Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle and Readmill users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
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1. This Old Man
Roger Angell | The New Yorker | February 17, 2014 | 20 minutes (5,062 words)
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.
More New Yorker: “The Big Sleep” (Ian Parker)
2. Sexual Assault at God’s Harvard
Kiera Feldman | The New Republic | February 17, 2014 | 29 minutes (7,279 words)
An investigation of Patrick Henry College, an elite evangelical school in Virginia where students say administrators have engaged in victim-blaming and cover-ups when it comes to reports of sexual assault:
“Basically, my issue was swept under the rug, and the assaulter received little else but a reprimand,” says a young woman who attended Patrick Henry between 2004 and 2008. The student fell asleep at an off-campus party where there had been drinking and was awoken by a male PHC student assaulting her. She says she reported the incident to Patrick Henry. “The administration encouraged me to not go to the police and said that, because alcohol was involved and I was violating the rules there, they hinted that I could be expelled if I brought light to the incident,” the student says. “The focus was the alcohol. I drank. I sinned. I deserved to be assaulted in the middle of the night.”
More Feldman: “Grace in Broken Arrow” (This Land Press, 2012)
3. Can Checks Save Lives?
Jonah Ogles | Outside | January 31, 2014 | 21 minutes (5,331 words)
As a teenager, Jonah Ogles began sponsoring a poverty-stricken boy in the Caribbean. Twelve years and thousands of dollars later he flew down to meet him—and to learn if his efforts did any good at all.
When I started sponsoring Ervenson, I was camping at a Christian alt-music festival in rural Illinois, where bands played concerts for sweaty mosh pits of Jesus-loving teens. Between two of the shows, someone from Compassion International got on stage and talked about how difficult it was to be a child in places like Haiti. They described the lack of clean water, the rampant disease, the voodoo ceremonies on every corner. Even then I was vaguely aware of my privilege as a white American male and felt a little guilty about it. Plus, I had a part-time job at a guitar store, which meant that I had enough spending money that I wouldn’t miss thirty-odd dollars out of my monthly paycheck. I signed up as soon as I got home. All I had to do was get online, do a quick search by age, country, or birthday (in case I wanted someone who shared mine), and then click that I agreed to send the checks.
More Outside: “The Brief, Wondrous Life of Zina Lahr” (Grayson Schaffer)
4. The Broken-Down Grace of Bill Murray
Nathan Rabin | The Dissolve | February 17, 2014 | 34 minutes (8,603 words)
A look back at the career of a comedy star turned dramatic actor:
Murray rebounded nicely that same year with Caddyshack, which paired him with Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, and Chase. Murray’s investment in Caddyshack was minimal. He simply showed up on set for a film co-written by his brother Brian Doyle-Murray (who also appears in the film) and directed by Ramis, and improvised his entire performance as Carl Spackler, a groundskeeper at a snooty country club engaged in all-out war with a sassy gopher. In the process, he created a slacker hero for the ages, a singularly inspired cross between the perpetually thwarted Wile E. Coyote and Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. Murray babbled divine nonsense and emerged the MVP of an all-star comedy dream team, stealing the film from stars at the height of their powers. Caddyshack wasn’t a competition, but Murray won it all the same.
See also: “Stephen Tobolowsky: The X Factor, Part 1” (The Awl)
5. Playboy Interview: Gawker’s Nick Denton
Jeff Bercovici | Playboy | February 21, 2014 | 30 minutes (7,539 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.
More Playboy: “The Ghost in the Machine” (Alex Pappademas)
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