The editors of mental_floss magazine: Mangesh Hattikudur, Ethan Trex, Stephanie Meyers, and Jessanne Collins. They’re also on Twitter and Tumblr.


“Deep Intellect,” Sy Montgomery (Orion Magazine)

Is it weird to say we enjoyed this trek “inside the mind of an octopus” because it was so sensual? Who knew the octopus can taste with all of its skin, run amok out of water like a spooked cat, and solve puzzles? Montgomery’s exploration into the psyche of the spooky-smart mollusk and the researchers who study them is surprisingly … touching.

“Doubling in the Middle,” Gregory Kornbluh (The Believer)

The reversible prose talents of “master palindromist” Barry Duncan are something of a very, very local legend in Cambridge, Mass. This long overdue profile introduces his technique to the rest of us, on the occasion of the completion of an epic 400-word palindrome earlier this year.

“How to Mend a Broken Heart,” Shannon Service (Brink Magazine)

A broken heart can literally kill you (the diagnosis is “myocardial stunning due to exaggerated sympathetic stimulation”), and heartbreak can be harder to get over than a heroin habit. This candid essay weaves together a look at the latest in the science of lost love with a trip inside the Croatia’s brand-new Museum of Broken Hearts.

“Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code,” Jonah Lehrer (Wired)

We’ve been downright willy-nilly in our scratch-off lottery ticket technique all these years, which is the only possible explanation for why we’re still not millionaires. Jonah Lehrer introduces us to the Canadian geological statistician who unearthed the mathematical algorithm buried under that gummy silver stuff.

“Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone,” Amanda Ripley (Time)

Private after-hours tutoring is so rampant in South Korea the government has had to enact a curfew to curtail it. It’s like an action movie where police are trying to break up kids’ late night study groups! 

“Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma,” Peter Savodnik (Wired)

Since sometime in the early ’80s, a mysterious shortwave radio station, UVB-76, based north of Moscow, transmitted beeps and buzzes around the clock. In 2010, it began to act strangely—first stopping entirely, then broadcasting random series of numbers and other, stranger noises…

“Broken Kingdom,” Adam Gopnik (The New Yorker)

On the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Phantom Tollbooth, Adam Gopnik talks to the two creators about synesthesia, the GI Bill, radio, and why everyone thought the book would end up on the remainder table. 

“The Greatest Paper that Ever Died,” Alex French and Howie Kahn (Grantland)

French and Kahn’s riveting oral history of short-lived sports daily The National’s epic collapse has a little bit of everything for sports-media junkies, including quotes from greats like Frank Deford and Charles P. Pierce and, of course, a $52,000 brass eagle. 

“The Joy Lock Club,” Pagan Kennedy (Boston Magazine)

Getting to know Schuyler Towne, renowned recreational lock-picker (recreational lock-picking is a thing!) and publisher of the magazine NDE (Non-Destructive Entry) aka “the Us Weekly of hardware security.”

“Death in the Pot,” Deborah Blum (Lapham’s Quarterly)

Any article tagged “cooking, food, government, medicine, poison, war” is auto-must-read in our book. An overview of food adulteration through history, from the Greek army’s “mad-honey poisoning” of 401 BC to today.


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