This week, we are excited to give Longreads Members exclusive early access to a new story from Matt Siegel, to be published next week on The Awl. Here’s more from The Awl co-founder and editor Choire Sicha:
“Matt Siegel’s very funny nonfiction story of love, deceit and betrayal (oh my God, I know!!!) comes on all unassuming and conversational. Unlike many citizens of the MFA world (Matt’s a recent graduate of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program), he keeps his techniques hidden. We’re really looking forward to publishing this at The Awl, but we’re more thrilled to share it with Longreads Members—like ourselves!—first.”
) has previously written for The Huffington Post, The Hairpin, Flaunt Magazine, and The Advocate.
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PUBLISHED: March 2, 2014
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7343 words)
Our ability to edit the genome using DNA-cutting proteins may have a profound effect on the way we treat diseases in the future:
It is likely to be at least several years before such efforts can be developed into human therapeutics, but a growing number of academic researchers have seen some preliminary success with experiments involving sickle-cell anemia, HIV, and cystic fibrosis (see table below). One is Gang Bao, a bioengineering researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has already used CRISPR to correct the sickle-cell mutation in human cells grown in a dish. Bao and his team started the work in 2008 using zinc finger nucleases. When TALENs came out, his group switched quickly, says Bao, and then it began using CRISPR when that tool became available. While he has ambitions to eventually work on a variety of diseases, Bao says it makes sense to start with sickle-cell anemia. “If we pick a disease to treat using genome editing, we should start with something relatively simple,” he says. “A disease caused by a single mutation, in a single gene, that involves only a single cell type.”
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2014
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2509 words)
The media entrepreneur’s vision for the future of content and journalism:
DENTON: The Panopticon—the prison in which everybody is exposed to scrutiny all the time. Do you remember the website Fucked Company? It was big in about 2000, 2001. I was CEO of Moreover Technologies at the time. A saleswoman put in an anonymous report to the site about my having paid for the eye operation of a young male executive I had the hots for. The story, like many stories, was roughly half true. Yes, there was a young male executive. Yes, he did have an eye operation. No, it wasn’t paid for by me. It was paid for by the company’s health insurance according to normal procedure. And no, I didn’t fancy him; I detested him. It’s such a great example of Fucked Company and, by extension, most internet discussion systems. There’s some real truth that gets told that is never of a scale to warrant mainstream media attention, and there’s also no mechanism for fact-checking, no mechanism to actually converge on some real truth. It’s out there. Half of it’s right. Half of it’s wrong. You don’t know which half is which. What if we could develop a system for collaboratively reaching the truth? Sources and subjects and writers and editors and readers and casual armchair experts asking questions and answering them, with follow-ups and rebuttals. What if we could actually have a journalistic process that didn’t require paid journalists and tape recorders and the cost of a traditional journalistic operation? You could actually uncover everything—every abusive executive, every corrupt eye operation.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 21, 2014
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7539 words)
How an employee secretly recruited a team to fly to Sydney and redesign eBay’s homepage, without the direct signoff of the CEO:
But now, in that cab at the airport, the manic high had for a moment worn off, and Abraham was suddenly facing reality. The reality was his plan had a few problems.
Abraham listed them off in his head. For starters, almost no one at eBay knew what he was up to — including Donahoe himself. It was unclear who was going to pay for the trip. Abraham had gotten the six tickets to Sydney through eBay’s travel service, but technically, he’d never actually gotten approval. As for the rest of the trip’s costs, his plan was to foot the bill and then expense it. Maybe they’d sign off, maybe they wouldn’t.
Then there was the little matter of where he and his team would sleep. There was a possible Airbnb apartment, but no confirmation.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 8, 2014
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6110 words)
An in-depth interview (via The Browser) with Wired co-founder and technology “protopian” Kevin Kelly about the future of sharing and tracking on the Internet:
The question that I’m asking myself is, how far will we share, when are we’re going to stop sharing, and how far are we’re going to allow ourselves to monitor and surveil each other in kind of a coveillance? I believe that there’s no end to how much we can track each other—how far we’re going to self-track, how much we’re going to allow companies to track us—so I find it really difficult to believe that there’s going to be a limit to this, and to try to imagine this world in which we are being self-tracked and co-tracked and tracked by governments, and yet accepting of that, is really hard to imagine.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 3, 2014
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9124 words)
Paul Brownfield investigates ‘SNL’’s legendary New York after-parties, and whether they’re actually any fun:
“If you had a good show you’re on cloud nine,” said Jon Lovitz. who had a lot of them in the mid–1980s. On the other hand, Mr. Lovitz recalled the forlorn night when he had appeared in only one sketch, and was sitting at the party with Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey and Mike Myers.
“It feels like your career’s over,” Mr. Lovitz said. “Honestly, they call it the after-party. In my mind, I only know one time when it actually felt like a party.” (That was in 1990, he said, when Technotronic played their hit “Pump Up the Jam” there.)
PUBLISHED: Feb. 1, 2014
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2200 words)
A gay couple in Dallas plan for a family and look for a surrogate:
No one is more stunned about two babies on the way than Hanna and Riggs. It’s not that the boys are an utter surprise — “I’ve always thought I’d get married and have kids by the time I was 35,” Hanna says — it’s that the couple never imagined it would be this soon. The men had been planning and saving for a family even before planning their wedding. Because they saw surrogacy as their “first and only choice” for having children, they would need approximately $100,000 — fees for an egg donor, a surrogate, a fertility clinic, medications and attorneys — and that would take time to amass. To learn more about the process, the couple went to dinner last April with the office manager of a Fort Worth fertility clinic, where the specialties are in-vitro fertilization, donor-egg technology and surrogacy. A friend of Riggs’ and Hanna’s had employed the clinic’s services and connected the men to the manager. She had some time-sensitive information: A particularly extraordinary woman, a 35-year-old in Fort Worth, was about to have her third surrogate child and would be ready for another pregnancy in four to six months. She was, the men were told, the ultimate surrogate: tall and thin; healthy deliveries; no mental issues. If they didn’t act now, it would be almost two years before they would have this chance. Hanna and Riggs sent the woman an email that night. A week later, they took her to lunch. “We loved her,” Hanna says. “It was a great match for us.”
PUBLISHED: Jan. 30, 2014
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3678 words)
In May 1998, Adam Penenberg was an editor at Forbes Digital Tool, Forbes magazine’s website, when an angry editor showed him a copy of Stephen Glass' article "Hack Heaven," demanding to know why Penenberg hadn't come across the story himself. Kicking himself for missing the scoop, Penenberg started to investigate and stumbled upon a massive case journalistic fraud.
After I finished reading, I’m pretty sure I muttered “Holy shit!” I had never heard of Jukt Micronics, digital extortion deals or hacker agents. Glass cited anti-hacker legislation, a hacker organization and a law enforcement agency that was news to me. I had never encountered an organization called the National Assembly of Hackers, wasn’t aware of any recent conventions, had never read a hacker newsletter titled “Computer Insider,” nor did I know any hacker with the nom de hack “Big Bad Bionic Boy.” In fact, I didn’t recognize one single fact in “Hack Heaven” save perhaps for the existence of the Internet.
But how could I have missed such a big story? At Forbes.com, I covered business and technology, but also explored music and software piracy, computer hacking, phone phreaking, identity theft, credit card fraud, cyber-spooks and all things relating to the dark side of the Internet. These weren’t part of my job description but were popular with readers, often attracting traffic from people who wouldn’t have known Forbes from Fodors. They quickly became my specialty.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 27, 2014
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6993 words)
A senior physician gets a new perspective about what it's like to be critically ill under the U.S. medical care system after falling and breaking his neck:
What did this experience teach me about the current state of medical care in the US? Quite a lot, as it turns out. I always knew that the treatment of the critically ill in our best teaching hospitals was excellent. That was certainly confirmed by the life-saving treatment I received in the Massachusetts General emergency room. Physicians there simply refused to let me die (try as hard as I might). But what I hadn’t appreciated was the extent to which, when there is no emergency, new technologies and electronic record-keeping affect how doctors do their work. Attention to the masses of data generated by laboratory and imaging studies has shifted their focus away from the patient. Doctors now spend more time with their computers than at the bedside. That seemed true at both the ICU and Spaulding. Reading the physicians’ notes in the MGH and Spaulding records, I found only a few brief descriptions of how I felt or looked, but there were copious reports of the data from tests and monitoring devices. Conversations with my physicians were infrequent, brief, and hardly ever reported.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 20, 2014
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4024 words)