If you're trying to make sense of the $2 billion being spent in anticipation of next Tuesday's election, here's a few nifty tools. Maplight.org and Wired have teamed up to create the Influence Tracker, which compiles the latest data on members of Congress' haul during this election cycle as well as their biggest donors. Nice touch: logos of each member's top corporate sponsors.
The Sunlight Foundation's Influence Explorer app creates similar snapshots of canddiates' war chests, but includes challengers who aren't currently members of Congress. Nice 20th-century touch: For $2, you can mail a copy of the data directly to friends and family in postcard form.
Why did Anakin Sywalker turn to the dark side? Why did Tintin never grow up? Real researchers have gone looking for the undiagnosed maladies that explain the quirks of some famous fictional characters.
Diagnosis: Borderline personality disorder
Discussion: In a letter to Psychiatry Research, French psychiatrist Eric Bui argues that Anakin Skywalker's transformation into the Dark Lord of the Sith shows all the hallmarks of BPD, including lack of impulse control and abandonment issues.
Diagnosis: Distal renal tubular acidosis (Type I)
Discussion: D.W. Lewis writes in the American Journal of Diseases of Children that Dickens' young optimist suffered from a rare condition whose symptoms include stunted growth, weak muscles, paralysis, and possible kidney failure.
527 groups, which can collect unlimited donations, raised $506 million in 2008. They've already raised $236 million for this fall's election—and it's not even a presidential year. Here are the 10 biggest: