Muslim, a Marine who became a bank robber, a criminal who became an informant, and a student who became an imam. But was Marcus Robertson connected to the deadliest mass shooting in American history?"
- Heat and Ashes: The Untold Story of the Apollo 1 Fire - "Fifty years ago, Henry Rogers stepped off an elevator into an inferno… Rogers and five other men including Clemmons, put their lives at risk to try to rescue Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, the three astronauts trapped inside the burning spacecraft. Though they eventually pried the hatches off, it was too late. All three astronauts had died.” Last Friday was the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy.
- Cipher War - "After a century of failing to crack an ancient script, linguists turn to machines.” The hope is that machine learning can help to decipher the alphabet of the Indus Valley civilisation, extant from 2600 to 1900 BC but about which very little is known.
- Blue Lies Matter - Video evidence, whether from police cameras or bystanders’ phones, reveals the extent to which police officers lie to justify often violent actions: ”BuzzFeed News reviewed 62 incidents of video footage contradicting an officer’s statement in a police report or testimony. From traffic stops to fatal force, these cases reveal how cops are incentivized to lie — and why they get away with it.”
- An Alarm Designer on How to Annoy People in the Most Effective Ways - A look at the human factors involved in alerting people: ”When the cockpit recorder transcript from Air France Flight 447 was leaked to the public in 2011, many startling details emerged… The plane’s speed slowed to dangerous levels, activating the stall alarm—the one, in the words of Popular Mechanics, “designed to be impossible to ignore.” It blared the word “Stall!” 75 times. Everyone present ignored it. Within four minutes, the plane had hit the water.”
- Built by the Huns? Ancient Stone Monuments Discovered Along Caspian - "A massive, 1,500-year-old stone complex that may have been built by nomad tribes has been discovered near the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan."
- This Is What It's Like to Come to the United States as a Refugee - Julia Ioffe’s family came to the USA from Russia shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union: ”I see us, sitting in that strangely lit room with the Immigration and Naturalization Service officers who processed us and to whom, I’m sure, we were an abstraction, and who didn’t tell us that the way we transliterated our last name was stupid and that people would forever after think it began with lowercase L and not an uppercase I. But I think about that room and the refugee cards they filled out, cards we still have to this day, and what would have happened if we too had been turned back.”
- The Great Teacher of Journalists: Kim Jong-il - North Korean leaders are well known for their remarkable skills in any field of human endeavour, and journalism is no exception: ”Indeed, the book confirms, ‘the annals of the care with which the dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il has guided and looked after the men of the press are replete with moving stories,’ like… when, ‘having read the first galley proof [of a newspaper piece], the dear leader clearly showed how to correct the article,’ by re-focusing the piece ‘on the noble personality of the great leader.’”
- Amphibious Assault - In 1952, a spell of particularly wet weather extended the breeding season of the northern leopard frog in Wisconsin, with startling results: ”In search of grasshoppers, crickets, mosquitoes, snails or anything resembling sustenance, the frogs — 175 million strong — left the marshes and hopped toward Oconto, a quiet nearby county seat that was home to about 5,000 people. Once the frogs arrived en masse, they outnumbered the people 35,000 to 1.”
- Text Book Covers - A large collection thereof, mainly from Durham University.