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Writing Worth Reading

Nevada Pig Farmer Relishes Role As Recycler

Classic local reporting. Dirty work in Las Vegas. “With a satisfied grin, farmer Bob Combs watches the big truck slowly dump its greasy load, a Niagara Falls of yesterday’s kitchen leftovers that sends off a sickening spray. Just 24 hours earlier, these food scraps, albeit in more appetizing form, were served up to customers at all-you-can-eat buffets on and off the Strip. Now a new, less finicky clientele awaits: 2,500 pigs on Combs’ hog farm” (1,843 words)

How Not To Say The Wrong Thing

Perhaps a bit mawkish, but a novel heuristic for talking with and about a person in crisis. “In the center ring, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people.” Send comfort towards the centre. Send complaints towards the periphery (793 words)

Depictions Of Violence In Theater

How much is too much? “Make-believe violence is a tool that easily becomes an indiscriminate weapon. It is a form of knowledge—of the body’s vulnerability, of the aggression that lurks in the hearts of men—but it can also be a pernicious seduction, luring artists and audiences toward a nihilistic celebration of the destruction of meaning itself”

Papyrus To Paper: Get Over It

“You know what? I feel for you. We all do — my pals parchment, clay tablet, cave walls, the whole gang. Oh, we were all jealous of one another, of course we were, but when you came to town, it was clear we’d all go down together”

Unraveling An Epidemic

Rate of autism diagnosis among children has risen 20-fold in 20 years. But it’s not a surge in disease, it’s a surge in diagnosis. The “spectrum” is wide, and being somewhere on it opens the way to publicly funded healthcare

Capturing History As It Was Made

Paper celebrates 130th anniversary with gallery of 130 miscellaneous photos of southern California life and history. Feats of construction, disasters natural and man-made, tram graveyards, RFK assassinated. It’s all here

Kodak’s Long Fade To Black

Photography giant “a shutter-click from extinction”. Used to be as strong a brand as Coca-Cola. Invented digital camera in 1975—but never quite believed in it. Hasn’t made a profit since 2007, but holds some useful patents

Mosque And State

Islamist groups are poised to emerge as powerful players in Egyptian, Libyan, Tunisian politics. US should engage. And not over-worry. Islamists tend to do well in “breakthrough” elections. Then either lose support or adapt

Unfounded Drone Fears

Is America’s use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere starting an international arms race in unmanned aerial vehicles? Lewis doubts it. Drones are “slow, relatively low-tech anti-terrorism tools”. Limited use in modern warfare

Family Finds Dad

“By the sixth night, David La Vau was convinced he was going to die.” Injured, he lay stranded in a remote forest. His only company? The ruins of the car he drove off a cliff face. And the decomposing body of the man he crashed into

Michael Stern Hart Dies

The man who changed reading forever. Early career included stints as street-musician, soldier and stereo repairman. But then he invented the e-book. Decades before the Internet. And set up free online library Project Gutenberg

Is Homeland Security Spending Paying Off?

Not by this account. It’s a cross between a crapshoot and a $75bn pork-barrel. A tiny lake in Nevada gets a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar. LA police use nine-tonne armoured vehicle to guard DreamWorks. Terrorists caught: None

Tequila

Tequila is creating new niches in the spirits industry. Some are going for sleeker bottle designs, in imitation of premium vodkas. Others, even if new distillers, are aiming for traditional, artisan look, more like Scottish whisky

Is Pope John Paul II Fit For Sainthood?

“Many Catholics worry about a Vatican that fires an Australian bishop for speaking in favour of ordaining women and married men, but declines to act against a Belgian prelate who unapologetically admits to molesting young boys”

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