home Must Reads Must reads: Crime, punishment, journalism, death, subcultures, sexism

Must reads: Crime, punishment, journalism, death, subcultures, sexism


Good morning, gentle readers! It has been a rough weekend for the world, and we’re salving some of the struggle with some meaty longreads on subjects like women in nature, the journalist behind some of the Times’ greatest recent scoops, and more!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Global Comment podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud and catch up on the first episode, a fascinating interview with Omar Saif Ghobash.

Wanna Know What Donald Trump Is Really Thinking? Read Maggie Haberman‘ (Rachel Combe for Elle)

A lively, fascinating, thoughtful look at one of the most high profile American journalists working today — and the paper she calls home.

Journalists have become part of the story in the Trump administration, enablers and heroes of a nonstop political and constitutional soap opera, and last year Haberman was the most widely read journalist at the Times, according to its analytics. Many of the juiciest Trump pieces have been broken by her: That story about him spending his evenings alone in a bathrobe, watching cable news? Haberman reported and wrote it with her frequent collaborator, Glenn Thrush. The time Trump called the Times to blame the collapse of the Obamacare repeal on the Democrats? It was Haberman he dialed.

At His Own Wake, Celebrating Life and the Gift of Death‘ (Catherine Porter for the New York Times)

An intriguing profile of a man who wanted to meet death on his own terms, and the wider, more complicated fight over physician-assisted dying, quality of life, and autonomy.

Off the west coast of Canada, Vancouver Island has been ground zero for assisted suicide in the country. It was here that Sue Rodriguez, a 42-year-old suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., began her battle to die with dignity in the 1990s, going all the way to the Supreme Court. “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” she famously said.

Key Crazy: Inside the Wonderful World of Keyboard Fanatics‘ (Alex Cranz for Gizmodo)

Do you ever read a piece of journalism about a hobbyist subculture so oddly specific that it’s utterly charming and delightful? If you haven’t, you’re about to have that pleasure.

At first, it seems like a ridiculous ambition. Despite the troves of expertise of the men and women of the keyboard fan community, they’re still just expanding on a system so solid it hasn’t changed in 144 years. We’ve been clicking and clacking on some kind of keyboard since the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer launched in 1873, and the design of keyboards has become fairly consistent. Rare alternative designs like the early Hansen Writing Ball (1870), the Maltron ergonomic line (1977) or the custom Planck board (2015) are outliers. Yet, that hasn’t dissuaded Jacob Alexander. He genuinely thinks there’s more to be done with the primary input device for our computers.

Nature Is a Woman’s Place: How the Myth That Bears Are a Danger to Menstruating Women Spread‘ (Margaret Seelie for Jezebel)

You’ve heard the myth about how menstruating is dangerous if you’re out in the wild, right? Yeah. It’s a myth, and the story of how it took over popular culture is a fascinating one.

After this brochure was published, a cascading series of events began to unravel in which men made fundamental decisions about women’s health, safety, and rights to nature—without women. A scientific study done by biologist Bruce Cushing in 1978 and 1979 called The effects of human menstrual odors other scents and ringed seal vocalizations on the polar bear became a pivotal tool for restricting women’s rights to nature and the outdoors.

Kafka in Vegas‘ (Megan Rose for ProPublica)

This is a delicious deep dive into crime, punishment, and the strange law enforcement ritual known as the Alford plea.

The detectives had been tipped to Steese after a letter from Rick Rock arrived at Soules’ trailer. When contacted, detectives said, Rock told them that Steese had revealed knowledge of a morbid, if not quite accurate, detail of the murder: that Soules had been stabbed more than 100 times. When detectives finally reached Steese by phone, he agreed to return to Las Vegas. Then he’d drunkenly hopped a train going in the wrong direction, ending up in Wisconsin, where he stole a semi truck and drove nearly 30 hours straight through to Nevada. There he was pulled over and arrested.

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Photo: Miguel Discart/Creative Commons