Subscribe to The Atlantic and get 2 free issues

The Death Dealer

Self-help guru James Arthur Ray became famous after Oprah featured him on her show. He later led three people to their deaths in a sweat lodge while trying to help them reach "a higher level of consciousness." After less than two years of jail time, he's back:

One longtime Ray follower received severe burns after falling into the rocks used to heat the lodge. Another began screaming repeatedly, "I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!" and calling out the names of his two children. Ray seated by the exit closest to the only source of oxygen, remained calm. One witness heard him mutter, "Buddy, you need to pull it together," before jubilantly saying "It’s a good day to die!" — apparently referencing his claim that followers would be "reborn" during the event. One participant testified that even as she passed out, her thoughts echoed James Arthur Ray: "It's a good day to die."

SOURCE:The Verge
PUBLISHED: Dec. 4, 2013
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6307 words)

The Dream and the Myth of the Paperless City

The city of Chicago is looking to go paperless, but digitizing won't be easy:

"'You can't move forward with technology in government if you’re redundantly moving around multiple copies of pieces of paper,' he says. 'To me, it’s shocking that we’re still talking about forms.'

"But Hillman also acknowledges that there are major roadblocks. Cost is less an issue, he surmises, than overcoming the governmental status quo.

"To make a paperless government work, 'you would need a paradigm shift,' Hillman says. 'You have entire departments — the fire department, the Department of Revenue — that run with their paper. This is how they do things. So when you shift to a paperless government, you have major staffing changes. You have people saying, ‘Well this is not how we do this.’ So that’s going to be the biggest hangup.'

"But it may be more than a mere hangup."
SOURCE:The Verge
PUBLISHED: Dec. 6, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4041 words)