A profile of Darius Kazemi, who is turning Twitter bots into an art form: He’s created dozens of automated programs whose purposes can run the gamut from cultural commentary to complete nonsense:
Kazemi is part of a small but vibrant group of programmers who, in addition to making clever Web toys, have dedicated themselves to shining a spotlight on the algorithms and data streams that are nowadays humming all around us, and using them to mount a sharp social critique of how people use the Internet—and how the Internet uses them back.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 28, 2014
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2258 words)
Catherine Cloutier is an online producer at The Boston Globe’s Boston.com.
Alcoholism remains a national epidemic in Russia, but a treatment program like Alcoholics Anonymous has failed to take hold in the country. Leon Neyfakh explores why:
A further obstacle to AA’s growth in Russia is something more philosophical: At a basic level, its premise of sobriety through mutual support just doesn’t make sense to a lot of Russians. In the past, this has taken the form of anti-Western suspicion—“What are the Americans trying to get out of this?” is a question Moseeva used to hear regularly. But more fundamentally, the group-therapy dynamic collides with a skepticism about the possibility of ordinary people curing each other of anything. “The idea that another drunk can help you is asinine to most Russians,” said Alexandre Laudet, a social psychologist who has researched Russian alcoholism.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 4, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2526 words)
Harvard professor Walter Willett is one of the most influential nutritionists in the world whose studies tracking hundred of thousands of health professionals have resulted in data shaping what we eat and how it affects our health:
"He’s tasting an almond-and-grape gazpacho when someone brings over a woman named Cindy Goody and, by way of introduction, says, 'Walter, she’s trying to do good work at McDonald’s.'
"He phrases his greeting in the form of a question, 'Why can’t you make a good veggie burger?'
"Goody, the senior director of nutrition for the 14,000 US outlets, appears taken aback. 'We tried it,' she says tentatively.
"'Aw, that was a setup!' Willett complains, waving his hand. He tasted one many years ago in an airport McDonald’s, and it was so awful he couldn’t finish it. 'I’m convinced you guys made it bad to turn off people from veggie burgers.'"
PUBLISHED: July 28, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4420 words)
Buoyed by marriage equality victories on the coasts, same-sex couples are fighting for equality rights in the South:
"Not only are gay couples in Mississippi not allowed to marry, they cannot legally adopt — even though a quarter of same-sex couples here are raising children together, the highest percentage of any state, according to the Williams Institute.
"Nor are gays and lesbians in Mississippi protected from being fired or otherwise discriminated against by employers for their sexual orientation. (A federal employment protection bill is pending in Congress.) Some employers have barred gay workers from participating in the marriage-license campaign, saying it would be 'bad for business.'
"Yet, couples like Welch and Lockwood refuse to move to a more liberal environment. This is home. They know the battle for equality in the South is unlikely to be won politically — at the ballot box or through state lawmakers — or through state courts. All they can do is share their personal stories in hopes that, on some level, their families, co-workers, neighbors, even the clerk at the courthouse will come to understand."
PUBLISHED: July 14, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2527 words)
S.I. Newhouse's contentious appointment of Robert Gottlieb as the editor of The New Yorker in 1987, and what Gottlieb did to bring the magazine into a new era:
"Orlean was an early Gottlieb-era hire. 'She came in off the street,' said McGrath, her Talk of the Town editor (though, she noted, Gottlieb was often her second reader). 'She came into my office and, in the space of a twenty-minute conversation, she had about a hundred ideas for stories, and about eighty of them were good.'
"Orlean laughed about this. 'By the standards of The New Yorker I was being brought in off the street. I had a book contract; I was writing for Rolling Stone and The Boston Globe, so that's hilarious. That's so classic of The New Yorker to feel that if you weren't at The New Yorker you were essentially homeless and living hand-to-mouth on crap.'
"'When I got there the mood was not very nice,' she said. Orlean was unusual among New Yorker writers, most of whom, she said, had spent their careers at the magazine and hadn't written for other publications. 'It's a little bit like, I wasn't a virgin, and more typically people came to The New Yorker as virgins. They came into their adulthood there.' The place was cliquey, she said, but that has since dissipated, in no small part because Gottlieb brought in so many writers who 'weren't born in the manger.' At this point, 'that aristocratic, inbred feel—that if you weren't there from birth you didn't deserve to be there—has really dissolved.'"
PUBLISHED: July 3, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4379 words)
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)