14 Hours in The Queue to See Queen Elizabeth’s Coffin

In this touching piece, Laurie Penny finds out that the queue was not about the Queen — it was about the people queuing with you. Told with her trademark wit, this is a story about being British.

“It sounds a bit excessive,” says a friend I once saw snort a whole bag of unidentified powder they found in a club toilet. “Why would you walk all night just to look at a box?” The truth is I’m not here for the Queen; I’m here for the Queue. I heard it calling – the way bad ideas call to any broken heart, saying, This will hurt, but you want it. Come and find out why.

Source: British GQ
Published: Sep 18, 2022
Length: 13 minutes (3,415 words)

Has The Zodiac Killer Mystery Been Solved (Again)?

Author Jarett Kobek believes he’s uncovered the true identity of the Zodiac Killer: an eccentric man named Paul Doerr, who died in 2007. Doerr’s daughter, Gloria, isn’t so sure — until Aaron Gell suggests that the two of them come together to meet. In this chilling story for Los Angeles magazine, Gell describes how Kobek’s research led him to Doerr, and how the evidence against Doerr is strong, especially after conversations with Gloria about her father, her childhood, and their relationship. But is Kobek just another amateur sleuth claiming he’s cracked the case?

As Jarett is quick to point out, the timing of the incident seems important. Gloria was only allowed to date on Friday nights, and she remembered this life-changing moment occurring at the beginning of Christmas break. Assuming her memory is accurate more than 50 years later, a quick glance at the 1968 calendar narrows down the date to one possibility: December 20. “You know why that’s interesting?” Kobek asks. It dawns on me slowly, although every halfway decent Zodiac researcher will likely know the answer: It was the night the killer claimed his first victims.

Indeed, the first three attacks took place at teen hangouts, places that, as Paul well knew, Gloria herself frequented, either on dates, as with the makeout spots at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs Park, or when cutting school with friends to swim at Lake Berryessa. Moreover, they were all places, Gloria confirms, where drugs could be procured.

Whether or not Paul Doerr crossed the line from domestic abuser to murderer that night, it’s easy enough to imagine him out looking for her, a tormented parent in search of his unruly daughter.

Author: Aaron Gell
Published: Sep 22, 2022
Length: 24 minutes (6,235 words)

The Teeth Makers of Kandahar

Haji Muhammad Sultan owns a business in the center of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, dedicated to handcrafting high-quality dentures. Founded by his grandfather 80 years ago, the shop was a place that Sultan came as a child to learn the family craft; he became a military doctor during the U.S.-led occupation and made teeth for Afghan soldiers and war victims. Now, Sultan runs the shop with four of his sons. For Al Jazeera

After gaining experience treating soldiers, Sultan returned home and continued to work with patients disfigured by the war. “There was a boy, who was only 14, and he came to me with his mother asking for my help. A suicide bomb had blown his teeth out of his jaw,” says Sultan. “They didn’t have the money to pay for the work, but I made him a new set of teeth anyway. A set to be proud of.”

To this day, Sultan continues to run the business, although he is now joined by four of his seven sons. They say they would choose no other profession than that of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Published: Sep 18, 2022
Length: 8 minutes (2,214 words)

The Disappearing Art of Maintenance

What do you do with a subway car that’s been operating 25 years longer than it was designed to? What do you do with a phone that’s only designed to work for three? In this thoughtful essay, Alex Vuoco suggests that we look to the make-it-last ethos as a course out of the increasingly wasteful spiral that capitalism has wrought.

There is tension in the question of whether to build objects more intensively, so that they last longer, or to recognize that some things cannot endure and thus should be designed that way. There’s no hope for a paper plate in the long run, for example. It’s designed to enter the waste stream as cheaply and easily as possible. Conversely, a toaster could last for decades if maintained properly, assuming the manufacturer hasn’t built obsolescence into it (as is often the case).

Source: Noema
Published: Sep 22, 2022
Length: 16 minutes (4,173 words)

Stone Skipping Is a Lost Art. Kurt Steiner Wants the World to Find It.

Step — or skip — into the world of a fascinating character, charmingly portrayed in this piece for Outside. Kurt Steiner is the world’s greatest stone skipper, and it has cost him a lot to get there. Sean Williams tells his story with genuine affection and respect.

Skipping has brought Steiner respite from a life of depression and other forms of mental illness. It has also, in part, left him broke, divorced, and, since the death of his greatest rival, adrift from his stone-skipping peers. Now, in middle age, with a growing list of aches and pains, he must contemplate the reality that, in his most truthful moments, he throws rocks not simply because he wants to, but because he has no choice.

