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The Costume Custom

A gaggle of cackles, 1910  Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images
A collection of costumes ~ along with the characters who wore them ~ from a century ago:

When Nature Gets Wild ...

Saved from the surf in New Jersey NBC New York
... life gets difficult for the wildlife, too. From wind dislocation to saltwater intrusion, there are seven main ways in which hurricanes and other natural disasters can kill, harm, and endanger animals. What can you do to help them? Keep your eyes open for injured creatures ~ and fill up those bird feeders:

How To Help

Powering up in Tribeca   Richard Drew, AP
A list of the organizations that are helping Sandy's victims and how you can help them:
   Beware of scams:

Youtoo Can Be on TV

A new software allows you to record a short video, submit it, and have it played alongside a TV show, like, for example, The Bad Girls Club or a Batman rerun. Interesting factoid: The CEO of this company is the son-in-law of the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, whose televangelist dad founded the famous Crystal Cathedral:,0,6198470.story

Rich Man, Poor Man

The 2012 Legatum Prosperity Index shows the world's countries ranked by wealth and well being (per the Legatum ["legatum" being Latin for "legacy" or "bequest"] Institute: "Our econometric analysis has identified 89 variables, which are spread across eight sub-indices.") (interactive map):

A Head for Halloween

Screen shot
The best way to communicate the total creep factor of this Halloween stunt is by showing one of the more common reactions (above)! (video):!

The Political Storm

When I heard about the huge storm hitting the East Coast, I, of course, checked in with friends living there and with friends whose families live there. My next thought was that those most affected would probably be in the poorer neighborhoods, and that if the devastation can't be cleaned up by Nov. 6, it would probably be the president who would risk losing votes, rather than Romney. Here are some other ways in which the storm could impact the election (video):

Oh, the Horror! The Horrorgami!

The Addams Family house           © Marc Hagan-Guirey
Marc Hagan-Guirey, aka Paper Dandy, recreates classic horror-movie locales using nothing but an art knife, a steel ruler, and A4 paper (video):
   The Paper Dandy website, with photos and a video interview:

Where She Lived

Original book cover, 1960

"We find amazing stuff every time we go to the Channel Islands, and this may be the most amazing find of all." This according to archaeologist Jon M. Erlandson of the University of Oregon, who should know, as he's been exploring the area for more than 30 years. He's speaking of a cave recently discovered by Navy archaeologist Steve Schwartz ~ a cave Schwartz is "90 percent sure" was home to the Lone Woman of San Nicolas. If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the Lone Woman, who really existed, is the central character in the popular children's book Island of the Blue Dolphins:,0,1564818.story

The Island Time Forgets

On the Greek island of Ikaria, a shared culture of simple diet, exercise, socialization, and a purpose in life work together to lengthen lifespans and, in some cases, even counteract disease:

Ikaria resident Grigoris Tsahas, age 99
Andrea Frazzetta/LUZphoto for the New York Times

Her Goal Is No Accident

Meet Susan P. Baker, whose decades worth of research on accidents has saved countless lives ~ maybe even yours:

You Can't Be Too Thin ...

Andreas Meichsner for the NYT

... even, apparently, if you're a house. A Polish architect bridges two time periods and two styles with a house built in a narrow space between an apartment building and a co-op ~ and invites an Israeli short-short-story writer to make it his own:

How Many 'You's in a 'Y'all'?

How Americans and our friends across the pond refer to more than one you:

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor ...

Bergmann with Princess             Popcorn Park Zoo
There is a place in New Jersey that takes in the animals no one else wants. "A lot of times you work seven days a week, and you don't even know it," says John Bergmann, general manager of Popcorn Park. "You are doing what you love. You enjoy helping the animals out":

Out of Thin Air

Engineers in Britain say they have developed a technology that could power a car using the air that's all around us. Critics note that the energy required for it to work would still be coming from traditional sources. It's a start, however, and maybe one day, the wind will power an airy gas alternative (story and interactive graphic):

Fall Back

As happens every year around this time, we wonder once again why we have Daylight Saving Time:

Bayyybee Beloooga

NOC, the "talking" whale       NMMF
Baby beluga, oh, baby beluga,
Sing your little song, sing for all your friends.
We like to hear you.
So sang Raffi. How surprised would he be to know that there's been at least one beluga that can imitate a human voice? (story and audio):

