The Loneliness of the Junior College Esports Coach

After a year of loss and grief, Madison Marquer signed up to lead a team of gamers at a community college in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Brendan I. Koerner chronicles the journey.

By early 2021, Walsh had gathered ample evidence to prove that esports could bring in as many as 20 ­student-athletes per year and boost the college’s brand among potential applicants who’d been weaned on Fortnite and NBA 2K. Still, some of the school’s administrators scoffed at the idea that gamers deserved the same respect as, say, members of LCCC’s well-regarded rodeo team. “They’re not athletes, because an athlete, by definition, manipulates their body and muscles in a way to interact with some object,” Walsh recalls an administrator saying. “And I said, ‘You just described esports.’ And they’re like, ‘Well, no, they’re not moving.’ And I go, ‘They’re moving their wrists and their fingers with dexterity. And they’re using their brains in such a quick and decisive way. How is that not a sport?’”

Source: Wired
Published: Jun 23, 2022
Length: 33 minutes (8,290 words)

The Cheating Scandal That Ripped the Poker World Apart

“Mike Postle was on an epic winning streak at a California casino. Veronica Brill thought he had to be playing dirty. Let the chips fall where they may.”

Source: Wired
Published: Sep 21, 2020
Length: 30 minutes (7,576 words)

The Strange Life and Mysterious Death of a Virtuoso Coder

Jerrold Haas was on the brink of blockchain riches. Then his body was found in the woods of southern Ohio.

Source: Wired
Published: Nov 14, 2019
Length: 30 minutes (7,500 words)

It Started as an Online Gaming Prank and Then it Turned Deadly

How a malevolent, remorseless online troll and the shoot-first, ask questions later mode of policing created a real-life tragedy in Wichita Kansas.

Source: Wired
Published: Oct 23, 2018
Length: 31 minutes (7,817 words)

Meet Alex, the Russian Casino Hacker Who Makes Millions Targeting Slot Machines

A look into the mind of a mathematician-turned-hacker who milks slot machines in casinos around the world.

Source: Wired
Published: Aug 5, 2017
Length: 14 minutes (3,623 words)

For the Love of Duke

A West Virginia woman falls in love with a mysterious man online, then gets roped into a global scam.

Source: Wired
Published: Oct 9, 2015
Length: 23 minutes (5,982 words)

The Skies Belong to Us: How Hijackers Created an Airline Crisis in the 1970s

How the FAA tried and failed to prevent a string of violent skyjackings—an excerpt from Koerner’s book.

Source: Longreads
Published: Jul 30, 2014
Length: 24 minutes (6,186 words)

A Doctor’s Quest to Save People by Injecting Them With Scorpion Venom

A profile of Jim Olson, a pediatric oncologist and cancer researcher whose lab is looking into whether a scorpion-venom concoction can make cancer cells glow for easy removal:

A scorpion-venom concoction that makes tumors glow sounds almost too outlandish to be true. In fact, Olson explains, that’s what troubled the big grant-­making organizations when he came to them for funding. But when those organizations dismissed his ideas as too bizarre, Olson started accepting donations from individuals—particularly the families of current and former patients—quickly raising $5 million for his research. It was a bold and unprecedented tactic: Though patients and their families are often asked to donate to foundations with broad goals, Olson raised money for one specific, untested technology—a much riskier gamble. But thanks to his efforts, Olson’s fluorescent scorpion toxin is now in Phase I clinical trials, an impressive accomplishment for a compound with such a peculiar lineage. The University of Washington students are clearly awed by the work.

Source: Wired
Published: Jun 24, 2014
Length: 17 minutes (4,466 words)

How America’s Soldiers Fight for the Spectrum on the Battlefield

The U.S. armed forces dominates the land, air, and sea. But it also must dominate the electromagnetic spectrum by jamming and counterjamming communications to remain effective on the battlefield:

It is well known that America’s military dominates both the air and the sea. What’s less celebrated is that the US has also dominated the spectrum, a feat that is just as critical to the success of operations. Communications, navigation, battlefield logistics, precision munitions—all of these depend on complete and unfettered access to the spectrum, territory that must be vigilantly defended from enemy combatants. Having command of electromagnetic waves allows US forces to operate drones from a hemisphere away, guide cruise missiles inland from the sea, and alert patrols to danger on the road ahead. Just as important, blocking enemies from using the spectrum is critical to hindering their ability to cause mayhem, from detonating roadside bombs to organizing ambushes. As tablet computers and semiautonomous robots proliferate on battlefields in the years to come, spectrum dominance will only become more critical. Without clear and reliable access to the electromagnetic realm, many of America’s most effective weapons simply won’t work.

Source: Wired
Published: Feb 18, 2014
Length: 19 minutes (4,955 words)

Longreads Member Exclusive: The Skies Belong to Us (Chapter 5), by Brendan I. Koerner

This week’s Member Pick is a chapter from Brendan I. Koerner‘s new book The Skies Belong to Us, the story of Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow, who in 1972 hijacked Western Airlines Flight 701 headed from Los Angeles to Seattle. Koerner, a contributing editor for Wired who’s been featured on Longreads in the past, explains:

Source: Crown
Published: Jun 13, 2013
Length: 24 minutes (6,231 words)