Search Results for: legal nomads

‘Pain, Fatigue and My New Normal’

In 2013, I contracted a virus that I thought was the flu. It ended up being dengue, sometimes referred to as “breakbone fever.” The nickname is a reference to the levels of pain some people experience when they are in dengue’s throes. I expected my symptoms to subside once the active infection went away. After all, friends who contracted dengue, sometimes multiple years in a row, seemed to return to a sense of normalcy. Instead, the joint pain remained, below the fever pitch of “breaking bones” but nowhere near my old self. For a long time I waited for that “old self” to materialize, and for the pain to recede. It took three years to finally surrender to my present and admit that the pain isn’t going anywhere.

-Jodi Ettenberg quit her job in 2008 to travel the world, and for years she has written about her adventures at Legal Nomads. She now reveals her battle with chronic pain and how it forced her to make changes.

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Longreads Best of 2012: Jodi Ettenberg

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Jodi Ettenberg is the founder of Legal Nomads, a contributing editor to Longreads and Travelreads, and the author of The Food Traveler’s Handbook.

It is always hard to narrow down my favourites from a full 12 months of longreading, so here are five—but certainly not all—of the standouts from the last year. They’re food-themed, mainly because my last year has also been focused on writing and learning about food. 

1. ”The Cosmopolitan Condiment,” Dan Jurafsky, Slate 

I’ve sent this article to more people than I can count, and love the responses I’ve received “Ketchup comes from China?!” The full piece is worth reading, in part because what makes food so fascinating is not only where it is eaten but also where it came from, and how it is what it is today. Ketchup, once a fermented fish sauce from China, is now a sweet tomato condiment we all know and many of us love. You’ll never look at a bottle the same way again once you read this great piece. 

2. “Adjika: Sauce of Glory, Pride of Abhazia,” Oliver Bullough, Roads & Kingdoms

Adjika holds a special place in my heart, having brightened up many a meal and been a source of great conversation on the road. A red and fiery condiment from the Caucuses, adija is brought to life beautifully in this Roads & Kingdoms piece.

It was like the sun had risen in my mouth. Instead of the cold lumpiness of wood pulp, there was a spreading glow of summer: garlic, chilli, salt, and a dozen other spices I could not identify. I looked up in amazement and picked up the little dish of red sauce to smell it. The old woman smiled again.
“That’s adjika,” she said.

Worth a read for anyone who likes food and travel.

3. “Manufacturing Taste,” Sasha Chapman, The Walrus

As a Canadian, I grew up referring to Kraft Macaroni & Cheese as “KD”, and had no idea this was not a worldwide phenomenon until midway through 2010, and I was appalled to hear that my American friends did not adopt this affectionate nickname. I’m not the only one.  As author Sasha Chapman notes: ”The point is, it’s nearly impossible to live in Canada without forming an opinion about one of the world’s first and most successful convenience foods. In 1997, sixty years after the first box promised ‘dinner in seven minutes — no baking required,’ we celebrated by making Kraft Dinner the top-selling grocery item in the country.” 

The Walrus investigates the history and current state Canada’s strange love for KD.

4. “Bread of Beirut,” Annia Ciezadlo, Granta

A beautiful piece about communal bakeries in the Middle East and how these centuries-old traditions become new again during times of war. 

5. “A Fish Story,” Alison Fairbrother, The Washington Monthly

A must-read about a tiny silvery fish called the menhaden and how crucial it is to the ecosystem of our oceans. 

Bonus non-food longreads:
• “Another Night to Remember,” Bryan Burrough, Vanity Fair
• “Ivory Worship,” Bryan Christy, National Geographic 
• “The Soul of a City,” Matt Goulding, Roads & Kingdoms

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Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012.

Longreads Best of 2012: Jodi Ettenberg

Longreads Pick
Source: Longreads
Published: Dec 27, 2012

Jodi Ettenberg: My Top Longreads of 2011

Jodi Ettenberg is a frequent Longreader, ex-lawyer and founder of Legal Nomads, which documents her travels (and food adventures) around the world.

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2011 was a banner year for long-form journalism and storytelling on the web, and correlatively a time to appreciate people like Mark who have propelled the Longreads movement forward. I love how this site started as a hashtag on a soundbite-filled medium like Twitter, pulling away the noise to highlight the words and weightier pieces that engaged us all. It has never been easier to find something good to read.

