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Do You Want to Know a Secret: The Untold Stories of Paul McCartney

Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images

Paul McCartney, the type of man who washes out his one pair of socks after the gig, is polite, profanity-averse, and still a prolific performer to this day. In Chris Heath’s GQ profile, he talks about getting mugged with Linda while recording Band on the Run in Nigeria, killing frogs on his childhood estate to “toughen himself up,” and collaborating with Kanye West.

It is not so difficult to get Paul McCartney to talk about the past, and this can be a problem. Anyone who has read more than a few interviews with him knows that he has a series of anecdotes, mostly Beatles-related, primed and ready to roll out in situations like these. Pretty good stories, some of them, too. But my goal is to guide McCartney to some less manicured memories—in part because I hope they’ll be fascinating in themselves, but also because I hope that if I can lure him off the most well-beaten tracks, that might prod him to genuinely think about, and reflect upon, his life

The public face that McCartney has tended to push forward is of someone who, even given the extraordinary circumstances of his life, is some kind of genial everyman. It’s a good bluff, and there may be some truth to it, though the more time I spent with him, the more I glimpsed other McCartneys—ones much weirder, or more fragile, or cockier, or harder, or needier, or nerdier, or more eccentric, or more playful than his advertised persona—and that made sense to me. Because I think it’s probably taken all of them to do what Paul McCartney has done, and to work out how to be who he is, as the glorious surprise of the life he made for himself has continued to unfold.

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Florida, White Privilege, and Racism

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At Oxford American, Scott Korb reflects on his white privilege, the state of Florida, and its racist history — a state in which his life was irrevocably changed at age 5, when his father was killed by a drunk driver in May, 1982. In 2008, Korb visits Dwight Maxwell, a black man who was behind the wheel of the car that killed his dad and confronts not only his father’s killer but also his deeply held racist beliefs: “Throughout my life I’ve held shameful attitudes about black people, attitudes that embarrass me now.”

As an adult, I’ve traveled to Florida again and again to learn what I can about the end of my father’s life, which was largely a mystery to me as a child. My aunt, who was in the backseat of the car, once took me out to where he died. The road there has been widened, made safer. She says his last words were, “Hold on, we are about to be hit!” At impact, he was not wearing shoes. The man who killed him spent eighteen months in prison, and in January 2008, I shook the gate of a fence around his yard in the rural outskirts of Dunnellon, Florida, thinking that we could each benefit from talking about our shared history.

For a long time, I knew only two details about this man, Dwight Maxwell. He was drunk when he smashed his dark Ford into the car with my father in it. I also knew he was black. (Until 2005, I didn’t know his name.) These details, which I learned from the adults around me, haunted me as a young person. I didn’t drink and was fearful of alcohol until after I graduated from college. Throughout my life I’ve held shameful attitudes about black people, attitudes that embarrass me now. About Maxwell specifically, his blackness—and my whiteness, I see—made it easy to concoct stories about him. Originating in nightmares that deepened a child’s fear of the dark, as early as six or seven my father’s killer appeared to me as a lecherous monster, lewd living and aggression being characteristic of a man properly locked away for murder. The nightmares invaded my waking hours, and even as I became a teenager I would privately picture him in the leisure suit of a Blaxploitation pimp. Not knowing his actual name, I’d supplied one of my own imagining: Chester Washington. Chester, after the comic character “Chester the Molester” from Hustler magazine, which perhaps we knew as kids from the porno stash of a neighborhood father.

As an adult I’ve slowly come to understand what I did in my childhood to racialize and demonize this man. My trip to meet him in 2008 was meant to put all that behind me. Over several years, I’d circled him like a private dick, reading newspaper accounts and court records, flying to meet his family in Florida, building up the nerve to visit the man himself. I was proud of myself for trying to reach him. A girlfriend called me brave, and I believed her. The hope was reconciliation, a vestige of my grandmother’s Catholicism; I’d sloughed off those old ideas and was seeking forgiveness for them; I’d let him know I’d turned out okay, that we as a family had survived and moved on. On a cold afternoon under a tree in his backyard, I said what I’d come to say, then he apologized and before long disappeared inside. I went away. Years passed. In 2013, after Dwight Maxwell was arrested for felony possession of crack cocaine and hydrocodone pills, plus two misdemeanors, I drove with my mother to the Marion County courthouse, in Ocala, to attend his court hearings and try to speak with him again, to see what more I could learn about the day my father was killed. My last day in Florida, I returned to Maxwell’s house, but, encountering him at the side of the highway, where he’d been pedaling a bicycle, he ducked into the woods, saying he’d told me all he ever wants to. Not understanding— unwilling to, it seems—I chased him into the woods that day, wanting to talk more, though I’ve left him alone since.

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The Columbine Generation Isn’t Going to Take it Anymore

Cameron Kasky, center, speaks during a news conference, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. A day after graduating from high school, a group of Florida school shooting survivors has announced a multistate bus tour to "get young people educated, registered and motivated to vote." (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

As Dave Cullen reports at Vanity Fair, since Valentine’s Day, the Parkland survivors have been speaking at high schools and colleges to educate students about and win their support for ending gun violence. Mandatory at every event? A table at which attendees can either register to vote or pre-register to vote if they are currently underage. The establishment needs to sit up and take notice: not only are the kids alright, they’ve got the vote — if only they choose to use it.

“Young voters have long been a sleeping giant of American politics, because most of them stay home. If they ever turned out in percentages to match their older counterparts, they could swing many elections.”

The Columbine generation has been practicing lockdown drills since kindergarten, watching one suburban school after another attacked, wondering if they were about to lose the lottery. Year after year brought a fresh crop of devastated kids—most of them affluent, telegenic, and white. Meanwhile, students in inner cities were far more likely to die from gunfire than their suburban counterparts. In the month of the Parkland shooting, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 84 teen deaths in America, 5 in Chicago alone. And through mid-August of this year, 1,846 have been killed or injured, many in the inner cities. Their stories rarely made the evening news.

It bothered the Parkland kids that a far larger cohort of kids, facing far worse odds, were being ignored. So they decided to join forces with them.

Chicago is ground zero in the urban gun wars. In early March, a small group of student activists flew from Chicago to meet the MFOL kids at Emma González’s house. “When I first got there, it was a gated community and I thought it was a hotel resort or something,” Alex King said. “And then I saw the house. There was like this big glass window that was also a door, and I was like, ‘Wow, O.K.’ When I actually got in there, Emma came around the corner running, hugging everyone—it was just like happy faces all around the room.”

As the groups got to know each other, they learned that their fears were different. Suburban kids tend to fear gunmen bursting into their schools; urban kids fear gunfire en route. Swapping gun stories got pretty intense, and during a break Emma chatted with D’Angelo McDade about turning suffering into action. That reminded him of something. D’Angelo and Alex were representing the Peace Warriors, an “interrupter” group that seeks to resolve neighborhood conflicts before they turn violent. D’Angelo reached into his pocket and drew out six colored dog tags. The red one said PRINCIPLE #4, with a peace sign—that was it. Martin Luther King Jr. preached six principles of nonviolence, D’Angelo explained. The Parkland kids were embarking on No. 4: SUFFERING CAN EDUCATE AND TRANSFORM. And King singled out a particular kind of suffering: “Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.” Sound familiar?

“Oh, wow, can we do this all together?” Emma asked.

The full group reconvened. “We taught them the principles, and they taught us about policy,” D’Angelo said.

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SuperShe Island: Where Finding Your Inner Light is Priceless

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Sisters! Tired of heeding your “mammal-brain instinct”? Ready to find your inner light on an Instagram-perfect, man-free, dry island in Finland while doing yoga to Drake and eating almost nothing? As Merin Curotto reports at Observer, for the small, small fee of nearly five thousand dollars, you too can apply to become a SuperShe.

Roth sold her $45 million tech consulting firm in 2016 and launched a blog to help women discover the best version of themselves—or become, as she brands it, SuperShes. The Instagram-ready mix of inspiring profiles, travel guides and recipes for chia seed breakfast pudding proved hugely popular among the Goop-set of wellness-obsessed women with money to spend. Soon, Roth’s blog evolved from photos of healthy-looking food and even healthier-looking women to real-life meet-ups and retreats. SuperShe Island, which officially opened in July, is the physical manifestation of Roth’s vision, a carefully programmed oasis of female empowerment.

So far, more than 8,500 women have applied for SuperShe membership, and just under 2,000 have been accepted. They’ve all answered yes to the question, “Have you ever wanted to run away to a deserted island, breathe fresh air, swim naked in the sea, and sleep under the stars?” I am among the lucky 120 to have actually made it here (though in fairness I did not pay $4,675 to do so—I was invited by the SuperShe publicist).

On arrival, SuperShes are greeted by a network of stone paths that lead from a dock into a canopy of pines with roots that knuckle the shore. With the exception of a free-standing Finnish sauna and some reiki yurts, the island’s main structures consist of four immaculately decorated guest cabins—Fire, Earth, Water and Air—with walls that glide open into wrap-around decks dotted by pod chairs. The bathrooms are wombs of white subway tiles divided by white glitter grout, and the beds are the best that money can buy—Hästens, which are Swedish, and cost, somehow, up to $150,000. Next to baskets of soap that smell like bright citrus are $2,000 toilets that incinerate poop. Graffitied walls exclaim, “Yaaaaaas!” or “No Bra? No Problem!” and there are fake silk flowers in real silver vases and actual fur blankets and rugs. On the doorknobs hang sleep masks to block the 19 hours of sunlight, and the pillows are tufted by palm-sized tubs of SuperShe balms that—unlike the cabins, which were made for women by men—are “MADE FOR SUPERSHES BY SUPERSHES.”

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Inside the Belly of the Beast: How the Burmese Python is Decimating Bird and Small Mammal Populations in Florida

HOMESTEAD, FL - FEBRUARY 20: 'The Invasives'. Scenes around the Florida Everglades on February 20, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. Captain Jeffrey Fobb of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department is in charge of the Venom Response unit. Here he handles a captured Burmese Python that he brought down from a tree. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)

At Audubon, Chris Sweeney reports on how large reptiles like the Nile monitor and the Argentine tegu — brought to the United States and sold via the very loosely regulated reptile pet trade — have escaped and flourished in Florida’s subtropical environment, wreaking havoc on bird species like the burrowing owl as well as “herons, egrets, ibises, and spoonbills.” The grand-daddy of all the invasive reptiles? The Burmese python, which can grow to 18 feet and is thought to have “decimated the small mammal population in the Everglades.” Burmese pythons have been known to eat “everything — rabbits, rats, bobcats, deer, even alligators.”

It’s a sweaty morning last June on the outskirts of Tampa, and droves of reptile enthusiasts are streaming into an air-conditioned expo center. Some have woken early to trek out to the Florida State Fairgrounds to get first crack at the animals of Repticon, a weekendlong extravaganza that’s similar to a baseball card convention, except instead of mint-condition Mickey Mantles and Pete Roses there are green anacondas and meat-eating lizards. One vendor’s table is covered in flimsy plastic catering trays that are filled with ball pythons. Others are selling Asian water monitors, gargoyle geckos, yellow rat snakes, and bearded dragons. A guy strolls by wearing a “Snakes Lives Matter” t-shirt. Another man, who has a three-foot-long lizard slung across his chest like a bandolier, is at a nearby booth admiring a young boa constrictor that’s twirling around his girlfriend’s fingers. Price? $100. Sold.

Roughly 60 Repticons take place each year, from Phoenix to Oklahoma City to Baltimore, attracting an estimated 200,000 visitors. These shows represent but a tiny sliver of the live-reptile trade, a loosely regulated industry that spans the globe and generates an estimated $1.2 billion in revenue annually, according to the United States Association of Reptile Keepers. In much of the continental United States, these cold-blooded creatures aren’t likely to fare well outdoors should they escape or be set free. But the sub-tropics of South Florida are different, and the best adapted have not only survived in the wild, they have thrived. To date the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, has identified 50 types of non-native lizards, turtles, crocodilians, and snakes within state limits, more than anywhere else in the world.

For the birds of Florida, this blitz of exotic predators poses an existential-scale threat. The Burmese pythons, which stalk wading birds in the Everglades, have become so menacing that the state has hosted derby-style competitions to catch them. Farther north, Nile monitors—the largest lizard in Africa—have been terrorizing a population of Burrowing Owls in the city of Cape Coral. And on the outskirts of Florida City, just outside Everglades National Park, egg-eating Argentine tegus could soon raid the nesting grounds of one of the last remaining populations of the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. Each of these reptiles found their way to Florida via the pet trade—but while most people acknowledge that’s a leaky pipeline, few agree on whether and how to plug it.

Nile monitors have no business in this hemisphere. As their name implies, they should be basking along the shores of Africa’s Nile Delta, but they got popular in the pet trade and rumor has it that the owner of a now defunct pet store, scheming a source of free inventory, let some loose behind his shop so they would breed in the wild. Unsurprisingly the lizards quickly fanned out across Cape Coral’s extensive canal system. The first sighting likely dates back to before 1990, though it wasn’t until the early 2000s that they began regularly popping up in people’s backyards. If you’re not accustomed to large lizards, an adult Nile monitor dashing across your lawn might be terrifying. They can top seven feet, swim like Michael Phelps, and eat rodents, birds, rabbits, wasp nests, venomous rattlesnakes, poisonous cane toads, and, according to some residents, cats and dogs.

“Pythons are definitely eating birds,” says Brian Smith, a biologist who works for Cherokee Nation Technologies, a company contracted by the United States Geological Survey to help manage the invasive Burmese python population. A few years ago, Smith went to capture a python in Everglades National Park. The snake was in a shallow marsh and Smith noticed a bulge in its stomach. He moved in and grabbed the python near the base of its head. Suddenly two bird feet popped out of the snake’s mouth. A moment later, another two feet shot out. The snake writhed and in one fell swoop regurgitated a pair of full-grown Great Blue Herons. Smith couldn’t believe his eyes as the corpses poured out and flopped to the ground. Both birds’ heads were missing; other than that the animals were intact and easy to identify.

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Viagra: The Happiest of All Happy Accidents?

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Did you know that the discovery of Pfizer’s erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra was an accident? While testing a drug that expanded blood cells in the chest to relieve chest pain back in 1991, some patients reported getting erections as a side effect — enough of them that clinical researcher Ian Osterloh decided that this intriguing result merited more study, despite opposition from Pfizer’s staunchly conservative upper management, legislators, the medical establishment, and even the Catholic Church.

As David Kushner reports at Esquire, after getting approval from the FDA, the team wooed urologists to get the little blue pill into the hands of men the world over, making Pfizer a potent profit along the way.

In fact, it’s a miracle that it ever came to be at all. In addition to the people within Pfizer who were in an uproar over the “dick pill,” four major groups began rallying against it before its launch: the Catholic church (which thought it was immoral), medical experts (who insisted patients would be too embarrassed to ask for the pill), business execs (who thought it would make Pfizer a laughingstock), and legislators (who lobbied against the pill for the same reason as the church).

It was the job of two unlikely guys at Pfizer to overcome them all: Rooney Nelson, a young Jamaican marketing whiz, and Sal “Dr. Sal” Giorgianni, a crusty Italian pharmacist from Queens who became Viagra’s medical expert. Together, Nelson and Dr. Sal became the dynamic duo of erectile dysfunction, wooing angry religious leaders, skittish politicians, and cynical pharma nerds from all over.

To sell an erection drug, however, meant swaying the doctors who were way lower down the pecking order: the urologists. Compared with brain surgeons and cardiologists, urologists were the Dunder Mifflin of the pharma world: nerdy, unsexy, and unaccustomed to the warm fuzz of marketing crews. But that was about to change.

The mid-nineties were the heyday for pharmaceutical junkets, but Viagra marked the first time that unglamorous urologists were the ones being seduced. Pfizer would fly a dozen of them to an all-expenses-paid weekend at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, and give them $2,500 each for their time. Pfizer could easily spend $200,000 per trip to entice them. “Urologists, they had never really been to places like that; they had never eaten like that; they had never drank like that,” Nelson says. “So you had a really primed group that was receptive to hearing your message.”

Over dirty martinis and lollipop lamb chops, Nelson would look out into the room and wonder how he was going to energize them. He pitched them on how he was going to make them as cool and desirable as open-heart surgeons. “This is an opportunity for you to be at the cutting edge of what could be the most revolutionary product in a long time in medicine,” he said. But there was one problem, they quickly told him: They never talked about sex with their patients. There was no reason to discuss impotence, because they had no remedy. “No physician asks about things that they can’t treat,” as Nelson puts it. “It was a wall of silence.”

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‘I was pain incarnate.’

(AP Photo/The Republic, Andrew Laker)

As the opioid crisis rages unchecked in North America and addicts are dying in record numbers, the voices of law enforcement and politicians braying for action are drowning out those of terminal cancer patients whose remaining quality of life depends on fentanyl — the only drug that keeps their relentless pain at bay.

At the Walrus, Teva Harrison reflects on how fentanyl is helping her make the most of the time she has left.

In 2013, at the age of thirty-seven, I was marketing director at the Nature Conservancy of Canada. My husband and I had just bought our first home. I was training for a half-marathon. And I had pain—excruciating pain that I managed by taking Advil and Tylenol as often as the packaging allowed. It didn’t really help. The ache was deep in my bones, like the worst toothache you’ve ever had, writ large. It throbbed and spasmed and shot like needles throughout my body. The pain grew so intense that I went to emergency, but doctors just gave me more painkillers and sent me on my way. It hurt too much to sit, so I stood and leaned through meetings at work.

The pain finally made sense when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (mbc). It wasn’t stress from over-training causing me pain, as I had initially thought; it was cancer in my bones—cancer that had metastasized to remote parts of the body to form new tumours. Even though I have cancer in my bones, my liver, my lungs, and elsewhere, it’s all breast cancer. mbc is terminal. It is incurable. But it can be treated for an indeterminate amount of time.

Fentanyl patches have not only given me relief from pain for three years now; they have given me my life back. I can now usually sleep through the night. I can now sit at a table for a meal or at a desk to write. I still can’t run, but I can walk. And fentanyl doesn’t slow down my bowels to the point of near-failure. I never have to experience the agony of feeling my medication completely wear off—that raw and naked pain, all-consuming like the darkest night. Pain and its management no longer dominate my thoughts every minute of the day. And because I am acclimated to narcotics and using just enough, neither pain nor opioids cloud my mind any longer.

I was barely a person. I was pain incarnate. A drug is neither good nor bad in its own right. Fentanyl is neither evil nor benign. It just is. And for many people, people like me, it is a crucial tool that allows us to live.

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The Man Without a Nose

A prosthetic nose is on display at the booth of the Nakamura Brace at the "OTWorld" orthopedics and rehabilitation technology trade fair in Leipzig, Germany, 13 May 2014. Photo by: Peter Endig/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

After experiencing chronic nosebleeds and severe congestion, humor writer Steve Bean Levy goes to the doctor and discovers he’s got Sino-Nasal Squamous Cell Carcinoma — a cancer that attacks the nose and sinuses. In a poignant (and graphic) personal essay at MEL Magazine, Levy recounts his treatment and what it’s like to live life without a nose.

On March 2, 2017, Blackwell and his team performed a schnozophomy. That’s Yiddish for rhinectomy, which is English for cutting your nose off. I was in surgery for 12 hours, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. They removed my nose, my tumor, my upper gums, all of my upper teeth and two-thirds of my upper palate. Soon thereafter, in preparation for radiation treatments, the majority of my bottom teeth were also removed. I was left with a total of four teeth, all on the bottom.