Source: Outside
Published: Sep 20, 2022
Length: 26 minutes (6,616 words)

Rocketland

Worshippers of Elon Musk have flocked to the middle of nowhere in Texas to watch SpaceX’s attempts to build a space-worthy rocket — and to find friends:

For the first couple of months as a Texas resident, [Nic] lived in his car on the beach, where he had camped during his first stay. All he did was document Starbase activity. “I made a trip into Brownsville about once a day for a bathroom break and to grab some food and come back out. But I really tried to keep my trips to town at a minimum,” he said. “I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”

He claims he lost 100 pounds because he wasn’t eating — he kept forgetting to. “I remember one day I was eating a PB&J that I had made, and I was like, ‘When was the last time I ate? Was it yesterday? No, it wasn’t yesterday. It was Monday. No, it wasn’t Monday because Sunday evening was the last time I ate,’” he recalled, laughing.

While he was snapping photos, I asked Nic if it ever got redundant. From day to day, the site looks relatively the same as it did the day before. He is always looking for new angles. A bird might fly past at a certain height, a unique moment that he’s never seen before. Or it could have rained the night before, creating puddles where he can shoot moody reflections of the rockets.

But the downtime is worth it to him because he feels like he’s documenting history. “I think it’s once in a generation where you have the opportunity to do something so grand and so great.” He was talking about Mars and how we might get there.

Source: The Verge
Published: Sep 13, 2022
Length: 28 minutes (7,100 words)

Tracked

Based on thousands of pages of documents, a reporting team reveals how colleges and universities are using AI technology to surveil student protests:

Documents from Kennesaw State show campus police tracked demonstrators’ online activity for days with Social Sentinel before a contentious 2017 town hall.

Brandy White, a criminal intelligence analyst in KSU’s police department, was in charge of the monitoring. On instruction from her supervisors, White entered information about demonstrators and protest groups into Social Sentinel’s monitoring tool and set up searches to find posts about the event, emails show.

White also received a KSU police intelligence briefing from a colleague about the event. The document, obtained by The News in response to a public records request, singled out one progressive activist group, the liberal grassroots network Indivisible, and cited conservative conspiracy theories that George Soros funded the protesters.

Published: Sep 20, 2022
Length: 13 minutes (3,487 words)

A Mother’s Charge

A haunting story about a mother desperate to raise her son the right way — despite a past she cannot put behind her and living in the heart of cowboy country, where toxic masculinity is a way of life.

He might be able to change the world, Sarah often says, if she can figure out how to raise him the right way. But she is also overwhelmed by the fear that her sweet boy could one day become a bad guy, like so many of the ones who have hurt her. Like the one they just escaped.

Published: Sep 13, 2022
Length: 23 minutes (5,972 words)

‘These Kids Are Dying’ — Inside the Overdose Crisis Sweeping Fort Bragg

A staggering total of 109 soldiers assigned to Fort Bragg died in 2020 and 2021. In this important investigation, Seth Harp reports on record deaths at the U.S. Army’s largest base, including homicides, suicides, and accidental fentanyl overdoses. Otherwise healthy soldiers, like Matthew Disney, have been found “unresponsive” and slumped over in rooms and parked vehicles. But the Army continues to downplay this crisis, sweeping soldiers’ deaths under the rug — their deaths not made public, their families left wondering what happened.

Perhaps there is no greater symbol of our definitive loss in that interminable war than Fort Bragg itself. From this flagship base, the beating heart of the U.S. special-operations complex, the military apparatus behind the global War on Drugs deploys to the far corners of the world. Green Berets train security forces in countries like Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras. Delta Force reportedly took part in the anti-cartel operations that killed Pablo Escobar and captured El Chapo Guzmán. Yet drive down Bragg Boulevard into the Bonnie Doone neighborhood of Fayetteville, and in between the storage facilities, mobile-home dealerships, and tattoo parlors, you will find roach motels full of addicts, indigent veterans camped out beneath bridges, and strung-out junkies hanging around boarded-up trap houses. The dismal tide of synthetic opioids and amphetamines has penetrated Fort Bragg’s high-security gates, permeated through to the lowliest privates’ barracks, and caused at least a dozen overdose deaths in just the last year. These dead soldiers, who far outnumber combat casualties, are clearer proof of the United States’ unequivocal defeat in its longest-running international military campaign than a white flag run up over the main parade field. As the old saying goes: The War on Drugs is over — drugs won.

Author: Seth Harp
Source: Rolling Stone
Published: Sep 4, 2022
Length: 23 minutes (5,798 words)

How Drew Barrymore Became a Bizarro Fixture of Daytime TV

A sympathetic look at Drew Barrymore’s chaotic world; Rachel Syme’s essay comes with the honesty characteristic of Barrymore herself.

The show’s open sentimentality—and copious shed tears—are offset by its crackle of unplanned clumsiness. Bouncing off the walls one moment and breaking down the next, Barrymore seems to be barely holding on as sentiment threatens to overtake her. She is not so much revisiting her past as dragging it along like a bindle full of lessons waiting to be discovered. If her off-the-cuff irrepressibility is an act, then it’s the best performance of her life.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Sep 13, 2022
Length: 7 minutes (1,848 words)