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)
A collection of stories from Salon, Jane, The New Yorker, New York Times and more.
PUBLISHED: March 30, 2013
LENGTH: 3 minutes (996 words)
The writer loses his brother to suicide—and the family is left to wonder how they could have prevented it:
"According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, at least 90 percent of people who kill themselves suffer from a treatable and diagnosable mental illness. Anthony didn’t see a psychiatrist and was never diagnosed, but he displayed symptoms of any number of them. These diseases can be triggered by genetic makeup, by experience, by a life situation, by family dynamics dating back to early childhood.
"Not long after his death my mother asked me why Anthony couldn’t just muddle through like the rest of us, why he was so fragile. It’s the question all of us who loved Anthony have to live with, how such a capable person could be so wrong about the biggest question there is and so many smaller ones. His death is hard to understand and harder to forgive. It goes against the human instinct to make what use of our talents we can, to breed, to survive."
PUBLISHED: March 12, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5545 words)
The takeover of San Francisco by tech companies prompts some soul-searching by Talbot, a longtime resident and veteran of the first dotcom boom as founder of Salon.com:
"One recent Friday evening, a single mother named Fufkin Vollmayer found herself at a Shabbat service started by two young Jews who work in the tech sector. The service, known as the Mission Minyan, is held each week at the Women’s Building, in the heart of San Francisco’s hottest neighborhood. The fortysomething Vollmayer, who was raised in the Haight-Ashbury by an activist mother, is the kind of vibrant, idiosyncratic personality that defines San Francisco (she took her first name from the band manager in Spinal Tap, for reasons that made sense at the time).
"The night she attended the Mission Minyan service, most of her fellow worshippers were successful digital wizards, and all were products of elite schools and seemed single-mindedly focused on the business of tech. As the startup chatter droned on, Vollmayer finally blurted out, 'What about giving something back?' A deep silence fell over the room. No one responded. After the embarrassment faded, the conversation returned to business as usual.
"'Maybe it’s youth—the folly of youth,' Vollmayer mused to me later. 'The group that night was clearly about 15 years younger than me. If you’re young and rich, do you really think much about the implications of the work you do and the money you make?'"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 20, 2012
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4504 words)
Four advice columnists, Dear Sugar's Cheryl Strayed, Salon's Cary Tennis, Slate's Emily Yoffe, and The Globe and Mail's Lynn Coady, discuss what it's like to give advice to people online:
"Are there common threads or themes that you see over and over in the questions you get? Questions that seem to be real problems in a lot of people’s lives that they keep writing in about in variations?
"Cheryl: Yes, a ton. There are a lot of people with broken hearts. And they’ll never get over so and so leaving them.
"Emily: Yeah, I never run those because the answer is the same and it’s very boring. It’s just, 'Move forward.' The guy I thought I’d kill myself over when I was 27 I can’t remember the name of now. There are some big general categories. One is cubicle land. The horrors of the farters, the breathers, the hummers, the eaters. I can only do a limited number of 'My husband looks at porn.'"
PUBLISHED: Aug. 23, 2012
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3260 words)
Experiencing firsthand the boredom that overtakes the courtroom during the perjury retrial of the seven-time Cy Young winner:
"As far as jury duty goes, you might think the perjury trial of the most decorated pitcher in baseball history would be the kind of blockbuster assignment you tell your grandchildren about. But if you’re enough of a baseball fan to recognize Roger Clemens, you would have been booted out of the pool in short order. The ladies and gentleman of this jury have been carefully selected on the basis of their ambivalence toward the nation’s pastime. That’s why witnesses must pause to define elementary baseball nomenclature like 'foul pole.' To clarify what it means for an athlete to be 'in the zone.' To explain that the game is played both indoors and outdoors, and that Fenway Park is home to the Boston Red Sox.
"So you can begin to see why two jurors have already been dismissed for napping during testimony. Only 13 remain, and Judge Reggie Walton is determined not to lose another. The survivors have been encouraged to take advantage of the complimentary coffee in the jury lounge, for the defense is expected to argue deep into June."
PUBLISHED: June 10, 2012
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4910 words)
In 2007, Eric Fair wrote an article in the Washington Post
describing his experience as an interrogator in Iraq. He has had trouble finding a way to move on.
"I tell my professor I am sick. I put away verb charts, participles, and lexicons, board a train for Washington, D.C., and meet with Department of Justice lawyers and Army investigators in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. I disclose everything. I provide pictures, letters, names, firsthand accounts, locations, and techniques. I talk about the hard site at Abu Ghraib, and I talk about the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I talk about what I did, what I saw, what I knew, and what I heard. I ride the train back to Princeton. I start drinking more. Sarah takes notice. I tell her to go to Hell.
"I sit for my final Greek exam in August. It is a passage from Paul’s letter to the people of Thessalonica.
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.
"I am not one of the believers in Thessalonica. I am one of the abusers at Philippi."
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2012
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2653 words)
When do we really die? Is it when the heart stops—or is there a certain point that brain death means actual death? As we make advances in medicine, it's raising new questions about what's final. An excerpt from Teresi's new book, The Undead
"Michael DeVita of the University of Pittsburgh recalls making the rounds at a student teaching hospital with his interns in tow when he remembered that he had a patient upstairs who was near death. He sent a few of the young doctors 'to check on Mr. Smith' in Room 301 and to report back on whether he was dead yet. DeVita continued rounds with the remainder of the interns, but after some time had passed he wondered what happened to his emissaries of death. Trotting up to Mr. Smith’s room, he found them all paging through 'The Washington Manual,' the traditional handbook given to interns. But there is nothing in the manual that tells new doctors how to determine which patients are alive and which are dead."
PUBLISHED: March 18, 2012
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3368 words)
How an unplanned pregnancy during college changed the life and worldview of Maggie Gallagher, now one of the leading voices against gay marriage:
"On a mild November day, Gallagher and I are upstairs at City Bakery, near Union Square in Manhattan, where after months of requests she has agreed to meet me. As Gallagher tells it, she and the baby’s father were close; they had been together 'on the order of one year,' she says, so he might have been expected to stand by her. 'My son’s father was my boyfriend at Yale,' is how she describes their relationship. But when she told him she was pregnant, right before spring break in 1982, he vanished on her. 'I was in his room and he had to go do something, and I was going to fly out in a couple of hours, had to get to the airport. And the last thing he said to me was, "I’ll be back in 30 minutes." And then he wasn’t.'
"He just left her sitting in his room. And that was the end of them. When summer came, Gallagher moved home to Oregon and took some classes to finish her degree. In the fall, she gave birth to a baby boy, Patrick."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 8, 2012
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8308 words)