Modern Family at the Polls

How much can one tell about the United States ~ and maybe about how we will vote ~ from watching our sitcoms?:

Partition, Heal Thyself

Sometimes, reality truly is stranger than science fiction. Take the work of Nancy Sottos, for example. She's an engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and she is well on her way to making a plastic that can repair a split, cut, tear, or rupture in itself ~ by itself:

Tactical Mastery Tour

Ready to go
Recently, a friend and I took a tour of our hometown. I know, so what? But wait. This one was a scavenger hunt via phone. It honestly was so. much. freaking. fun!
   The basic format is that when you sign up, you're given a starting point ~ and this is all web-based, btw. When you get there, you hit "start" and get your first hint. For each answer you get right, you earn 15 points. For each wrong one, you lose 5. There are also bonus challenges. At each stopping point, you can read interesting facts about that place.
   We took our time on our tour, stopping in shops and having lunch along the way, and it took us a little over four hours, but without stops, it probably would have taken about three. I think we walked about two miles ~ and we got to ride the subway part of the way (always a plus, as far as I'm concerned ~ I love the sub). It costs $49 no matter how big your group, and I have to say it was probably one of the most fun organized things I've done in a long time. So now you know!:

Tangible Support

NASA's exoskeleton has the potential to help astronauts keep their muscle mass and to help paraplegics walk (story and video):

Why Buy When You Can Make?

All it takes is the right kind of thread!
Turn your own gloves into texting gloves ~ it's unbelievably easy! (slideshow):

Call of the Wild

Sheeba arrives, scared and confused.
A lovely journal chronicling the raising of a young abandoned cheetah until she is able to be released back into her natural habitat:

The Preservation of the World

Owen Hearn took this picture of a hare in the snow at his grandparents' farm.
Author, philosopher, abolitionist (and so much more) Henry David Thoreau famously said, "In wildness is the preservation of the world." These amazing winning photographs from the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition preserve that wildness and share it with the rest of us (slideshow):

Line(s) in the Sand

Gerrymandering: It's a funny word for a not-so-funny maneuver (which is another funny word, btw ~ have you seen Eddie Izzard's schtick on the Heimlich Maneuver? ~ but I digress) in which politicians rejigger voting-district lines so that they will benefit their party. It's actually a much older practice than you might think. And where did that name come from, anyhow? (slideshow):
   P.S., In case your interest has been piqued by that little parenthetical comment (and, come on, you know it has!):

Il Y A un App Pour Ça

A Japanese company has come out with an almost-simultaneous language translator for your phone. You and your friend from, say, Thailand will be able to converse in your native language, and the app will provide a text and voice translation to each of you of what the other is saying:

Tokyo Style

Tommy Ton is a great fashion photographer, and Tokyo has got to be one of the greatest towns for forward-thinking street and runway fashion. Put them together, and:

Breaking the Code

Imagine there's a clay tablet in front of you. It's 5,000 years old and covered with grooves and notches that look rather like something between hieroglyphics and cuneiform. You turn the tablet this way and that, studying the shapes. Suddenly, you get an inspiration. That symbol there! It might mean "property," and the symbols that come after it might be part of a list! You relay your theory to the rest of the group.
   Now imagine that you don't have to imagine that scene. In one of the greatest uses of modern technology, the oldest undeciphered piece of writing has been photographed from every possible angle by a machine called the Reflectance Transformation Imaging System, and the resulting images will be posted online so that whosoever cares to can be part of the code-breaking team!:

Who'll Win the White House?

Obama is 74 electoral votes away from a win; Romney, 79. The BBC's interactive map lets you predict who will win each undecided state ~ and therefore, the election. Brief summaries of the issues and voting history help with the decisions:

Angkor ... How?

Is there a more magical-looking, more mysterious-seeming, more unearthly place on Earth than Cambodia's Temple of Angkor Wat? Recently, archaeologists have discovered how, they think, all those stones were transported from their original location 35 km (almost 22 miles) away at Mount Kulen:

The Rains Down in Africa

Once it was a shining example of how a country can benefit from turning away from its racist policies. More recently, however, while the rest of the continent is growing, according to this article in the Economist, South Africa is experiencing darker days. What happened?:

US and the World

Which topics will be covered in the third and last presidential debate on Monday, Oct. 22?:

Big Apple Castle

New Yorkers of all ages are learning the game.  Screen shot from the BBC video
New York is many things to many people ~ including the place to be if you want to play a rousing game of chess with someone new every day of the week. In fact, according to the director of Chess NYC at the Village Chess Shop, Greenwich Village "is known as the chess capital of the world." Ambitious appellation, and he hesitates a little when saying it, but the point is made (video):

Thoroughly Modern Nora

Many moons ago, I was having lunch with a friend whose three children at the time ranged in age from 8 years to 8 months. She worked full-time as a lawyer in a firm that was, with L.A. traffic, a 45-minute drive from her home on a good day. A few years before that, she had wanted to either quit her outside job or cut back her hours substantially so that she could spend more time with her children, but her husband had his eye on a big house with a pool, and to be able to afford it, she would have to stay with the firm.
   It was as she was telling me about staying up half the night to sew on her older boy's Cub Scout patches and her younger boy's costume for the school play that I finally asked her how she manages to do it all. She looked at me, and in her eyes I saw acceptance, determination, and maybe a little anger (though that last could have been projection on my part). She sighed and said, "The thing is, I don't do any of it well."
   Many more moons ago than that ~ 1879, to be exact ~ playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll's House, a play that many see as a comment on women's sacrificial role in marriage and society but that can just as easily be a comment on all of society as well. This nine-minute film envisions a modern-day Doll House (video):

Experiment: Earth

Climate change? A dearth of food/water for our growing population? No problem. Enter the geoengineer (thank you, Kristofer, for finding this story):

Just Because: "To Autumn"

John Keats (1795-1821; he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25) was a Romantic poet and is considered to be one of the greatest English poets. After a Sunday walk in September 1819, he wrote this paean to the season:
To Autumn
      Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
      close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
      conspiring with him how to load and bless
      with fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
      to bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
      and fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      to swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
      with a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
      and still more, later flowers for the bees,
      until they think warm days will never cease,
      for Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.

      Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
      Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
      thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
      thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
      or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,

A Million Little Shades of Gray

And Does Anyone Care?

There are a couple of good points made in this BBC piece on the recent growth of the fact-checking industry (story and video: ).
   One is the possibility that the fact-checkers themselves can be biased. "If you've got two fact-checking groups that come to different conclusions, you've got a problem," says Dr. Robert Lichter, Media Center president at George Mason University. While this is a good point, it's also worth keeping in mind when you hear Dr. Lichter imply that Politifact skews left that he was once a paid contributor to the Fox News Channel and is the co-author of a book called The Media Elite, both of which achievements suggest he may have a bias of his own. So who's checking those who check the fact-checkers?
   The other, perhaps overriding point, is the big picture, presented by Amy Gardner, political reporter for the Washington Post: "One of the difficult questions that this election presents to us all," she comments, "is whether the people even care about what's being said that's true or less true." A frightening thought when one considers where such public insouciance ~ or perhaps it's cynicism? ~ can take us.
   I happened to be teaching a creative writing class to a group of high school sophomores and juniors the year that The Smoking Gun published an article on James Frey's popular book A Million Little Pieces. In it, Frey was accused of making up most of the incidents he recounted in what was billed as the true memoir of a young alcoholic and drug abuser's road to rehabilitation. It came as a complete surprise to me, when I brought this up to my students, that, to a one, they saw no harm in his fabrications. Perhaps most disconcerting of all was the assertion, echoed by many, that we are constantly being lied to ~ by politicians, by corporations, by textbooks ~ so what difference does Frey's lying make? At least his book helped some people. At least some took courage from his message and his journey and were able to change their lives around. That's more than can be said, they argued, for the fabrications to which we're all exposed on a daily basis.
   Ms. Gardner continues: " ... all of the fact-checking organizations out there are constantly pointing out ways in which both campaigns are saying things that aren't quite true, and yet it doesn't stop them from doing it, and that tells you that they do it for a reason, which is that it's beneficial ... "
   When we get to the point where no one believes anything any longer, have we gone too far to turn back?

