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Why Did AIDS Ravage the U.S. More Than Any Other Developed Country?

Examining the methods of AIDS treatment and prevention in the U.S. in comparison with the U.K. and Germany where fewer people die of the disease:

No one knew how severe the epidemic was among drug users until 1984, when the still-under-development antibody test found that 50 percent of drug users in New York City and Edinburgh and 30 percent in Amsterdam were already infected. (Des Jarlais says genetic tests have since shown that the epidemic in Amsterdam originated in New York.)

Here’s where the differences come in. Almost immediately after those first tests, Western European countries installed needle-exchange programs, gave out free syringes, and established opiate-substitution treatment. Germany even got needle vending machines. By 1997, England and Wales were giving out 25 million free syringes per year. Anything to keep the virus from spreading, even if it meant making it a little easier to be a heroin addict that day.

The United States, on the other hand, refused to provide federal funds for needle exchanges or even fund research into whether they were effective.

PUBLISHED: May 12, 2014
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3893 words)

How My Parents Accidentally Got Caught Up in the Iranian Revolution

The author's parents were working in Iran in the late '70s as Christian missionaries when the Iranian Revolution occurred. A look back on their experience:

The community of expats was dwindling. Every week more people left, the congregation of the church smaller every Sunday. Dave’s Jewish colleague left the university in November, telling him, “It’s only a matter of time before they come for the Jews.” The Israeli dean of the dental school dressed up as a Bedouin and escaped by bus to Turkey.

The conversations at parties had once started with “Where are you from?” The question became “Why are you still here?”

PUBLISHED: April 2, 2014
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4477 words)

An Interview With a Therapist Who Was Once Insane

Joe Guppy is a writer, actor and psychotherapist living in Seattle. Thirty-five years ago, he was 23 years old and a mental patient. He spent 10 weeks in a mental hospital and another 10 weeks in a halfway house after Atabrine, an old-school malaria medication, gave him visions that he was living in hell and that his family was trying to kill him. Thirty years after he was released, Guppy decided to investigate his own case of mental illness. Through physicians’ notes, journals and interviews, he took stock of how he got sick, how he got better and what his story says about how therapy helps people heal. He is working on a memoir about the experience, and was kind enough to send me a draft and let me interview him about what he found.
PUBLISHED: March 19, 2014
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2425 words)

How to Write About Tax Havens and the Super-Rich: An Interview with Nicholas Shaxson

Last year Nicholas Shaxson published a Vanity Fair article, "A Tale of Two Londons," that described the residents of one of London’s most exclusive addresses—One Hyde Park—and the accounting acrobatics they had performed to get there.

Shaxson’s piece was one of the best long-form pieces I read last year (I did in fact believe this before I met him, but you can take that with a grain of salt if you’d like), and last week I asked Shaxson to sit down with me for a proper conversation about how the story came about and whether it achieved what he wanted.

PUBLISHED: Feb. 12, 2014
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1938 words)

Five Stories About Sports for People Who Hate Sports

Not everyone is into sports, but as Michael Hobbes writes, "that doesn’t mean, as it turns out, that stories about sports can’t be fascinating. The economics! The moral gray areas! The egos! It’s like a reality show in there."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 29, 2014

Famous Cases of Journalistic Fraud: A Reading List

This reading list includes stories about Janet Cooke, who made up a story about an eight-year-old heroin addict, Jayson Blair, who fabricated stories at The New York Times, Stephen Glass, and more.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 22, 2014

What Happens When One of Your Coworkers Dies

How a colleague’s death affects an office:

Story after story, they’re all like this, proximity aspiring to intimacy, and it’s clear that no one here knew him, not the people in his department, not his managers, not the people he had lunch with and traveled with. They talk about his cluttered desk, his e-mail forwards, his cocktails at the Christmas party. They try to pull a person out of the time he spent here and they can’t.

“I always said hi to Colin when I passed him in the hall,” says someone on the video.

Naomi stops crying. She makes a little sound like she’s surprised, like she’s discovered the exact borders of her compassion. She takes a shallow breath, puts her purse on her lap, starts looking through it for tissues.

PUBLISHED: Dec. 21, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2566 words)

Why Is Zambia So Poor?

Zambia has no dictators, child soldiers, nor widespread occurrences of crime or violence, yet more than half its population lives on $1 per day. Why? An international development NGO worker examines the various economic drivers that is keeping Zambia poor:

"Just when you think you’ve got the right narrative, another one comes bursting out of the footnotes. It’s the informality. No, it’s the taxes. No, it’s the mining companies. No, it’s the regulators.

"And that’s what makes fixing it so difficult. Does Zambia need better schools? Debt relief? Microfinance? Nicer mining companies? Better laws? Stronger enforcement? Yes. All of them. And all at the same time."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7478 words)

An Open Letter to the Girl I Pretended To Have a Crush On in Eighth Grade

A writer recalls being 14 and in the closet in 1995:

"I had never been more proud of myself. I decided to notice you so no one would notice me, and now I was not only assumed straight, but assumed worthy of conversation. I just had to keep broadcasting straightness loud enough to drown out the gay humming underneath.

"Despite having two classes together, I had still barely met you. Ms. Hughes’s class was divided into fifteen tables, each with two students. She had already changed the seating arrangement twice. We couldn’t tell if this was a deliberate strategy on her part—obedience through churn—or if she just couldn’t decide how she’d like us arranged. Each time, you and I had ended up at different ends of the class.

"‘Table six,’ she was saying as we waited near the door, ‘Michael Hobbes and Tracy Dolan.’

"The class, as one, made a kind of awwwww sound, like the studio audience on ‘Full House’."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5791 words)