A List of Interesting Stories I’ve Read Recently

KASHIN-popup • What Mr. Kashin did after that was take on bigger and bigger enemies, a pattern that ended Nov. 6, when he was beaten nearly to death outside his doorway. His name has now been added to the list of journalists who have been silenced through violence in Russia, alongside opposition icons like Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova, who were both killed. [NY Times]

• “By measuring brain waves, we are able to measure attention, emotion and memory,” says Dr. Pradeep, who holds a Ph.D. in engineering. “We basically compute the deep subconscious response to stimuli.”

Add all those electrical patterns together, he says, and “you find it represents the whispers of the brain.”

And the brain-whispering business seems to be booming. [NY Times]

• Specific user data is valuable to advertisers because it allows them to target their marketing efforts more effectively. With social networking, hundreds of millions of people are willing to provide access to that data in exchange for a service they find useful, even while many express concerns about their privacy.

“Many people are in a more ‘transactional’ frame of mind” when it comes to their personal information, said Lee Rainie, the director of the Internet and American Life Project. “They will share information if they think they can get something of value for it.” [NY Times]

• WARNING: Holding a cellphone against your ear may be hazardous to your health. So may stuffing it in a pocket against your body. [NY Times]

• Camden depends more heavily on state aid than any other city in New Jersey, drawing more than two-thirds of last year’s budget from Trenton. In June, as the state struggled to balance its own budget gap, Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature cut back on municipal aid across the board, particularly money earmarked for the poorest cities. [NY Times]

• I conducted an informal poll of 14 good-government watchdogs — veterans of the oversight process, former public officials and academics — to propose an alternative set of targets that have been largely ignored by both parties. A steady focus on these issues could reap benefits for taxpayers that would last well beyond the next news cycle. [NY Times]

• Sanneh writes that “one of Ansari’s greatest assets” is a counterintuitive ability to observe ridiculous behavior and react not with simple mockery or exasperation, as many comedians would, but with half-crazed wonder. Rather than fuming at the world’s stupidity, he delights in its endless absurdity. [New Yorker]

• One sad postscript to his visit to Stockholm, Meltzer said, is that Lindbergh’s mother, in frail health, couldn’t keep up the house. Nobody in the family realized the true worth of the memorabilia in Lindbergh’s old bedroom. “Some guy came along, said it’s not worth that much,” Meltzer said. “He said it was all worth about $2,500. He auctioned it off and made 10 times that much. All Pelle’s stuff has kind of scattered to the winds.” [Philadelphia Inquirer]

And some that I’ve written…
• 17-year-old Tased by Philadelphia police last weekend. They say he fought them. He says that’s just not the case.
• Investigation into the Fran Crippen swimming death starts.
• Going after Philly’s bad cops.
Two drop out of Philadelphia mayoral-race consideration.
• The rehabbed South Street bridge getting tagged.
• The Domenique Wilson home-invasion rapes trial.

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