A room wallpapered in (presumably unread) New Yorkers. Credit: lars_o_matic.

In the middle of my imagination, I am a girl who will always be homeless, but in reality, I am an educated Black woman who rents an apartment in Downtown Columbus. Trying to outrun poverty has cost me a piece of my soul.

An excellent essay on poverty and writing by Starr Davis.

↩︎ Catapult Magazine
May 31, 2022

I always felt, as a reader and as a reporter, an underlying insistence that conversations about race were about conflict rather than the peculiar ways in which Angelenos construct multiethnic lives together.

Novelist Héctor Tobar tries to understand the 1992 Los Angeles riots through the experiences of a single high school.

↩︎ The New York Times Magazine
May 2, 2022

‘Give me a list of all the ingredients in Bolognese sauce,’’ ‘‘Write a poem about a French coastal village in the style of John Ashbery,’’ ‘‘Explain the Big Bang in language that an 8-year-old will understand.’’ The first few times I fed GPT-3 prompts of this ilk, I felt a genuine shiver run down my spine.

Steven Johnson with a long assessment of the current state of A.I. and language. (The illusion has gotten very good.)

↩︎ The New York Times Magazine
Apr 18, 2022

I couldn’t consider abortion or adoption, but the weird thing is I also couldn’t consider having a baby. I never decided; I never chose.

One of the best essays we’ve read in a while: “The Abortion I Didn’t Have” by novelist Merritt Tierce.

↩︎ The New York Times Magazine
Dec 6, 2021

Miles handcuffed the 8-year-old with pigtails. “Just acting out of habit,” he said later. Walking to a patrol car, Miles stopped and thought, “Wait a minute,” and removed the cuffs. “I guess my brain finally caught up with what was going on.”

A justice system in Tennessee is accused of arresting and jailing children illegally.

↩︎ ProPublica
Oct 11, 2021

I am not some special kind of human who just sits around reading the Iliad for fun. I’m not that different from the students I teach. They get their energy from me, I get my energy from them. That’s how a university works.

From August, Agnes Callard argues that the real college scandal is how we’ve forgotten the joys of intellectual engagement.

↩︎ The Point
Sep 22, 2021

Federer the gallant. Nadal the reticent. Djokovic the ingratiator. I mean, no wonder they’re known for being polite—who wants their Martian overlords being dicks?

Over two dozen former champs and current pros explain what happened to US men’s tennis. The problem? An obscure Austrian prince.

↩︎ GQ
Sep 1, 2021

They camped and fished and attended car meets. Black’s family lived in Kenosha, but he often stayed in Antioch with the Rittenhouses. Upstate, where the Blacks owned property and liked to hunt, the boys practiced shooting at bull’s-eye targets and bottles.

How Kyle Rittenhouse became “Kyle Rittenhouse.”

↩︎ The New Yorker
Jun 28, 2021
A gaggle of twinks. A man scrolling through a hookup app. The Roland-Garros poster, an annual tradition, goes gay for 2021.

Prosthetic arm technology is still so limited that I become more disabled when I wear one... mostly what it does is helps me mimic two-handed people.

The media narratives around prosthetic limbs are meant to be reassuring—“but actually using a bionic arm can really suck.”

Mar 11, 2021

I love these birds for their beauty, the way birders love actual birds, for the exalted brushstrokes of their wingspans that lift us from the drudge of survival. Some birds are reclusive. For example, the Florida scrub jay and Mexican jay have long been trapped behind a hunter green construction fence.

Emily Raboteau watches the painted birds of New York’s murals.

↩︎ Orion Magazine
Feb 23, 2021
The super-rich portray themselves as deserving of their wealth by appearing to strive hard—"a belief in entitlement through work."

Fox News stopped hyping hydroxychloroquine, but Trump still wanted a quick fix. While cases in New York were doubling every three days, and doctors were treating patients in tents in Central Park, he declared that he wanted America “raring to go” by Easter.

