Beauty, Brains, Bodies, and Poultry – The Week’s Brightest Glitter

Photo by Maryn McKenna, all rights reserved, used here by permission.
Photo by Maryn McKenna, all rights reserved, used here by permission.

A not-comprehensive sampling of the good stuff I found this week. (I spent most of my reading time reading Virginia Woolf.)

Oh do, do watch this: A poultry farmer, one I could listen to all day, tells Maryn McKenna why he’s preserving the genes, carried in the squawking, beautiful birds all around him, of heritage poultry breeds that Big Ag no longer wants. Some seriously high-end Americana here. Get the whole scoop via McKenna’s post at NatGeo’s food blog, The Plate

Beauty is truth? There’s a false equation. Philip Ball with a splendid rich piece at Aeon

, but Einstein’s brain wasn’t that special, writes Neuroskeptic.

America’s mental health care crisis: families left to fill the void of a broken system The Guardian looks at the shameful sham we call a mental health system.

Should a Mental Illness Mean You Lose Your Kid? At ProPublica.

Of Brains & Minds: An Exchange with Patricia Churchland and Colin McGinn Churchland writes book saying one must grok brain to grok mind. McGinn reviews it. Churchland says McGinn “gibbles up” her simple message. McGinn nibbles back. One more reason to love NYRB.

Stronger Brains, Weaker Bodies Why do humans have them? Carl Zimmer reminds us the funnest things in science are mysteries, not answers.

The Naturalist and the Neurologist: How a neurologist’s photos helped Darwin with this theory of emotion. Big hat-tip to Alexis Madrigal.

Measles at 20-year-high in the U.S.

Why not cycle paths everywhere? A great idea … from December 1897. We’re awfully slow on some things.

Battered pot found in Cornish garage unlocks Egypt excavation secrets Though answers are fun too, especially when they’re mysteries.

Rolf Zwaan: Trying to Understand both Sides of the Replication Discussion Debate on replication replicates.

Three Walls in Search of a Ball Photo homage to Ireland’s abandoned handball alleys.

“We are judged on what we show, not what we shoot.” Photographer Ming Thien reminds us of why photographers and writers must both cull and revise.

The Winners of the 2014 Best Illusion of the Year Contest


For more reading heavily weighted toward science, see (always) Ed Yong’s weekly roundup, published every Saturday at his blog precisely at … whatever time he finally wakes up that day.

I also highly recommend Ivan Oransky’s weekly Weekend Reads, over at the invaluable Retraction Watch. This week he offers much more on replication as well as look at scientific fraud and the like.


  1. I tried clicking on anything that looked like a link to the interview done by Maryn McKenna but no luck. I searched Youtube for her interviews but no luck there either. Help!!! I really want to see this interview.

      1. Thanks!!! I will share with several friends here in Santa Fe who raise chickens in an HOA controlled “community” … the board of the HOA decided to file a lawsuit to make them give up their chickens…. what a shame…

        And I couldn’t agree more with your statement about wanting to listen more to Frank Reese.

        Good job!

      2. Glad that worked. And Reese is fabulous, isn’t he? You and your friends will likely enjoy following McKenna (a longtime and admired colleague of mine) as she works the farm-food beat; she’s among the very best and is pretty much on fire on this issue lately. You can follow her at The Plate, where that link went, as well as at her blog, SuperBug, at Wired:

        Cheers, and thanks for dropping by.

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