Nicholas Lemann looks at the implications of the media’s coverage of the Kitty Genovese story:
An excellent example is the murder of Kitty Genovese, a twenty-eight-year-old bar manager, by Winston Moseley, a twenty-nine-year-old computer punch-card operator, just after three in the morning on Friday, March 13, 1964, in Kew Gardens, Queens. The fact that this crime, one of six hundred and thirty-six murders in New York City that year, became an American obsession—condemned by mayors and Presidents, puzzled over by academics and theologians, studied in freshman psychology courses, re-created in dozens of research experiments, even used four decades later to justify the Iraq war—can be attributed to the influence of one man, A. M. Rosenthal, of the New York Times.
PUBLISHED: March 10, 2014
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3347 words)
Our favorite stories of the week, featuring The New Yorker, The New Republic, Outside, The Dissolve and Playboy.
On life as a nonagenarian:
I get along. Now and then it comes to me that I appear to have more energy and hope than some of my coevals, but I take no credit for this. I don’t belong to a book club or a bridge club; I’m not taking up Mandarin or practicing the viola. In a sporadic effort to keep my brain from moldering, I’ve begun to memorize shorter poems—by Auden, Donne, Ogden Nash, and more—which I recite to myself some nights while walking my dog, Harry’s successor fox terrier, Andy. I’ve also become a blogger, and enjoy the ease and freedom of the form: it’s a bit like making a paper airplane and then watching it take wing below your window. But shouldn’t I have something more scholarly or complex than this put away by now—late paragraphs of accomplishments, good works, some weightier op cits? I’m afraid not. The thoughts of age are short, short thoughts. I don’t read Scripture and cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite’s rules for old men, which he did not deliver over the air: Never trust a fart. Never pass up a drink. Never ignore an erection.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 17, 2014
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5062 words)
This week's picks from Emily include stories from The New Yorker, Rookie, Buzzfeed, and Salon.
Our story picks of the week, featuring The New Yorker, Tampa Bay Times, Planet Money, Rookie and Indianapolis Monthly, with a guest pick by Chris Mahr.
With suvorexant, Merck thinks it has created a better sleeping pill—one that could supplant Ambien as the drug of choice for insomniacs. But getting it to market is a long slog, and then there’s the question of dosage:
The committee was asked to vote on the question: Would a ten-milligram dose require additional studies before it could be approved by the F.D.A.? It voted no. Paul Rosenberg, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, said, “I’m convinced that it maybe works.” Clancy said, “I feel like I’m stuck in an old episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.’ The company’s arguing their drug doesn’t work, and the F.D.A. is arguing, ‘Yes, it does.’ ” He said that he needed a sleeping pill.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 42 minutes (10598 words)
A literary mystery: Soon after Vladimir Nabokov began shopping his novel Lolita, Dorothy Parker published “Lolita,” a short story in The New Yorker with a very similar story and characters:
Edmund Wilson was a friend Nabokov shared with many people in American literary circles—including Dorothy Parker. Wilson had first learned about Nabokov’s Lolita in the summer of 1953, when he was contemplating an article about Nabokov and asked the novelist whether he had a new project in the works. “Yes,” Nabokov responded, “I will have … кое что [“something”] published by the fall 1954. I am writing nicely. In an atmosphere of great secrecy, I shall show you—when I return east—an amazing book that will be quite ready by then.” A year later, Nabokov offered to let Wilson read his new novel, which he said he considered “to be my best thing in English.”
PUBLISHED: Nov. 24, 2013
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2475 words)
Making marijuana legal is harder than it might look. Radden Keefe goes inside Washington State’s legalization efforts, and what the new laws mean for growers, sellers, consumers and police:
Officials in Washington had been expecting a peace dividend, yet Kleiman was calling for a crackdown. It was the kind of logical argument that nobody wants to hear. Not even law enforcement: to a narcotics detective, pot legalization can feel like an existential affront. As if to deepen the insult, tax revenue from the sale of legal cannabis will be devoted to substance-abuse prevention and research—not to police or prosecutors. Who, then, was going to pay for such a crackdown? Although Kleiman urged state officials to set aside funds for increased law enforcement, he can get impatient with such complaints. He likes to say, “You don’t get any of the revenue for arrestingrobbers, either.”
Bilger goes inside Google’s self-driving car project: Engineers have made big leaps since the DARPA Grand Challenge nearly a decade ago, but a commercial release is still years away:
The Google car has now driven more than half a million miles without causing an accident—about twice as far as the average American driver goes before crashing. Of course, the computer has always had a human driver to take over in tight spots. Left to its own devices, Thrun says, it could go only about fifty thousand miles on freeways without a major mistake. Google calls this the dog-food stage: not quite fit for human consumption. “The risk is too high,” Thrun says. “You would never accept it.” The car has trouble in the rain, for instance, when its lasers bounce off shiny surfaces. (The first drops call forth a small icon of a cloud onscreen and a voice warning that auto-drive will soon disengage.) It can’t tell wet concrete from dry or fresh asphalt from firm. It can’t hear a traffic cop’s whistle or follow hand signals.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 18, 2013
LENGTH: 44 minutes (11156 words)