And as I travel, I find myself connecting the dots between disparate countries or foods, drawing parallels within the stories I digest as I go. It’s extremely hard to whittle down the many fantastic pieces this year to a short list, but the pieces I’ve picked below are ones that had a significant impact, and are now baked into my memories of the places where they were read.

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1) The Man who Sailed His House (GQ): This piece could have been written matter-of-factly or reported as the news that it was at its base level: a man, lost at sea after Japan’s devastating tsunami, is finally rescued days later. Instead, Michael Paterniti’s beautiful prose turns this astonishing tale into the surreal, raising it above anything else I’ve read about Hiromitsu Shinkawa. Through the patchwork of photos from the tsunami and its vast scale of destruction, the sincere humanity of this story is not something you want to miss. [Read it in: Casablanca, Morocco] 

2) In the New Gangland of El Salvador (New York Review of Books): I’ve been a fan of Alma Guillermoprieto’s ability to tell a heartbreaking story with grace for quite some time, and her longread about El Salvador is no exception. Returning to El Salvador after 30 years, the piece swings between descriptive travelogue and somber reporting, digging into the history of the country’s ferocious gangs and why they are so prevalent. [Read it in: Montreal, Canada]

3) The Possibilian (The New Yorker): I first discovered David Eagleman when I read Sum, 40 short stories about an imaginary afterlife. At times funny, at times sad and each packing a punch in a short two-page read, I’ve been foisting Sum on those learning English as the creativity and short chapters make it an ideal learning book. So it was fascinating to learn more about Eagleman and his own brush with death, how he has collected hundreds of stories like his, and how “they almost all share the same quality: in life-threatening situations, time seems to slow down.” In Burkhard Bilger’s wonderful profile of the quirky neuroscientist, not only do we get insight into how and why Eagleman writes the way he does, but we learn about the philosophies behind his prose and how his own history naturally braids in, pushing him further to take risks beyond most of our comfort levels. [Read it in: Chiang Mai, Thailand]

4) Wikipedia and the Death of the Expert (The Awl)I have Wikipedia bookmarked on both mobile and laptops, and it’s an argument-solver, fact-checker (with a pinch of salt) and using the random article generator, a great way to learn about new things you had no idea existed.  In her Awl piece, the talented Maria Bustillos discussed the pros and cons of the service, noting that “Wikipedia is like a laboratory for this new way of public reasoning for the purpose of understanding, an extended polylogue embracing every reader in an ever-larger, never-ending dialectic.” Instead of being told how it is, you’re given the facts to make your own editorial decision. Great read. [Read it in: Bangkok, Thailand]

5) Deep Intellect: Inside the Mind of an Octopus (Orion Magazine): One of the more unusual and vaguely discomfiting pieces of the year (“Am I really sympathizing with the brain of an octopus? Yes, yes I am”), Sy Montgomery’s loving investigation of animal we often eat but rarely personify was a wonder to read. Whether talking about the study of octopus intellect, the description of octopus behaviour or Montgomery’s awe as he spends time with a 40-pound giant Pacific octopus, I couldn’t put it down. I’ll never look at octopuses the same way again. [Read it in: Istanbul, Turkey]

Bonus reads (hard to pick only five!)

1) Breaking Caste (The Globe and Mail): Veteran journalist Stephanie Nolen reports on Sudha Varghese, the remarkable woman who built a school for the Dalit girls (India’s Untouchable caste), giving them new hope. Nolen’s writing style and obvious research make the piece that much more interesting to read and her background section on Varghese’s life gives the story an additional human connection. [Read it in: London, England] 

2) When Irish Eyes are Crying (Vanity Fair): With Moneyball‘s marketing campaign in full force and Boomerang on the shelves, Michael Lewis is everywhere these days. However back in March when Vanity Fair published his longread on the Irish financial crisis, his buzz had yet to crescendo. The piece sets out the background and confluence of factors that led to the Irish economic crash, as well as some unpopular opinions on how it could have been avoided. Very interesting read. [Read it in: Mae Hong Son, Thailand]

3) My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant (The New York Times): Brave piece from Jose Antonio Vargas “coming out” as someone who has worked as a journalist and award-winning writer for years, all while hiding that he was not legally permitted to do so in the United States. Living this otherworld reality meant that Vargas went about his days in fear of being found out, something he had spent years trying to avoid. Vargas attributes his decision to share the true story after reading about four students who walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the Dream Act. [Read it in: New York, NY]

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See more lists from our Top 5 Longreads of 2011 >

Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook. 

