Some interesting things to read this February Friday

Dear Friends,

Today's a special day: it's the launch of the 100th story from The Atavist, a magazine and multimedia CMS I co-founded 9 years ago. The centennial issue is a dark mystery about a woman accused of murdering her daughter, perhaps unfairly. It's the story of a woman who, as a girl, convinced the world she had psychokinetic powers. And, then, as she grew up, moved from one misfortune to another. Until, perhaps, she can now find redemption.

Next up, here’s an incisive piece from The Ringer about a swaggering music writer and former Vice Canada editor who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import commercial quantities of cocaine. Whether he feels guilty about it, though, is another question. The article begins wonderfully, “Like so many people who have crashed and burned in digital media, Slava Pastuk sees a bright future for himself in the world of podcasting.” And, lucky for me, in the time since she published this story, the writer, Kate Knibbs, has joined the staff of Wired.

Other profiles I’ve enjoyed include Fintan O’Toole’s examination of the ghosts that haunt Joe Biden, “the most gothic figure in American politics.” And I loved Ian Parker’s portrait of Yuval Noah Harari, which gets far deeper into the mind of one our most popular authors than anything else I've come across. I also enjoyed Andrew Leonard’s Wired story about Vikram Chandra, who is trying to write code to help novelists write, and Parul Sehgal's piece on Jenny Ofill and how one can write fiction in the midst of the climate crisis.

Elsewhere, Karen Hao of MIT Technology Review dove deep into the complexities of OpenAI—an organization trying to save the world, maybe—and the Washington Post published an exposé fifty years in the making which revealed that an encryption company used by over a hundred countries was secretly owned by the CIA. In recent months, two riveting stories asked the question, “how far is too far?” For the New Yorker, Elizabeth Flock looked at the long and legally complex road ahead of a woman who killed her rapist in an act of self-defense. And Gordy Megroz wrote about a man who spends his days catching people who cut corners during marathons. That sounds like a noble pursuit, particularly to people like me. But it also, once, went catastrophically wrong.

I also had two conversations that I hope you’ll find interesting. A few weeks ago I spoke with Ezra Klein about his new book, “Why We’re Polarized”—surprisingly, social media is only a small part of the story. And last month Alexis Ohanian had me on his podcast “Business Dad” to talk about the hallway soccer games that have destroyed the paint on our front door and how, I think, parenting has made me better at my job.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite stories from this month’s issue of Wired, “Wikipedia is the Last Best Place on the Internet.” In it, Richard Cooke details how and why the once-mocked reference site became the most trusted place online.

Best, *N

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