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The Recovery Puzzle

A story about the U.S. recovery. When a factory opens up in Ohio, the person in charge of hiring people for supervisor positions finds it difficult to find the right candidates to fill the roles:

“Dad’s Resume,” Bernie says to himself and shakes his head. He has an idea of what kind of person Dad’s Resume might be: Late 50s, early 60s. Experienced. Possibly down on his luck. The way the document is labeled makes Bernie think that maybe the guy doesn’t know much about computers and had to rely on his kid to attach the application and e-mail it in.

Dad’s Resume, he thinks, might be the quintessential story of what it means to be a job-seeker in 2014, in this time of retraining and specialized skill sets. Maybe Dad’s skills are obsolete. Maybe he’s found his world upended. The economy is creeping back to normal. Maybe he’s putting himself out there again.

Bernie wants to interview four to five candidates for each supervisory position. He makes a list of his top choices. He adds Dad’s Resume. So this guy might not have computer skills. He wants to give him a shot.

PUBLISHED: April 5, 2014
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3288 words)

The Trouble With Shaken Baby Syndrome

After three decades and thousands of accusations and fractured lives, medical and legal experts are challenging shaken baby syndrome as a diagnosis. And as one family's saga demonstrates, we can't wait any longer to get it right.

“Do you have identification?” Robyn asked the woman. No. “A court order?” The largest deputy in the group, maybe six-five, 250 pounds, placed his boot over the doorsill. I’m the court order, he said. They weren’t leaving without Eliana. Robyn scanned the street. At least five patrol cars lined the curb. Every home on the street glowed, the silhouettes of onlooking neighbors framed in the windows. After a 30-minute standoff—the deputies demanding entry into the house, the Felixes refusing—and after tearful phone calls to friends for advice, Robyn woke Eliana in her crib, bundled her, and passed the toddler to the caseworker. The child cried out for Nathan—“My daddy! My daddy!”—and disappeared into the backseat of the caseworker’s car.

PUBLISHED: April 1, 2014
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5447 words)

Just Who Is Herman Curtis Malone?

Curtis Malone created a D.C. youth basketball empire. Turns out, he was a drug dealer, too:

The Malone these by-the-book high achievers know is, well, one of them. Over three decades, he guided hundreds — some say thousands — of teenage boys toward higher education, especially those whose skills on the basketball court set them apart from their peers. The athletically gifted youngsters often landed on the Amateur Athletic Union basketball team Malone founded with his friend Troy Weaver in 1993, D.C. Assault.Malone built a winning team, which attracted more talent, which meant more wins. Charismatic and driven, Malone grew D.C. Assault into one of the top AAU boys’ basketball programs in the United States with nine teams.

PUBLISHED: March 27, 2014
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3425 words)

Sinkhole of Bureaucracy

In an old Pennsylvania limestone mine in the town of Boyers, 600 federal employees are still processing paperwork by hand. A look at why the Office of Personnel Management has failed to digitize:

During the past 30 years, administrations have spent more than $100 million trying to automate the old-fashioned process in the mine and make it run at the speed of computers.

They couldn’t.

So now the mine continues to run at the speed of human fingers and feet. That failure imposes costs on federal retirees, who have to wait months for their full benefit checks. And it has imposed costs on the taxpayer: The Obama administration has now made the mine run faster, but mainly by paying for more fingers and feet.

The staff working in the mine has increased by at least 200 people in the past five years. And the cost of processing each claim has increased from $82 to $108, as total spending on the retirement system reached $55.8 million.

PUBLISHED: March 22, 2014
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3085 words)

On teaching meditation in the D.C. Department of Corrections’ Residential Substance Abuse Treatment unit

The writer, on volunteering as a meditation teacher at a detention center holding men convicted of serious crimes:

It’s several weeks after that first class, and the inmates looking me over don’t seem as menacing, I realize — just interested. I don’t know what anyone’s in prison for, and that allows me to talk as I would with anyone.

But the moods inevitably vary from class to class. Deacon, who had initially struck me as easygoing, is irritable today: The sound of the fan is bugging him, and he says he can’t relax. Finally he admits, “I’m thinking about what’s going to happen when I get out, whether I’m going to be able to find a job.”

PUBLISHED: Feb. 27, 2014
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2815 words)

In-N-Out's Burger Queen

A profile of Lynsi Snyder, In-N-Out Burger's 31-year-old president who drag races on the side:

Snyder, who inherited control of In‑N‑Out in 2006 when her grandmother died, and ascended to the corporate presidency in 2010, won’t be adding new products or expanding into new markets as new CEOs who want to put their stamp on a company often do.

“How we make our decisions is not looking to the right and left to see what everyone else is doing,” she explains. “It’s just looking forward and doing the same thing that we’ve done in the past, because it has worked. We don’t have plans to change the menu. We don’t have plans to crank up the growth. It’s just kind of doing the same thing and being smart, and everybody doing their job. Like a plane on autopilot. There’s so much momentum, with all the people who’ve been here and have tenure. There’s so much strength, as a whole. So we just keep on doing the same thing, and it runs pretty smoothly.”

PUBLISHED: Jan. 27, 2014
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3325 words)

Life, Death and Witchcraft in the Niger Delta: Our Longreads Member Pick

For this week's Longreads Member Pick, we're excited to share "On the Far Side of the Fire," an essay by Jessica Wilbanks, which first appeared in Ninth Letter and was awarded the journal's annual creative nonfiction award. This is the first time it has been published online.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 23, 2014
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6860 words)

Hokkaido, Japan: The Land of Milk and Uni

To Hokkaido, In Search of the Uni Grail:

For the past decade, I have sought out sea urchin like a zombified bipedal sea otter. I have eaten giant red urchins—uni, in sushi-speak—alive and wiggling in slow motion from the dock in Santa Barbara, California, and I’ve slurped from split shells in the street markets of Catania, Sicily. I’ve eaten it in $15 panini in Manhattan and off of a trompe l’oeil seashore of frozen rocks and ice in Copenhagen. Many times I have heard the sotto voce benediction of “Hokkaido” delivered when the sushi chef hands over that trumping-everything-else piece of uni nigiri. Many times I have thought, Someday. Someday I will go there, to the northernmost island of Japan, and eat that most revered of urchins in full view of the waters from which it was plundered.

PUBLISHED: Jan. 17, 2014
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2800 words)

What It's Like to Outrun Death: The Survival Story of a New Orleans Blues Legend

For our latest Longreads Member Pick, we're thrilled to feature "The Gutbucket King," a new ebook by journalist Barry Yeoman and The New New South, about the tumultuous life of blues singer Little Freddie King, who survived stabbings, alcoholism and personal tragedy. You can read a free excerpt below. Become a Longreads Member to receive the full story and ebook, or you can purchase the story at Creatavist or Amazon.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 3, 2014
LENGTH: 52 minutes (13100 words)