Long reads

Weekend long reads – 03 Nov

Take some time this weekend to delve a bit deeper and enjoy these long reads.

Light entertainment – child abuse and the British public – Andrew O’Hagan (London Review of Books)

A BBC producer from the 1950s told me that he remembers Lionel Gamlin as a person with large ears and a face that seemed to be crumpled in the middle. Unlike the tall and elegant Mitchell, his chief rival, the hero of Hello Children was short and round, with a face for radio.

Faces, places, spaces – Adam Gopnik (The New Yorker)

Important as geography might be, the idea of geography’s importance seems still more important. Though geography is offered as a sobering up after the intoxications of end-of-history ideology, it soon reveals itself as another brandy bottle, with intoxications of its own.

The island where people forget to die – Dan Buettner (New York Times)

I met Moraitis on Ikaria this past July during one of my visits to explore the extraordinary longevity of the island’s residents. For a decade, with support from the National Geographic Society, I’ve been organizing a study of the places where people live longest.

Louis C.K. and the rise of the ‘laptop loners’ – Adam Wilson (Los Angeles Review of Books)

But even among its peers, Louie is an outlier. It is a show that, more than any other, both caters to this new kind of audience — the Laptop Loners — and has, as its creator, a member of the club. C.K. doesn’t just star in Louie, he also writes every episode, directs, produces, and oversees the music. Until recently, he even edited the show on his personal laptop.

The unfolding human catastrophe in Iran – Muhammad Sahimi & Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi (Aljazeera)

During their debate about foreign policy last Monday, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney both agreed that the crippling unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the the United States and its allies must continue, until the Islamic Republic recalibrates its nuclear ambitions.

When a daughter dies – Steven D Levitt (Freakonomics)

Not too long ago, I wrote about my sister Linda, who passed away this summer. Nobody could love a daughter more than my father Michael loved Linda. My father (who is a doctor) was realistic from the start about what modern medicine might be able to do to save his precious daughter from cancer. Even with those low expectations, he was shocked at how impotent — and actually counterproductive — her interactions with the medical system turned out to be. Here, in his own words, is my father’s poignant account of my sister’s experience with medical care.

Ivory worship – Bryan Christy (National Geographic)

In January 2012 a hundred raiders on horseback charged out of Chat into Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjidah National Park, slaughtering hundreds of elephants — entire families — in one of the worst concentrated killings since a global ivory trade ban was adopted in 1989. Carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, they dispatched the elephants with a military precision reminiscent of a 2006 butchering outside Chad’s Zakouma National Park. And then some stopped to pray to Allah.

Proust wasn’t a neuroscientist. Neither was Jonah Lehrer – Boris Kachka (New York Magazine)

We are all bad apples,” wrote Jonah Lehrer, in probably the last back-cover endorsement of his career. “Dishonesty is everywhere … It’s an uncomfortable message, but the implications are huge.” Lehrer’s blurb was for behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves. Among Ariely’s bite-size lessons: We all cheat by a “fudge factor” of roughly 15 percent, regardless of how likely we are to get caught; a few of us advance gradually to bigger and bigger fudges, often driven by social pressures; and it’s only when our backs are up against the wall that we resort to brazen lies.

Hacking the President’s DNA – Andrew Hessel, Marc Goodman & Steven Kotler (The Atlantic)

The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace.

Finding Oscar: massacre, memory and justice in Guatemala – Sebastian Rotella (ProPublica)

The call from Guatemala put Oscar on edge. Prosecutors came looking for you, relatives in his rural hometown told him. Big shots from Guatemala City. They want to talk to you. Oscar Alfredo Ramírez Castañeda had plenty to lose. Although he was living in the United States illegally, the 31-year-old had built a solid life.

How do you raise a prodigy? – Andrew Solomon (New York Times)

Prodigies are able to function at an advanced adult level in some domain before age 12. “Prodigy” derives from the Latin “prodigium,” a monster that violates the natural order. These children have differences so evident as to resemble a birth defect, and it was in that context that I came to investigate them.

The sickening story of Vietnam’s illegal tiger farms and open trade in tiger parts – Shaunak B Modi (Project Biwan)

Over the past decade, several villages in Do Thanh commune in central Vietnam’s Nghe An province have become thrilling markets for trading tiger parts. Tuoi Tre reporters shed light on illegal tiger farms where the large cats are kept in captivity in small, unsanitary cages like those found at pig farms.

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