On Ambien and the search for the next blockbuster insomnia drug.
A profile of the world’s top photo retoucher, who typically can retouch over 100 images in a single issue of Vogue.
On Silvio Berlusconi’s hedonism.
Berlusconi is Italy’s waning Hugh Hefner, alternately reviled and admired for his loyalty to his own appetites—except that he’s supposed to be running the country.
On new art boom and one of its most powerful players, David Zwirner.
The challenges of establishing a legal marijuana economy in Washington State.
“Before I put down my phone, I took a picture of my son. I worried that if I didn’t I would never believe he had existed.”
The homeless population of New York City is higher than it’s been in decades. Nobody seems to notice.
On Pham Xuan An, Time’s Saigon correspondent during the Vietnam War, who led a double life as an intelligence agent for Ho Chi Minh.
Iranian operative Qassem Suleimani has been reshaping the Middle East for 15 years. Now he’s directing Bashar al-Assad’s war in Syria.
A voting rights march, from Selma to the statehouse in Montgomery, Alabama.
How the Keystone XL became the defining environmental test of Obama’s presidency.
Life inside Za’atari, a camp for Syrian refugees just across the Jordanian border, where “the dispossession is absolute. Everyone has lost his country, his home, his equilibrium. Most have lost a family member or a friend. What is left is a kind of theatrical pride, the necessary performance of will.”
On the lesbian separatists of the 1970s, who “created a shadow society devoted to living in an alternate, penisless reality.”
From a Tokyo smash-and-grab to driving a car through the window of a Dubai jewelry shop, how a ragtag band of Balkan thieves set a new bar for audacious heists.
A member of the Pink Panthers, Milan Poparic, escaped from prison yesterday.
Why some innovations spread quick while others take decades to catch hold.
The hunt for a secretive network of British men obsessed with accumulating and cataloguing the eggs of rare birds.
How a secretive Israel billionaire seized control of an untapped iron ore deposit beneath one of Africa’s poorest countries.
The Lyme-disease infection rate is growing. So is the battle over how to treat it.
“As a matter of historical analysis, the relationship between secrecy and privacy can be stated in an axiom: the defense of privacy follows, and never precedes, the emergence of new technologies for the exposure of secrets. In other words, the case for privacy always comes too late.”
On decorated sniper Chris Kyle and the troubled young veteran who took his life.
A series of mysterious, dangerous interactions in a Mexican bathhouse.
"In every public bath, there tends to be a fight from time to time. We never saw or heard any there. The clients, conditioned by some unknown mechanism, respected and obeyed every word of the orphan’s instructions. Also, to be fair, there weren’t very many people, and that’s something I’ll never be able to explain, since it was a clean place, relatively modern, with individual saunas for taking steam baths, bar service in the saunas, and, above all, cheap. There, in Sauna 10, I saw Laura naked for the first time, and all I could do was smile and touch her shoulder and say I didn’t know which valve to turn to make the steam come out."
Kosovo’s leaders have been accused of grotesque war crimes. But can anyone prove it?
On the history of Earth Day and the failure of the modern environmental movement.
Shulamith Firestone, one of the first radical feminists, helped to create a new society. But she couldn’t live in it.
On Swedish game designer Markus Persson and his singular creation, Minecraft, which has sold over twenty million copies and earned Persson over a hundred million dollars last year.
The past, present, and increasingly optimistic future of Vice.
Robert Berman was a passionate and polarizing English teacher at the Horace Mann School. He is also accused of sexually abusing many of his devoted students.
A profile of Gina Rinehart, the richest person in Australia.
On Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, its uncanny knack for reflecting changes in Russian politics and culture, and the recent acid attack on its artistic director.
A neighborhood, a building, and a woman's precarious existence at the periphery.
"No doubt there are those who will be critical of the narrow, essentially local scope of Fatou's interest in the Cambodian woman from the Embassy of Cambodia, but we, the people of Willesden, have some sympathy with her attitude. The fact is if we followed the history of every little country in this world—in its dramatic as well as its quiet times—we would have no space left in which to live our own lives or to apply ourselves to our necessary tasks, never mind indulge in occasional pleasures, like swimming. Surely there is something to be said for drawing a circle around our attention and remaining within that circle. But how large should this circle be?"
The haunted past of Amy Bishop, a University of Alabama neurobiologist who shot six colleagues during a staff meeting.
A caretaker becomes enmeshed in the relationships of the homeowner.
"I'd never have picked Julian out as a sensuous type if I hadn’t read Hana's diary; he seemed too busy and prosaic, without the abstracted dreamy edges I’d always imagined in people who gave themselves over to their erotic lives. And yet, because of the secret things I knew about him, I was fixated on him the whole time I watched him cook, and then afterward, while we sat opposite each other eating at the little table he pulled up to my armchair."
How the United States came to spend more on defense than all the other nations of the world combined.
A profile of Apollo Robbins, widely regarded as the world’s best pickpocket.
In 2003, a platoon of American soldiers opened fire on a family in a Baghdad intersection. A decade later, one of the shooters tracks down the survivors.
On Christmas Day, an elevator operator cons holiday charity out of a variety of tenants.
"On the way home from work a few nights earlier, Charlie had seen a woman and a little girl going down Fifty-ninth Street. The little girl was crying. He guessed she was crying, he knew she was crying, because she'd seen all the things in the toy-store windows and couldn't understand why none of them were for her. Her mother did housework, he guessed, or maybe was a waitress, and he saw them going back to a room like his, with green walls and no heat, on Christmas Eve, to eat a can of soup. And he saw the little girl hang up her ragged stocking and fall asleep, and he saw the mother looking through her purse for something to put into the stocking—This reverie was interrupted by a bell on 11. He went up, and Mr. and Mrs. Fuller were waiting. When they wished him a merry Christmas, he said, 'Well, it isn't much of a holiday for me, Mrs. Fuller. Christmas is a sad season when you’re poor."
Inside one of the biggest antiquities-smuggling rings in history.
A father and son work the Chinese cattle markets in this story from the 2012 winner of the Nobel in Literature.
"People trusted him implicitly. If a transaction reached a stalemate, the parties would look at him to acknowledge that they wanted things settled. 'Let's quit arguing and hear what Luo Tong has to say!' 'All right, let's do that. Luo Tong, you be the judge!' With a cocky air, my father would walk around the animal twice, looking at neither the buyer nor the seller, then glance up into the sky and announce the gross weight and the amount of meat on the bone, followed by a price. He'd then wander off to smoke a cigarette."
The legacy of a secret Cold War program that tested chemical weapons on thousands of American soldiers.
Los Angeles’ Wolvesmouth and the unlicensed dining industry.
Why people stampede, and what can be done to prevent “crowd disasters.”
A profile of photographer Richard Avedon from early in his career.
A week in the author’s life when it became impossible to control the course of events.
As immigration turns red states blue, how can Republicans transform their platform?
A profile of Marlon Brando, 33, holed up in a hotel suite in Kyoto where he was filming Sayonara.
My guide tapped at Brando's door, shrieked "Marron!," and fled away along the corridor, her kimono sleeves fluttering like the wings of a parakeet.
A tale of romance gone wrong, from MacArthur Fellowship winner Junot Diaz's new collection This Is How You Lose Her.
"Alma is a Mason Gross student, one of those Sonic Youth, comic-book-reading alternatinas without whom you might never have lost your virginity. Grew up in Hoboken, part of the Latino community that got its heart burned out in the eighties, tenements turning to flame."
A new teacher begins work at a TB hospital in rural Canada.
"The number of students who showed up varied. Fifteen, or down to half a dozen. Mornings only, from nine o'clock till noon. Children were kept away if their temperature had risen or if they were undergoing tests."
In this previously-unpublished Fitzgerald story, a saleswoman wants a cigarette, and perhaps encounters something more profound.
"Smoking meant a lot to her sometimes. She worked very hard and it had some ability to rest and relax her psychologically. She was a widow and she had no close relatives to write to in the evenings, and more than one moving picture a week hurt her eyes, so smoking had come to be an important punctuation mark in the long sentence of a day on the road."
The uncomfortable, and increasingly vital, relationship between Barack Obama and billionaire donors.
The story of John Laroche, which led to Orleans’ The Orchid Thief, and tangentially, the film Adaptation.
On the O.J. Simpson verdict and the Million Man March.
What the health care industry can learn from how The Cheesecake Factory does business.
The history of a relationship between a son and his mostly-absent father.
"He lay down. His spine pressed into the soil a notch at a time, undid him. Upside down was a land of female legs. He was fond of these new bell-shaped skirts, wide enough to crawl under and be kept safe, and wished he had waited to marry, or married differently. He thought, What if I stayed here? Let the sun swallow me, and the orange dazzle under my eyelids become not just the thing I see but the thing that I am, and let the one daisy with the bent stem, and the rose smell and the girl upside down on the pub bench eating an upside-down ploughman's with her upside-down friend be the whole of the law and the girth of the world."
On the scene of the darkest games in Olympics history.Part of our Olympics primer, on the Longform blog.
Libertarian, futurist, billionaire: a profile of Peter Thiel.
Surfing San Francisco with a true believer.Part of our collection of stories on surfing for Slate.
With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world.
Remembering George Plimpton’s old-fashioned style.
Above all, he was a gentleman, one of the last—a figure so archaic, it could be easily mistaken for something else. No, my father’s voice was not an act, something chosen or practiced in front of mirrors: he came from a different world, where people talked differently, and about different things; where certain things were discussed, and certain things were not—and his voice simply reflected this.
The bizarre story of the disappearance of “downtown legend” John Lurie after a former friend resolved to take his life.
Visiting his daughter in San Francisco, the author longs for food delivery in Manhattan.
In 1941, hundreds of Jedwabne’s Jews were massacred by their neighbors.
On the complex nature of a presidential second term and what Obama would do if he wins one.
A profile of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was sentenced to 50 years today after being convicted of committing crimes against humanity.
How a surgical innovation allowed Dallas Weins to find a new face.
The story of William Morgan: American, wanderer, Cuban revolutionary.
A profile of singer-songwriter Will Oldham.
He has settled into character as an uncanny troubadour, singing a sort of transfigured country music, and he has become, in his own subterranean way, a canonical figure. Johnny Cash covered him, Björk has championed him (she invited him to appear on the soundtrack of “Drawing Restraint 9”), and Madonna, he suspects, has quoted him (her song “Let It Will Be” seems to borrow from his “O Let It Be,” though he says, “I’m fully prepared to accept that it’s a coincidence”).
On geoengineering, a high risk/high reward fix for global warming.
A profile of 22-year-old hacker George Hotz, who in 2007 became the first person to successfully unlock the iPhone. A few years later, he became the first person to successfully hack the Playstation 3. And, shortly thereafter, he became the first person to get sued by Sony for it.
The alchemy of predicting professional success, from quarterbacks to teachers.
Controversy over the alleged gold standard of forensic evidence.
The expansion of private-security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan is well known. But armed security personnel account for only about sixteen per cent of the over-all contracting force. The vast majority—more than sixty per cent of the total in Iraq—aren’t hired guns but hired hands. These workers, primarily from South Asia and Africa, often live in barbed-wire compounds on U.S. bases, eat at meagre chow halls, and host dance parties featuring Nepalese romance ballads and Ugandan church songs. A large number are employed by fly-by-night subcontractors who are financed by the American taxpayer but who often operate outside the law.
On living alone, which more people are doing today than ever before.
A history of the cell phone ringtone.
Many recent hip-hop songs make terrific ringtones because they already sound like ringtones. The polyphonic and master-tone versions of “Goodies,” by Ciara, for example, are nearly identical. Ringtones, it turns out, are inherently pop: musical expression distilled to one urgent, representative hook. As ringtones become part of our environment, they could push pop music toward new levels of concision, repetition, and catchiness.
On the morality of procreation and the origins of birth control.
Is a serial killer on the loose in Wellfleet? An investigation.
A decorated Iraq war veteran with PTSD kills his brother and himself after a high-speed chase near the Grand Canyon.
A gay freshman at Rutgers, a spying roommate, and the trial that followed.Update 3/16/12: The roommate, Dharun Ravi, has been found guilty of hate crimes.
A profile of the world’s most notorious weapons trafficker.
Sometimes a writer does a really amazing piece that makes me jealous. Other times they do a piece that just makes me want to give up. Every time I read Katherine Boo I'm just glad that I don't even attempt to do narrative writing. It would be embarrassing to have anything I write put up against her. This dispatch from a refugee center for Katrina victims is heart wrenching and does more than anything else to bring home the psychological dimensions of American urban poverty.
What really happened between the plaintiffs in Lawrence vs. Texas, the case that ended anti-sodomy laws?
An imaginative, unpopular boy and a depressed older man face the dangers of winter.
"Something was wrong here. A person needed a coat. Even if the person was a grownup. The pond was frozen. The duck thermometer said ten. If the person was mental, all the more reason to come to his aid, as had not Jesus said, Blessed are those who help those who cannot help themselves, but are too mental, doddering, or have a disability?"
A profile of Quentin Rowan, a.k.a. Q. R. Markham, ‘author’ of last fall’s short-lived spy novel hit Assassins of Secrets, which was pieced together using more than a dozen sources.
As the hip-hop group Odd Future rose to fame, their sixteen-year-old breakout star Earl Sweatshirt mysteriously disappeared.
(After a stretch at a school in Samoa, he seems to have reappeared yesterday.)
An unexplainable murder, double jeopardy, and military courts: the strange case of Tim Hennis.
A profile of Harold Ramis, director of Groundhog Day, and his estrangement from former friend Bill Murray.
A report from the oil boom in North Dakota, where unemployment is 3.4 percent and McDonald’s gives out $300 signing bonuses.
Specialists Solomon Bangayan and Marc Seiden fought together in Bravo Company’s 3rd Platoon in Iraq. Both were killed.
Here’s how they made it home.
Steven Donziger, an American lawyer, headed up a successful lawsuit against Chevron on behalf of Ecuadorans. Then the legal tables turned on him.
A profile of Carrie Brownstein, riot grrrl and creator of Portlandia.
After the United States demanded the extradition of a drug lord, a bloodletting ensued.
Married sitcom writers, once famous for their love, buckle under sexual and creative differences.
"The funniest lines in their work, the lines with that satisfying crackle of sadism, were mostly his, but he was aware that it was Pam’s confidence and Pam’s higher tolerance for cliché that had won them their big contracts. And now, because she wasn’t engineered for doubt, Pam seemed to think it didn’t matter that she’d gained fifteen pounds since moving to the mountains and that she was thumping around the house with the adipose aquiver in her freckled upper arms; she certainly seemed not to care that they hadn’t had sex since before Labor Day; and she’d been pointedly deaf to certain urgent personal-grooming and postural hints that Paul had dropped during their photo shoot for L.A. Weekly."
How a high-powered lawyer and a rough-edged private detective ended up at the center of the biggest, dirtiest scandal in Hollywood history.
A log of the 32 shitless hours that the author spent in the Tombs prison after being arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest.
Frank rarely smiles, even when he’s being funny. “There are three lies politicians tell,” he told the real-estate group. “The first is ‘We ran against each other but are still good friends.’ That’s never true. The second is ‘I like campaigning.’ Anyone who tells you they like campaigning is either a liar or a sociopath. Then, there’s ‘I hate to say I told you so.’ ” He went on, “Everybody likes to say ‘I told you so.’ I have found personally that it is one of the few pleasures that improves with age. I can say ‘I told you so’ without taking a pill before, during, or after I do it.”
Why Whitney is Lucy, only less lovable:
This may sound like blasphemy to anyone who loves Lucille Ball, the woman who pioneered the classic joke rhythms that Whitney Cummings so klutzily mimics. Cummings has none of Ball’s shining charisma or her buzz of anarchy. Yet she does share Lucy’s rictus grin, her toddler-like foot-stamping tantrums, and especially her Hobbesian view of heterosexual relationships as a combat zone of pranks, bets, and manipulation from below. “This is war,” Whitney announces, before declaring yet another crazy scheme to undercut her boyfriend, and it might as well be the series’ catchphrase.
A stand-alone piece of the manuscript that became The Pale King, this story details a young boy's mysterious and doomed obsession.
"During the five weeks that he was disabled with a subluxated T3 vertebraoften in such discomfort that not even his inhaler could ease the asthma that struck whenever he experienced pain or distressthe heady enthusiasm of childhood had given way in the boy to a realization that the objective of pressing his lips to every square inch of himself was going to require maximum effort, discipline, and a commitment sustainable over periods of time that he could not then (because of his age) imagine."
On champ-turned-coach Alberto Salazar and the New York City Marathon.
An early take on the dark side of cyberspace:
Like many newcomers to the "net"--which is what people call the global web that connects more than thirty thousand on-line networks--I had assumed, without really articulating the thought, that while talking to other people through my computer I was going to be sheltered by the same customs and laws that shelter me when I'm talking on the telephone or listening to the radio or watching TV. Now, for the first time, I understood the novelty and power of the technology I was dealing with.
On Gabo and his complicated role in the country of his birth, Colombia.
A profile of Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times.
Life, and debt, in New York.
I've historically been pretty good at getting by on what I have, especially if you apply the increasingly common definition of "getting by," which has more to do with keeping up appearances than keeping things under control. Like a social smoker whose supposedly endearing desire to emulate Marlene Dietrich has landed her in a cancer ward, I have recently woken up to the frightening fallout of my own romantic notions of life in the big city: I am completely over my head in debt. I have not made a life for myself in New York City. I have purchased a life for myself.
The world’s foremost Sherlock Holmes expert found dead in a locked room, leaving no note.
There was something else, he said, something critical. On the eve of his death, he reminded me, Green had spoken to his friend Keen about an "American" who was trying to ruin him. The following day, Gibson said, he had called Green's house and heard a strange greeting on the answering machine. "Instead of getting Richard's voice in this sort of Oxford accent, which had been on the machine for a decade," Gibson recalled, "I got an American voice that said, 'Sorry, not available.
A young man Japanese man visits his estranged, domineering father.
"Still, it was not their physical features that made it difficult for Tengo to identify with his father but their psychological makeup. His father showed no sign at all of what might be called intellectual curiosity. True, having been born in poverty he had not had a decent education. Tengo felt a degree of pity for his father’s circumstances. But a basic desire to obtain knowledge—which Tengo assumed to be a more or less natural urge in people—was lacking in the man."
An essay on Orson Welles’ (and/or Herman Mankiewicz’s) 1941 film Citizen Kane.
The case for coaches in professions other than music and sports. Like medicine, for example:
Since I have taken on a coach, my complication rate has gone down. It’s too soon to know for sure whether that’s not random, but it seems real. I know that I’m learning again. I can’t say that every surgeon needs a coach to do his or her best work, but I’ve discovered that I do.
The first thing I did at Walt Disney World was to take an oath not to make any smart-aleck remarks. A Disney public-relations man had told me that attitude was everything. So I placed my left hand on a seven-Adventure book of tickets to the Magic Kingdom and raised my right hand and promised that there would be no sarcasm on my lips or in my heart.
How mitigation specialists are changing the application of the death penalty:
In Texas, the most prominent mitigation strategist is a lawyer named Danalynn Recer, the executive director of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center. Based in Houston, GRACE has represented defendants in death-penalty cases since 2002. “The idea was to improve the way capital trials were done in Texas, to start an office that would bring the best practices from other places and put them to work here,” Recer said recently. “This is not some unknowable thing. This is not curing cancer. We know how to do this. It is possible to persuade a jury to value someone’s life.”
The story of the Caughnawagas, “the most footloose Indians in North America,” and their gradual assimilation.
The death of the journalist who exposed dark secrets about Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s military.
The anatomy of a 1930 epidemic that wasn’t:
Was parrot fever really something to worry about? Reading the newspaper, it was hard to say. “not contagious in man,” the Times announced. “Highly contagious,” the Washington Post said. Who knew? Nobody had ever heard of it before. It lurked in American homes. It came from afar. It was invisible. It might kill you. It made a very good story. In the late hours of January 8th, editors at the Los Angeles Times decided to put it on the front page: “two women and man in Annapolis believed to have 'parrot fever.'"
A man, a woman, and a child negotiate their uneasy triangle in the days and weeks following 9/11.
"His briefcase sat beside the table like something yanked out of a landfill. He said there was a shirt coming down out of the sky."
A profile of Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek.
On the combined force of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Virginia, a Tea Party stalwart.
A profile of Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and the author of You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto.
A profile of Vogue Creative Director André Leon Talley.
From our guide to haute couture genius at Slate.
I felt, in some substantive yet elusive way, that I had had a hand in killing my mother. And so the search for a bed became a search for sanctuary, which is to say that the search for a bed became the search for a place; and of course by place I mean space, the sort of approximate, indeterminate space one might refer to when one says to another person, "I need some space"; and the fact that space in this context generally consists of feelings did not prevent me from imagining that the space-considered, against all reason, as a viable location; namely, my bedroom-could be filled, pretty much perfectly, by a luxury queen-size bed draped in gray-and-white-striped, masculine-looking sheets, with maybe a slightly and appropriately feminine ruffled bed skirt stretched about the box spring (all from Bellora in SoHo).
A profile of Rupert Murdoch from 1995, as he fought monopoly charges in the U.S. and U.K. and prepared to expand his empire into China.
Murdoch is a pirate; he will cunningly circumvent rules, and sometimes principles, to get his way, as his recent adventures in China demonstrate.
How Ray Dalio built the world’s richest and strangest hedge fund.
How a Massachusetts psychotherapist fell for a Nigerian e-mail scam.
On Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and the gender dynamics of Silicon Valley.
Childhood acquaintances, meeting again in adolescence.
"In the morning you all slept in, victims of jet lag, reminding us that despite your presence, your bags crowding the hallways, your toothbrushes cluttering the side of the sink, you belonged elsewhere."
A profile of California congressman Darrell Issa:
A few days after we met in Las Vegas, Issa called me. He was concerned about all my questions regarding his early life and didn’t see why they were newsworthy. The conversation was awkward.
Inside the world of online dating:
If the dating sites had a mixer, you might find OK Cupid by the bar, muttering factoids and jokes, and Match.com in the middle of the room, conspicuously dropping everyone’s first names into his sentences. The clean-shaven gentleman on the couch, with the excellent posture, the pastel golf shirt, and that strangely chaste yet fiery look in his eye? That would be eHarmony.
A profile of Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian doctor who became Bin Laden’s #2 and has now taken over Al-Qaeda.
A commencement address to the graduates of Harvard Medical School on how their chosen profession is changing and what they’ll need to learn now that they’re out of school.
On the soul of the commuter:
A commute is a distillation of a life’s main ingredients, a product of fundamental values and choices. And time is the vital currency: how much of it you spend—and how you spend it—reveals a great deal about how much you think it is worth.
Fred Wilpon, the owner of the hapless New York Mets, had more than $500 million tied up with Bernie Madoff when the Ponzi scheme was exposed. Now he may be forced to sell his beloved ballclub.
A profile of Arnold Schwarzenegger written during his first year in office as Governor of California:
"You know, the thing I love about Mexican women is how furry their pussies are."
Joyce Hatto, unknown to even the most ardent classical music collectors until late in her life, released a string of incredible performances of great works, distributed by her husband’s mail-order CD business. But how was it possible for her to record difficult works at such a dizzying rate? And if wasn’t her playing, who was it?
How Thomas Drake, senior executive at the NSA, came to face some of the gravest charges that can be brought against an American citizen.
The discovery of 30,000-year old, perfectly preserved cave paintings in southern France offer a glimpse into a world that 21st-century humans can never hope to understand. The article that inspired Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.”
A study of the Mississippi River, its history, and efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold it in place.
The questionable close relationship between a mobster/informant and an F.B.I. agent during a bloody Colombo crime family battle.
Five Mexican fishermen head out with enough supplies for several days. They’re gone for nine months. A story of survival in the South Pacific.
A profile of Steve Carell, whose last appearance as Michael Scott in The Office airs tonight.
Henry Luce and Time vs. Harold Ross and The New Yorker. What was at stake in the epic magazine rivalry of the 20th century?
We ate in our own restaurants, stayed in our own hotels, and hired our own guides. We moved through a parallel Paris—and a parallel Rome, Milan, and so on.
The reporter takes a whirlwind guided bus tour of a Europe with a group of Chinese tourists.
On a neuroscientist’s personal mission to solve the mystery of how the brain processes time.
On Chuck Lorre, creator of the #1 (Two and a Half Men) and #2 comedy on American television, former cruise ship guitarist, composer of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song, and recently antagonist of Charlie Sheen.
Manny Ramirez is a deeply frustrating employee, the kind whose talents are so prodigious that he gets away with skipping meetings, falling asleep on the job, and fraternizing with the competition.
How France’s public schools became the battleground in a culture war.
On David Milch; Yale fraternity brother of George W. Bush, literature professor, longtime junkie, creator of NYPD Blue, Deadwood (which was in production when this profile was written), and the forthcoming racetrack-set HBO series Luck.
Rodrigo Rosenberg, a highly respected corporate attorney in Guatemala, began, in the spring of 2009, to prophesy his own murder. The unraveling of a political conspiracy.
A profile of Sabrina Harman, the soldier who took many of the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs.
On Johnny Carson, a cold man in a hot seat; I once asked a bright young Manhattan journalist whether he could define in a single word what made television different from theatre or cinema. "For good or ill," he said, "Carson.’”
Barry Michels is Hollywood’s most successful therapist cum motivation coach with an approach that combines Jungian psychology, encouraging patients to embrace their dark side, and “three-by-five index cards inscribed with Delphic pronouncements like THE HIERARCHY WILL NEVER BE CLEAR.”
A profile of the filmmaker Errol Morris as he prepared to release The Thin Blue Line after a decade of limited distribution, semi-poverty, and a side career as a private detective.
On the life and career of Richard Pryor, as he neared the end of both.
Hollywood makes bad movies because “rotten pictures make money.”
The definitive story of a ubiquitous software. PowerPoint’s origins, its evolution, and its mind-boggling impact on corporate culture.
How a tiny inner core made the Aryan Brotherhood the most feared prison gang in America; coded messages, murders on the outside, and the knowledge that those who are already in for life cannot be punished further.
A profile of the (now former) director of the House of Dior, John Galliano.
On Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, “the permanent revolutionary,” and his son Seif.
How focusing on the neediest patients could radically reduce health care costs.
A grandmother from Chicago, she’s one of those people who knows everybody. And those people who know everybody, the connectors, make the world work. A study of the power of (offline) social networking.
On the dilemmas facing a (very famous) working mother in New York City. “It is less dangerous to draw a cartoon of Allah French-kissing Uncle Sam—which, let me make it very clear, I have not done—than it is to speak honestly about this topic.”
The story of three months spent training reporters in Saudi Arabia, where the press is far from free. “I suspected that behind the closed gates of Saudi society there was a social revolution in the making. With some guidance, I thought, these journalists could help inspire change.”
On the Cairo knifing of 82-year-old Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz and its aftermath.
Reporting from inside the Church’s Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles.
During his 35 years as a member of the Church of Scientology, Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis went “all the way to the top.” The story of why he left, and what happened once he did.
Most military experts agree that robots, not people, will inevitably do the fighting in ground wars. In Tennessee, a high-end gunsmith is already there. The story of Jerry Baber and his robot army.
On the late comedian Bill Hicks, just as a performance on Letterman is deemed unfit for network TV.
The decline of the American autopsy and what it says about modern medicine.
On Huck Finn, the book Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, and the evolution of language and race in America.
On the last day of their junior year at Harvard, one roommate kills the other, then hangs herself. The press descends. A year later, a reporter searches for the real story.
From 1968-1973, the three teenage Wiggins sisters, guided by a domineering father, played their strange music at New Hampshire ballrooms and recorded a single album. The Philosophy of the World LP goes for over $500 today, but the intervening decades were not kind to the Wiggins’.
A profile of video game artist Shigeru Miyamoto, the man behind Super Mario Bros.
A profile of Yao Ming published during his second season in the NBA.
A profile of Larry David, with a focus on his years as a struggling stand-up. “I was hoping that somehow I could get some kind of cult following and get by with that.”
A globe-trotting, pre-CCTV profile of architect Rem Koolhaas.
“For years, the most profitable industry in America has been one that doesn’t design, build, or sell a single tangible thing.” The case for why investment banking is socially useless.
“You can treat a lot of people, and India has,’’ says an epidemiologist working on TB. “But if you have tests that cause misdiagnosis on a massive scale you are going to have a serious problem. And they do.”
In 1997, a logger-turned-activist named Grant Hadwin cut down a very special tree. Then he bought a kayak and disappeared.
Are we at war? The U.S. government’s evolving response to cyber security and its impact on privacy.
A profile of Edna Buchanan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning crime reporter for the Miami Herald during its heyday.
A report from Nevada, where an economy in crisis and a Tea Party upstart are threatening to topple Harry Reid, the most nationally powerful politician in the state’s history.
The story of how Washington blew its best shot to do something on climate change.
Not only is the penny useless, it costs the U.S. Treasury $50 million per year. So why is it still around?
Would you rather have one marshmallow now or two in a few minutes? How a kid’s answer to that question can predict his or her life trajectory.
Can real activism happen on Twitter and Facebook? Malcolm Gladwell says no.
Google’s founders and CEO as they moved from the search business into… everything.
A 2006 profile of Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook opened from a college-only site to a public social network.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, on the eve of the release of The Social Network, believed to be a deeply unflattering portrait of him and the genesis of his company.
The epic life story of Rick Rescorla: immigrant, war hero, husband, and head of security at Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter, occupant of 22 floors in the South Tower.
Inside the C Street house in Washington and the little-known spiritual group behind it.
They robbed 27 banks in 15 years, one of the most prolific streaks in American history. Then they got caught.
A profile of Francis Collins, a fervent Christian, former head of the Human Genome Project and Obama’s appointee to head N.I.H., now at the center of the stem cell research debate.
A 1993 profile of Ricky Jay, one of the world’s great sleight-of-hand conjurers, historian of unusual entertainments and confidence scams, and bibliomaniac; who rarely performs and never for children.
When Bob Dylan met Allen Ginsberg; a chapter from Sean Wilentz’s forthcoming Bob Dylan in America.
A firsthand account of prison’s dysfunctional relationships. The writer wasn’t able to gain access through official channels, so he completed guard training and took a job as a Sing Sing corrections officer.
After two New Jersey homes were robbed of their silver—only their silver—in the same night, the local police got a call from a detective in Greenwich, Connecticut. “I know the guy who’s doing your burglaries.”
Where does Strawberry-Kiwi Snapple come from? Givaudan is part of a tiny, secretive industry that produces new flavors.
A year after dozens died protesting his election and hundreds more were imprisoned, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad grants a rare interview to an American journalist.
In “Operation Mincemeat” a vagrant’s corpse, raided from a London morgue, washed up on a beach in Spain, setting in motion an elaborate piece of espionage that fooled Nazi intelligence. Or did it?
An obsessive marine biologist gambles his savings, family, and sanity on a quest to be the first to capture a live giant squid.
Should modern medicine shift its end-of-life priorities, focusing less on staving off death and more on improving a patient’s last days?
The shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later culture of the 101st Airborne Division, an execution of captured Iraqi prisoners, and how far up the chain of command responsibility lies.
How Christopher Hitchens, a former socialist, became one of the most vigorous defenders of the war in Iraq.
The man who keeps finding famous fingerprints on uncelebrated works of art.
War stories from the world of Manhattan real estate, written during an era when everybody knew the Internet would completely change the business and nobody quite knew how.
Saad Mohseni, Afghanistan’s first media mogul and a business partner of Rupert Murdoch, produces everything from nightly news broadcasts to the controversial Afghan version of American Idol.
Is Mike Huckabee the GOP’s best hope in 2012? Mike Huckabee’s not so sure.
Atul Gawande’s recent commencement address at Stanford’s School of Medicine graduation. “Each of you is now an expert. Congratulations. So why—in your heart of hearts—do you not quite feel that way?”
In an Oklahoma City neighborhood usually left off city maps, the federal government is implementing its $300 million anti-poverty plan: teaching poor Americans how to get married.
How smallpox went from eradicated disease to the ideal weapon of bioterrorists.
The arson case that may have led Texas to execute an innocent man.
The not-so-underground culture of neuroenhancing drug use, and where it’s headed.
In the bayou south of New Orleans, a program called the Nurse-Family Partnership tries to reverse the life chances for babies born into extreme poverty. Sometimes, it actually succeeds.
The fatal allure of the Golden Gate Bridge and why it doesn’t have a barrier to thwart potential leapers.
What the sensation of uncontrollable itch and the phantom limbs of amputees can tell us about how the brain works.
Working from a tiny shop in Chinatown, Sister Ping helped thousands of Chinese immigrate illegally by boat. By the time one of her ships ran aground, the F.B.I estimated her total profits at $40 million.
The city of Boston, the Tea Party movement, and the rightful heir to the American Revolution.
An artist takes on “the umbrella problem,” which runs so deep the U.S. Patent Office has four full-time examiners dedicated solely to assessing ideas for umbrella improvement.
“Amazon has done a great job,” Jobs said. “We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a little bit farther.” Or they were planning to stand on Amazon’s neck and press down hard.
The Spanish police believed he was a missing American teen. So, seemingly, did the Texas family who had lost him three years prior. But he was an adult Frenchman. And he had done it before.
A review of Treme, the new HBO show about post-Katrina New Orleans from David Simon, creator of The Wire. “The series virtually prohibits you from loving it,” Franklin writes, “while asking you to value it.”