FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 19, 2014
DAVID SILVERMAN/Getty Images

Americans are embarrassed by how infrequently they go to church and will lie to you to hide their true attendance rate, according to a new Public Religion Research Institute survey. The sneaky poll consisted of two parts, with half of respondents answering via the web and the other half answering over the phone. And on just about every question, phone responders reported strikingly higher levels of religious engagement than did web responders, indicating that the presence of another human being on the line prodded them toward sanctimoniousness.

For instance, though only 30 percent of phone respondents said they "seldom or never" go to church, 43 percent of online responders admitted as much. Meanwhile, 27 percent of phone respondents said religion was the most important thing in their lives, a number that fell to 20 percent among the online crowd. Jon Terbush

10:28 p.m. ET
Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake rocked central Italy early Wednesday morning, south of the city of Perugia. The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake hit at a very shallow depth of six miles, and the La Repubblica newspaper says some buildings in Rome shook for 20 seconds. There are no reports of any casualties or structure damage. Catherine Garcia

10:09 p.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

On Tuesday, The New York Times said hackers targeted its Moscow bureau, but it does not appear they successfully infiltrated their system.

"We are constantly monitoring our systems with the latest available intelligence and tools," Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said. "We have seen no evidence that any of our internal systems, including our systems in the Moscow bureau, have been breached or compromised." The Times believes the hackers were Russian. Earlier in the day, CNN reported U.S. officials told them the FBI was investigating cyber attacks against reporters from the Times and other news organizations. The Times was attacked by two separate groups of hackers in 2013: The Syrian Electronic Army and a group from China. Catherine Garcia

9:23 p.m. ET
Handout/Getty Images

By next year, federal regulators could enact new rules preventing people from getting within 50 yards of spinner dolphins off the shores of Hawaii, putting an end to popular tourist activities like swimming with dolphins.

The National Marine Fisheries Services says that spinner dolphins, which feed at night and usually gather in the same general area every day, are not getting enough rest and are becoming stressed due to so many people taking boat tours that drop them off next to pods. The dolphins sometimes appear to be awake even when they're asleep, as half of their brain remains awake so they can surface and breathe. Dozens of companies operate dolphin tours on Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island, and because 98 percent of spinner dolphins in Hawaii are just off the shore, it's easy for them to find the animals. The ban would cover waters out to 2 nautical miles, The Associated Press reports.

Ann Garrett, assistant regional administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service's protected resources division for the Pacific Islands, told AP the dolphins are constantly on high alert because people are always approaching them, and scientists are afraid the stress might interfere with their ability to reproduce. The agency won't make a final decision on a ban until next year, but Garrett says if it is enacted, it won't put people out of business. "They could still do snorkeling for other reasons — it's just not setting their people within a pod of dolphins or within 50 yards of a dolphin," she said. Catherine Garcia

7:38 p.m. ET
Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile early Wednesday morning off its east coast, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports.

In July, South Korea said an attempted launch by North Korea failed in its initial flight stage. Yonhap reports the missile landed inside Japan's Air Defense Identification Zone, and a U.S. official said the missile made it 300 miles before it crashed into the sea. The United Nations has banned North Korea from any use of ballistic missiles, and the launch comes just a few days after the start of annual military exercises between the United States and South Korea. Pyongyang believes the exercises are rehearsal for an invasion, and vowed retaliation. In January, North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test, and said it was the first time the country used a hydrogen bomb. Catherine Garcia

6:43 p.m. ET
YouTube.com/NewYorkDailyNews

Steven Hill, best known for playing District Attorney Adam Schiff on Law & Order, died Tuesday morning at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He was 94.

The cause of death has not been revealed, and his wife, Rachel, said he suffered from several ailments. Born Solomon Krakovsky in Seattle to Russian immigrant parents, he became interested in acting at the age of six after landing a role in a production of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. In the 1940s, he took classes at the Actors Studio in New York with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, and soon landed a part in a Broadway play. Over the course of his career, he appeared in more than two dozens movies, and in 1966, starred in Mission: Impossible as undercover team leader Daniel Briggs. Hill left the show after one season because he was an Orthodox Jew, and the shooting scheduled interfered with his observation of the Sabbath, The Associated Press reports.

