Tuesday, April 5

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Embedded with an Afghan warlord:

This is a local insurgency, often with local causes: a corrupt district governor, predatory police, or abuses by the local militias, the arbakis.

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A profile of the “lawyer-turned-journalist-turned-talk-show-host-turned-journalist.”

Monday, April 4

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On the battle over solar farms in the Mojave desert. An excerpt from Madrigal’s new book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology.

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This is the piece of writing that inspired me to make the turn from fiction and corporate research into journalism. It’s the best reframing of American society that I’ve ever read. And kudos to Harper’s for running it. It’s not often you see anarchist anthropologists making highly visible contributions to public discourse.

-A. Madrigal

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I love combing through The Atlantic’s archives. There’s almost no better way of grasping the strangeness of the past than to flip through a general interest magazine from 1960. Here, we find Fred Hapgood grappling with what human intelligence meant in the light of new machines that could do something like thinking. Intelligence was being explored in a new way: by finding out what was duplicable about how our minds work. Hapgood's conclusion was that if you could automate a task, it would lose value to humans. What tremendous luck! Humans value that which only humans can do, he argued, regardless of the difficulty of the task. And that because computers were so good at sequential logic problems, we'd eventually end up only respecting emotional understanding, which remained (and remains) beyond the reach of AI.

-A. Madrigal

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Breslin’s unflinching and devastating investigation of the porn industry in Los Angeles would be at home in many an excellent magazine. But Breslin didn’t go that route. Instead, she built a custom site that presents the story with her photographs and design.

-A. Madrigal

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Steven Levy’s piece on cypherpunks and Internet libertarians could not feel more relevant in the wake of WikiLeaks’ rise and the heavily scrutinized role of online organizing in recent revolutions. During Wired’s first year, I’d just gotten an Internet account and had somehow stumbled on the magazine. It became my guide to this hybrid life that we all live now, half-online, half-offline.

-A. Madrigal

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Energy problems are long problems that often receive short solutions. In 2000, when Mother Jones ran this history about what happened to the energy research boom of the late 70s and early 80s, I was buying $0.99 a gallon gas for my Escort. I chose this story because I think longform journalism can keep people interested in these issues that require decadal attention but are subject to year-to-year fluctuations in public interest. And it’s a great story.

-A. Madrigal

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What a century and a half of piled-up housing reveals about New Yorkers.

Saturday, April 2

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On “the Incidents”, three shootings in a single month in a 1,300 person hamlet tucked inside the 12-year-old Nunavut territory. (The complete 4-part series.)

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Who would poison the vines of La Romanée-Conti, the tiny, centuries-old vineyard that produces what most agree is Burgundy’s finest, rarest, and most expensive wine?

Friday, April 1

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Like hundreds of other local slaves — [they] had been pressed into service by the Confederates, compelled to build an artillery emplacement amid the dunes across the harbor. They labored beneath the banner of the 115th Virginia Militia, a blue flag bearing a motto in golden letters: “Give me liberty or give me death.”