If you, a (presumed) fan of animated comedy, were to draw a line from Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist through Home Movies and on to Bob’s Burgers, that line would as looping and whimsical as the man who evolved along with those shows — from editor to writer to pun-obsessed, freak-flag-flying creator. This is the Loren Bouchard profile you never knew you needed.
What the writers didn’t know — because there was no way to tell what 12 seasons’ worth of stories would build — was that this premise would yield a remarkable study in optimism and grit: the constant question, as Bouchard puts it, of “what happens when you’re faced with your failure?”
The creative community in Columbus, Ohio has already given us poet-essayists like Hanif Abdurraqib and Scott Woods. But this unblinking essay about our country’s ugliest cycle was my introduction to Starr Davis, and I’m thankful for it. The wizardry of the Midwest’s secret oasis continues.
I know someone who makes fake pay stubs. They can take the numbers on my time sheet and turn them upside down, flip around my hours so the welfare office believes I’m barely working. I was tempted to walk out and call them but something had my sandals stuck to the floor. We pull rabbits from hats is what my mom always said. Having learned other ways to get money—the swift flip of an open leg or telling a sweet lie to a thirsting man—we never stayed down long. But now I had a newborn baby. So new she still smelled like hospital linen.
Just 7 percent of the people in Los Angeles’s Echo Park encampment found permanent housing after it was cleared. Almost half are missing. Seven are dead. That’s not a failure of homelessness policy; it’s an example of the system working exactly as intended:
Officers wielded batons, launched foam bullets at point-blank range, tackled members of the crowd, and injured at least a dozen people. Two were hospitalized. “They were protesting so peacefully,” Otzoy recalled in a UCLA report on the event. “And what did the police do? Sent their hundreds and hundreds in, arresting them, putting them in jail, shooting at them.” In the morning, the last of the residents — including Otzoy and Ahmed — awoke to find themselves completely fenced inside the park with a chain-link enclosure. In an Instagram livestream, they compared their surroundings to an open-air prison. After one last night, those who remained were threatened with arrest. Otzoy walked out, carrying what possessions he could. Ahmed was removed in handcuffs. In all, 182 people were arrested and 16 journalists detained. The entire operation cost $2 million.
There is no question that land is being lost to the sea — it is an inevitable part of climate change. However, as Erica Gies reports in this fascinating essay for Hakai, in some areas of the UK, the Environment Agency is not only acknowledging this — but helping the sea to win.
For that homeowner in Rodanthe, water has dictated immediate retreat from the coastline. Elsewhere around the world, people are beginning to leave coasts, usually on the heels of disasters or when they can no longer afford routine flooding or salt intrusion that fouls drinking water, kills plants, and spreads sewage.
The skill of puppeteers, and puppet creators, can get overlooked — even when they create icons. So it was a delight to read Falene Nurse’s profile on puppet designer Wendy Froud, complete with wonderful photos from her time on film sets.
“One of the most tragic moments in my life, in my early teens, was the realization that I was too old for Peter Pan to return for me,” Wendy says. “But now, I create the magic. I am Peter Pan, I’m Tinkerbell, I’m Wendy, and I love that idea.”
The global genealogy industry is booming, with people’s desire to find out if they have some long-lost Viking blood outweighing concerns over privacy and marketing. Adam Elliott Segal deftly interweaves his personal story in this look at the success of consumer DNA kits.
For the dozens of black-market babies I’ve interviewed over the years, submitting a saliva sample or simply making their birth story public wasn’t a philosophical or moral question. It was the only way to get answers.
Annie Sand suggests that for us to understand others’ pain and communicate our own, we need to create some new metaphors based on our individual perception and experience.
Punjabi microbiologist Surendra Nath Sehgal spent his life’s work studying a bacterium found in the soil on Easter Island. Called Rapamycin, it became a wonder drug, changing the lives of millions.
“Uma, it’s a fantastic compound, it’s a miracle,” Sehgal would tell his wife during these early encounters. “Anything it touches gives good results.”
Back in the lab, as Sehgal and his team were studying rapamycin’s antifungal properties, they realised it also had immunosuppressant qualities. This would make it very useful in countering the advance of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Crucially, it could help in post organ transplant recovery.
Does hypnosis really work? For BBC Future, Martha Henriques falls down a rabbit hole and explores hypnosis as a treatment for pain, anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions.
For many people, it’s a regular occurrence to get lost in a good book, or become so absorbed in a film (perhaps even a Harry Potter film) it can become overwhelming. Or perhaps you find yourself oblivious to landmarks by the road as you drive along the motorway. If that’s happened to you, then you’ve experienced something not so different from hypnosis, says Barnier. There are even parallels between becoming absorbed in your smartphone and hypnosis – both distort time perception, reduce awareness of your external environment, and bring a reduced sense of agency (that feeling you just can’t stop scrolling).
But if you don’t often experience these kinds of deep absorption, that’s normal too. “It’s just like the difference between extraversion and introversion,” says Barnier. “Some people are just living in their skins in different ways in the world.”
While TikTok and Tumblr have long been brimming with a newly abundant witch culture, believers in magic also populate a darker, more occultic level of the internet — and John R. King IV, whose long-running blog details his explorations of demonology, is one of its most prominent practitioners. What happens when Kent Russell seeks him out? The result is (sorry) spellbinding.
I pressed King to let me watch him conjure. Show me a scream full of hooves, I said, or a smile spreading across a pool of blackness. He demurred. He had to ascertain what kind of person I was offline before that could happen. So we made plans to meet at the Okanogan Family Faire, a festival where especially dirty hippies encamp alongside militiaman types in a valley on the far side of the Cascades. For several days, they sing and dance and barter goods and services—mostly drugs. King would be offering tarot readings, but for me, he said, he might perform services that would disclose how demons affect everyday lives, my own included. I booked my flight and dusted off my camping gear.