Sunday, March 4

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Gold Coins: The Mystery of the Double Eagle

The hunt for rare 1933 Double Eagle coins:

The U.S. Secret Service, responsible for protecting the nation’s currency, has been pursuing them for nearly 70 years, through 13 Administrations and 12 different directors. The investigation has spanned three continents and involved some of the most famous coin collectors in the world, a confidential informant, a playboy king, and a sting operation at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. It has inspired two novels, two nonfiction books, and a television documentary. And much of it has centered around a coin dealer, dead since 1990, whose shop is still open in South Philadelphia, run by his 82-year-old daughter.

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One Awful Night in Thanh Phong

"I thought dying for your country was the worst thing that could happen to you, and I don't think it is. I think killing for your country can be a lot worse. Because that's the memory that haunts."

On February 25, 1969, Bob Kerrey led a raid into a Vietnamese peasant hamlet during which at least 13 unarmed women and children were killed.

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How Now, Mr Chow? The Sweet ’n Sour Saga Behind the City’s Epic Food Fight

Inside a restaurant lawsuit.

Michael Chow’s complaint, which sought $21 million in damages, alleged that the team behind Philippe, including chef Philippe Chau, restaurateur Stratis Morfogen (also behind the well-received Ciano) and several codefendants, appropriated the Satay recipe and 11 other Mr Chow standbys, the “modern” decor of Mr Chow’s restaurants and even the name Chow—thereby engaging in deceptive trade practices, swiping trade secrets and infringing on the Mr Chow trademark.

Saturday, March 3

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The war in Chechnya: Diary of a Spetsnaz

The excerpts from a diary of an anonymous Russian special-forces officer who served twenty tours of duty in Chechnya during the Second Chechen War (1999-2009). He tells of torture, civilian killings, female suicide bombers and becoming desensitized to it all.

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Björk’s Big Bang

The artist discusses her latest record, Biophilia, science and music education. 

Up until she developed a vocal-cord nodule a few years ago, Björk made a point of not investigating how that instrument worked. “With arrangements and lyrics,” she says, squinting over her coffee, “I work more with the left side of my brain. But my voice has always been very right brain. I didn’t try to analyze it at all. I didn’t even know until I started all this voice work, two years ago, what my range was. I didn’t want to let the academic side into that—I worried the mystery would go.”

Friday, March 2

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Cat People

An analysis of Dr. Seuss’ literature.

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Broken Windows

The landmark article that changed the way communities were policed:

This wish to "decriminalize" disreputable behavior that "harms no one"- and thus remove the ultimate sanction the police can employ to maintain neighborhood order—is, we think, a mistake. Arresting a single drunk or a single vagrant who has harmed no identifiable person seems unjust, and in a sense it is. But failing to do anything about a score of drunks or a hundred vagrants may destroy an entire community. A particular rule that seems to make sense in the individual case makes no sense when it is made a universal rule and applied to all cases. It makes no sense because it fails to take into account the connection between one broken window left untended and a thousand broken windows.

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The Fire Next Door

A chronicle of the 2010 wildfire that burned down 169 homes in Colorado, told via the people who lived through it.

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The Wrath of Putin

Putin v. Khodorkovsky:

Almost a decade ago, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, then the owner of the Yukos Oil Company and Russia’s richest man, completely miscalculated the consequences of standing up to Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s president. Putin had Khodorkovsky arrested, completely miscalculating the consequences of putting him in prison. During his eight years in confinement, Khodorkovsky has become Russia’s most trusted public figure and Putin’s biggest political liability. As long as Putin rules Russia and Khodorkovsky continues to act like Khodorkovsky, Khodorkovsky will remain in prison—and Putin will remain terrified of him.

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The Deadliest Place In Mexico

Murder in the Juarez Valley:

A few weeks after Saul Reyes and his family fled Mexico, I drove to an immigrant shelter in downtown El Paso to see him. As the former city secretary of Guadalupe, Saul had once been in charge of recording the births and deaths of everyone in his hometown. He’d taken it upon himself now to collect every single name of those who had died or disappeared in Guadalupe since the killing began in 2008. Through media reports and meetings with the many valley exiles now living in Texas, Saul had compiled a list of the town’s dead and disappeared. Showing me the book, he turned page after page of names. So far he had counted 180 dead, 26 disappeared, and eight unknown bodies dumped in his small town of 3,000 people. “There are a lot more, but these are the ones I’ve been able to collect,” he said. In his careful, spidery script, he had written on one page the names of his six family members.

Thursday, March 1

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Online Poker Kings Get Cashed Out

How the Justice Department killed a $2.5 billion industry.