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Author Topic: Long Reads- Journalism, Essays, Fiction  (Read 9129 times)
Bettytron
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« on: January 09, 2012, 10:42 am »

This is a repository for the best long-form writing you come across on the internet.

-Long is subjective, but use your judgment. Something that takes you a whole lunch break to read, or a piece you really dig into some evening at home.

-Any genre qualifies. Investigative journalism, personal experience essays, fiction, anything.

-Avoid paywalls, if you can. Supporting great writing is great! But if you share the piece here, it's best if we can all access it for free. The New Yorker puts about half of their articles behind a paywall, but you can buy access to specific issues for about $5, so that's worth it sometimes. Harper's is great, but the whole magazine is behind a paywall and you have to buy a full subscription, which is probably too much to ask of everyone. So free is ideal, and if there is some purchase requirement, note it in your post. Just use your judgment.

-Include a brief description of the piece, or a relevant quote, or just why you think it's worth reading. Discussion is good! Maybe put the linked headline in bold, too, to help visually separate posts with new pieces and discussion posts.
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Bettytron
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 10:53 am »

A Young Woman Struggles With Oxy Addiction and Recovery

I read this one this morning. Prescription drug abuse is a rapidly growing problem, especially in Florida. The Tampa Bay Times follows this young mother, Stacy, for a year, while she struggles with addiction, rehab, jail, and halfway houses. The article also looks at the different tactics the courts are using to focus on treatment, rather than punishment.

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A few years ago, drug court Judge Farnell started seeing more and more women charged with prescription drug abuse. By 2009, almost half of her drug court defendants were women.

That year, Pinellas County received a $900,000, three-year federal grant to fund substance abuse treatment for women in drug court.

That's how Tuesdays became "Ladies' Day."

Instead of punishing the women, the judge offers them a chance to start over. They come to court once a month. She creates incentives for them: Do yoga, run a 5K, quit smoking, and we'll waive your $52 monthly probation fee. She makes sure they know how to get a bus pass. If she gets a bad vibe about a boyfriend, she'll order a woman to steer clear of him.

She tells defendants, "You can do this. It's going to be hard. But it will be worth it."

When a woman slips, the judge scolds her and sends her back to jail to detox. Then she offers another chance.

The article also digs into the mentality of addiction and how it affects the people around it. Fascinating, compassionate, and heartwrenching.
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2012, 05:39 am »

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman.

This is a novelette about a man who hires a guide to take him to a cave filled with cursed gold.

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You ask me if I can forgive myself? I can forgive myself for many things. For where I left him. For what I did. But I will not forgive myself for the year that I hated my daughter, when I believed her to have run away, perhaps to the city. During that year I forbade her name to be mentioned, and if her name entered my prayers when I prayed, it was to ask that she would one day learn the meaning of what she had done, of the dishonour that she had brought to my family, of the red that ringed her mother’s eyes.

I hate myself for that, and nothing will ease that, not even what happened that night, on the side of the mountain.

I enjoyed the story and have read it a few times over the past year or so.
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2012, 06:40 am »

There is an annual arts and music festival in my hometown, and last year I got to see Neil Gaiman read that story on stage, along with illustrations projected onto the backdrop and a string quartet playing backing music specially composed for the occasion.

It was pretty awesome.
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2012, 07:55 am »

At the risk of turning this into a Neil Gaiman thread (wouldn't that be great), here's A Study In Emerald. It's a fantastic mash-up between Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft. It's the first story from Fragile Things, but even if you've read it already, this version has a cool aesthetic element to it.
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Kybard
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2012, 08:20 am »

I read this a while back, but if you have any interest in the cavalcade of bullshit that is college football (or even if you don't, really, because I don't) this Atlantic piece is very much worth a read.

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Slavery analogies should be used carefully. College athletes are not slaves. Yet to survey the scene—corporations and universities enriching themselves on the backs of uncompensated young men, whose status as “student-athletes” deprives them of the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution—is to catch an unmistakable whiff of the plantation. Perhaps a more apt metaphor is colonialism: college sports, as overseen by the NCAA, is a system imposed by well-meaning paternalists and rationalized with hoary sentiments about caring for the well-being of the colonized. But it is, nonetheless, unjust. The NCAA, in its zealous defense of bogus principles, sometimes destroys the dreams of innocent young athletes.
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2012, 12:30 pm »

Longform.org has a large collection of nonfiction essays that are worth a read.
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2012, 01:41 pm »

I very much enjoy David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster, which appeared in Gourmet magazine a few years ago.

Ostensibly it's about the Maine Lobster Festival, and while it starts out with some pretty funny stuff about the festival itself, and some interesting and usually funny observations about festivals in general and the existential problems of tourism:

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To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.

The real focus of the essay is about an uncomfortable question that is not as easily solved as many diners probably would like: can lobsters feel pain? The festival tries to hand-wave it away by explaining that lobsters cannot physiologically experience the phenomenon we call pain, while ignoring the ontological or even psychological aspects of the question (or, more broadly, without considering that when people ask that question it might be more accurate to consider the broader notion of "suffering" rather than the literal definition of "pain").

