home Must Reads Must reads: Sexual violence, YouTube culture, good deaths, linguistics

Must reads: Sexual violence, YouTube culture, good deaths, linguistics

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Without further ado, here’s what we’re reading…

The Professional Friends of YouTube‘ (Kaila Philo for The Baffler)

YouTube might look organic, but it’s a carefully constructed world filled with canny businesspeople, not just fun-loving teens goofing around on their channels. In this world of careful artifice and performance, there’s a deep, and complex, subculture that’s well worth deep dives like this one.

Despite the squabbling and occasional setbacks, the beat goes on, wildly fast and unmonitored by grown-ups. YouTube has meanwhile revamped stardom: all you need to do is turn on your webcam and talk to find an audience—at least in theory. What goes unnoticed, though, is the specialization, the platform expertise that bolsters the YouTube pantheon.

In chatlogs, celebrated hacker and activist confesses sexual assault‘ (Sarah Jeong for The Verge)

One fascinating development in the sea of people coming forward to talk about sexual violence is that it has slowly spilled over into a growing number of industries and cultures. What may have started with Hollywood didn’t stop there, and this is a window into abuses in hacker and tech culture. Jeong’s reporting here is flawless, and essential reading.

Dana knew that Morgan had substance abuse problems and that he was a “shitty boyfriend,” but struggled to accept the idea that he could be a serial rapist. But she believed the account, as difficult as that was. She just didn’t know what to do. “I wanted to believe that whatever fucked up shit he’d done in his early twenties was long over,” said Dana. “I fucking vouched for the guy. Pretty dumb, huh?” But it was Dana who would eventually become the bridge between New Zealand and the United States, bringing Morgan Marquis-Boire’s world crashing down around him.

Ushering My Father to a (Mostly) Good Death‘ (Karen Brown for Longreads)

We’re delighted to see a flood of thoughtful personal essays about a once private and furtive matter: Death. The more we talk about different ways of approaching death and dying, the more we empower people to make their own decisions about how they want to die, affirmed by the knowledge that there’s no single way to manage one of the biggest events in our lives.

We have a nighttime routine. After he’s taken all his pain medication, gotten washed by the caregiver, gone through the trying routine of pricking his nearly-bloodless finger to test his blood sugar, and eaten the one — or maybe two — bites of whatever delectable pastry my mother bought in vain from what used to be his favorite bakery, it’s time for mystery hour.

The Rise and Fall of the English Sentence‘ (Julie Sedivy for Nautilus)

This is an absolutely fascinating read on how English is evolving. Languages change over time as people use them in wildly different ways and explore new avenues of communication. English is famous for twisty, elaborate, complex, nested sentences that can be tricky to navigate, yet delightful — and Sedivy argues that these are going the way of the dodo.

The complex syntax fostered by writing seems to be an acquired skill much like mental arithmetic. More or less everyone is born with the potential to do it, but to be able to calculate truly spectacular equations in your head, you need heavy practice, just as to understand (and compose) elaborate sentences with ease, you need plenty of experience with such sentences. Reading transforms the experiential landscape, offering a range and complexity of sentence structure that is rarely found in speech.

More Than 180 Women Have Reported Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy‘ (Katie J.M. Baker for Buzzfeed)

Massage Envy is a massive and wildly successful chain massage empire. It turns out that customers who trust their bodies to therapists hired by the chain are also being sexually assaulted, and they say both individual franchises and the parent company are doing nothing about it, harming them and exposing other clients to potential risks as therapists are never held accountable.

Meanwhile, clients continue to be sexually assaulted at Massage Envy spas. Some have kept massage therapists on staff even after multiple misconduct complaints. Others have quietly fired therapists without reporting their offenses to police or state regulatory boards, allowing the therapists to move on to new professional opportunities with a clean record.

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