The magician who spent his life debunking spiritualists and exposing con men.
New York Times Magazine
On Nigeria’s citizen vigilantes who’ve banded together to fight Islamist terrorists.
The Interstellar director and the art of the blockbuster cult film.
An American journalist on being kidnapped, tortured and released in Syria.
A small New Jersey town is world-famous among Orthodox Jews as a place to come ask for handouts.
Sarah Marquis’s very long hike.
How the tech billionaire came to own 87,000 acres, three hotels, a wastewater treatment plant, a cemetery and 380 cats.
A profile of the novelist, who is surprised to be alive.
Almost 40 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with limits on abortion. Activists like Rebecca Gompert imagine a future where those limits are meaningless because most abortions happen at home.
Once their careers end, pro wrestlers often fall into emotional and physical disrepair. One of their own, Diamond Dallas Page, has a fix.
Inside the dark, lucrative world of consumer debt collection.
Excerpted from Bad Paper.
On frozen dumplings, industrial freezers, and what the future could hold after China’s burgeoning refrigeration boom.
Rand Paul as the movement’s Pearl Jam.
A profile of Garry Kasparov, who exiled himself from Russia last year and is running for president of FIDE, the governing body of chess. The election has become the dirtiest in FIDE history and a proxy debate over freedom and Russia’s future; Kasparov’s opponent has the full backing of Vladimir Putin.
A profile of a doctor fighting Ebola in Uganda.
A profile of “America’s most vulnerable comedian.”
The salacious correspondence between the President and his mistress.
Severely depressed snow leopards, obsessive-compulsive brown bears, phobic zebras and the inner lives of other captive creatures.
How Hafeez Contractor is creating an alternate India in the sky, where professionsals are “insulated from the chaos that has long hamstrung their homeland.”
How America is trying to fight terrorism in Africa without doing any of the actual fighting.
How Leo Sharp got busted.
The Srebrenica massacre, almost 20 years later.
A profile of the internet’s poet, Patricia Lockwood.
Rich students complete their college degrees; working-class students usually don’t. How one school is trying to intervene.
"Caught between the dealers and the cops in Hazleton, Pa., is a woman with a bad habit."
Previously: Susan Dominus on the Longform Podcast.
How P. Rajagopal, the founder of one of the world’s largest vegetarian restaurant chains, got away with murder.
“Successful brand identities in the House and on talk radio have never before relied on such similar skill sets — there has never been so much politics in media, and media in politics.”
Shamir is 15, bored and broke and balancing right on the edge.
Barack Obama wanted to endorse gay marriage on his own timetable. Joe Biden had other plans.
On the trail of the phantom women who changed American music and vanished without a trace.
Stolen time with the writer as he neared the end.
How Brad Katsuyama, a trader at the sleepy Royal Bank of Canada, discovered that the stock market was rigged and assembled a team to change it.
Adapted from Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.
The creators of some of the most distinctive craft beers in the world are identical twins from Denmark. They also can’t stand each other.
Previously: Jonah Weiner on the Longform Podcast.
How activists are using science to show that someone can be truly attracted to both a man and a woman.
On the coach’s battle with retirement.
How Owen came to communicate again.
In Hollywood’s new blockbuster economy, the actors who portray superheroes are as interchangeable as the costumes they wear.
Why 85-year-old Jacques-André Istel established a town (population: 2) on 2,600 acres in the middle of the Arizona desert (but not before becoming a sky diving legend, among other things).
Why do Syrian civilians in a Turkish camp live in relative luxury?
A tale of ambition, motherhood and political mythmaking in the race for governor of Texas.
In between projects, the director searches for “that next soul-nourishing gig.”
On the Netflix hit drama and its show runner, Beau Willimon.
The improbable life and career of the sculptor-turned-musician.
A profile of Shaun White.
John Aldridge fell overboard in the middle of the night, 40 miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was looking in the wrong place. How did he survive?
A battle against an invasive breed of ants has begun in Texas. It also might be over already.
The journey from a Sudanese refugee camp to an Atlanta police academy.
On the volunteer “Wikipedians” who devote their free time to editing Wikipedia.
A pair of undercover journalists, a boatload of refugees, 200 miles of ocean and a journey that has claimed more than a thousand lives.
On the Kunsthal heist and the murky economics of making money from stolen paintings.
Returning to Forth Worth after two and a half defection years in the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald became friends with a Russian emigre family with a son of his age. After Kennedy was shot, they would be called on to translate the Secret Service interrogation of his young Russian wife.
