I've been meaning to post little links more often, to interesting sites I find or books I really like (instead of saving up for one really big post every few months). This one will be a little bit long just because I've got a few things to note - in the future, most additions to Local Conspiracy will probably be pretty short and consist of stuff like "I just finished this book and loved it! You should read it!"
Before I mention any specific books though, I have got to give a giant shout out to the Kindle. I got my wife one for a late birthday gift, and immediately realized I was going to need to get my own. It's not super fancy, allowing you to play games and watch movies like an iPad, but it is a LOT nicer to your eyes. Keep in mind when you're staring at ANY LCD screen, you're staring into a dim light. Your eyes don't like doing that, so the more time you spend staring a screen (your laptop, TV or iPad), the more strain you put on your eyes. The Kindle uses an e-ink display that relies on purely reflective light (exactly like reading a regular book). It's a LOT easier on your eyes. If you spend much of your day in front of a computer screen at work, and then go home and spend a few more hours staring at your TV, you should do your eyes a kindness and give them a break by reading a book (physical, or digital on your Kindle).
There are lots of advantages to using a Kindle to read books (and believe me, the ability to get a book RIGHT NOW is pretty intoxicating!) One advantage I hadn't thought about until I was using it though was the fact that you can easily hold the book and turn pages without making a sound or shifting around, or even using two hands. That comes in EXTREMELY handy when you've got a sleeping baby in your arms.
OK, enough of that. On to a few books I've read recently, which I highly recommend...
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (by Laura Hillenbrand) - Excellently written, a fascinating story of WWII as seen (primarily) from the eyes of a man who was captured by Japanese soldiers. This book was hard to put down.
WRONG: Why experts keep failing us -- and how to know when not to trust them (by David H. Freedman) - This book should be required reading for EVERYONE. If you're not familiar with how medical studies (or many other scientific studies for that matter) are documented and published, this book will be a real eye opener. There's a ton of useful information in this book, and it goes a long way towards inspiring some necessary critical thinking.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (by Mary Roach) - a fun read detailing a great many of the interesting considerations that go into preparing men (and animals) for space travel.