A War in Hindsight

Serbian generals inspect the cannons.               Getty Images
World War I officially started in 1914, but the events that led directly up to it can be traced back to exactly 100 years ago. Herewith, a chronology:

Baby in Orbit

So, the other morning, a friend and I were sitting outside a cute cafe, enjoying a little breakfast-cum-people-watching when a new dad comes sauntering up the sidewalk pushing this ... this intriguing, really expensive-looking stroller. It is beyond me how to describe it, but that's what the video's for. Suffice it to say that the dad quoted his dad as saying that it cost more than his first car. And, OK, so they've been around for a while and Halle Berry, Nicole Richie, and Heidi Klum have all used them, so excuuuuuse me! I'd just never seen one in person (video):

So Corny

The Corn Palance in Mitchell, SD    from
The title of this post describes itself but also alludes to this Colbert segment on a most interesting attraction in South Dakota and its new dilemma (story and video):

Choo-Choos in the Night

Ghost Town. Virginia, 1957 © Conway Link; courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum
In the 1950s, a photographer named O. Winston Link set about memorializing the last of a dying breed ~ the steam engine. While they were gone from the rest of the country, replaced by the diesel engine, the car, and the airplane, they were still being used along the Norfolk and Western Railway. The photographs he took are stark black-and-whites that capture the exoticism, the romantic energy of these formidable machines but also chronicle that time in between, when, for a moment, the old coexists with that which is taking its place, for better or worse:

Bedouin and Board

There has been a rise in tourist kidnappings by the Bedouin of Egypt. From February to early July, for example, they took and held hostage six Americans, three South Koreans, two Brazilians, and one Singaporean. You should be so lucky:

Chess, Creativity, and Life

Interesting interview with Elizabeth Spiegel, who teaches chess at a junior high school in Brooklyn that's won more championships than any other in the country and is the subject of a new documentary, Brooklyn Castle:

Bloody Good Fun, Innit?

Thanks to the popularity of certain British TV "programmes," not to mention the Harry Potter series, "Britishisms" have been creeping into the American vocabulary. For me, it's been the many books on CD I listen to in the car, most of which were written by Brits. Here's one that probably won't make it on this side of the pond, though: I once knew an older Englishwoman who would say, "Well, blow me!" as an indication of her surprise at something. In response to an earlier BBC article, Americans and Brits chimed in with their own observations:

Parties of Their Own

Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Justice, Socialism and Liberation, Peace and Freedom, and Reform: a rundown of the other presidential candidates ~ who they are and what they stand for:

A Crisis Then, a Memory Now

The original caption says, "Show of force: Cuban Army prepares defences for US attack"  Reuters
What we call the Cuban missile crisis is known as the Caribbean crisis in Russia (then, the USSR) and the October crisis in Cuba. It happened 50 years ago this month, and in Cuba, there are still physical reminders of it around to remind anyone who might be likely to forget (story and video):

Nature's Song Dynasty

Mice can sing! Seriously. Not only that, a recent study found, but they are capable of learning songs. And they're not the only creatures out there that can carry a tune:

What Made Alexander So Great?

Bust of Alexander the Great, British Museum Marco Prins
... Aside from the fact that, if the dude depicted in the portraits is he, he's about as hot as they get! A mini history lesson (because, you know, all those people back then were pretty much us sans Internet and The Colbert Report, more's the pity). Did you know, for example, that Alexander was a great partier? Or that when he defeated Persia (47,000 to 200,000, btw), he married a Persian dancer named Roxanne? Or that he untied the original Gordian Knot (well, actually, he cut it in half with his sword)? Or that, when Thebes revolted, he had all its 30,000 inhabitants killed or sold into slavery and then razed the city (after which there were no more revolts in Greece)?:

Presse for Time

Oooohhh, coffee lovers ~ it's here (almost)! A portable, allegedly better-than-café-presse cup of coffee! (story and video):
   Of course, you can always back the project and get one of the first ones:

'Real, Home-Grown Spaghetti'

 1957 was a particularly good year.    Panorama/BBC
I love the British sense of humor. Not the Monty Python/Benny Hill kind, but this kind ~ an April 1 news piece about the Swiss spaghetti harvest of 1957 (story and video):

California's Excellent Venture?

California will be the first state to use the "cap and trade" system in an effort to check air pollution. If it works, it will be a model for the rest of the country. If it doesn't, it could be a cautionary tale. And, btw, Verifiers Wanted:

Your Great-Grandparents' LOL

Don't ask me! ...
For better or worse, it seems our sense of humor hasn't changed much over the centuries. The French title of this series of vintage photographs says it best ~ loosely, "Some Old-Time WTF":

Qin and Mao: Dual Legacies

Before Mao Zedong, there was Qin Shi Huang, the emperor whose terra cotta warriors live on in his name. Both men were ruthless killers, feared and loathed in their time, but both instituted changes that made China the united power it is today:
Just how widespread is China's influence ~ and, through it, Qin's and Mao's ~ today?:

We Are All Malala.

