Long reads

Weekend long reads – 1 Dec

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

Living On—And Leaving—America’s Biggest Commune – Rena Mundo Croshere (Daily Beast)

Rena Mundo Croshere grew up in 1980s America, but knew nothing of money, makeup, or Madonna. When she moved from her Tennessee commune to Santa Monica, she just wanted to fit in … but at what price?

Hip-Hop on the Brain – Kevin Charles Redmon (Pacific Standard)

My hometown, Minneapolis, may not have been the cradle of hip-hop, but by the late 90s, when I hit high school, it was a Mecca for indie rappers and DJs. More than a few of my friends kept “rhyme books” stashed in their lockers and spent weekends pawing through vinyl at Fifth Element, the local record store.

Death metal: tin mining in Indonesia – Kate Hodal (The Guardian)

If you own a mobile, it’s probably held together by tin from the Indonesian island of Bangka. Mining is wrecking the environment and every year it claims dozens more lives.

Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies – Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens (Mother Jones)

The story of sugar, as Tatem told it, was one of a harmless product under attack by “opportunists dedicated to exploiting the consuming public.” Over the subsequent decades, it would be transformed from what the New York Times in 1977 had deemed “a villain in disguise” into a nutrient so seemingly innocuous that even the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association approved it as part of a healthy diet.

Skeuomorphism and the User Interface – Chris Downer (Realmac Software)

Skeuomorphism is something that users have come to expect in apps for iPhone, iPad and even the Mac these days. It’s easily recognisable, and Apple has mainly been responsible for bringing simulacra back to user interface design in the past few years with iOS, and then extending that to the desktop with OS X Mountain Lion.

Perhaps it is broken, the cover of your diadem […], darkness collar […]? – Charlie Loyd (Basecase)

Besides a pig-centric writer, Lee’s been a boxer, seminarian, knuckleball pitcher, and professor. He has a tight belt and a red face, and his exegesis of Augustine is not demure. He drew the line of time in the air and marched from Creation over to Judgment, chewing the future into the past with his hand. Om nom, slurp crunch. He grinned and read aloud a little hoarsely.

The Awkward Transitions of Disneyland! – FoxxFur (Passport to dreams old and new)

…despite their similarities, Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom operate in entirely dissimilar aesthetic registers. It only makes sense in a reductionist world where there can only be one Disney theme park and only one right way to build it.

Collective intelligence – (Edge)

As all the people and computers on our planet get more and more closely connected, it’s becoming increasingly useful to think of all the people and computers on the planet as a kind of global brain.

As drug industry’s influence over research grows, so does the potential for bias – Peter Whoriskey (Washington Post)

For drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, the 17-page article in the New England Journal of Medicine represented a coup. The 2006 report described a trial that compared three diabetes drugs and concluded that Avandia, the company’s new drug, performed best.

‘You can’t dream’ – asylum seekers in indefinite detention – Elizabeth OShea (Overland)

I come to dread the phone calls. But, even when I am not there to take them, the messages haunt me. An ominous flashing light on my phone, a few buttons pressed; her ghostly voice, barely audible, in my ear.

Thinking Clearly About Personality Disorders – Benedict Carey (New York Times)

This weekend the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association will vote on whether to adopt a new diagnostic system for some of the most serious, and striking, syndromes in medicine: personality disorders.

How President Obama Won a Second Term – Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone)

Political strategist James Carville breaks down where the Republicans went wrong – and what it means for the future.

Subcompact Publishing – Craig Mod (own blog)

When I first saw The Magazine I smiled. I smiled because it was so sensible, so rational, and so immediately obvious.

If Every U.S. State Declared War Against the Others, Which Would Win? – various (Slate)

This question originally appeared on Quora. It was taken from Quora’s “hypothetical battles” topic, where readers “can ask questions and get answer on fighting that wouldn’t likely or ever happen in real life.”

The Coldscape – Nicola Twilley (Cabinet)

More than three-quarters of the food consumed in the United States today is processed, packaged, shipped, stored, and sold under artificial refrigeration. The shiny, humming stainless steel box in your kitchen is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak—a tiny fragment of the vast global network of temperature-controlled storage and distribution warehouses cumulatively capable of hosting uncounted billions of cubic feet of chilled flesh, fish, or fruit.

Secrets of the MMR scare – Brian Deer (BMJ)

In the first part of a special BMJ series, Brian Deer exposes the bogus data behind claims that launched a worldwide scare over the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, and reveals how the appearance of a link with autism was manufactured at a London medical school

Seeing the light: Ed Boyden’s tools for brain hackers – Ed Yong (Wired)

Ed Boyden, an engineer turned neuroscientist, makes tools for brain hackers. In his lab at MIT, he’s built a robot that can capture individual neurons and uses light potentially to control major diseases — all in his quest to ‘solve the brain’. To break into a neuron within a living brain, you need a good eye, extreme patience, months of training, and the ability to suck with gentle care. A mouse lies in front of you, brain exposed. Your mission is to impale one of its neurons with the micrometre-wide tip of a glass pipette.

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