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

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
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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.

↩︎ WIRED
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

This battle is epic and undecided. If we miss the two-degree target, we will fight to prevent a rise of three degrees, and then four. It’s a long escalator down to Hell.

Thirty years after his early climate change reporting, Bill McKibben assesses our extraordinary hubris in the face of extinction.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Nov 19, 2018

As the lines started to build up, his employees got stressed out, and the stress would cause them to not be as friendly, or to shout out crazy long wait times for burgers in an attempt to maybe convince people to leave, and things fell by the wayside. 

A food writer reckons with the knowledge that his glowing review killed a restaurant by overwhelming it with too much business.

↩︎ Thrillist
Nov 16, 2018
Rosecrans Baldwin spent a month on a "life cleanse" in L.A. Getting his personality reprogrammed was never part of the plan.

I had read the Didion essay, had imagined being her there, or being the friend the people owed at a party, or having been so impractical as to have my sheets blowing in the wind outside my window, and it was easy to imagine her past as my future.

Alexander Chee on learning to live in—and love—New York.

↩︎ Longreads
Oct 31, 2018

Those who have lived their entire lives in functioning democracies may find it hard to grasp how easily minds can be won over to the totalitarian dark side. We assume such a passage would require slow, laborious persuasion. It does not. 

Democracy is a hard-won, easily rolled back state of affairs—“from which many secretly yearn to be released.”

↩︎ The New York Review of Books
Oct 18, 2018
Evidence shows that literature can reshape a reader's mind—even perhaps when thoughts aren't overtly expressed or described.

I was glad I wasn’t wearing a wire, but mostly I was thinking, “If this gets bad, just claw your way over that fence to the street! Don’t let yourself fall to the ground with a hundred guys trying to stomp you with steel-toed boots.”

Confessions of an ATF agent who infiltrated one of Los Angeles’s worst motorcycle gangs.

↩︎ Los Angeles Magazine
Oct 18, 2018
An investigation into "a new and incendiary business: militarized contract killing, carried out by skilled American fighters."

He sent colleagues an email with video of the near-collision. Its subject line was “Prius vs. Camry.” He remained in his leadership role and continued taking cars on non-official routes.

A longread on Google’s overambitious former head of autonomous cars makes you wonder whether self-driving cars are worth the hype.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Oct 17, 2018

Walking around the Upper East Side, where I live, I find it striking how many of the establishments still standing among the many darkened windows are hair salons, nail salons, facial salons, eyebrow places, and restaurants. 

Manhattan is a wealthy ghost town, empty but for places selling things that Amazon can’t provide.

↩︎ The Atlantic
Oct 16, 2018

Because some guests still stumble in by chance while others make reservations months ahead, the clientele is notably eclectic: bow hunters and backpackers, Paul Simon and Scarlett Johansson and Jamaica Kincaid. 

Two chefs found success in one of the unlikeliest places in Utah. Now they’re doing “hand-to-hand combat” with the White House.

↩︎ The New Yorker
Oct 16, 2018
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