Supporters in Karachi, Pakistan pray for Malala's recovery.                    CNN
This is probably not what the Taliban had in mind when those adult men decided to shoot a 14-year-old schoolgirl in the head ~ and let's not forget the classmates who were wounded alongside her (story, slideshow, videos):
The "I Am Malala" petition website:

Giant Shoulders

Five who came before Felix Baumgartner and whose adventurous spirit also advanced our understanding of the limits of human endurance:

1 Jump, 3 World Records

Red Bull Stratos
... Actually, 4 world records, if you count viewing audience! For those who may have missed Felix Baumgartner's historic, mind-bending jump to Earth from 23 miles above it (story and video):

He Who Controls the Present ...

How school textbooks teach what adults want children to believe, true or not, the world over:

Smoke on the Water

At dawn on the last day of the festival, the boat is set on fire.   Robert Kelly
Every three years (this being one of them), southern Taiwanese communities engage in a centuries-old festival that has been abandoned by most of the rest of China, the boat-burning festival. It is a ceremony meant to keep plague and disease away:

All Hams on Deck!

Food court on the Queen Mary 2's Deck 7
It takes 3,125 gallons of soda, 10,000 pounds of chicken, and 71,500 eggs ~ and that's just for a weeklong cruise on a puny 2,700-passenger ship. But how much food and how many workers does it take to feed, for example, the 5,400 passengers of a mega-ship?:

Eye-ai-eye! (UPDATED)

Carli Segelson/Fla. FWCC
Mysterious monstrous eyeball. On the beach. Whose? Why? How??:
UPDATE: The eye most probably belonged to a swordfish or marlin. How it ended up on a beach in Florida is still up for debate (story and video):

Evolution 101

Scientists monitoring bacteria for almost 25 years soon found that they were learning a lesson in evolution as the bacteria, over many, many generations, began to do something they hadn't done since the Miocene epoch:

Death of a Spy

 A 1906 postcard features Mata Hari
On Oct. 17, 1917, a woman known by her stage name of Mata Hari was led out to the courtyard of an old fort in France. She refused to be blindfolded, and she was not bound. The Dutch citizen had been found guilty of spying for Germany, and her execution by firing squad was ~ and is ~ considered by many to be a major miscarriage of justice, that she was a scapegoat and was being used to distract the public from France's military losses on the Western front.
Will we ever get closer to the truth? Yes, on Oct. 17, 2017, 100 years after her death, when the French army releases its sealed documents about her:

Living On in a Song

Phil Lynott, lead singer of the band Thin Lizzie, died of drug abuse in the '80s at the age of 36. His mother recalls his difficult childhood and her own hard life. "I also visit his resting-place every day because it’s only round the corner from my house," she says. "I go around and I pour water on his stone—I call it washing his face—and then when I’m leaving I give him a kick, for breaking my heart" (story and audio):

aka Rebel Streets

A planned National Museum of Suburbia to be built in Kansas City seems it'll focus mainly on the 1950s ~ drive-in movie theaters, picket fences, Tupperware, and lunch boxes. The question is, If they build it, will we come?:

The Art of Science

My Favorite Artist Series: Charles Darwin Zachary Copfer
Microbiologist Zachary Copfer "paints" portraits with bacteria. His subjects would have approved; the bacteria, maybe not so much:

Mirroring Nature

What would you do if you wanted to expand your city apartment but not at the cost of your special, rare garden space?:

© John Lewis Marshall

Glowing Crazy

The squat lobster is an inch long.  NOAA-OER
Is there anything quite as cool as bioluminescence? Don't think so. Scientists recently discovered that some deep-sea creatures they already know about have it, which they didn't know (slideshow):

In Hot Water

The Hot Tug
It's a hot tub! It's a boat! Now you can soak while you float ~ that and a good beer (and/or martini) will get you a little bit of paradise on Earth (imho):

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Pablo Picasso's Guernica illustrates the horrors of the civil war in Spain.
One columnist finds parallels between Spain's civil war and the situation in today's Syria ~ with the possible exception of the world's response to it:

Hanging Gardens

Fall on the High Line                        Barry Munger
Have you been on New York's High Line? It opened in 2009 and is now being expanded. Happily, its huge popularity is inspiring cities around the world to transform their old elevated railway tracks into parks and promenades (story and video):

Exhibit A

Yes, there really is such a thing ~ the Museum of Broken Relationships:

Stepford Students

Whether this will be a trend is not yet known, but the fact that some parents are giving their non-ADHD children ADHD drugs to control their behavior is ... what's the right word here? "distressing"? "frightening"? "alarming"? No? Too judgmental? Either way, unfortunately, it's not too surprising. As one pediatrician put it, "We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid":

Attack Aborted

Oregon State University
The man whose work inspired Michael Crichton to write Jurassic Park has found an amazing scene in amber: a spider poised (forever) to kill a wasp:

Malala vs. the Taliban

Malala being taken to a helicopter             AP photo
You may have heard that on Oct. 9, a brave 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban, who call her work on behalf of girls' right to an education "obscenity." Here is a report aired three years ago in which she and her family are featured (WARNING: Some of the images are very, very disturbing):

Around the World in 100,000 Shots

Back in May, I put up a post about, which was collecting the photographs people took on the 15th of that month. Now you can see them, either the 45 chosen for the global digital exhibition, here:,  a hundred of them, here:,  or all of them, here:
The captions people wrote are just as great as the pictures.

'Nowhere To Hide'

They're out in front, often the most visible part of an orchestra, but what do conductors actually do? Are they nothing more than glorified human metronomes? Something for the audience to watch while they're listening to the music? Alexander Shelley, one of the youngest conductors in the world, explains his role (video):

Dum Ditty Dummm Dum-Dum

It's that James Bond theme song we all know and love. When you hear it, you know which spy it belongs to, but did you know it was originally written as part of a stage musical?:

Fighting His Way Out of a Paper Bag

Lawyer Stephen Joseph, head of the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, thinks plastic bags are simply the scapegoat of a consumer culture:

Civics 101

Tuh-duh! I passed the U.S. citizenship test with a 92%! Before you try it, a caveat: It takes a while because there are 96 questions and two pages for each (one is the question and multiple-choice answers, the other is the correct answer) that take a second or two to load, but it's worth it. I feel like I learned a lot (including ~ and you'd think I'd have learned this by now ~ to trust my instincts!):

Where They Stem From

Who are the researchers who just won the Nobel Prize for their revelatory work with stem cells? One was told he didn't have what it takes to be a scientist, and the other studied to be a surgeon but found he was no good at it:

All the World Was Her Stage

Beautiful homage to an inspirational woman with an amazing life, made on the occasion of her 90th birthday three years ago, shared on the occasion of her recent passing (video):

All the Right Notes

Mandolinist Chris Thile was among this year's winners of the MacArthur Genius Grants. The complete list is here, along with a video of a totally superb jam session featuring Thile, Yo-Yo Ma,  Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan (story, audio, video):

Another Brick in the Wall

England, Seaham, Reception and Year 1, Structured Play   Julian Germain
Since 2004, English photographer Julian Germain has been taking pictures of classrooms around the world (slideshow):

Humans Ex Machina

Freerunners are part of the action in an outrageous, life-size Rube Goldberg contraption (video):

The Circle Game

You know how you can get a thought stuck in your head and you really don't want it there but it won't go away and the more you try to get rid of it, the more it sticks around? Here are eight things to try:

Fantastic Voyage

Journey into the very bowels of the iPhone 5 (story and video):

Another Giant Leap

The SpaceX Falcon 9 takes off from Cape Canaveral John Raoux/AP
The SpaceX rocket launched on Oct. 7! It's carrying science experiment materials and gear for the International Space Station ~ the first-ever commercial cargo ship to do so! (story and videos):

Bill v. Jon

O'Reilly, left, and Stewart mid-rumble   Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for the Rumble 2012
Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly, intellects both, only with rather differing political views, debated on Oct. 6. It was called the Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium. In case you missed it and would like to rectify that oversight:

New York Names

Is there land under those buildings?  eight double
"Manhattan" is said to come from "Mannahatta," which means "island of many hills" in the Lenape dialect. But it's not the only New York name with a picturesque past. Take Hell's Kitchen, Morningside Heights, Times Square, Harlem, for example:
And here's the story of one Eric W. Sanderson and his quest to recreate, via computer and guidebook, the island as it looked before all the buildings came to be: