Saturday, August 20

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The life history of an unassuming Sudanese man, Noor Uthman Muhammed, who has spent the last nine years in Guantánamo Bay prison.

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Notes from the campaign trail in Nevada with Ron Paul.

Part of Longform.org's guide to the 2012 GOP field at Slate.
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Another look at a popular myth.

For the longest time blues fans didn’t even know what their hero looked like—in 1971, a music magazine even hired a forensic artist to make a composite sketch based on various first-hand accounts—until two photos of Robert Johnson finally came to light.  The dapper young man pictured in the most famous photo, dressed in a stylish suit and smiling affably at the camera, hardly looks like a man who has sold his soul to Lucifer.

Friday, August 19

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The story of Robert Quinones:

Fifteen months of carnage in Iraq had left the 29-year-old debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder. But despite his doctor’s urgent recommendation, the Army failed to send him to a Warrior Transition Unit for help. The best the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer was 10-minute therapy sessions — via videoconference. So, early on Labor Day morning last year, after topping off a night of drinking with a handful of sleeping pills, Quinones barged into Fort Stewart’s hospital, forced his way to the third-floor psychiatric ward and held three soldiers hostage, demanding better mental health treatment.

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How the lowest end of American retail does business.

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The creator of the California-based food chain kills his mother, sister and, finally, himself:

From Hollywood to Anaheim, he had opened a chain of fast-food rotisserie chicken restaurants that dazzled the food critics and turned customers into a cult. Poets wrote about his Zankou chicken. Musicians sang about his Zankou chicken. Now that he was dying, his dream of building an empire, 100 Zankous across the land, a Zankou in every major city, would be his four sons’ to pursue. In the days before, he had pulled them aside one by one -- Dikran, Steve, Ara, Vartkes -- and told them he had no regrets. He was 56 years old, that was true, but life had not cheated him. He did not tell them he had just one more piece of business left to do.

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Two 16-year-olds form a suicide pact, driving a Pontiac off a cliff. One of the boys survives:

To many of the people in Fillmore who considered the incident a cause for civic mourning and self-scrutiny, the idea of trying Joe for murdering his best friend seemed outlandish. To a prosecutor, however, the indictment had its own logic. The Ventura County district attorney, Michael Bradbury, was an aggressive law-and-order man, and he had a potentially strong case. With Joe's repeated announcements of his plan to drive off the cliff, the crucial element of premeditation was undeniably present.

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A profile of Tarn and Zach Adams, creators of the computer game Dwarf Fortress:

Dwarf Fortress may not look real, but once you’re hooked, it feels vast, enveloping, alive. To control your world, you toggle between multiple menus of text commands; seemingly simple acts like planting crops and forging weapons require involved choices about soil and season and smelting and ores. A micromanager’s dream, the game gleefully blurs the distinction between painstaking labor and creative thrill.

Thursday, August 18

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In the film bullets approach in slow motion a series of glistening roundels, resembling condoms just taken out of their paper wrappings. Most of the bullets go right through, leaving a clean hole. But the last roundel in the film collapses slowly, wrapping itself around the bullet like a blanket on a laundry line hit by a wayward football. It is a piece of artificially bred human skin, reinforced with eight layers of transgenic spider silk, the material spiders produce to spin their webs.
Translated from the original Dutch, exclusive to Longform.org.
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Inside the lives of students at an elite Beijing high school in the months leading up to gaokao, literally “high test,” the national university admittance exam.

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As divided families argued over whether to stay or go, Jones saw part of his congregation slipping away. Al Simon, father of three, wanted to take his children back to America. "No! No! No!" screamed his wife. Someone whispered to her: "Don't worry, we're going to take care of everything." Indeed, as reporters learned later from survivors, Jones had a plan to plant one or more fake defectors among the departing group, in order to attack them. He told some of his people that the Congressman's plane "will fall out of the sky."
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An attempt to sort out whether Vick is truly a changed man or simply a very gifted football player who was bound to be forgiven.