An in-depth look back at America’s plague year.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Jan 4, 2021
MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, lists the 384 organizations she found to give away more than $4 billion this year.

Actionable threats against him and his family began to be reported. The Michigan State Police worked with local law enforcement to arrange a security detail. All for doing his job. All for upholding the rule of law. All for following his conscience and defying the wishes of Donald Trump.

What was behind Michigan’s fake voter fraud scandal? Endangered Republicans vying to prove their loyalty to Trump.

Nov 25, 2020

During a speech at a factory in Ohio, Trump wondered aloud whether Democrats had committed treason against the United States for withholding their applause during his State of the Union Address.

From McSweeney’s, “Lest We Forget the Horrors: A Catalog of Trump’s Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes.”

↩︎ McSweeney's Internet Tendency
Oct 30, 2020

Ruth really did love being "the notorious RBG." At the opera, when her tiny figure, wrapped in a coat and babushka, would enter the Kennedy Center opera house from a side entrance, I don't know how, but people would see her, and the roar would begin, soon followed by a standing ovation, and loud cheering.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg remembers her great friend Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

↩︎ NPR
Sep 25, 2020

Once you accept that climate change is fast making large parts of the United States nearly uninhabitable, the future looks like this: With time, the bottom half of the country grows inhospitable, dangerous and hot.

Modeling where Americans will move over the coming decades as the climate crisis changes life as we know it.

↩︎ The New York Times Magazine
Sep 15, 2020

America has enough renewable resources such that we could probably keep exactly the same lifestyles, and if we do it all electrically, we can do it at half the energy. And we can produce all of that energy cleanly, domestically in America.

To keep the United States on a 1.5 degree warming path, a top energy expert says we need to electrify everything immediately.

↩︎ Vox
Sep 11, 2020

This is the world I imagine when I picture what I want for my children—a world where social consequences are weighted along with criminal consequences, where incapacitation is not conflated with torture, and murder and rape are taken so seriously that we do all we can to prevent either from happening in the first place.

What we talk about when we talk about defunding the police.

↩︎ Vanity Fair
Aug 27, 2020

“They’re so mad, and they turn that hatred inward and feel inadequate. But Trump says, ‘No, I can ease your pain. These people over there, they’re to blame. It’s their fault.’”

Excellent reporting after a protest in Ohio—turned violent thanks to anti-protesters—exposes years of overt and covert racism.

↩︎ BuzzFeed News
Jul 7, 2020

Wealth is, as a recent Yale study states, “the most consequential index of economic well-being” for most Americans. But wealth is not something people create solely by themselves; it is accumulated across generations.

Nikole Hannah-Jones makes the (convincing) case for reparations.

↩︎ The New York Times Magazine
Jun 24, 2020

When the voters begin to turn, maybe Lindsey Graham will turn with them, arguing, as Jaeger did, that “their will was so great… there was no other alternative.”

Stories of conformity from recent history attempt to explain why Republicans won’t turn on Trump.

↩︎ The Atlantic
Jun 2, 2020

“When there’s a disaster, police and fire aren’t first responders, they’re second responders.... First responders are a family member or a neighbor.”

TMN’s Rosecrans Baldwin embeds with various government agencies and survival experts to track down the horsemen of the apocalypse.

↩︎ GQ
Apr 22, 2020

There is a handing off between generations. The word he used was transmettre. Le goût et les valeurs sont transmis. Flavor and value: those are the qualities that are transmitted. Only in France would “flavor” and “value” have the same moral weight.

Bill Buford recalls learning how to bake bread from a master in Lyon.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Apr 8, 2020

Formerly fringe ideas on the left like universal basic income or universal health care are now household terms, online misinformation and disinformation are no longer abstract concepts but constant presences in our group chats, and malicious ideologies like ecofascism are taking root.

The coronavirus has already changed the world, and it’s hard to see how we’re ever going back.