A profile of former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice, who was fired in April after a video of him berating players went viral.
The Giant Pacific Octopus is, in the words of a Seattle conservationist, a “glamour animal.” It is also tasty. Therein lies the conflict.
On the service’s multiple origin stories. An excerpt from Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal.
The world’s most famous child star grows up.
A woman starts a new job with a massive, all-knowing social media company; an excerpt from Eggers' The Circle, coming in October.
"Mae looked at the time. It was 6 o’clock. She had plenty of hours to improve, there and then, so she embarked on a flurry of activity, sending 4 zings and 32 comments and 88 smiles. In an hour, her PartiRank rose to 7,288. Breaking 7,000 was more difficult, but by 8, after joining and posting in 11 discussion groups, sending another 12 zings, one of them rated in the top 5,000 globally for that hour, and signing up for 67 more feeds, she’d done it. She was at 6,872, and she turned to her InnerCircle social feed. She was a few hundred posts behind, and she made her way through, replying to 70 or so messages, RSVPing to 11 events on campus, signing nine petitions and providing comments and constructive criticism on four products currently in beta."
Rosario Crocetta is a reform-minded leader in a highly corrupt place that hates change. That’s only one of the reasons his life is in danger.
On the best teacher the writer ever had.
A profile of Elizabeth Gilbert, whose bestselling memoir may have sunk her literary career.
A 27-year old reporter is kidnapped in Somalia and held hostage for over a year.
A case of mistaken identity and the incarceration of an innocent man.
A profile of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who last January received “a curious e-mail from an anonymous stranger requesting her public encryption key.”
“You know a storm is going to be bad, people in Oklahoma will tell you, when Gary England removes his jacket.” A profile of a meteorologist who has worked Tornado Alley for more than 40 years.
Women who left their careers to be stay-at-home mothers reflect on the decision ten years later.
The misidentification of a Boston Marathon bomber and the future of breaking news.
Team America voyages to Jordan’s King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center to compete against top-seeded China and other squads in challenges based on counter-terrorism scenarios.
How a bioethicist’s field of study—suicide, euthanasia, a dignified death—”turned unbearably personal.”
Jurors from the Emmett Till trial revisit the case 50 years later.
A profile of the writer behind “Deep Thoughts” on Saturday Night Live.
How Gaby Hoffman, who had roles in Field of Dreams, Uncle Buck and Sleepless in Seattle, survived child stardom.
The rise and fall and rise of Hill flack Kurt Bardella, and what it says about D.C. culture.
After being fired from both Nirvana and Soundgarden, Jason Everman joined the Special Forces.
The long, strange trip of the Wikipedia founder, who went from being an Insane Clown Posse fan who owned the “Bomis Babe Report” to a jet-setter married to “the most connected woman in London,” all without turning much of a profit.
On living in Syria as an Alawite loyalist.
On an artist who’s spent nearly 50 years bending the rules of space and light, and his life’s work, an extinct volcano in Arizona where he has been developing a network of tunnels and underground rooms since 1974.
The Yale professor suspected of murdering his student.
How the foreclosure crisis ignited a new form of activism in Chicago’s vacant homes.
“I haven’t put out an album in 20 years. Let’s face it. I am an oldies act. I just don’t want it to be like when you watch Channel 13 and there’s the Delltones or some English band from the ’60s, and they’re real crotchety and they look terrible, and I go, ‘Oh, God, I don’t want to be on that show.’”
Inside Brigham Young University’s successful animation program.
The pharmaceutical quest to give women a better sex life.
How the former CEO of McKinsey, who was indicted in the largest insider trading case in United States history, got played.
Medicine used to be obsessed with eradicating the tiny bugs that live within us. Now we’re beginning to understand all the ways they keep us healthy.
An endangered-species murder mystery in Hawaii.
How social psychologist Diederik Stapel committed and rationalized an audacious academic fraud, and what his lies reveal about the culture of scientific research.
Why awareness isn’t saving lives.
On “Operation Bambi,” the secret plan to oust “Today” show co-host Ann Curry.
A profile of the spy writer.
The private life of a disgraced former congressman.
On former nursing student One L. Goh, who killed six people at Oikos University in Oakland, California, and what it means to the Korean immigrant community.
A profile of organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who argues that the key to success comes from helping others.
A profile of a 51-year-old preparing himself for the inevitable.
A world-renowned physicist’s miscalculation.
A son tries to make sense of his mother’s end.
A journey on the Sunset Limited, which ferries people from Louisiana to California.
Inside the battle for how America snacks.
The GOP’s younger generation confronts its future.
Calculating restitution for victims of child pornography.
Twenty years ago, Ramaphosa was by Mandela’s side as apartheid ended and in line to become deputy president. He didn’t get the job. Now one of the richest men in Africa, he’s finally getting the chance.
As NATO leaves, the Afghan National Army grapples with a resilient Taliban.
Tales of mayhem on the set of The Canyons.
“For people who pay close attention to the state of American fiction, he has become a kind of superhero.”
“I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.”
On the reality TV empire of Thom Beers, creator of Deadliest Catch.
On a business that sells packaged pre-sliced apples as snack food.
A species of jellyfish that can transform itself back to a polyp at any time appears to debunk the most fundamental law of the natural world — you are born, and then you die.
The story of a rookie clinging to his dream, as told by his uncle.
Ashlyn Blocker, 13, has a “congenital insensitivity to pain.”
Why do Ikarians live so long—and remain mentally sharp until the end?
Zaranj: the bloody border of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
JPMorgan Chase’s $6 billion mistake and the woman who took the fall.
The failed deposal of a university president.
How meteorologists are improving their predictive powers.
The Buckeye State’s fortunes and the fight for credit.
When jobs vanish, Southern men find new ways to contribute.
Freedom, the GOP, and a rhesus macaque on the loose.
The liberation of the Williams sisters.
On a former Louisiana preacher who converted to Atheism.
As a young community organizer in Chicago, Barack Obama concluded that to make a real difference, he needed to gain power. A look at how that plan has worked thus far.
On gender-variant kids, and their parents.
How Cosmo, with 64 international editions and a readership that would make it the world’s 16th largest country, conquered the globe.
How and why did 200 pages of the Aleppo Codex, “the oldest, most complete, most accurate text of the Hebrew Bible,” go missing?
Greg Ousley killed his parents and has been locked up for nineteen years.
Is that enough?
Inside a small town revived by an influx of immigrants and then destroyed by a Homeland Security raid.
The murderous tale of Washington D.C. fabulist Albrecht Muth and his late wife Viola Drath.
On caring for a bipolar parent amidst a broken mental health care system.
On Jenny Craig’s European expansion and how dieting differs in France and the States.
The Horace Mann School’s secret history of sexual abuse.
Ostensibly straight black men who have sex with other men.
Ina May Gaskin and the battle for at-home births.
On the final two holdouts in Treece, Kansas, a former mining town that is soon to be wiped off the maps.
New research on children’s behavior.
The idea that a young child could have psychopathic tendencies remains controversial among psychologists. Laurence Steinberg, a psychologist at Temple University, has argued that psychopathy, like other personality disorders, is almost impossible to diagnose accurately in children, or even in teenagers — both because their brains are still developing and because normal behavior at these ages can be misinterpreted as psychopathic.
Romney’s former Bain partner makes a case for inequality.
A profile of the hardworking Samuel L. Jackson, whose movies have grossed more than any actor’s ever.
Alabama’s chemical-endangerment law was passed to protect kids from meth labs. But is the prosecution of about 60 mothers – and the definition of “child” extended to “unborn child” – pushing its boundaries too far?
“That learning to cook could lead an American woman to success of any kind would have seemed utterly implausible in 1949; that it is so thoroughly plausible 60 years later owes everything to Julia Child’s legacy.”
On the possibility of “fluid intelligence.”
The real-life events that inspired the new Richard Linklater dark comedy Bernie:
It’s a story about people believing what they want to believe, even when there’s evidence to the contrary. It’s a story about people not being what they seem. And it’s a story, as the movie poster says, “so unbelievable it must be true.” Which it is. I know this because the widow in the freezer was, in real life, my Aunt Marge, Mrs. Marjorie Nugent, my mother’s sister and, depending on whom you ask, the meanest woman in East Texas. She was 81 when she was murdered, and Bernie Tiede, her constant companion and rumored paramour, was 38. He’ll be eligible for parole in 2027, when he’ll be 69.
The Hyperaddictive, Time-Sucking, Relationship-Busting, Mind-Crushing Power and Allure of Silly Digital Games
From Tetris to Angry Birds, an examination of “stupid games.”
Lessons learned about Washington from investigating how the “grand bargain” fell apart.
The changing landscape of the Lower Ninth Ward in post-Katrina New Orleans:
There have been sightings of armadillos, coyotes, owls, hawks, falcons and even a four-foot alligator, drinking from a leaky fire hydrant. Rats have been less of a problem lately because of the stray cats and the birds of prey. But it’s not just animals that emerge from the weeds.
How the world’s biggest casino ran out of luck.
A report from Austin, Texas as it turns into a dot-com hotspot.
On Jonny Greenwood:
Greenwood is an anomaly: a musician who made his name with a rock band and who is now embraced by the modern-music establishment as an actual, serious composer. The night before the Alvernia session, he was onstage in an aircraft-hangar-size room at a steel plant in Krakow, performing the minimalist composer Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint” for an audience that included Reich himself, as part of a weeklong new-music festival, Sacrum Profanum. (Reich is a fan; he praises Greenwood’s decision to have the string section play with guitar picks on “Popcorn Superhet” as “the first new approach to pizzicato since Bartok.”) He wasn’t the only performer at Sacrum Profanum with pop-music credentials — the bill also included the techno provocateur Aphex Twin and Adrian Utley, from the trip-hop band Portishead. But he was the only guy from a superfamous rock band whose singer has appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.
How a mysterious twitching epidemic overtook one Western New York town.
People know Krugman these days as a feisty political polemicist, but back when he was less politically engaged he was absolutely one of the very finest popularizers of economic ideas ever. This piece is a wonderful, brief introduction to the fundamental economic forces driving the world and a lot of my current thinking is preoccupied with the questions it raises. Reading it again, I realized that a point I like to make about the elevator being a great mass transit technology is almost certainly something I subconsciously picked up here.
A profile of Suge Knight, 29 and the C.E.O. of Death Row Records, before the deaths of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.
"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.
On the difficult challenges faced by an auteur in Nigeria’s burgeoning Nollywood film economy.
How the former U.N. weapon’s inspector and “loudest and most credible skeptic of the Bush administration’s contention that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction” ended up embroiled in an Internet sex scandal involving underage girls.
Inside the world of targeted marketing.
"Look, people's lives are people's lives, and some of them can't cope or be as organized as some of us might like. But it's only in the area of sex that we get involved in the ethics of promoting risk-taking, the idea that we should withhold information or devices because we don't want people to need them. Would you make the same argument about cholesterol drugs? Saying, If we give people a drug that will reduce cholesterol, they won't be as likely to exercise and eat properly like they really should?"
On literary tourism:
Dickens World, in other words, sounded less like a viable business than it did a mockumentary, or a George Saunders short story, or the thought experiment of a radical Marxist seeking to expose the terminal bankruptcy at the heart of consumerism. And yet it was real.
A thirteen-year-old adoptee born in Russia with fetal alcohol syndrome, his golden sheperd Chancer, and the trainer who taught Chancer to bond emotionally with disabled children.
Fighting to the finish in the most dangerous region of Afghanistan.
How prison changed the mother and militant who was sentenced to 75 years for her role in a deadly 1981 Brinks truck heist.
A profile of comedian Ricky Gervais.
Lessons learned about white-collar crime from an economist turned bagel salesman whose business relied entirely on the honor system.
A little after 9 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1990, the owner of a steel-products company pulled up to her office in Vinegar Hill, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and spotted a black garbage bag sitting on the sidewalk out front. She parked her car and went to move the bag when she noticed it leaking blood. The woman called 911. Within the hour, Ken Whelan, a homicide detective from the 84th Precinct, peered into the bag. It was full of human body parts.
A suburban dad. A fictional television blowhard. And now a political money launderer. How one funny guy became three.
A step-by-step proposal for fixing the broken economics of big-time college sports.
Alarmingly sophisticated imitations of American currency have turned up all over the world and the false-paper trail leads to North Korea.
After decades of failed revitalization strategies, a town of 10,000 tries another.
In the fantasy and superhero realm, the most chilling and compelling villain of the year was surely Magneto, who in X-Men: First Class is more of a proto-villain, a victim of human cruelty with a grudge against the nonmutants of the world rooted in bitter and inarguable experience. Magneto is all the more fascinating by virtue of being played by Michael Fassbender, the hawkishly handsome Irish-German actor whose on-screen identity crises dominated no fewer than four movies in 2011. Magneto, more than the others, also evokes a curious kind of self-reproach, because his well-founded vendetta is, after all, directed against us.
On the strengths and limitations of the Republican frontrunner:
“The Mormon’s never going to win the who-do-you-want-to-have-a-beer-with contest,” concedes one adviser, while another acknowledges, “He’s never had the experience of sitting in a bar, and like, talking.”
Prosecutors have spun creative theories to explain away scientific evidence when DNA tests haven’t fit their version of events.
A profile of Jim Henson before the release of the first Muppet movie.
On Al Vernacchio, the best sex ed teacher in America.
Whoever wants to enchant America’s conservative base as well as independents looking for a steady hand amid economic upheaval must try to grasp what has carried Cain this far — what not only shields him from spectacular attempts at self-immolation but also, with each incident, seems to make him stronger. Why, with this candidate, do the laws of physics seem not to apply?
A few years ago, before anyone knew his name, before rap artists from all over the country started hitting him up for music, the rap producer Lex Luger, born Lexus Lewis, now age 20, sat down in his dad’s kitchen in Suffolk, Va., opened a sound-mixing program called Fruity Loops on his laptop and created a new track... Months later, Luger — who says he was “broke as a joke” by that point, about to become a father for the second time and seriously considering taking a job stocking boxes in a warehouse — heard that same beat on the radio, transformed into a Waka song called “Hard in da Paint.” Before long, he couldn’t get away from it.
The specter of a biological attack is difficult for almost anyone to imagine. It makes of the most mundane object, death: a doorknob, a handshake, a breath can become poison. Like a nuclear bomb, the biological weapon threatens such a spectacle of horror — skin boiling with smallpox pustules, eyes blackened with anthrax lesions, the rotting bodies of bubonic plagues — that it can seem the province of fantasy or nightmare or, worse, political manipulation.
Inside the Afghan Local Police, who are accused of killing and raping villagers, and are believed to be the United States’s last shot in Afghanistan.
Nick now claims that he was searching for methamphetamine for his entire life, and when he tried it for the first time, as he says, ''That was that.'' It would have been no easier to see him strung out on heroin or cocaine, but as every parent of a methamphetamine addict comes to learn, this drug has a unique, horrific quality.
Assessing 40 years of treatment.
My abiding faith in the possibility of self-transformation propelled me from one therapist to the next, ever on the lookout for something that seemed tormentingly out of reach, some scenario that would allow me to live more comfortably in my own skin. For all my doubts about specific tenets and individual psychoanalysts, I believed in the surpassing value of insight and the curative potential of treatment — and that may have been the problem to begin with.
A profile of Mike Judge, creator of the now-resuscitated Beavis and Butthead.
Retirement for chimps is, in its way, a perversely natural outcome, which is to say, one that only we, the most cranially endowed of the primates, could have possibly concocted. It's the final manifestation of the irrepressible and ultimately vain human impulse to bring inside the very walls that we erect against the wilderness its most inspiring representatives -- the chimps, our closest biological kin, the animal whose startling resemblance to us, both outward and inward, has long made it a ''can't miss'' for movies and Super Bowl commercials and a ''must have'' in our laboratories. Retirement homes are, in a sense, where we've been trying to get chimps all along: right next door.
The controversy over a widely-used prostate cancer screening test.
Once the pirates were in control of the Lynn Rival, they ransacked it, flinging open cupboards, eating all of the Chandlers’ cookies and stealing their money, watches, rings, electronics, their satellite phone and clothes. There were now 10 men; two more pirates had scampered onboard to join the others. After showering and draining the Chandlers’ entire supply of fresh water, they started trying on outfits. A broad-shouldered buccaneer named Buggas, who appeared to be the boss, was especially fond of their waterproof trousers, parading up and down the deck wearing them, while some of the other pirates strutted around in Rachel’s brightly colored pants and blouses.
On the constantly evolving definition of insider trading and the lingering question of how inside traders should be punished.
The original article on Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, published a month before the release of Moneyball.
The history of – and recent controversy over – the diagnosis.
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?
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.”
A profile of Barry Bonds published as the steroid talk intensified.
When the greatest players in the world go head-to-head, things can get downright angsty.
How the lowest end of American retail does business.
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.
What is it about terminating half a twin pregnancy that seems more controversial than reducing triplets to twins or aborting a single fetus? After all, the math’s the same either way: one fewer fetus. Perhaps it’s because twin reduction (unlike abortion) involves selecting one fetus over another, when either one is equally wanted. Perhaps it’s our culture’s idealized notion of twins as lifelong soul mates, two halves of one whole. Or perhaps it’s because the desire for more choices conflicts with our discomfort about meddling with ever more aspects of reproduction.
On the restauranteur behind New York’s Gramercy Tavern and Shake Shack.
The intertwined destinies of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez.
A profile of twenty-seven-year-old James O’Keefe, who came to national attention during the last election after his prank videos stung ACORN and Planned Parenthood. A subsequent attempt to bug Senator Mary Landrieu’s phones resulted in jail time for O’Keefe.
For years, homosexuals have, for the most part, been politically apathetic. Rarely did a candidate stir their enthusiasm; when homosexuals did vote, many of the more affluent ones tended to go Republican. But now the gay and lesbian community appears to be united for the first time in a Presidential race behind a single candidate -- Bill Clinton. And the money is pouring into the Clinton campaign -- $2 million so far from identifiably gay sources, according to Democratic Party estimates. "The gay community is the new Jewish community," says Rahm Emanuel, the Clinton campaign's national finance director. "It's highly politicized, with fundamental health and civil rights concerns. And it contributes money. All that makes for a potent political force, indeed."
Yemen on the brink of hell:
In a sense, south Yemen itself offers a grim cautionary tale about the events now unfolding in Taiz and across the country. Until 1990, when the two Yemens merged, South Yemen was a beacon of development and order. Under the British, who ruled the south as a colony until 1967, and the Socialists, who ran it for two decades afterward, South Yemen had much higher literacy rates than the north. Child marriage and other degrading tribal practices came to an end; women entered the work force, and the full facial veil became a rarity. It was only after Ali Abdullah Saleh imposed his writ that things began to change. When the south dared to rebel against him in 1994, Saleh sent bands of jihadis to punish it. The north began treating the south like a slave state, expropriating vast plots of private and public land for northerners, along with the oil profits. Tribal practices returned. Violent jihadism began to grow.
In Afghanistan and other zones of international crisis with John Kerry:
Why, then, does Kerry bother? Why is he racing back and forth to put out the fires being set by a serial arsonist? I asked him about this on the short flight from Kabul to Islamabad. Kerry tried to put the best possible face on what he had learned. Despite the warlords in Kabul, he said, Karzai had appointed some talented officials at the provincial and district levels. “It’s a mixed bag,” he concluded gamely. Kerry knew Karzai’s failings as well as anyone, but he was not prepared to abandon Afghanistan’s president, because he was not prepared to abandon Afghanistan. But why not?
At work with Jean-Claude Carrière, screenwriter of choice for an entire generation of top-flight directors.
A trip to the Cannabis Cup serves as a backdrop for the story of how the War on Drugs revolutionized the way marijuana is cultivated in America.
On why the Anthony Weiner story makes people more uncomfortable than simple cheating, the shifting meaning of faithfulness in marriage, and the relationship ideals espoused by Dan Savage:
In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.
There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.
On therapists who help people stay in the closet.
On the relationship between Keith Olbermann and the camera.
A journey to Disney World with kids and weed.
A profile of filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar during the 2004 Cannes International Film Festival.
In a shantytown near Johannesburg, an angry mob committed a horrifying crime that was caught on video.
A dispatch from the early days of AIDS:
It is as relentless as leukemia, as contagious as hepatitis, and its cause has eluded researchers for more than two years.
On the shared life of Tatiana and Krista Hogan:
[T]he girls’ doctors believe it is entirely possible that the sensory input that one girl receives could somehow cross that bridge into the brain of the other. One girl drinks, another girl feels it.
In the 1970s, Kelbessa Negewo was a midlevel administrator in Ethiopia’s brutal Red Terror regime. In the 1990s, he was a bellhop in an Atlanta hotel. Then someone he had tortured back home recognized him.
On the investors betting big on the Iraqi economy, which they believe has nowhere to go but up.
In his first Major League at bat, Adam Greenberg was hit in the head with a fastball. He never made it back.
On 21st-century prospectors:
Shawn Ryan is the king of a new Yukon gold rush, the biggest since the legendary Klondike stampede a century ago. Behind this stampede is the rising price of gold, and behind this price is fear.
The wreckage has been found at the bottom of the Atlantic. But the mystery of how it got there—“no other passenger jet in modern history had disappeared so completely”—remains unsolved.
What if soldiers from ‘Kill Team’ (and others who have murdered innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq) aren’t simply the “few bad apples” that military writes them off as?
In 1967, Stanley Ann Dunham took her 6-year-old son, Barry, on an adventure to Indonesia. An excerpt from A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother.
A profile of CeaseFire, a group of “violence interrupters” attempting to prevent street shootings by treating them like an infectious disease.
The emergence of a radio phenomenon popular amongst young demographic believed lost to interactive distractions.
Ramón González’s middle school is a model for how an empowered principal can transform a troubled school. But can he maintain that momentum when the forces of reform are now working against him?
The sudden, bloody transformation of normal citizens into rebels.
How Dennis from Head of the Class grew up to be the Aaron Sorkin of tween television.
A profile of 21-year-old Dan Cates, who made $5.5 million playing 145,215 hands in 2010.
Sasha Shulgin, a former DOW chemist who now lives a quiet life as a pensioner outside the Bay Area, is responsible for the discovery of the majority of psychedelic compounds currently known.
A profile of Zack Snyder, director of Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead, and the upcoming Superman series.
Peter Zumthor, who recently won the Pritzker Prize after a career of few buildings and mostly modest-in-size projects, on the “architecture of actually making things”
Is Dr. Drew’s “Celebrity Rehab” therapy or tabloid voyeurism?
Inside the thriving subculture of Japanese men who eschew sex and romance with real live people in favor of real relationships with 2-D characters printed on body pillows.
On Baylor’s freshman basketball star Perry Jones and how the new era of one-season careers has changed the landscape of college basketball.
After nearly 15 years in a Peruvian prison, an American woman convicted of aiding a Marxist terrorist group finds parole in Lima full of contradictions.
On who will bear the burden of the financial crisis facing cities across America. “Will it be articulated in terms of bond defaults or larger kindergarten classes—or no kindergarten classes at all?”
The American medical establishment has gone to extraordinary lengths—some of which read like conspiracy theory—to discredit the notion (and its most visible promoter, Dr. Atkins) that carbohydrates, not fat, are the cause of obesity. It looks like they were wrong.
On the evolution of New Jersey’s governor.
A profile of Heather Armstrong, a mom in Salt Lake City who has more than 1.5 million Twitter followers and a personal blog generating $30,000-$50,000 monthly.
A primer on Peretz, longtime owner/editor of The New Republic, committed Zionist, and author of the line “Muslim life is cheap.”
Obama’s presidency may well be defined by whether or not he can curb unemployment. Step One: find a decent idea.
The new purgatory; what becomes of digital identities after death.
From the 1940s through the early 70s, incoming freshman at Harvard, Yale, Vassar, Wellesley, and several other top schools were photographed nude in the name of science–bogus science, as it turned out. Most of the photos were destroyed, but not all.
“Look, we all know that every city is unique. That’s all we talk about when we talk about cities, those things that make New York different from L.A., or Tokyo different from Albuquerque. But focusing on those differences misses the point. Sure, there are differences, but different from what? We’ve found the what.”
It’s now routine for corporations to outsource the task of generating new ideas. A look at the consulting firms who meet that need.
A profile of 12-year-old actress Elle Fanning, Dakota’s sister.
A profile of Focus Features CEO James Schamus.
The story that certified Gehry as a genius and the Guggenheim Bilbao as the building of the late 20th century.
The prosecutor in the case of hacker turned F.B.I. informant (but still hacker) Albert Gonzales and his organization Shadowcrew : “The sheer extent of the human victimization caused by Gonzalez and his organization is unparalleled.”
The macabre, ultra-violent plays put on at the Grand Guignol defined an era in Paris, attracting foreign tourists, aristocrats, and celebrities. Goering and Patton saw plays there in the same year. But the carnage of WWII ultimately undermined the shock of Guignol’s brutality, and audiences disappeared.
On the set of Afghanistan’s first soap opera and at home with its cast.
The world’s population is rapidly getting older. How China and other countries stocked with young workers are taking advantage.
There was no doubt: Jeremy Gross had brutally murdered a convenience store clerk. All that was left to decide was his punishment. Death or life without parole? The story of a capital murder trial, as seen from the jury box.
How a London con man turned a struggling painter into a master forger, sold more than 200 fakes, and exposed the art industry as its own worst enemy.
A rare co-mingling between Hasidic Jews and their Crown Heights neighbors within Brooklyn’s ‘Basil Pizza & Wine Bar.’
A one fire, one goat, many cooks experiment.
If the fittest survive, why are so many people still depressed? An evolutionary theory on the benefits of painful rumination.
Ten years ago, a pair of legendary TV executives decided it was time to change the formula for football broadcasting. One bet on Dennis Miller. The other bankrolled Vince McMahon and the XFL.
A new strain of educational thought (and practice) involves embracing the technology of the moment - which means bringing video games into the classroom.
Movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to connect with viewers, but video games on the topic have broken sales records.
A profile of Viktor Bout, believed to be the largest arms trafficker in the world. A Russian who bought his first cargo planes at age 25, Bout has been in the news recently after being arrested in Thailand.
Long before he lied about taking steroids and was indicted for perjury, Clemens was just a good ol’ boy from Texas with a world-class workout regimen.
Tabloid newspapers were caught hacking into the voicemails of Prince William and Prince Harry. One reporter was arrested - but an investigation shows the eavesdropping was far more elaborate and widespread.
Thirty years ago, few people had ever heard of ADD. ‘Early onset depression’ might become a common diagnosis long before 2040.
A profile of the man who helped invent the modern art of presidential spin and came to embody the blurry line between journalist and government official.
The number one item confiscated by U.S. customs for four years in a row: fake shoes. As brands continue to crack down, counterfeiters continue to up their game.
A psychological theory emerges to explain why young Americans are taking a while to grow up.
A new Egyptian TV channel called 4Shbab—“for youth” in Arabic—aims to get young people interested in Islam through music videos and reality shows.
There is someone whose job it is to try to extract royalty money from anyone who plays music in a place of business. Most people do not react well to this request.
A reporter heads to Nauru, a tiny island nation in the Pacific, to track down the hub of a worldwide money-laundering operation—a shack filled with computers, air-conditioners, and little else.
When members of China’s massive bulletin-board forums perceive wrongdoing, they form a “human flesh search engine” and seek out real world vigilante justice.
The Appleseed Project is ostensibly a traveling marksmanship school - but what else is it teaching?
Kids are identifying as gay at younger ages, sometimes only 10 or 11. Their communities and parents are scrambling to adapt.
When one of the best young chemists in the world took his own life, Harvard was forced to reconsider the relationship between PhD students and their (often Nobel Prize-winning) advisers.
John Friend, who founded a new school of yoga, says the practice should be about both exercise and spirituality. Oh, and making money.
Inside the real lives of trolls–those who intentionally provoke, confuse, and generally screw with strangers online–whose pranks balance gleeful malice with organized efforts against Scientologists.
When spouses get upset because their husband or wife wants to be frozen upon death, it’s not because they find the practice sacrilegious. It’s because their partner is consciously considering a future without them.
A mission in Baghdad to let a photojournalist get a shot of an insurgent corpse ends up getting a Marine killed.
On his journey from phenom to champion to wannabe rock star to Emmy-winning commentator, John McEnroe hasn’t changed much.
A 1988 profile of Bill Murray, then at the peak of his box office power and living in a secluded farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley.
Less than a week after Katrina, Michael Lewis goes home to New Orleans.
When Japanese men in their teens and twenties shut themselves in their rooms, sometimes for a period of years, one way to lure them out is a hired “big sister.”
Will we deplete the worldwide Bluefin Tuna population beyond repair?
It’s the furthest artificial intelligence has come. And while the supercomputer may get attention for competing on Jeopardy!, Watson could also change everything from customer service to emergency rooms.
The science of same-sex relationships in the wild.
Squatters in Buffalo, NY enjoy a life of “decadent poverty” fixing up palatial mansions.
In a windowless room just outside of New York City, overworked air traffic controllers manage the world’s most-trafficked piece of sky—until all those blips on the screen become too much.
Job Cohen, the current mayor of Amsterdam, is leading the Dutch race for Prime Minister on a platform of racial integration that could transform the relationship between European politics and immigration.
The contradiction-rich world of Maya Arulpragasam.
After his untimely death at age 50, prior to the publication of any of his novels, Larsson is posthumously at the center of a publishing empire built on the international success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The nation watched live as Robert O’Donnell rescued Baby Jessica from that well in Texas in October, 1987. Then they stopped watching, and Robert O’Donnell was lost without the attention.
Both the Chinese government and private matchmakers are laboring to unite people who lost spouses and children in the earthquake.
Can the Houston Rockets’ Shane Battier score zero points in an NBA game and still be the most important player on the floor?
An excerpt from Night of the Gun, the memoir by New York Times media critic David Carr about his years as a junkie in late-’80s Minneapolis.
Playing beer pong with David Axelrod—and other scenes from the lives of young, high-profile aides in the Obama White House.
A growing movement is seeking a deeper knowledge of themselves through tracking sleep, exercise, sex, food, location, productivity. Technology has made it possible—but hasn’t taught us how to interpret the findings.