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Horror Show, All Fall Down, Top Topography

Very Short List delivers one excellent item to your inbox, daily: Books, films, music, web-things, and dispatches on science and technology. Click through to watch a powerful documentary, make statistics look cool, and take in the view from the world’s highest summits.

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VERY SHORT LIST

Horror show
Law & Order In Cold Blood The Thin Blue Line
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DVD
Dear Zachary

Some DVDs should come with a box of tissues. The gut-wrenching, fiercely partisan documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (out on DVD next week) should come with a mop.

Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne set out to eulogize his friend Andrew Bagby – a 28-year-old doctor who was murdered in 2001. When the killer announced that she was pregnant with Bagby’s son, Kuenne turned his film into an open letter addressed to the boy. “My movie now took on a whole new meaning,” Kuenne explains in a voice-over. “I vowed to collect every memory for you before they were gone.” But one shocking twist was yet to come. We’re not giving it away here, but we will tell you to brace yourself – and keep those tissues handy.

WATCH the trailer for Dear Zachary

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VSL:WEB

All fall down
Colon Blow Debt Clock Falling Times
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VISUALIZER
So Many a Second

So Many a Second fills your computer screen with cascading graphic icons. Each one represents an event – a birth, a death, or one of the great many things in between – that’s occurring somewhere every single moment. It’s a simple, striking way to visualize otherwise abstract statistics.

You can make the site rain babies (4.2 are born each second), cell phones (27 are sold each second), cars (1.6 are produced each second), or stars (200 are born each second). The site’s least surprising stat? The thousands of porn searches that took place in the time it took you to read this sentence.

CHECK OUT So Many a Second

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VSL:SCIENCE

Top topography
The Myth of Continents Reinhold Messner Seven Summits
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WEB GALLERY
“The View from the Seven Highest Peaks on Earth”

Thirty-five years ago, Rick Ridgeway, Rick Bass, and Frank Wells set out to climb the highest mountains on seven continents. By 1985, Bass and Ridgeway had managed it: You can see the views that awaited them at Environmental Graffiti’s stunning online gallery. But did Ridgeway and Bass really deserve the accolades they received? Scientists aren’t so sure.

According to the conventional “contiguous land mass” definition of continents (the one used by Ridgeway’s team), Australia’s highest peak is the 2,228-meter Mount Kosciuszko. But if you define continents according to continental shelves (as many scientists do), then the Australia-New Guinea or Oceania continent includes Indonesia, with its far more demanding, 4,884-meter Carstensz Pyramid. By this measure, mountaineer Pat Morrow, who scaled Carstensz in 1986 after climbing the other six peaks previously, beat Ridgeway and his climbing partner to the punch.

CHECK OUT “The View from the Seven Highest Peaks on Earth”

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