↩︎ BuzzFeed News
Apr 3, 2020

The real choice we face is not whether to eat meat or how many children to have, but how to make profound and rapid structural changes, without which no personal choices will matter. As one climate scientist recently put it to me: "Fuck hope." She is pregnant with her second child.

A fabulous essay by Meehan Crist on whether or not to have children during the climate crisis.

↩︎ The London Review of Books
Mar 12, 2020
"The work I now want to do no longer fits into the Post scheme." The 1960s changed Norman Rockwell into a social liberal.

Mountain climbing is a modern curiosity, a bourgeois indulgence. It consists mostly of relatively well-to-do white people manufacturing danger for themselves.

In mountaineering circles, death is almost predictable. A Bozeman therapist/shaman tries to help surviving colleagues cope.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Feb 26, 2020

We’ve left behind the nuclear-family paradigm of 1955. For most people it’s not coming back. Americans are hungering to live in extended and forged families, in ways that are new and ancient at the same time.

The market wants us to live alone, or in small units. David Brooks joined a much larger “forged family” and thinks you should too.

↩︎ The Atlantic
Feb 14, 2020

The speed of machine learning is startling, often creepy. It’s hard to tell what is creepier: the feeling that someone is somewhere out there, following your every step, or the fact that no one is, just the tracking device you carry with you in your pocket.

An essay by Dayna Tortorici on the push and pull of an Instagram addiction.

↩︎ n+1
Jan 31, 2020

California is critical of wealth inequality and the impact of companies like Standard Oil on the environment. Texas is more likely to celebrate free enterprise and entrepreneurs like Andrew Carnegie.

Comparing social studies textbooks customized for California and Texas illuminates America’s deepest partisan divides.

↩︎ The New York Times
Jan 14, 2020
Exposed to violent content daily, some YouTube moderators are suffering from PTSD. (Warning: Disturbing descriptions ahead.)

The internet can’t hurt you. If it does, that’s your fault. That was the refrain feminist bloggers kept hearing in the early days of fending off “trolls.” “At first we were just like, ‘Oh my God, who are these fucking losers’?” Valenti said.

How the internet killed feminism.

↩︎ Jezebel
Dec 20, 2019

Death is like painting rather than like sculpture, because it’s seen from only one side. Monochrome—like the mausoleum-gray former Berlin Wall, which kids in West Berlin glamorized with graffiti. What I’m trying to do here.

Art critic Peter Schjeldahl, with only a few months left to live, is “taking in every last detail of the pulsating world.”

↩︎ The New Yorker
Dec 18, 2019

I was picturing all the small decisions across the world and multiplying them by time. I was grieving the future in the present, and—since there were so few people who wanted to talk about it—I was grieving it alone. 

A great essay about words being coined, from “solastalgia” to “pre-TSD,” to help those who suffer mentally from climate change.

↩︎ The Believer
Dec 16, 2019

To my surprise, the string of jumping blue dots that indicate typing popped up on my screen. They disappeared, reappeared, disappeared, and appeared again. Fry finally responded, saying he didn’t know what I was talking about.

A disconcerting dive into online murder markets.

↩︎ Harper's
Dec 13, 2019

“I have to remind myself why we’re stinging. Like I have to seriously look for it when I’m in that much pain. I’ll question: ‘What the heck am I doing? This is weird. This is stupid. Why are we doing this?’”

Running out of options, some Lyme patients are turning to bee stings in hopes of disease remission.

↩︎ Texas Monthly
Dec 5, 2019
Rather than install measures to prevent sex offenders from using its free apps, Match prefers to tell users to use "common sense."
An investigation finds Amazon facilities' rate of serious injuries is more than double the national warehousing average.

I found the present-day crypto landscape to be less like a bygone market, more like the parallel universe found in Westworld, a wasteland of corpses and creeps muttering vows of revenge.

Cryptocurrency will not die. In fact, it might be stronger than ever. Rosecrans Baldwin follows a young man down the rabbit hole.

