How the Mosul University Library — once home to books and documents dating to antiquity and destroyed by ISIS militants — is becoming the epicenter of Iraq’s cultural rebirth as the homemade mines are removed, Mosul University is rebuilt, and the book drives begin.
Margaret Talbot reports on the opioid epidemic in West Virginia. There, the overdose rate is the highest in the United States and many are fighting to help loved ones, friends, neighbors, and sometimes complete strangers get healthy. Among several sources, she profiles an emergency paramedic who routinely sees to multiple overdoses a day (sometimes the same people on repeat). A team of moms called “The Hope Dealers” drives addicts hours away to get the treatment they need. A 71-year-old doctor offers free public classes on how to administer a drug called Narcan which reverses the effects of overdoses that have become commonplace. All this in an opioid epidemic fuelled by cheap highs and small-town despair over limited prospects.
As a child, Kate Daloz was told her grandmother died in a “household accident,” but the secret her mother had been keeping was a source of long-held family trauma: She had died of a “criminal abortion” on an unremarkable afternoon in her own home after she was unable to get a doctor to perform one illegally. Her grandmother had been married with two kids and a third on the way, when her husband was been shipped off to London by the OSS. Without a doctor, her French step-mother had suggested an alternative method: “Frenchwomen take care of these things themselves.”
“The power to control one’s working life would return, grassroots style, to the people,” writes Nathan Heller about the neoliberal dream of a work environment in which capitalism is democratized. But the gig economy has always been about the illusion of control, and that illusion is enough to keep people outwardly satisfied, but inwardly anxious. What does it all mean, this endless, piecemeal work? If the gig economy is working us to death, it’s also doing so without the satisfaction of a job well done.
Impeachment is hard, but the 25th amendment could be easy: If an administration determines a president is incapacitated or otherwise unable to fulfill his duties, it can replace him with the Vice President. Only one administration has attempted this so far, when Ronald Reagan — then the oldest person to hold office — began to forget simple words.
It was always hard to believe Steve Bannon found a certain kind of success in Hollywood—a success that wasn’t measured by the kind of art he produced, but the third or fourth tier deals he managed to push through, often with Hollywood hardly knowing he was even there.
Maurice Bessinger founded a popular South Carolina barbecue restaurant called the Piggie Park that was “worth driving a hundred miles for.” He was also a Confederate flag-waving white supremacist. Civil rights groups led boycotts against the Piggie Park for decades, but after Bessinger died and his children put away the flags, people wondered whether it would ever be acceptable to eat there.
How a movement toward simple, nomadic life in Volkswagen vans has become commercialized sponsor-fodder in which “vanlifers” trade social media currency for subsidized van repairs and discounts. Is this a new partially barter-style economy or just an outdoors, office-free variation of work pressure to tend ravenous social media accounts? Is it really freedom or just another way to sell your soul, one social media post at a time?
At The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead profiles Margaret Atwood — Canada’s prolific queen of literature. Mead and Atwood cover the resonance of The Handmaid’s Tale in Donald Trump’s America, Atwood’s approach to feminism, and the purpose of fiction in today’s society. Beloved for her incisive mind along with her works, Atwood uses unlimited curiosity as her approach to a life well lived — whether that’s living in a tent while birding in Panama, engaging with her 1.5 million Twitter followers, or writing as a septuagenarian. “I don’t think she judges anything in advance as being beneath her, or beyond her, or outside her realm of interest,” says friend and collaborator, Naomi Alderman.
Faced with a terrifying past and an uncertain future, young refugees in Sweden are taking to their beds with uppgivenhetssyndrom, or resignation syndrome, “an illness that is said to exist only in Sweden, and only among refugees.”