FREAK Shots: Nudging the Calorie Counters

We blogged about musical stairs in Stockholm that try to encourage stair-climbing rather than escalator-riding. One of the issues with this “nudge,” as Dubner wrote, is that it's probably more fun for people to descend them than to ascend.

These stairs in Lisbon, however, address that problem by appealing to the calorie conscious.

Resetting America: A Q&A With Author Kurt Andersen

Kurt Andersen sees the economic recession as a one-time opportunity for America to "get back on track." In his new book, Reset, he explains how he thinks Americans can use the crisis to "reset" and reinvent old systems and ideas and "focus more on the things that make us authentically happy."

It Won't Be So Bad: A Q&A With the Author of $20 Per Gallon

It's notoriously hard to predict gas prices. Who would have thought in 2006 that we'd be paying $4 a gallon in 2008? Or, as prices peaked last year, that we'd be filling up for $2.50 a gallon this summer?

That said, civil engineer and Forbes reporter Chris Steiner argues that prices will rise precipitously over the next few decades. (It would probably make as much sense to argue that electric cars will take over and gas prices will fall, but that's another argument for another day.)

By a Bunch of Nobodies: A Q&A With the Author of The Wikipedia Revolution

These debates notwithstanding, Wikipedia's popularity continues to make standard encyclopedias look as hip as buggy whips.

Wikipedia editor/administrator Andrew Lih, author of the book Wikipedia Revolution, has agreed to answer our questions about Wikipedia and what it means to society.

FREAK Shots: Death and Foreclosure

A blog reader named Lee emailed us a photo he took on Highway 86 in Imperial, California. “It made me wonder if [the economy] is really that bad that even dead people will lose their resting places,” he writes. “What will they do? Evict the dead?” Photo: Lee We called Victor Carrillo, the supervisor for […]

Straight From the Foreclosure Expert's Mouth

Millions of homeowners across the country have gone through the foreclosure process (Michael Jackson just narrowly escaped), and more will likely continue to do so for a while.

Serious Fun: A Q&A With the Author of Play

Stuart Brown Whether he’s playing tennis with “a convivial group of codgers” or hanging out with his grandkids, Stuart Brown, the author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, plays as often as he can. With a background in neuroscience and behavioral medicine, Brown has studied play globally, […]

FREAK Shots: Is Google the Gift That Keeps Taking?

To get Google to open a major routing center in Lenoir, N.C., and bring with it 200 jobs and about $172 million in local investments, the state and local governments offered the company $200 million worth of incentives, reports The Lenoir News-Topic, including sales-tax-free electrical power and computer purchases. When the deal was signed in […]

FREAK Shots: How's Your Riot Insurance?

Chris Markl Chris Markl Reader Chris Markl emailed us these photos of signs from Nairobi offering insurance against political violence, terrorism, and riots. If Sudhir Venkatesh is right, we probably won’t be seeing similar insurance pitches in the U.S., though maybe London could use them. Markl wonders why another type of insurance isn’t offered in […]

Better Off Dead: A Q&A With the Author of The Tyranny of Dead Ideas

Matt Miller It isn’t hard to think of ideas that were once considered conventional wisdom — “Women shouldn’t vote,” “People should be segregated by race” — but were eventually laid to rest. In his book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash A New Prosperity, Matt Miller […]