A Reading List on Travel Influencers and the Politics of a Place

Photo by Oleg Magni

Influencers come in many flavors, including kid stars who make more money than you, self-made online traders involved in shady financial schemes, women hunters of #huntstagram, and COVID-denying wellness experts. At the end of 2019, brands were forecast to spend as much as $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. The pandemic, however, has forced many influencers to shift business models and strategies, especially those whose livelihoods depend on traveling the world.

But even before COVID-19, jet-setting content creators entangled themselves in problematic scenarios, posing questions about privacy, safety, and ownership, among other issues. These seven reads explore the world of travel influencers in the age of Instagram, and the implications of the industry and its content on tourism and politics.

1. How Western Travel Influencers Got Tangled Up in Pakistan’s Politics. (Samira Shackle, November 2020, The Guardian)

In recent years, Western travel bloggers and “adventure tourists” have come to Pakistan to discover the country and write about its beauty, while some — like Cynthia Ritchie — have ended up becoming political voices. Ritchie, who calls her work strategic communications, has received extraordinary access to restricted areas and officials, and her critics accuse her of being “a propagandist for the military with a white saviour complex.” In response, Ritchie and others, like Polish travel vlogger Eva zu Beck, see themselves as truth-tellers and storytellers. At the Guardian, Samira Shackle reports on the politicization of tourism in Pakistan.

The fanbase that has developed around Ritchie can be split into two camps. The first enjoys her travel content, and her sunny portrayals of Pakistan. For the second camp, who actively support the military and spend their time on social media attacking anyone they see as insufficiently patriotic, Ritchie is a useful ally, an outsider who reflects their worldview. “More power to you Cynthia. Keep exposing the filthy culprits who have eaten up this country like mites,” wrote one Twitter user.

In 2019, questions about Ritchie’s links to the army intensified on social media when she posted footage of a trip to Pakistan’s heavily contested tribal areas. She told me that the trip had actually taken place in the run-up to the 2018 election, and that it had been part of an “interview process” at which military officials were “assessing and monitoring me, my experience, and determining my worth and capacity as an individual”, and that afterwards she was offered a big project. It is difficult to know what to make of comments like this, given that at other times Ritchie flat-out denies working for the military.

Having offered this puzzling explanation, Ritchie then dismissed the entire controversy over the pictures as just another fuss about nothing. “Look, if I had anything to hide, I wouldn’t be publishing these things,” she said. She pointed out that anyone who wants to travel to the tribal areas needs army permission: “You can’t access some of these areas without the military.”

2. Instagram Influencers Are Wrecking Public Lands. Meet the Anonymous Account Trying to Stop Them. (Anna Merlan, April 2019, Jezebel)

In the spring of 2019, when areas of Southern California experienced a vibrant superbloom, thousands of tourists trekked to the fields of Lake Elsinore to pose with the poppies. And when the owner of the Instagram account @publiclandshateyou saw a photo of an influencer sitting among (and ruining) the flowers while holding a can of soup, he’d had enough. At Jezebel, Anna Merlan talks with the man behind this account, who educates people on the negative effects of Instagram tourism on the environment.

Right now you’re focusing pretty heavily on damage done during the superbloom. That must be because it’s the hot thing to photograph right now.

Exactly. Previously it was graffiti on rocks in national parks, but the superbloom is the thing of the moment. Influencers see this cool thing, do what they need to do to promote their products or take a cool picture. And then they move on to whatever else is cool, whether it’s, for instance, going out to the California coast, going past “closed” signs and taking a picture under a waterfall. Or whatever. And then Lake Elsinore, where Walker Canyon is, gets stuck with the aftermath. The people who live there. They have a poppy preserve that looks like a checkerboard. The people who did the damage are long gone. They’re on to the next thing.

The pushback you get seems to be a lot of comments like “they’re just flowers,” with the case of the superbloom photos, or comments that you need to calm down and focus on “real problems.”

I do try to respond to that and try to provide my point of view and get people to see, who might have lived in a city their whole life, who might not understand the biology of these areas. I say to them, “You’re not wrong, but I think that a lot of these bigger problems are symptoms of people not thinking about the little things and their impact.” Whether it’s the impact of of me stepping on a couple poppies or me getting my takeout tonight in a styrofoam container, people aren’t thinking about the impact of their actions and that’s applicable to small things like going off the trail, all the way up to big global issues like climate change or microplastics in the water.

