Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

Weekend treat. Thanks to Longform for pointing out that this piece, one of the most influential and enjoyable magazine articles ever published, is available ungated on Rolling Stone‘s website. If you haven’t read it before, seize the moment. And if you have, read it again. Just try and stop yourself: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold …” (22,900 words)

Bill Gates: The Rolling Stone Interview

He may well be “the most optimistic” man alive, as well as the richest. He sees the world as a “giant operating system” that “just needs to be debugged”, and his charitable foundation is on the case. Topics include surveillance, public health, inequality, Microsoft, Apple, America. “Say you’re gay in America, would you go back 50 years? Say you’re sick in America, do you want to go back 50 years? I mean, who are we kidding?” (6,400 words)

Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman

From the archives of Rolling Stone: David Bowie in conversation with William S. Burroughs. You may have to be of a certain age to enjoy this fully. In which Bowie explains the plot of Ziggy Stardust; declares Lou Reed to be the greatest musician on the planet; and reveals himself as unexpectedly class conscious, in the English way. His lyrics, he says are “a bit middle class, but that’s all right, ’cause I’m middle class” (5,780 words)

The Great Marijuana Experiment

On the economics and social-policy dimensions of marijuana liberalisation in America. Colorado opened its first legal pot shops this week. Washington State will follow soon. Legal pot sales will probably top $2.4bn this year — but watch where you shop. “If you drop a gram of Sour Diesel on the sidewalk in Seattle, a police officer may help you sweep it up. Do that in New Orleans and you could face 20 years hard labor” (4,500 words)

The Men Who Leaked The Secrets

You may feel that you have read your quota of articles about Edward Snowden and/or Glenn Greenwald for the current year, but make an exception for this well-made profile, which moves lightly on its feet and offers much new colour and detail throughout — notably on Greenwald’s early life as a lawyer, on Snowden’s time at the NSA, and on how Julian Assange elbowed his way belatedly into Snowden’s drama (10,900 words)

Geeks On The Front Lines

US government and corporate recruiters vie to hire hackers, as cyberwarfare escalates. If you know how to hack into the Chinese government’s computers, chances are the US government would like to use your services — and vice-versa. Security contractors are booming, and boasting. “If [the U.S. government] came to a company like us and said, ‘Here’s $15 million,’ we could turn a North Korean missile into a brick” (4,800 words)

Rogue State Kansas

Remember Sam Brownback — who tried briefly for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008? As governor of Kansas he has turned the state into a laboratory for Tea-Party policies — gutting spending on social services and education, privatising Medicaid, cutting taxes, and aiming to abolish state income tax entirely. After which he might make another run for president. Rolling Stone disapproves, at length (6,200 words)

Cruel And Unusual Punishment: The Shame Of Three Strikes Laws

In California, the first state to pass a “three-strike” law mandating long prison sentences for third-time offenders, thousands of people are serving life sentences for non-violent and often trivial crimes. “Have you heard the one about the guy who got life for stealing a slice of pizza? Or the guy who went away forever for lifting a pair of baby shoes? Or the one who got 50 to life for helping himself to five children’s videotapes from Kmart? This Frankenstein’s monster of a mandatory-sentencing system isn’t just some localized bureaucratic accident, but the legacy of a series of complex political choices we all made as voters decades ago” (6,334 words)

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