↩︎ GQ
Nov 26, 2019

I don’t want to hear Biden say “I still stutter” to prove some grand point; I want to hear him say it because doing so as a presidential candidate would mean that stuttering truly doesn’t matter—for him, for me, or for our 10-year-old selves.

A lovely article by a political reporter with a stutter on Joe Biden’s struggle with his own.

↩︎ The Atlantic
Nov 22, 2019

"It almost sounds like a timeshare. They set you up with people who have been in remission, so it’s kind of like they’re walking advertisements for their particular treatment."

As survival rates improve, cancer becomes a chronic condition—and patients become a consistent revenue stream for hospitals.

↩︎ The Baffler
Nov 19, 2019

In nearby Manchester, it was everyone dancing at the Tolstoi Club; in Chicago, all the patrons at the Tolstoy Vegetarian Restaurant; in Lynn, Mass., 39 bakers, a third of them American citizens, in the middle of a meeting to discuss forming a cooperative.

How the Palmer Raids targeted political dissidents in America 100 years ago, arresting thousands—and nearly deporting them.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Nov 5, 2019

He moved into the guest room, where the hum seemed slightly fainter. Each night, he’d will himself to sleep, ears plugged and head bandaged, but he could feel the whine in his bones, feel himself getting panicky as it droned on and on and on and on and on.

On industrial noise, which is growing louder—faster than our bodies can adapt.

↩︎ The Atlantic
Oct 10, 2019

She is told repeatedly there are things you should do and should not do if you want to make it in Hollywood. Don’t be a contrarian. Don’t be a tough sell. Don’t wear your hair natural; it only makes you look dated.

Rosecrans Baldwin follows a young actress around Hollywood for a year to find out what it takes to “make it” in 2019.

↩︎ GEN
Aug 28, 2019

The point of music, and of Young, is to make people feel less lonely. I had taken him to a dark place that he didn’t want to go. “I really wish this interview hadn’t happened,” he later said.

On Neil Young and his ambition to bring fidelity to digitally distributed music.

↩︎ The New York Times
Aug 23, 2019

What is a name, when you get down to it? It isn’t something you can hold squarely in your hand like a lump of gold. It’s wholly immaterial. It can make you feel like a god before your time—but equally, maybe, a ghost in your own life.

A massive assessment of two books on the life and career of Prince.

↩︎ The London Review of Books
Jul 19, 2019
The murder trial of Drakeo the Ruler offers a way "to examine the toxic plaque corroding the American criminal justice system."

Trigonometry and logarithms offered the best way to make these essential measurements: for these, a sailor needed to be adept at using dense numerical tables.

A glimpse inside the classes European sailors took—as far back as the 16th century—to learn how to navigate the globe.

↩︎ Aeon
Jul 2, 2019

Ryan Vallee wasn’t one of the popular kids at Belmont High. But he had two advantages his victims did not. He was a boy, and therefore not as vulnerable to slut-shaming. And he understood how to harness technology to seem powerful, controlling and terrifying [to] victims for years with only a smartphone and a computer.

A very good account of young women in New Hampshire and a dogged detective taking down a cyber-stalker.

Jun 26, 2019

“As geologists, we’re used to looking backwards. [The Anthropocene] appears significant but it would be far easier if we were 200 to 300, possibly 2,000 to 3,000, years in the future and then we could look back and say: yes, that was the right thing to do.”

On the origins of the anthropocene as our current geologic epoch, and the theory’s many supporters and detractors.

↩︎ The Guardian
May 31, 2019

We will do this through Instagramming, blogging, podcasting, Facebooking, working with advertisers, knowing our angles. We are preparing ourselves to perform motherhood with a hashtag.

Lyz Lenz on the bygone era of mom blogs, replaced by mom influencers and savvy monetization.

↩︎ Topic
May 29, 2019

"Drop a bomb on a residential area? I never in my life heard of that," a neighborhood resident told a reporter that night. "It's like Vietnam."