3. Selfies and Sharia Police. (Mehr Nadeem, November 2020, Rest of World)

Instagram is the last open social media platform in Iran, where Iranians have felt freer to be themselves. For high-schooler and influencer Roya, this means taking photos of herself on the streets of Tehran, sans hijab, or wearing bright eye makeup or going sleeveless — types of things that are frowned upon by Iranian authorities. But as Instagram evolves into more of a space for organizing and political change in Iran, the government has increased surveillance on the app, writes Mehr Nadeem at Rest of World.

The increased threat of arrest is giving pause to Iranian Instagrammers who once saw the platform as a safe space to post freely.

Vania, a 17-year-old aspiring violinist who created her Instagram account to post videos of her music, saw that her friends were becoming careful of their online activity in the wake of the crackdowns. “One of my friends sings [on Instagram], and she was so worried, she did an encrypted location of another country in the caption so that they wouldn’t think she was Iranian,” Vania told Rest of World. It’s illegal for women to publicly sing in Iran, unless they perform to female-only audiences.

Sahba, an Iranian artist based in Canada, said she has second thoughts before posting to Instagram, even from her home in Vancouver. “I wasn’t really worried until the November protests, when I saw how people were arrested on the streets because of their social media posts,” Sahba said. “I try not to censor myself politically, but it’s something that’s always going to be in my head.

4. Whose Facade Is It, Anyway? (Alexandra Marvar, February 2019, Curbed)

Posing in front of photo-worthy facades like colorful street murals and famous buildings is one thing, but snapping a picture on someone’s property — in front of their pretty pastel door or on their adorable wraparound porch  — raises issues of privacy and etiquette. At Curbed, Alexandra Marvar explores homeownership in the age of the Instagram travel influencer.

Travel blogger and micro-influencer Valerie Furgerson, @redgypsea, says she’s never had a negative interaction with a homeowner: “A sort of influencer photographer’s code that I live by is, if you’re going to be shooting in a residential area, know what shots you want to get ahead of time and be quick about it. Not all tourists live by this code,” she says. “We definitely saw full-on photo shoots happening at Rainbow Row in Savannah, complete with big reflective umbrellas. I have found that if you are respectful of the residents, they will also be respectful of you.” I came across Furgerson’s feed by searching for pictures of Rainbow Row and reaching out to users who did photoshoots directly on the shipping pallet-sized front porches of these private homes.

“I don’t mind people just taking photos,” said T’s pink-shutters neighbor (whom I’ll keep anonymous), “but really I find it an invasion of my space when it’s on my porch.” If she’s returning on foot to her home and sees someone on her porch taking pictures, she hangs back until they’ve wrapped up their activities. But on more than one occasion, she’s been startled to open her front door to a person, or a group of people, posing in front of her. “The other thing,” she says, “is that it opens up liability issues that I don’t even want to think about.”

5. What I Learned at the Most Instagrammed Outdoor Places. (Lisa Chase, July 2020, Outside)

While visiting Arizona’s iconic landmarks and tourist hotspots like the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Lisa Chase, writing for Outside, examines our obsession with documenting ourselves in nature, and the evolving art and process of photography in the era of iPhone-toting outdoor enthusiasts.

There have to be 75 to 100 of us here, all with smartphones in hand, tapping away. One teenage girl positions herself in warrior one pose on a rock, her back to the sun, slender arms overhead, taking a selfie. Nearby there’s a group of French guys murmuring “C’est magnifique” as they take photos of themselves in the gloaming. I think about an article I’d read by Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor who has studied the psychology of selfie culture. “A selfie, like any photograph, interrupts experience to mark the moment,” she wrote in The New York Times in 2013. “The selfie makes us accustomed to putting ourselves and those around us ‘on pause’ in order to document our lives. It is an extension of how we have learned to put our conversations ‘on pause’ when we send or receive a text, an image, an email, a call. When you get accustomed to a life of stops and starts, you get less accustomed to reflecting on where you are and what you are thinking.”

6. Travel Influencers, Meet Authoritarian Regimes. (Krithika Varagur, October 2020, Rest of World)

In December 2019, celebrities and Western travel bloggers were invited to attend a music festival in Riyadh, put on by Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, in order to promote tourism to the region. “The Instagram posts coming out of the festival looked more Coachella than Sharia,” writes Krithika Varagur, and for those who attended the event, criticism was harsh. At Rest of World, Varagur asks: How could these influencers accept a paid trip from a repressive monarchy?

Despite this, several prominent influencers turned down the MDL Beast trip on ethical grounds, including American actress Emily Ratajkowski and American model Teddy Quinlivan. Quinlivan, who is transgender, said on her Instagram story: “If you have any semblance of journalistic integrity, maybe it might be a cute idea not to take money from foreign governments that, um, I don’t know, openly kill and assassinate journalists [and] LGBTQ+ people. Suppress women’s rights, suppress religious rights – I mean the list of shit goes on.”

“Every traveler has an obligation to think about the ethical consequences of their trip. … But it is even more critical for influencers because they are such important role models, especially for young people,” said Dr. Ulrike Gretzel, who researches technology and social media marketing at the University of Southern California. “Uncritically spreading political propaganda is unethical under all circumstances and especially in the form of branded content, where the lines are very blurry, and the audience might therefore not recognize it as such.”

7. The Digital Nomads Did Not Prepare for This. (Erin Griffith, November 2020, The New York Times)

“If you’re going to work from home indefinitely, why not make a new home in an exotic place?” In the New York Times, Erin Griffith shares the stories of those privileged enough to escape lockdown by joining the globe-trotting, remote-working set. But they eventually realize it’s not what they expect it to be. These digital nomads may not call themselves travel influencers, but the idyllic, away-from-home settings they work in — as they wait out the pandemic — are the same.

They Instagrammed their workdays from empty beach resorts in Bali and took Zoom meetings from tricked-out camper vans. They made balcony offices at cheap Tulum Airbnbs and booked state park campsites with Wi-Fi. They were the kind of people who actually applied to those remote worker visa programs heavily advertised by Caribbean countries. And occasionally they were deflated.

Others are struggling with the same vacation fatigue experienced by Mr. Malka, the Cabo-to-London-to-maybe-Bali wanderer. According to research conducted at Radboud University in the Netherlands, it takes eight days of vacation for people to reach peak happiness. It’s downhill from there.

When the pandemic hit, Mr. Stylianoudis, the lawyer, was on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. At first, he couldn’t complain about the tropical locale. Each day, after work, he swam in crystal-clear water. But after five months, he was itching to get out. He had become a regular at the island’s 7-Eleven. He even grew tired of the beach — something he hadn’t thought was possible.

The feeling of being trapped in paradise was hard to explain. “I started to feel like I was in a sequel of ‘Lost,’” he said.

Banished

Photo by Emily Kassie.

Beth Schwartzapfel and Emily Kassie / The Marshall Project / October 2018 / 13 minutes (3,412 words)

This article was co-published with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

Part 1: NO MERCY

The sun has barely risen over Miami, and Dale Brown loads an orange shopping cart with everything he owns. Through the morning’s swampy heat, he pushes the cart to the edge of the railroad tracks, where he hauls the items one at a time into some overgrowth and covers them with branches. His tent from Walmart, meticulously rolled and packed. A garbage bag with clothes and a blanket. He unscrews the lid to a plastic gallon jug and empties his urine into the brush.

“You feel like an animal,” says Brown, 63.

This industrial neighborhood just beyond Miami’s far western edge is home to lumber yards, auto parts warehouses, and, in recent months, roving encampments of homeless sex offenders. This summer, Brown and a half-dozen other men were living beside a chain-link fence outside a hardware company. Five blocks away, more lived in tents and makeshift shacks. And 12 blocks from there, about a dozen arrived in cars each night.

A combination of federal, state and local laws has rendered almost all of Miami-Dade County off-limits to sex offenders with young victims. The feds say they’re not allowed in public housing. The state says they can’t live within 1,000 feet of a day care center, park, playground, or school. The county says they can’t live within 2,500 feet of a school. In a place so densely populated, forbidden zones are everywhere. And in the narrow slivers of permitted space, affordable apartments with open-minded landlords are nearly impossible to come by. Read more…

It Was Like Nothing Else in My Life Up to Now

Photo by Steve Photo by (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Josh Roiland | The Digital Press | May 9th 2017 | 19 minutes (5,354 words)

This essay first appeared in Haunted by Waters: The Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997 published by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. Our thanks to Josh Roiland and editor David Haeselin for allowing us to reprint this essay at Longreads.

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On a still summer night in the last year of last century an overweight woman in a wheelchair appeared, as if an apparition, under a street lamp in a parking lot on the west end of campus. I had not seen her when I pulled my car in. It was an hour till midnight, and I was covered in sand.

I’d spent the night playing volleyball and had returned home to married student housing where I was summering with a friend’s wife, while he interned in Minneapolis. She was a nurse who worked nights, and I was an English major lazing between my junior and senior year. We rarely saw each other; the only complication in our cohabitation resulted from my inability to lift the toilet seat when I got up to pee in the middle of the night. In the mornings we’d cross paths and she’d tell me, again, that it was no fun to come home and sit in piss.

