Confessions of an executioner: Years of doubt and unease follow an execution, but "each time, he felt what he calls 'the executioner high,' an adrenalized state that always imparted a merciful unreality as he sat behind a curtain and pulled the lever, releasing a fatal cocktail of three drugs that seemed to him less humane than the electricity he previously unleashed by pulling a switch.... 'I had to transform myself into a person who would take a life,' Givens says. 'That transformation might linger for a while. You might be on that for three weeks.'” (Newsweek)
How many really? Great site from the BBC lets you use your Facebook friends to put historical events in context. For example, if you and your friends had been on the Titanic.... (BBC Dimensions)
Three Jesuses walk into a bar....: A classic case in which three men who believe they are Jesus are introduced to one another. "They all agreed ... that there could only be one Jesus Christ. Joseph was the first to take up the contradiction. ‘He says he’s the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. I can’t get it. I know who I am. I’m God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, and if I wasn’t, by gosh, I wouldn’t lay claim to anything of the sort... I know this is an insane house and you have to be very careful.’ Clyde... took, perhaps, the most godlike tone: ‘I am him. See? Now understand that!’" (The London Review of Books)
Incredible Brazilian hitman story: Carlos Roberto de Jesus, Brazilian hitman, is horrified to discover that his target is a childhood friend. "De Jesus grappled for a way out, eventually devising what he apparently thought was an ingenious solution: tomato ketchup.... Armed with two bottles of the sauce, he opened up to his friend, led her into the forest and staged a mock-execution with a mouth gag and a machete. Lupita was doused in tomato ketchup and a photo was taken as proof of death.' Read on for the surprise ending! (The Guardian)
Schrödinger's Cat explained in one minute: "Explained" is perhaps too strong a word. But still -- great video! (New Scientist)
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.