The story behind a car chase that ended in tragedy:
"It's agony. She feels gutted, hope drained, as she waits for a detective to call her back. Miles away, Jodon zooms past cars and weaves through lanes — but Nature doesn't see a car chase. She sees a man — her brother — deliberately orchestrating something. Stealing some kid's car, even though he had a nicer, faster truck at home; shooting at the door of a police car, even though officers are clearly within his aim. She sees a man purposefully backing himself so far into a corner that it seems like he has no other option."
PUBLISHED: May 9, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5141 words)
Writer and photojournalist Deborah Copaken Kogan on her career and her experience with gender bias:
"It's 1999. I sell my first book to Random House, a memoir of my years as a war photographer, for twice my NBC salary. I'm thrilled when I hear this: a new job; self-reliance; the gift of time to do the work I've been dreaming of since childhood. The book is sold on the basis of a proposal and a first chapter under the title Newswhore, which is the insult often lobbed at us both externally and from within our own ranks—a way of noting, with a combination of shame and black humor, the vulture-like nature of our livelihood, and a means of reclaiming, as I see it, the word 'whore,' since I want to write about sexual and gender politics as well. Random House changes the book's title to Shutterbabe, which a friend came up with. I beg for Shuttergirl instead, to reclaim at least 'girl,' as Lena Dunham would so expertly do years later. Or what about Develop Stop Fix? Anything besides a title with the word 'babe' in it. I'm told I have no say in the matter."
PUBLISHED: April 9, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2515 words)
A story adapted from The Fight to Save Juarez
, which presents a range of viewpoints in Mexico's drug war. Here, the viewpoint is from a drug trafficker's mistress:
"Hernán and Elena lived lives of combustible desperation within the middle rungs of the Juárez cartel. Elena’s restless instincts and combative nature played off of Hernán’s macho disposition in ways that created an unanticipated, and perhaps unacknowledged, balance between them. Life in the cartel was full of people like Hernán and Elena, people who had grown up with nothing in Juárez’ desolate neighborhoods. Every time that Elena had unpacked, washed, and re-packed Hernán’s shipments of cocaine she made more than assembly plant workers earn in a month. There was little that she wished for beyond what she had. Her life already exceeded what most people from her background could have hoped for."
PUBLISHED: April 3, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3626 words)
What we can learn about the future of books from its past:
"Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the 'business of literature.' Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being."
PUBLISHED: March 18, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8081 words)
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3453 words)
A father considers his young son's life in the city of Boston, and wonders if his son would be better off with "a life in nature":
"If it's true that children raised in cities often grow into shrewd, incisive adults wise to the crooked ways of the world, that being exposed daily to a wealth of cultures, languages, libraries, bookstores, theaters, and museums can make impressive people, Wordsworth might argue that those individuals lack a 'sense sublime / Of something far more deeply interfused'—that is, a sense of the unity, harmony, freedom, and 'unwearied Joy' exemplified by nature. Who doesn't want 'unwearied Joy' for his child? Emerson might go a bit further and say that those divorced from nature have a thinking deficiency, because 'Nature is the vehicle of thought.' For Emerson, as for Wordsworth, Nature is synonymous with Life—our lives simply refuse to cohere outside the context of the natural world. Will Ethan the city boy forever lack something sacred in his mind and spirit? Will he lack a certain useful knowledge? When my paternal grandfather was in Korea during the war, his platoon mates from Manhattan 'thought the crickets were North Korean soldiers sending evil signals to one another in the nighttime. They never got a good night's sleep."
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4375 words)
A writer recalls his family's move to Dallas, and what he learned from his father about work and life:
"Because my dad had preached the importance of critical acumen in all areas, I couldn’t help but apply that principle to him. I studied his sales techniques and concluded that, although he seemed to have mastered complex economic matters, he had major limitations. I was not surprised that in the course of his 25-year career he did only moderately well. At a time when many of his colleagues became wealthy, wealth eluded him. He earned little more than a middle-class income and at times barely that. When he and my mother fought, which was often, she would ask the question that I believe haunted him until the end of his life. 'If you’re so smart, Milton,' she’d say, 'why aren’t you making more money?'
"The answer had to do with his style and the imperfect nature of his reinvention. My father was amiable. He was also charismatic. He bristled with energy and had his own distinct charm. He was gregarious and curious about people. He expressed interest in their stories and was sympathetic with their problems. He also believed in his own vision of the world. These are the qualities of a great salesman, and yet, by large measure, he missed that mark. The reason was obvious: in selling others, he was also attempting to sell himself. Because his self-doubts cut so deep, that process was exhausting. As a result, he overexplained and oversold."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 24, 2013
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4205 words)
"If there is one thing we appreciate it is a faction that splinters into smaller factions." A report from inside Syria:
"We in the Middle East have always had a strong appetite for factionalism. Some attribute it to individualism, others blame the nature of our political development or our tribalism. Some even blame the weather. We call it tasharthum and we loathe it: we hold it as the main reason for all our losses and defeats, from al-Andalus to Palestine. Yet we love it and bask in it and excel at it, and if there is one thing we appreciate it is a faction that splinters into smaller factions. Yet even by the measure of previous civil wars in the Middle East, the Syrians seem to have reached new heights. After all, the Palestinians in their heyday had only a dozen or so factions, and the Lebanese, God bless them, pretending it was ideology that divided them, never exceeded thirty different factions.
"In Istanbul I asked a Syrian journalist and activist why there were so many battalions. He laughed and said, ‘Because we are Syrians,’ and went on to tell me a story I have heard many times before. ‘When the Syrian president, head of the military junta at the time, signed the unification agreement with Nasser, basically handing the country to the Egyptians and stripping himself of his presidential title, he passed the document to Nasser and said I give up my role as president but I hand you a country of four million presidents.’"
PUBLISHED: Feb. 14, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4296 words)
On the future of drones in America:
"But the drone industry is ramping up for a big landgrab the moment the regulatory environment starts to relax. At last year's Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) trade show in Las Vegas, more than 500 companies pitched drones for filming crowds and tornados and surveying agricultural fields, power lines, coalfields, construction sites, gas spills and archaeological digs. A Palo Alto, Calif., start-up called Matternet wants to establish a network of drones that will transport small, urgent packages, like those for medicine.
"In other countries civilian drone populations are already booming. Aerial video is a major application. A U.K. company called Skypower makes the eight-rotored Cinipro drone, which can carry a cinema-quality movie camera. In Costa Rica they're used to study volcanoes. In Japan drones dust crops and track schools of tuna; emergency workers used one to survey the damage at Fukushima. A nature preserve in Kenya ran a crowdsourced fundraising drive to buy drones to watch over the last few northern white rhinos. Ironically, while the U.S. has been the leader in sending drones overseas, it's lagging behind when it comes to deploying them on its own turf."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4623 words)