Hill spent a decade on Law & Order, leaving the show in 2000. "Steven was not only one of the truly great actors of his generation, he was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met," Law & Order producer Dick Wolf said in a statement. "He is also the only actor I've known who consistently tried to cut his own lines." While portraying Schiff, Hill read up on the law, saying in a 1999 interview, "I believe the audience needs to feel you understand what the heck you're talking about and they can tell if you don't." He is survived by his wife, Rachel, four daughters, and five sons. Catherine Garcia

3:12 p.m. ET
iStock

Eve Babitz was Los Angeles' greatest bard. Promiscuous but discerning, the bombshell with a brain bonded with Joan Didion and bedded Jim Morrison. A writer first and party girl second, Babitz presented in reverse until she sickened from what she called the "squalid overboogie." People took her penchant for presenting herself as trivial seriously; her books went out of print, and an accident that left her with serious burns over half of her body turned her into something of a recluse.

Babitz is finally getting the literary comeback she deserves, but she's still best remembered for posing nude with Marcel Duchamp while they played chess. She was 20, and he was 76. And in this interview with Paul Karlstrom for the Archives of American Art in June 2000, she explained why she did it: to punish her married boyfriend Walter Hopps for not inviting her to a party.

BABITZ: ... [Photographer Julian Wasser] wanted me to be part of this deal and I wouldn't go to the party with him when he wanted to take me because Walter didn't invite me.

KARLSTROM: So, what were you, Walter's girlfriend or something?

BABITZ: I thought I — I deserved respect.

KARLSTROM: I would say. This story is much more interesting than —

BABITZ: That's right. I was 20 years old and I wasn't invited to this party. So, I took these pictures. That was it. You know, I got to Duchamp. We started playing chess. [Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution]

Duchamp won several times, but she didn't care. In fact, she was kind of over it.

BABITZ: I wanted my cigarettes. I wanted my glasses. I wanted my clothes on; I wanted Julian to take me to a Chinese restaurant.

KARLSTROM: So you —

BABITZ: I knew exactly the one he wanted to go too. Chow Yung Fat. It's down on Main Street.

KARLSTROM: So you really weren't all that comfortable?

BABITZ: No. No.

KARLSTROM: But it was worth it.

BABITZ: It was worth it because Walter came in and he dropped his gum.

KARLSTROM: So Walter actually came in to see how it was going.

BABITZ: Yeah.

KARLSTROM: And he didn't even know you were there.

BABITZ: No.

KARLSTROM: Wow. So you won.

BABITZ: Yeah.

KARLSTROM: You didn't win at chess.

BABITZ: No.

KARLSTROM: But you won in terms of taking control of the situation.

BABITZ: That's right.

KARLSTROM: I mean, did you think of it a little bit that way? Because I'm thinking of motivation.

BABITZ: I said, "Hello, Walter" and he dropped his gum.

KARLSTROM: Literally?

MS. BABITZ: Yes. He always chewed Double Mint gum. [Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution]

This descriptive lightness and jolly insistence on her own frivolity make Babitz a pleasure to listen to when she's speaking off the cuff (and an absolute dream to read, where she sneaks in structural flourishes that knock you silly with their unsuspected lyricism). If you're up to it, read the whole oral history; it's a marvelous thing. Better still: Read her books. On Aug. 30, Slow Days, Fast Company will be back in print. Lili Loofbourow

2:48 p.m. ET
DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images

Italy is a good place to live right now if you're about to turn 18. On Sept. 15, the Italian government is launching an initiative to encourage Italian youths' interest in culture by gifting its newly-minted adults 500 euros (about 565 U.S. dollars) on their 18th birthdays.

That chunk of change, dubbed a "culture bonus," can be used for "books, concert tickets, theater tickets, cinema tickets, museum visits, and trips to national parks," The Independent reported. Parliamentary undersecretary Tommaso Nannicini said he hopes the effort reminds Italian teens "how important cultural consumption is, both for enriching yourself as a person and strengthening the fabric of our society."

An estimated 575,000 teens are eligible for the gift this year, which will cost the Italian government about 290 million euros total. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads