Picks this week from Mother Jones, Slate, Grantland, The Washington Post, Film Comment, The Paris Review, and a guest pick by The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes.
The story of the 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur who was carjacked following the Boston Marathon bombing:
"The man rapped on the glass, speaking quickly. Danny, unable to hear him, lowered the window — and the man reached an arm through, unlocked the door, and climbed in, brandishing a silver handgun.
“'Don’t be stupid,' he told Danny. He asked if he had followed the news about the previous Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings. Danny had, down to the release of the grainy photos of suspects less than six hours earlier.
“'I did that,' said the man, who would later be identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev. 'And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.'"
PUBLISHED: April 27, 2013
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2206 words)
Campaign aides on both sides deconstruct where the Republican candidate went wrong:
"It was two weeks before Election Day when Mitt Romney’s political director signed a memo that all but ridiculed the notion that the Republican presidential nominee, with his 'better ground game,' could lose the key state of Ohio or the election. The race is 'unmistakably moving in Mitt Romney’s direction,' the memo said.
"But the claims proved wildly off the mark, a fact embarrassingly underscored when the high-tech voter turnout system that Romney himself called 'state of the art' crashed at the worst moment, on Election Day.
"To this day, Romney’s aides wonder how it all went so wrong."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 24, 2012
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4599 words)
A Yale law professor argues that we're not doing enough to empower the minority voices in America—and change should start at the local level:
"The ideas Gerken is known for first took shape, appropriately enough, as a disagreement. Several years ago, not long after she’d been hired as a young professor at Harvard, she sat in on a pair of lectures by Cass Sunstein, the influential law scholar who was then a professor at the University of Chicago. What she heard Sunstein say, in brief, was that societies in which dissenting voices are encouraged tend to be more prosperous than ones where they are not. Gerken sat in the back of the hall with a notepad and listened, writing furiously. “If you had looked back,” Gerken says, “you would have wondered, why is that junior professor sitting there scribbling like a crazy person? Is she transcribing this speech? But it was just the opposite.”
"In fact, Gerken was writing down all the ways in which she thought Sunstein was wrong. What Sunstein didn’t seem to realize, she wrote, was that in order for minority groups to have real influence in politics—in order for them to make meaningful contributions to the way society works—they had to have more than the right to make their voices heard. They had to have the power to actually do things their way."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 7, 2012
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1636 words)
Can we discover the impact of war on a soldier before they're sent out to fight? And what does that mean for ethics and liability when it comes to addressing PTSD?
"Brian had spent part of his career at nearby Fort Hood, and in 2007 he and Telch approached Army leaders at the base about a study. Telch wanted to put soldiers through a battery of tests before they deployed, have them fill out online journals during their tour, and then follow them for a time after they’d returned to the States.
"Fort Hood agreed. Telch ran his tests and, once the soldiers had come home and he could analyze his results, found something intriguing: If soldiers exhibited certain physical and emotional characteristics before deployment, they were more likely to suffer from PTSD after it. As Brian Baldwin would have hoped, it appears as though PTSD can be predicted."
PUBLISHED: June 3, 2012
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2395 words)
How the introduction of stats into MMA (mixed martial arts) will change how the matches are fought:
"For all that enthusiasm, however, the sport has had a weak spot: It can be surprisingly difficult to say with any specificity what makes a mixed martial artist great, or what makes one fighter better than another. In baseball, there are home run tallies and RBIs and countless more obscure measures of a player’s skills. In MMA, fans find it easy to call someone a force of nature, but historically, it’s been impossible to back it up with data. In some cases, it is frustratingly hard to tell who is even winning a match.
"That uncertainty can be traced back to the sport’s origins. When the Ultimate Fighting Championship was created in the early 1990s, the point was to give pairs of tough, bloodthirsty fighters an open venue in which to attack each other in whatever way they pleased. There were no standard measures of anything. There were barely any rules at all, and the only statistic anyone kept track of was who was still standing at the end."
PUBLISHED: April 9, 2012
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2138 words)
William Stuntz, a conservative law professor at Harvard, was suffering from colon cancer and spent the last three years of his life working on a book that aimed to rethink how our justice system has failed:
"Stuntz submitted his completed manuscript to his editor at Harvard University Press in January 2011, about three months before he died at age 52. The Collapse of American Criminal Justice
was published the following fall. In it, Stuntz describes how America’s incarceration rate came to be the highest in the industrial world; how the country’s young black males came to bear the brunt of its increasingly harsh penal code; and how jury trials became so rare that more than 95 percent of people sent to prison never had their guilt or innocence deliberated in court."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 26, 2012
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2264 words)
A history of scientific misconduct and the investigation of Harvard scientist Marc Hauser:
"Three years after the seizure of materials from Hauser’s lab, theBoston Globe leaked news of a secret investigating committee at Harvard that had found Hauser 'solely responsible' for 'eight counts of scientific misconduct.' Michael Smith, Harvard’s dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, confirmed the existence of the investigation on August 20, 2010. Hauser took a leave of absence, telling the New York Times, 'I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes,” and adding that he was “deeply sorry for the problems this case had caused to my students, my colleagues and my university.' At the time he was working on a new book titled Evilicious: Why We Evolved a Taste for Being Bad. In February 2011 a large majority of the faculty of Harvard’s psychology department voted against allowing Hauser to teach in the coming academic year. On July 7 he resigned his professorship effective August 1. Hauser has neither publicly admitted to nor denied having engaged in scientific misconduct."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 21, 2011
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5815 words)
9/11, ten years later: "This is where it began. Two flights, one airport. Everyone knows how it ended. Nearly 3,000 dead, families devastated, a crater in the earth. Back home, Logan reinvents itself. Around the airfield, a 10-foot-high concrete barrier, prison-camp thick, with razor wire on top. Inside, a new security force, full-body scanners, hundreds of cameras, liquids in bags, beltless travelers in socks. And unseen, scars unwilling to fade. They are the rarely noticed casualties of the terrorist attacks: the security guard, the ticket agent, the baggage handler on the ramp. They made it home that night, but with images they couldn’t shake, a pain uncomfortable to voice. They can’t believe it has been 10 years. They can’t believe it has only been 10 years." #Sept11
PUBLISHED: Sept. 6, 2011
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4792 words)