That night in the dark parking lot, the woman rolled her heavy body from behind a street-lamp. “Excuse me,” she said, coming closer.

“Hi!” she said cheerfully. “Can you, uh—would you be able to give me a ride home?”

She worked at a telemarketing place near the corner of University Ave. and 42nd St. Work had let out, but the buses had stopped running, and she needed a way home. She crossed the busy intersection and wheeled into the expansive parking lot waiting for someone to help her. I was tired and dirty. I just wanted to slink into the stuffy efficiency, shower, and distract myself to sleep with PlayStation. But here she sat.

“Sure,” I said. “Sure, I’ll give you a ride home.”

Read more…

Becoming One of the World’s 65 Million Refugees

Refugees at Budapest Keleti railway station, September 2015. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson | Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis | The New Press | September 2016 | 20 minutes (5,452 words)

 

Below is an excerpt from Cast Away, by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson. This story comes recommended by Longreads contributing editor Dana Snitzky.

* * *

This war is none of my business.

Majid Hussain didn’t know who would turn up on his doorstep first: Colonel Gaddafi’s foot soldiers following orders to purge Libya of its migrant workforce, or vengeful rebels wielding Kalashnikovs and the conviction that everyone with black skin deserved to be lynched.

For months the Nigerian teenager had watched on television in Tripoli as rebels not much older than himself stormed through the desert in their cheap sunglasses and mismatching camouflage, and it had seemed inconceivable that this shabby army of the disaffected could pose a threat to Muammar Gaddafi’s calm and ordered capital. He had heard rumours that all Africans from south of the Sahara were at risk of attack from rebels seeking mass punishment for the few who had colluded with the regime – but surely these were just rumours? Every day Majid still went to work and returned home every evening to his reliable air-conditioning and his satellite TV. The rebellion had remained remote from his life, and he wanted it to stay that way.

This war is none of my business, he thought. I have already seen my own country torn apart by old hatreds – I don’t need to see that again.

Majid and his housemate Ali had laughed off reports on CNN and the BBC about fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli, and they didn’t want to believe the news that Gaddafi was bombing civilians in Benghazi. It was all Western propaganda, the two Nigerians convinced each other. Even when a spokesman for Gaddafi warned on public radio that they would flood Europe with migrants if there was any Western military action, the young men remained unconcerned. Read more…

A Question for Storytellers

“I want a good story, but I want it to be told for a reason. Is affirmation that the storyteller exists a good enough reason for the story to be told? Sometimes. Some stories aren’t told as often as others. I’m not saying there is a hierarchy of suitable topics for essays. Not everything should be about death or hunger or, you know, celebrity diets. But it’s really the frequent lack of quality in the story itself that bothers me, especially when it’s done for a price. Then I wonder what the fuck is going on. Then I ask myself why and what and why again, over and over. Then I feel like no one is asking why they are telling their stories. It seems like the only answer to that question is: so that I can be heard.”

Jen Vafidis, in a short post for Vol. 1 Brooklyn, on the question of why we tell stories. Read more on writing.

(h/t @legalnomads)

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Photo: catnipstudio, Flickr

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Celebrating Four Years of Longreads

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Longreads just celebrated its fourth birthday, and it’s been a thrill to watch this community grow since we introduced this service and Twitter hashtag in 2009. Thank you to everyone who participates, whether it’s as a reader, a publisher, a writer—or all three. And thanks to the Longreads Members who have made it possible for us to keep going. 

To celebrate four years, here’s a rundown of some of our most frequent #longreads contributors, and some of their recent recommendations: 

#1 – @matthiasrascher


#2 – @hriefs


#3 – @roamin


#4 – @jalees_rehman


#5 – @LAReviewofBooks


#6 – @TheAtlantic


#7 – @nxthompson


#8 – @faraway67 


#9 – @PocketHits


#10 – @legalnomads


#11 – @brainpicker


#12 – @LineHolm1 


#13 – @Guardian


#14 – @stonedchimera


#15 – @MosesHawk


#16 – @James_daSilva


#17 – @chrbutler


#18 – @eugenephoto

#19 – @jaredbkeller


#20 – @morgank


#21 – @dougcoulson


#22 – @LaForgeNYT


#23 – @stephen_abbott

#24 – @venkatananth

#25 – @weegee