Long-form Articles I’ve Been Reading Lately

The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden…Is Screwed – Esquire account of the Seal Team 6 member that shot OBL and who, now out of the Navy, is struggling with the transition to civilian life and a U.S. government that offers little support.

Ewing Theory Revisited – Why have the Boston Celtics fared so well without star point guard Rajon Rondo?

Google Glass – Joshua Topolsky takes Google Glass out for a spin.

Christmas Abott is the first female NASCAR pit crew member. And see this video for more.

Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building – The much discussed ESPN piece by Wright Thompson, part of ESPN’s coverage of MJ’s 50th birthday.

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing UsTime magazine’s cover story this week. I did not care much for the article’s length (it was far longer than needed), writing style, structure, or approach. Too much of the story focused on repetitive stories of exorbitant billing and its conclusions seemed to rediscover what we already knew, or to leave out important policies altogether (tax deductibility of employer-provided healthcare, for instance). For a much better look at the complexities of America’s healthcare system I recommend the two-part This American Life series that aired in October of 2009 (Part 1, Part 2).

Generation Kill: A Conversation With Stanley McChrystal – An insightful interview with the former head of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. You may remember that McChrystal was forced to resign from his post in Afghanistan after this 2010 Rolling Stone piece (another long-form article worth reading). This article is gated, you must have a subscription to Foreign Affairs to read it.

Capitalism and Inequality – The subtitle is, What the Right and the Left Get Wrong. It is one of the best written essays I’ve read in a while, though the content itself is a different story (I did enjoy it, however). I suspect that in the end both the Left and the Right will disagree with its conclusions. Or maybe not; it is, in fact, underwhelmingly radical in its thesis: we need to respect the dynamism of the capitalist system while employing social welfare for those that lose out. The article’s boldest claim is that equality of opportunity will not reduce inequality in general since deep familial and communal structures undergird various groups’ abilities to utilize opportunity when it is offered to them. This article is gated, you must have a subscription to Foreign Affairs to read it.

Harper High School – This is not a written piece, but still one of the best pieces of journalism I’ve ever encountered. Produced by This American Life, the two part series (Part 1, Part 2) follows the students, staff, and parents at Harper High School in Chicago for an entire semester. Last year 29 current or recent students were shot, 8 of them fatally. This was not a another school shooting that you happened to miss, these deaths took place in many separate incidents around the Harper community over the course of the academic year. The two-hour special is suspenseful, heart breaking, hopeful, inspiring, engaging, enlightening, and entertaining; simply put, everything that journalism should be. The two-part series can be fruitfully paired with the 2011 documentary The Interrupters (PBS version here) or Terry Gross’s interview with the film’s director Steve James and Ameena Matthews, one of the “stars” of the film who works with Chicago’s CeaseFire to “interrupt” youth violence in the city.

Links

Economic systems explained using two cows. As my friend said to me, “At first I was like this is boring, but then I was like this is awesome.” I especially appreciated the panel on Greece.

“Here’s the latest plan to control brown tree snake population in Guam: Dead mice laced with painkillers will be attached to little parachutes, dropped from helicopters. Then, if all goes well, the snakes will eat the mice and die.” Read the story here.

Economist Timothy Taylor explains Claudio Borio’s theory of the financial cycle.

“Safe injection sites are drawing druggies away from stairs and squares.”

Another reason to go to Stern: terrific interview with the Dean, Peter Henry (HT: Marginal Revolution).

On The N-Word

A discussion on the N-word from Al Jazeera’s The Stream featuring Cornel West and others. I especially appreciated Tim Wise’s comments on language reclamation and Mychal Smith’s argument that those outside of the Black community wanting to use the N-word should examine their desire to use a word so loaded with oppressive historical accretion that remains offensive to people of all races today.