Friday, September 2

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The Man With the $16 House

A profile of Ken Robinson, who earned minor fame and more than a few enemies for the controversial way he “bought” his house:

The week after Robinson moved into the tan-sided home with a faux stone entrance and maroon shutters, he was soaring, an Internet hero a few levels shy of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who last summer cracked a beer and left work on a plane's emergency slide. For $16, Robinson had filed paperwork with Denton County staking his claim to the abandoned home through an obscure Texas law called adverse possession. Ever since, curious visitors, beginner real estate investors and people who want an ultra-cheap home to fulfill their version of the American Dream have been knocking on his door for advice and a handshake.

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The Devil in Long Island

The author expounds on culture and crime in the early 90s:

Yes, I know there are sensational tabloid crimes everywhere and the closeness to the Manhattan media nexus tends to magnify everything. But even so, that was always true. There's just no denying that something has changed in the past decade, that, as our bard Billy Joel sings on his new album, there's "lots more to read about, Lolita and suburban lust." But why? Why is this Island different from all other islands? And why are so many Long Islanders suddenly running amok?

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Doubling in the Middle

On the master palindromist, Barry Duncan.

Thursday, September 1

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Ask A Mormon! A Conversation

But you were drinking and having premarital sex, right? Isn’t that kind of an indirect way of questioning your faith? Is disobeying questioning? It can be, but I don't think I was really pondering questions of faith when I started drinking in high school, and the premarital sex didn't actually happen until after I graduated. I think looking back the answer is yes, I was looking at other options. But I didn't think about it in those terms then. I think lots of people of every faith experiment in these ways but ultimately decide to embrace their religion.
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Zombies Are So Hot Right Now

On the fascination, from Hollywood to Atlanta, with zombies.

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The God Clause and the Reinsurance Industry

On the insurer’s insurer and calculating the risk of modern catastrophe:

Reinsurers are ultimately responsible for every new thing that God can come up with. As losses grew this decade, year by year, reinsurers have been working to figure out what they can do to make the God clause smaller, to reduce their exposure. They have billions of dollars at stake. They are very good at thinking about the world to come.

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The Crack-Up

If you are young and you should write asking to see me and learn how to be a somber literary man writing pieces upon the state of emotional exhaustion that often overtakes writers in their prime -- if you should be so young and fatuous as to do this, I would not do so much as acknowledge your letter, unless you were related to someone very rich and important indeed. And if you were dying of starvation outside my window, I would go out quickly and give you the smile and the voice (if no longer the hand) and stick around till somebody raised a nickel to phone for the ambulance, that is if I thought there would be any copy in it for me.
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The Body on Somerton Beach

Beyond the fact that he lacked a pulse, little is known about the man found on an Adelaide beach in 1948.

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New York 9|11: The Winners

September 11, 2001 was an atrocity – but also, for some, a goldmine.

Wednesday, August 31

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Sex & Death in the Afternoon

An oral history of the soap opera.

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Revenge of the Doughnut Boys

In America's third oldest major city, a new sport has been born. It's called rustling cars. According to auto‑theft statis­tics, Newark has the highest rate of car theft per capita in the nation, more than forty cars each day. Sixty‑five percent of the thefts are perpetrated by teens and preteens, known hereabouts as the Doughnut Boys.
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Syria's Sons of No One

Inside the safe houses where Syrian youth protesters have retreated since the uprising:

Around his neck he wore a tiny toy penguin that was actually a thumb drive, which he treated like a talisman, occasionally squeezing it to make sure it was still there. I sat next to him on the mattress and watched as he traded messages with other activists on Skype, then updated a Facebook page that serves as an underground newspaper, then marked a Google Earth map of Homs with the spots of the latest unrest. “If there’s no Internet,” Abdullah said, “there’s no life.”