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In any event, at the Festival, standing by the bubbling tanks outside the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, watching the fresh-caught lobsters pile over one another, wave their hobbled claws impotently, huddle in the rear corners, or scrabble frantically back from the glass as you approach, it is difficult not to sense that they’re unhappy, or frightened, even if it’s some rudimentary version of these feelings …and, again, why does rudimentariness even enter into it? Why is a primitive, inarticulate form of suffering less urgent or uncomfortable for the person who’s helping to inflict it by paying for the food it results in? I’m not trying to give you a PETA-like screed here—at least I don’t think so. I’m trying, rather, to work out and articulate some of the troubling questions that arise amid all the laughter and saltation and community pride of the Maine Lobster Festival. The truth is that if you, the Festival attendee, permit yourself to think that lobsters can suffer and would rather not, the MLF can begin to take on aspects of something like a Roman circus or medieval torture-fest.

Does that comparison seem a bit much? If so, exactly why? Or what about this one: Is it not possible that future generations will regard our own present agribusiness and eating practices in much the same way we now view Nero’s entertainments or Aztec sacrifices? My own immediate reaction is that such a comparison is hysterical, extreme—and yet the reason it seems extreme to me appears to be that I believe animals are less morally important than human beings; and when it comes to defending such a belief, even to myself, I have to acknowledge that (a) I have an obvious selfish interest in this belief, since I like to eat certain kinds of animals and want to be able to keep doing it, and (b) I have not succeeded in working out any sort of personal ethical system in which the belief is truly defensible instead of just selfishly convenient.

I love the way that Wallace approaches the question (as he did with all his work) from a variety of scientific and philosophical viewpoints, and admits that the answer he settles on is an uncomfortable one and probably arises more from his selfish interest in the answer than from an actual preponderance of the data. It's not really a secret that people do this more often than we'd like to admit, and even outside the realm of this specific question I think it's refreshing to see such an honest admission of that conflict.
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Bettytron
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2012, 02:28 pm »

Oh yes, Wallace's non-fiction is incredible. If you read that piece and like it, it's worth getting the book by the same name. His essays on John McCain and on the annual AVN award ceremony (the Academy Awards of porn) and it's expo are worth the price alone.

I saw some links to that college football article when it came out but never got around to it; I've bookmarked it now, along with the Gaiman stories (I've still only read Fragile Things and Anansi Boys, and need to expand that posthaste).

These are all awesome, guys.
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Kybard
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2012, 10:02 am »

I read this yesterday and it's pretty great. A 2004 piece, written by Stephen J. Dubner (Freakonomics), about an economist turned bagel delivery man.

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A key fact of white-collar crime is that we hear about only the very slim fraction of people who are caught. Most embezzlers lead quiet and theoretically happy lives; employees who steal company property are rarely detected. With street crime, meanwhile, that is not the case. A mugging or a burglary or a murder is usually counted whether or not the criminal is caught. A street crime has a victim, who typically reports the crime to the police, which generates data, which in turn generate thousands of academic papers by criminologists, sociologists and economists. But white-collar crime presents no obvious victim. Whom, exactly, did the masters of Enron steal from? And how can you measure something if you don't know to whom it happened, or with what frequency, or in what magnitude? Paul F.'s bagel business was different. It did present a victim. The victim was Paul F.
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2012, 08:38 pm »

I forced Driscoll to read about the Gimli Glider while on his flight yesterday.
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2012, 02:54 pm »

A story about deep cave diving (1:50:45 PM) soberpiano: "guaranteed to make you feel all panicky and awful"

Also a posting from his website.
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Bettytron
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2012, 01:03 pm »


Lucky Girl

A memoir piece by a woman who sought an abortion in the early 1960s, and the difficulty and danger she faced due to its illegality.
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2012, 12:36 am »

There is an annual arts and music festival in my hometown, and last year I got to see Neil Gaiman read that story on stage, along with illustrations projected onto the backdrop and a string quartet playing backing music specially composed for the occasion.

It was pretty awesome.

Just have to say, I was there, it was awesome.
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2012, 10:14 pm »

Here's a good one from the Columbia Journalism Review: When the 99% had a paper

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With Field’s money and Ingersoll’s ideas, PM made quite a splash. Reporters like I.F. Stone wrote hard-hitting exposés, revealing, among other things, how US companies shipped oil to Hitler’s Germany through Franco’s Spain. The paper also reported that the Red Cross segregated blood donations by race, and it took on big business, isolationist Charles Lindbergh, and the Catholic Church. Cartoonists like Theodor Geisel (later known as Dr. Seuss) lampooned bullies, and Hodding Carter critiqued the press, while Max Lerner handled most of the editorials. Margaret Bourke-White and Weegee shot photos, and Heywood Broun, Ernest Hemingway, Ben Hecht, and Dorothy Parker all contributed articles.
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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2012, 04:00 pm »

Here's a really good article on one journalist's experience in the online shipping industry. Spoilers: It's not a good one.
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2012, 10:18 am »

I have nothing to add to this thread but I implore you all to ADD SOME MORE LINKS I need to read gosh darn it
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« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2012, 12:25 pm »

In addition, HOPE has achieved something rare in the American criminal justice system, proving that it is actually possible to enforce the conditions of "community corrections" programs: probation and its cousin, parole.
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« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2012, 01:31 am »

Bertrand Russell explains how the myth of the nobility of work, happily perpetuated by a class that does little of it, keeps us willfully enslaved.
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DoctorShenanigans
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2012, 03:39 pm »

The Art of Survival: Why Poor People Have the Best Anti-Poverty Ideas
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