Monday, July 11

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The Perfect Fire

It started with a candle in an abandoned warehouse. It ended with temperatures above 3,000 degrees and the men of the Worcester Fire Department in a fight for their lives.

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Fantasy Island: The Strange Tale of Alleged Fraudster Pearlasia Gamboa

Behind a financial fraud lay a secret plan to create a “mothership for con artists worldwide”:

Gamboa's tale involves secret ore deposits, hidden stocks of Soviet nuclear armaments, the Queen Mary ocean liner, portions of Antarctica, a new version of the Bible, allegations of fake deaths and miraculous resurrections, and a collection of some of the most colorful aliases ever to grace America's criminal and civil case dockets. (According to court documents, Korem also answers to the names Tzemach Ben David Netzer Korem and Branch Vinedresser.)

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'Little Gitmo'

The story of an imam convicted on a suspect terrorism charge and the place he was sent: a jail in the Midwest where nearly all of the prisoners are Muslims.

Sunday, July 10

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Who Invented the High Five?

The origin story of a now-ubiquitous celebration.

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How to Mend a Broken Heart

A visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Olinka and Drazen are artists, and after some time passed, they did what artists often do: they put their feelings on display. They became investigators into the plane wreck of love, bagging and tagging individual pieces of evidence. Their collection of breakup mementos was accepted into a local art festival. It was a smash hit. Soon they were putting up installations in Berlin, San Francisco, and Istanbul, showing the concept to the world. Everywhere they went, from Bloomington to Belgrade, people packed the halls and delivered their own relics of extinguished love: “The Silver Watch” with the pin pulled out at the moment he first said, “I love you.” The wood-handled “Ex Axe” that a woman used to chop her cheating lover’s furniture into tiny bits. Trinkets that had meaning to only two souls found resonance with a worldwide audience that seemed to recognize the same heartache all too well.

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Damned Yankee

Was Steinbrenner’s Partner the “Madoff of Memorabilia”? Inside a collector’s hoax.

Saturday, July 9

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Did Nancy Grace, TV Crimebuster, Muddy Her Myth?

Because of what happened in Georgia, Ms. Grace has said over and over, she knows firsthand how the system favors hardened criminals over victims. It is the foundation of her judicial philosophy, her motivation in life, her casus belli. And much of it isn’t true.
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My Father Is an African Immigrant and My Mother Is a White Girl from Kansas and I Am Not the President of the United States

 The writer speaks with his father for the first and last time.

My father moved back to Nigeria one month after I was born. Neither I nor my sister Ijeoma, who is a year and a half my elder, have any recollection of him. Over the course of the next 16 years, we did not receive so much as a phone call from him, until one day in the spring of 1999, when a crinkled envelope bearing unfamiliar postage stamps showed up in the mailbox of Ijeoma's first apartment. Enclosed was a brief letter from our father in which he explained the strange coincidence that had led to him "finding" us.* It was a convoluted story involving his niece marrying the brother of one of our mother's close friends from years ago. As a postscript to the letter, he expressed his desire to speak to us and included his telephone number.

Friday, July 8

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Typewriter Man

The need for a new letter on an old manual machine leads the author to the shop of Martin Tytell, now in his seventh decade as repairman, historian, and high priest of typewriters.

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Why Not the Worst?

A search for the “armpit of America” ends in Battle Mountain, Nevada.

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A-R-E-T-H-A

A sit-down with Ms. Franklin.

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Agony and Ivory

As China’s growing upper class has pushed the price of ivory above $700/pound, a look at both the supply and demand side of the global trade in (mostly) illicitly acquired elephant tusks.