Tag Archives: fusion

A Resolute 2017: A Reading List

Photo: Kevin Cole

In 2016, I published my New Year’s resolutions on Longreads. As 2017 dawns, I thought I’d check in with my old self, dust off 2016’s goals and set some new intentions.

1. Alas, I never did make it to Iceland, but I did a lot of domestic travel in 2016. In Washington State, I touched the Pacific Ocean for the first time and slept on a sailboat. In Asheville, I got a new tattoo and swooned inside Firestorm Books & Cafe. I saw friends and family marry in Richmond and Chautauqua. I saw Deaf West perform Spring Awakening and the one-weekend revival of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater in NYC. I even visited Foamhenge! (That’s me in the photo above.) I’m returning to Asheville in 2017; beyond that, I have no concrete travel plans. Feel free to sponsor me on a trip to the ends of the Earth and back! I’ll write about it! For now, I’m seeing the world via the following essays from 2016:

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Longreads Best of 2016: Crime Reporting

bestofcrime2016

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here, the best in crime reporting.

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Jessica Lussenhop
Senior staff writer for BBC News.

Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered (Michelle Dean, BuzzFeed News)

This heart-breaking case of one of—if not the—longest case of Munchausen by proxy is beautifully reported and written with precision by Michelle Dean. The death of Dee Dee Blancharde, as orchestrated by her adult daughter Gypsy, was horrifying and shocking, but Dean paints a detailed portrait that really allows the characters and their inner lives to emerge from the sheer horror of the crimes. Dean reveals that there was so much more to this story than what came out in breaking news reports—this piece was fascinating, troubling and at the end of the day, impossible to forget. Read more…

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Illustration: Wesley Allsbrook

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
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The Strange Plight of YouTube’s ‘Middle Class’

Screenshot: Just Between Us, YouTube

Writing for Fusion, Gaby Dunn has a fascinating piece on the bleak economics of internet fame.  Dunn struggles to make ends meet despite being a YouTube personality with more than half a million subscribers, and her position is not unique:

The disconnect between internet fame and financial security is hard to comprehend for both creators and fans. But it’s the crux of many mid-level web personalities’ lives. Take moderately successful YouTubers, for example. Connor Manning, an LGBT vlogger with 70,000 subscribers, was recognized six times selling memberships at the Baltimore Aquarium. Rosianna Halse Rojas, who has her own books and lifestyle channel and is also YouTube king John Green’s producing partner, has had people freak out at her TopMan register. Rachel Whitehurst, whose beauty and sexuality vlog has 160,000 subscribers, was forced to quit her job at Starbucks because fans memorized her schedule.

In other words: Many famous social media stars are too visible to have “real” jobs, but too broke not to.

Platforms like YouTube mirror the U.S. economy’s yawning wealth gap, and being a part of YouTube’s “middle class” often means grappling daily with the cognitive dissonance of a full comments section and an empty wallet.

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Photo: Daniele Oberti, Flickr

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox.

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A Private Prison System for Immigrants

Photo by  Alix Clarke, Flickr

“You build a prison, and then you’ve got to find someone to put in them,” said Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, who has seen five of the 13 Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons built in his state. “So they widen the net and find additional undocumented folks to fill them up.”

Most of the roughly 23,000 immigrants held each night in CAR prisons have committed immigration infractions — crimes that a decade ago would have resulted in little more than a bus trip back home. And now, some of the very same officials who oversaw agencies that created and fueled the system have gone on to work for the private prison companies that benefited most.

The low-security facilities are often squalid, rife with abuse, and use solitary confinement excessively, according to advocates.

—from “Shadow Prisons” by Cristina Costantini and Jorge Rivas, published in February on Fusion. The criminalization of immigration has led to a “lucrative boom in private prisons,” the Guardian reported in a June story pegged to an American Civil Liberties Union investigation of the shadow system. Earlier this month a judge allowed a federal lawsuit to proceed that alleges one of the biggest private prison companies unjustly enriched itself with the labor of immigrant detainees.

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Can Technology Heal a Broken Heart?

Photo: Suus Wansink

Of all the ups and downs that I’ve had in my dating life, the most humiliating moment was having to explain to Siri that I got dumped.

— After her breakup, Kristen V. Brown documented her experimentation with different dating apps at Fusion.

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How Testosterone Is Helping Power a New Medical Model in America

Photo by profzucker

The emerging popularity of testosterone has opened up whole new business models for entrepreneurial doctors. Chains of shops that provide the hormone have exploded all over the United States, especially across the South. How many millions more men might be willing to try testosterone if it was easy to acquire, and a clinic happened to implant itself in an adjacent office building or a local strip mall, next to an abandoned video store and the Starbucks?

We don’t need to look ahead at human genetic engineering, brain implants, or crazy designer drugs to see the real future of our relationship with our bodies. The rise of testosterone use isn’t a drill for future body hacking—it is body hacking playing out right now across the American heartland, with a substance that was first synthesized in 1935. And in the coming years, the battles over T’s use are going to be repeated for future drugs that give people—anyone with money, at least—the power to transform the body beyond its innate abilities and configurations.

The crux of the medical ethics issue is this: are people taking testosterone to cure a disease, or are they taking it to transcend the limitations normally imposed on an aging human body?

Alexis Madrigal, in Fusion, on testosterone’s rise in popularity and its future implications.

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What happens when your teenage son is obsessed with nuclear research and wants to experiment in the backyard? How 17-year-old Taylor Wilson found support from his family and a group of scientist mentors:

Kenneth and Tiffany agreed to let Taylor assemble a “survey of everyday radioactive materials” for his school’s science fair. Kenneth borrowed a Geiger counter from a friend at Texarkana’s emergency-management agency. Over the next few weekends, he and Tiffany shuttled Taylor around to nearby antique stores, where he pointed the clicking detector at old radium-dial alarm clocks, thorium lantern mantles and uranium-glazed Fiesta plates. Taylor spent his allowance money on a radioactive dining set.

Drawn in by what he calls ‘the surprise properties’ of radioactive materials, he wanted to know more. How can a speck of metal the size of a grain of salt put out such tremendous amounts of energy? Why do certain rocks expose film? Why does one isotope decay away in a millionth of a second while another has a half-life of two million years?

“The Boy Who Played With Fusion.” — Tom Clynes, Popular Science

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