1. A discussion of Jonathan Israel's controversial history of the 'radical Enlightenment', which highlights the role of philosopher Baruch Spinoza and a clandestine network of Spinozists in spreading the ideas of monism on the one hand and radical political freedom and equality on the other.
2. Neither barbequed nor grilled: Baltimore pit beef (slow cooked for around 2 hours over coals--less than traditional bbq, more than grilling). Traditionally served with horseradish on a roll.
3. Reading Tocqueville in Beijing. The political subtext: China's political elites seem to fear a revolution against their regime based in part on rising expectations--similar to what overthrew the Old Regime in France, according to Tocqueville's account.
4. Historical mystery solved: the recipe of Roman concrete revealed at last, and it could revolutionize construction and architecture. Roman concrete included lime and volcanic ash, which when combined with seawater produced a chemical reaction that created a powerful mortar.
5. Economist Felix Salmon summarizes some depressing facts about Detroit.
6. NYT review of "Confessions of a Sociopath," which purports to be a memoir of a noncriminal sociopath.
7. Hand-made Guinea-pig armor sells for $24,300.