Abuse, Warnings, Noriega, Voting, Hunter S. Thompson, Weddings

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The Case Against Ray Spencer

Maurice Chammah | Esquire | 22nd May 2017

Touching and terrifying story of a Sacramento policeman jailed for 20 years on charges of abusing his children; charges concocted by an over-zealous investigator; and which he did not contest, to spare his children from testifying in court. In adulthood the children recant. The father is freed. And now it is the children who feel guilty. “You know you were used, and there is a kind of guilt in that. And there probably shouldn’t be. But nobody can convince me not to feel guilty” (6,080 words)


Jacqueline Feldman | Real Life | 5th June 2017

Report from Bure in north-east France, where buried nuclear waste will remain toxic for the next 100,000 years. How to warn future generations not to go digging? One idea is to genetically modify local trees so they grow blue. Another is to do nothing. “We have all become very marker-prone, but shouldn’t we admit that, in the end, the most effective marker for any intruders will be a relatively limited amount of sickness or death caused by the radioactive waste?” (5,070 words)

Remembering Manuel Noriega

Benjamin Runkle | War On The Rocks | 6th June 2017

America’s 1989 invasion of Panama was quickly done. Capturing the dissolute President Noriega took rather longer. “Although Delta thought they were getting close, they could apparently never catch up to the elusive dictator”. As US soldiers raided successive abandoned hide-outs they made “a series of bizarre discoveries”, including an altar “decorated with jars containing human internal organs”. Noriega, meanwhile, found refuge with the wily and reluctant Papal Nuncio (2,500 words)

Athens, Sparta, Rome: The Ancient Election

Mary Beard | Times Literary Supplement | 8th June 2017

How voting worked in the ancient world. Athenians voted by a show of hands. Spartans voted by shouting; the loudest side won, “which the Athenians thought very weird”. Rome introduced a secret ballot in the second century BC. “Voters individually picked out their ballot slips (wax on wood, probably) from a basket as they walked across some form of bridge, then wrote the name of their candidate in the wax as they walked, and finally dropped it into the ballot box” (950 words)

How Hunter S. Thompson Became A Legend

Patrick Doyle | Rolling Stone | 6th April 2017

Sports Illustrated asked Thompson for 250 words about a Las Vegas motorbike race. He gave them 2,500 words — and when they spiked the piece he took it to Rolling Stone, which wanted all that and much more. The result was Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, published in 1971. Thompson’s coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign “reshaped what it meant to write about politics” . But “getting work out of him was becoming difficult”. Editing him “was a bit like being a cornerman for Ali” (1,600 words)

The White Wedding Dress Industrial Complex

Helena Fitzgerald | Racked | 5th June 2017

A bride-to-be contemplates the purchase of a wedding dress. “A fantasy of wealth beyond reality or responsibility is built into the details of these dresses, all the way down to the tiny rows of covered buttons. Mostly when we spend too much money, we pretend that the money isn’t real. This is why part of the point of the dress is that you can’t wear it again — it becomes a perfect object, distilled and frozen in time, lifted out of the ordinary cycles of use and value and repetition” (2,600 words)

Video of the day: AICP Sponsorship Reel

What to expect:

Crazy kaleidoscope of dancing avatars, by Method Design (2’40”)

Thought for the day

Both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny
J.S. Mill

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