But for the moment, I want to tell you about the hole in my face. I want to tell you about The Wound.

And I can really look IN there. There’s a vast space here. This was my sinus cavity! This is the interior of my skull! To examine The Wound for the first time, I began by removing my plastic nose. It’s more of a nose-shell, really, with a nose-shape in the center, partial plastic cheeks and a bit of upper lip. Beneath the shell, I was delighted to find that Dr. Blackwell had built a very realistic nose out of gauze! It was a little crude, but quite nose-like, really very well done. He had built it skillfully, and I imagined, quickly and expertly, the way a seasoned balloon-artist might make a balloon animal, finishing off with a flourish, saying, “There ya go, little fella, it’s a nose!”

As I disassembled the gauze-nose, I was again impressed, this time by the sheer quantity of gauze that Blackwell used; there was enough for five noses. I became a vaudeville magician, “The Wizard of Gauze,” performing my take on the Endless Handkerchief Trick. The more gauze I unraveled, the more there was to unravel.

Today, I’m like Eleanor Rigby — I wear a face that I keep in a jar by the door. Actually, I keep mine in a pile in a drawer, but McCartney has written the superior lyric. We’ve all heard a woman say, most likely in an old-timey TCM movie, “I have to go back inside to put my face on.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked out the front door without my nose and had to turn back and go inside to “put my face on.” Nor can I count the number of times we’ve been about to head out, and I’ve had to say to Caroline, “Honey, have you seen my nose anywhere?”

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War, What is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing

Staff Sgt. Alexander Pascual, right, from Kohala, Hawaii, from the U.S. Army First Battalion, 26th Infantry, looks back as he patrols the mountains of in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan's Kunar Province Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

As C.J. Chivers reports at The New York Times Magazine, the war in Afghanistan will soon be 17 years old. Three U.S. presidential administrations have presided over it, all the while issuing a series of politically palatable, yet hollow justifications. As seen through the eyes of Specialist Robert Soto, Chivers recounts Viper Company’s 2008 rotation in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, a brutal, harrowing, in-your-face example of how the hundreds of thousands of men and women who signed on to protect the United States after 9/11 have become the true casualties of ever-shifting, yet obstinate U.S. foreign policy.

Specialist Robert Soto had been haunted by dread as the soldiers left their base, the Korengal Outpost.

Soto sensed eyes following the patrol. Everybody can see us.

He was 19, but at 160 pounds and barely needing to shave, he could pass for two years younger. He was nobody’s archetype of a fighter. A high school drama student, he joined the Army at 17 and planned to become an actor if he survived the war. Often he went about his duties with an enormous smile, singing no matter what anyone else thought — R. & B., rap, rock, hip-hop, the blues. All of this made him popular in the platoon, even as he had become tenser than his former self and older than his years; even as his friends and sergeants he admired were killed, leaving him a burden of ghosts.

In early October, the Afghan war will be 17 years old, a milestone that has loomed with grim inevitability as the fighting has continued without a clear exit strategy across three presidential administrations. With this anniversary, prospective recruits born after the terrorist attacks of 2001 will be old enough to enlist. And Afghanistan is not the sole enduring American campaign. The war in Iraq, which started in 2003, has resumed and continues in a different form over the border in Syria, where the American military also has settled into a string of ground outposts without articulating a plan or schedule for a way out. The United States has at various times declared success in its many campaigns — in late 2001; in the spring of 2003; in 2008; in the short-lived withdrawal from Iraq late in 2011; and in its allies’ recapture more recently of the ruins of Ramadi, Falluja, Mosul and Raqqa from the Islamic State, a terrorist organization, formed in the crucible of occupied Iraq, that did not even exist when the wars to defeat terrorism started. And still the wars grind on, with the conflict in Afghanistan on track to be a destination for American soldiers born after it began.

More than three million Americans have served in uniform in these wars. Nearly 7,000 of them have died. Tens of thousands more have been wounded. More are killed or wounded each year, in smaller numbers but often in dreary circumstances, including the fatal attack in July on Cpl. Joseph Maciel by an Afghan soldier — a member of the very forces that the United States has underwritten, trained and equipped, and yet as a matter of necessity and practice now guards itself against.

On one matter there can be no argument: The policies that sent these men and women abroad, with their emphasis on military action and their visions of reordering nations and cultures, have not succeeded. It is beyond honest dispute that the wars did not achieve what their organizers promised, no matter the party in power or the generals in command. Astonishingly expensive, strategically incoherent, sold by a shifting slate of senior officers and politicians and editorial-page hawks, the wars have continued in varied forms and under different rationales each and every year since passenger jets struck the World Trade Center in 2001. They continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as if distant war is a presumed government action.

Time eases only so much doubt. Six years after leaving the Army, Soto still spent nights awake, trying to come to terms with his Korengal tour. It was not regret or the trauma of combat that drained him. It was the memories of lost soldiers, an indelible grief blended with a fuller understanding that could feel like a curse. Often when Soto reflected upon his service, he was caught between the conflicting urges of deference and candor. He tread as if a balance might exist between respecting the sacrifice and pain of others and speaking forthrightly about the fatal misjudgments of those who managed America’s wars. “I try to be respectful; I don’t want to say that people died for nothing,” he said. “I could never make the families who lost someone think their loved one died in vain.”

Still he wondered: Was there no accountability for the senior officer class? The war was turning 17, and the services and the Pentagon seemed to have been given passes on all the failures and the drift.

Some days he accepted it. Others he could not square what he heard with what he and his fellow veterans had lived. The dead were not replaceable, and they had been lost in a place the Army did not need them to be. Sometimes, when he was awake in the restless hours between midnight and dawn, his memories of lost friends orbiting his mind, Soto entertained the questions. What befell those who sent them? Did generals lose sleep, too? “They just failed as leaders,” he said. “They should know: They failed, as leaders. They let us down.”

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Dog Cloning: Controversial and Downright Creepy

If you’ve ever loved and lost a pet, chances are you wished you could have them back. If you’ve got $100,00 and you’re ethically okay with the invasiveness and wastefulness of pumping multiple dog surrogates full of hormones to get a replica of your pooch that’s about 85 percent the same, a disgraced South Korean doctor has got a deal for you.

At Vanity Fair, David Ewing Duncan profiles Hwang Woo-suk, a man who once claimed to have cloned a human embryo (false!) and who now copies dogs for profit.

When a dog was first cloned, in 2005—a scientific achievement that Time hailed as one of the breakthrough inventions of the year—it took more than 100 borrowed wombs, and more than 1,000 embryos. “Surrogate mothers are a little bit like The Handmaid’s Tale,” says Jessica Pierce, an ethicist and dog expert who teaches at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado. “It’s a canine version of reproductive machines.”

Yet here in the operating room at Sooam, everyone is all smiles—especially the veterinarian representing the customer who paid for Clone 1108. A slender man whose employer is Middle Eastern royalty, he stands in scrubs next to Dr. Hwang, posing for photos with the newborn pup. It’s a moment that has become almost as routine as it is lucrative for Sooam: over the past decade, the company has cloned more than 1,000 dogs, at up to $100,000 per birth. “Yes, cloning has become a business,” says Wang. If a dog owner provides DNA from a deceased pet quickly enough—usually within five days of its death—Sooam promises a speedy replacement. “If the cells from the dead dog are not compromised,” Wang explains, “we guarantee you will get a dog within five months.”

The process itself, fine-tuned over years of trial and error, is known as “somatic cell nuclear transfer.” It starts with an egg from a donor dog. Using a high-powered microscope, scientists poke a micro-hole in the egg and remove the nucleus, where the DNA is housed. They then replace the nucleus with a cell from the dog that is being cloned—usually from its skin or inside its cheek. Finally, the hybrid egg is blasted with a short burst of electricity to fuse the cells and begin cell division. The embryo is then imbedded in a surrogate’s womb. If the transfer takes, a puppy will be born some 60 days later.

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