Thirty years later, a Phildelphia native tries to make sense of the devastating MOVE bombing.

↩︎ Code Switch
May 14, 2019

Honeybee is one of a growing number of companies that are developing standardized lunar rovers. Small countries with no national space agency, as well as private entities, could soon have their own robotic resource hunters roving around the moon, with little honeycomb emblems on their sides.

The new race to the moon isn’t among superpowers, but businesses who want to break altogether new ground.

↩︎ The New Yorker
May 10, 2019
Los Angeles has a shade problem: often understood as "a luxury amenity," on many blocks it's basically outlawed.

To “never forget” means you don’t solve a problem with state violence or with personal violence. Instead, you change the conditions under which violence prevailed.

Politically, the prison abolition movement is hard to discuss. Morally, it’s clearly right.

↩︎ The New York Times Magazine
Apr 18, 2019

The study of deep time trends toward a different lesson—that Earth changes unimaginably slowly except when it changes suddenly and catastrophically, like right now. 

A tour of Yosemite’s Lyell Glacier helps explain where climate change is headed.

↩︎ The California Sunday Magazine
Apr 8, 2019

Hader said, “The Russian writers were fascinated by people who kept moving toward being unhappy, despite their intentions. And I do feel like there’s a huge balance thing going on in the universe. My happiness level has gone up, ‘Barry’ is a giant success, and I finally get to direct. But I get divorced.” 

A very good, thorough profile of Bill Hader by Tad Friend.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Mar 15, 2019

I said that I thought the white nationalists and the black radicals understood power as a much more concrete substance than Western liberals had been willing to see it over the past several decades.

The true reality of confronting white supremacy, as learned in South Africa: “It means white people giving things up.”

↩︎ Harper's
Mar 12, 2019

This is the video version of one of the best things we read last week, Patricia Lockwood's "The Communal Mind," about internet humor, Michael Jordan's tears, and the collapse of context.

She was asked to give a lecture at the British Museum. This was hardly deserved. Still, she stood there, and locked them in her mind for an hour. Her face was the fresh imprint of her age. She spoke the words that were there for her to speak; she wore the only kind of shirt available at that time. It was not possible to see where she had gone wrong, where she would go wrong. She said: garfield is a body-positivity icon. She said: abraham lincoln is daddy. She said: the eels in London are on cocaine. 

The set of thefts he describes as the most exquisite of his career are a study in simplicity and sangfroid.

The “World’s Greatest Art Thief” explains his primary motivation: an absent father.

↩︎ GQ
Mar 1, 2019
In the ongoing argument over whether the universe preserves or prevents life, the preservers are currently winning.

While Alex and Senovia were soliciting small donations from neighbors, Benzeevi got on a plane to Israel to meet with Psy-Group.

How a “private Mossad” came to be involved in a small-town election for the hospital board.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Feb 13, 2019

In Flint, Mich., a 2013 audit found just 14 detectives were each juggling an average of 927 cases, including homicides and other violent crimes—a number, auditors wrote, that was “almost beyond comprehension.”

America’s violent crimes are down overall, but unsolved shootings in cities are up, leaving residents with a new uneasiness.

↩︎ BuzzFeed News
Jan 25, 2019

Joseph Thompson, a spokesperson for the Mesquite Police, said, “The suspect did use some racial slurs in each one of them, but it was insufficient to be able to prove that the offenses were motivated by racial bias.”

The number of hate crimes in the US is artificially low, and one reason may be that police don’t correctly classify attacks.

↩︎ BuzzFeed News
Dec 14, 2018

“A lot of things we consider electrification and decarbonization are going to play out through local planning,” Kristov says. “Whether it’s rethinking mobility in urban areas or retrofitting buildings, these are local initiatives that will create local jobs.”

How to redesign an outdated, centralized, top-down power grid.

↩︎ Vox
Dec 3, 2018
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