How "revenge edits" and the case of a Wikipedia editor named "Qworty" raise questions about how much we should trust the site:
"In the wee hours of the morning of January 27, 2013, a Wikipedia editor named 'Qworty' made a series of 14 separate edits to the Wikipedia page for the late writer Barry Hannah, a well-regarded Southern writer with a taste for the Gothic and absurd.
"Qworty cut paragraphs that included quotes from Hannah’s work. He removed 20 links to interviews, obituaries and reminiscences concerning Hannah. He cut out a list of literary prizes Hannah had won.
"Two edits stand out. Qworty excised the phrase 'and was regarded as a good mentor' from a sentence that started: 'Hannah taught creative writing for 28 years at the University of Mississippi, where he was director of its M.F.A. program …' And he changed the cause of Hannah’s death from 'natural causes' to 'alcoholism.'"
PUBLISHED: May 18, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5224 words)
Too many inexperienced climbers are attempting to scale Mount Everest. A few are losing their lives, and many others are littering the mountain with garbage:
"Everest has always been a trophy, but now that almost 4,000 people have reached its summit, some more than once, the feat means less than it did a half century ago. Today roughly 90 percent of the climbers on Everest are guided clients, many without basic climbing skills. Having paid $30,000 to $120,000 to be on the mountain, too many callowly expect to reach the summit. A significant number do, but under appalling conditions. The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are not only dangerously crowded but also disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps. And then there are the deaths. Besides the four climbers who perished on the Southeast Ridge, six others lost their lives in 2012, including three Sherpas.
"Clearly the world’s highest peak is broken. But if you talk to the people who know it best, they’ll tell you it’s not beyond repair."
PUBLISHED: May 17, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2649 words)
Throughout May and June, a new generation of reporters, writers, editors, and essayists make their way out of school and into the professional world. They come bearing clips, work samples produced for class or during an internship. Hundreds of media outlets at colleges and universities across the country publish student work, and an equal number of professors, instructors, and advisors help students report, write, and edit their best journalism. We’d like to encourage those writers to produce more and better work, and introduce these new voices to a wider audience of readers—and maybe even future employers and mentors.
A boy with kidney disease finds a way to thrive in high school thanks to a robot:
"'His personality helps out a lot,' says Kent Deville, Lyndon's chemistry teacher. 'A shier kid would have problems.' Lyndon isn't afraid to call out when he needs help, and he uses the bot's tricks to his advantage. He can zoom in, take photos of the whiteboard and homework corrections and refer back to everything later. 'It's like H.G. Wells,' Mr. Deville says. Kelsey Vasquez, a classmate, says Lyndon is actually more outgoing as the robot. 'He's shier in person,' she says, at least until he's had time to relax. 'I don't think I could be as happy as he is.'"
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4326 words)
The inside story of Ranbaxy, a generic drug maker that committed criminal fraud by fabricating data to win FDA approvals:
"Thakur knew the drugs weren't good. They had high impurities, degraded easily, and would be useless at best in hot, humid conditions. They would be taken by the world's poorest patients in sub-Saharan Africa, who had almost no medical infrastructure and no recourse for complaints. The injustice made him livid.
"Ranbaxy executives didn't care, says Kathy Spreen, and made little effort to conceal it. In a conference call with a dozen company executives, one brushed aside her fears about the quality of the AIDS medicine Ranbaxy was supplying for Africa. 'Who cares?' he said, according to Spreen. 'It's just blacks dying.'"
PUBLISHED: May 15, 2013
LENGTH: 39 minutes (9759 words)
The world is getting automated more quickly than we think—and when the robots take over it will throw our capital-labor balance out of whack and decimate the middle class:
"Until a decade ago, the share of total national income going to workers was pretty stable at around 70 percent, while the share going to capital—mainly corporate profits and returns on financial investments—made up the other 30 percent. More recently, though, those shares have started to change. Slowly but steadily, labor's share of total national income has gone down, while the share going to capital owners has gone up. The most obvious effect of this is the skyrocketing wealth of the top 1 percent, due mostly to huge increases in capital gains and investment income."
PUBLISHED: May 14, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4423 words)
[Fiction] A young man, estranged from his girlfriend, receives experimental stem-cell treatment in Germany:
"Hayley wasn’t coming. It was pretty obvious. Julian sat shivering in the chill, listening for the 9:13. Then the 9:41. Then the 10:02. He was tired. In winter, he sometimes caught a fever. His arms burned hot, as if a flame were being held to his skin. This was the nerves dying, an Internet confidant had explained. Of course his immune system wanted him dead. It knew. It was making the call on behalf of the wider society. It was taking him out. In the larger project of the universe, of which he must necessarily be kept in the dark, his own existence appeared to be an obstacle. So the species makes an adjustment. It redacts."
PUBLISHED: May 14, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7397 words)
On being pregnant and uninsured—too rich to qualify for state-funded health insurance, too poor to afford private insurance:
"We looked into purchasing private insurance. Andrew could get insurance for himself as a small business owner and I could be included in his plan as his wife, but the pregnancy wouldn’t be covered. I found this stunning, but it is common: insurers can and very often do deny coverage to uninsured moms-to-be by defining pregnancy as a preexisting medical condition. This meant that my husband and I both would have to purchase our own separate insurance, which, we learned, would cost up to $275 dollars a month each and did not include copays at the obstetrician’s office or significant deductibles ($2,000, or more). To some people, $550 every month isn’t much to stress about, but we could not afford these plans. After rent, utilities and groceries, we had almost nothing left. Covering the premiums wasn’t just difficult, it was impossible."
PUBLISHED: May 13, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3035 words)
The short life of Jessica Lum, a terminally ill 25-year-old who chose to spend her last days practicing journalism:
"Jessica hadn’t expected to win. The other finalists were teams of students, and she worked solo on her 'Slab City Stories' project—a multimedia report on the inhabitants of a former Marine base-turned-squatter-RV-park in the California desert (though not, she made sure to point out, without the support of her professors, classmates, and Kickstarter backers). Jessica didn’t enjoy being in the spotlight, either; she was more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. It took her only a few seconds longer to accept the award than it did to get to the stage. After a rush of thank-yous and a celebratory double fist-pump, Jessica returned to her seat—and to what appeared to be a bright future, one in which she’d tell many more stories and win many more awards.
"Less than four months later, on January 13, 2013, Jessica died. She was 25."
PUBLISHED: May 13, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3370 words)