Wandering Eye: The unclear story behind Ben Carson's stabbing attempt, science says no touching, and more

Ben Carson stabbed a man. Or, anyway, he tried to stab a boy. Back when he was a boy. But Carson’s knife hit the kid’s belt buckle. And therein lies the lesson. Or does it? The Daily Beast has a roundup of the several variations on this Carson chestnut. The writer, Gideon Resnick, tries to separate the knowable from the unknowable, based on the details Carson keeps repeating (the belt buckle, the kid) and the ones he keeps changing. “The first time Carson shared this story was nearly two decades ago in his two books released in 1996,” Resnick writes. “In the lesser known of the two, 'Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence,' Carson describes the tale as a seminal moment in his process of growing up." In one version, the dispute it about what station to play on a radio. Carson apologizes to his friend and runs home and finds God. In another, the friend, Bob, runs. One version is at school, one at Bob’s house. In his 2011 book, "America The Beautiful," the attack is described as a random encounter. In a 2014 book (how many autobiographies has this guy written?) the classmate is ridiculing him. Resnick writes that he’s asked the campaign to be more clear about the details. It’d be great if Bob—whoever he was—would surface and tell his story. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


I spent last Friday at the Smithsonian Food History Roundtables, hosted at the National Museum of American History. One of the more lively panel discussions, Innovation on the Plate, at one point involved a conversation about the value of written recipes. Food historian Jessica B. Harris pointed out that many cultures have more oral than written traditions, so that many groups, including, historically, African-Americans, don't have the same inclination to obsessively document recipes and measurements in writing. But that's not to say there's no history of written African-American recipes, as Baltimore's own Stacia L. Brown documents in an article for the New Republic this week. "Memorizing recipes or cooking without them has its roots in slavery: The need for cooking aptitude predated the existence of legal literacy for enslaved kitchen workers—let alone the existence of cookbooks by free black authors," she writes. But there are cookbooks from free black women dating back to the mid-1880s, and while there are significantly fewer published cookbooks by black authors than there are by white authors, she points to a number of upcoming cookbooks by black women who first gained attention for their cooking from other media. Pair that with the New York Times Magazine's beautiful article on Edna Lewis, a black woman whose 1976 book "The Taste of Country Cooking" was far ahead of its time in its farm-to-table ethos and its elegant reverence for the art of Southern food. (Anna Walsh)


Creepy, touchy people, read up: If you're somehow confused by people's reactions to your touching them, there's now evidence—as if it were needed—to prove that you're invading their personal space. Oxford University and Aalto University in Finland surveyed more than 1,300 people from Britain, Finland, Italy, France, and Russia on what parts of their bodies they are comfortable being touched and by whom. The resulting "body map index" illustrates the degree of discomfort subjects claim to experience when being touched in different bodily areas by people of varying relationships: partners, friends, relatives, strangers, and so on. The study shows that the level of comfort depends on the relationship, and that generally, men are more comfortable with being touched than women—except by male friends (read: "no homo"). None of this should really come as a surprise. “The greater the pleasure caused by touching a specific area of the body, the more selectively we allow others to touch it," says Aalto University researcher Julia Suvilehto. (Maura Callahan)

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