Maybe We’re the Circle


Megan Stielstra with Nicole Piasecki | Longreads | April 2018 | 18 minutes (4,936 words)

This is the third in a three-part series on gun violence.

In part one, long after the shooting at her old high school, Megan Stielstra worries about her father’s heart.

In part two, Nicole Piasecki writes a letter to the wife of the shooter who killed her father.

In part three, Megan and Nicole talk about the shooting that changed their lives, who owns the story, and what to do with fear. 

* * *

On December 16th, 1993 there was a shooting at my high school in Chelsea, Michigan. A sleepy little town west of Ann Arbor, the reporter called it. I was a freshman in college. I watched it unfold on the national news from a thousand miles away. This was years before Twitter, before we all had cell phones in…

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England’s National Health Service Is Suffering Growing Pains


As T.S. Eliot said, “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” Recently, much whimpering has come from the thousands of infirm people waiting in England’s overcrowded, understaffed hospitals. The sick lay on stretchers in hallways for entire days, or on the floor. Some wait for hours in the ambulances that brought them to the hospital.

For the London Review of Books, James Meek examines the crisis that has struck England’s National Health Service. Preparing for a surge of aging citizens with various ailments and a dependence on caretakers, NHS initiated a transition from an old hospital-based system to a new ambitious system centered around home health care. Unfortunately, the transition has not been smooth, and the future looks uncertain. The reform also has people asking what kind of country they want England to be: one of solidarity and publicly funded health care, or one…

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How to (Almost) Get Away With Murder


Three healthy people died at 3635 Pitch Pine Crescent in Mississauga, Ontario, in less than four years. In this in-depth multimedia piece at the Toronto Star, Amy Dempsey unravels how a series of missteps and errors at every phase of the investigation nearly allowed one couple to get away with murder — three times.

CALEB HARRISON was not the first person in his family to die at 3635 Pitch Pine Cres. He was not even the second. In April 2010, his 63-year-old mother, Bridget Harrison, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second floor. Her body lay steps away from the powder room where one year earlier she had discovered her husband, Bill Harrison, cold and lifeless. His death at 64 was classified as natural until Bridget died under suspicious circumstances and a coroner updated his file, placing the deaths of husband and…

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We Love Moms, as Long as They Have Good Insurance


The U.S. is the most expensive country in the world in which to give birth and a country that makes it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for an insured pregnant woman to secure medical insurance. Molly Osberg, writing for Splinter, picks apart the catch-22s, loopholes, and flat-out denials that plunge pregnant women into debt — and somehow get them to blame themselves for not being more fiscally-minded during active labor.

When I started speaking to women about their uninsured pregnancies, I was surprised at how many placed the blame for their bills on themselves. If only, she had been a “better consumer,” one told me, more attuned to a cost-benefit analysis between Medicaid and the private marketplace, more comfortable crunching potential numbers and filling out forms. Another said she wished she’d had the presence of mind, in the middle of a difficult and painful labor that lasted more…

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One Consequences of Cannabis Legalization is Market Saturation


In the same way resin gums up your bong stem, an overabundance of quality cannabis has gummed up Oregon’s marijuana economy. For Willamette Week, Katie Shepherd and Matt Stangel examine this young hot industry’s newfound problem: too much weed, man. The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission cannot limit the number of operating licenses it provides to growers and dispensaries, and yet, in the summer of 2018, Oregon’s cannabis growers will double. Who the hell is going to smoke / vape / eat / illegally transport all of this weed? In the meantime, the glut has forced dispensaries to sell grams at unsustainably low prices, and hard-working growers are gauging if and when they’ll have to switch to other crops. The frontier has taken a new form out West.

This month, WW spoke to two dozen people across Oregon’s cannabis industry. They describe a bleak scene: Small businesses laying…

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Bang and Vanish


Janice Gary | Longreads | April 2018 | 20 minutes (5,587 words)

The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap …

— Ted Hughes, “Wind”

We had been in Key West only five hours when the shit hit the fan. Six fans. One in the kitchen, two in the living room, one in the bedroom, and the two in the dining room where my dog lay on a red oriental rug panting incessantly, his sleek black-and-white body trembling from head to tail.

I squatted next to Winston and pressed my hand against his chest. His heart beat erratically. “What happened?” I asked my husband.

He ignored the question. “Where the hell were you? I called. I texted.”

“I turned off the phone,” I said. “I’m sick. I didn’t want you to wake me.”

“Well you’re awake now.”

I was awake alright…

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Do These Pants Make Me Look Like Everyone Else? Be Honest, Alexa.


Once upon a time, you bought a blue sweater because some fashion editors in a tastefully modern conference room decided blue was in for spring; now, you buy a blue sweater because your Echo Look scored blue more highly than green for you. What happens to taste when machines become the tastemakers? At Racked, Kyle Chayka meditates on style, algorithms, and our generic yet lullingly unobjectionable future.

Now YouTube tells me which videos to watch, Netflix serves me TV shows, Amazon suggests clothes to wear, and Spotify delivers music to listen to. If content doesn’t exist to match my desires, the companies work to cultivate it. The problem is that I don’t identify as much with these choices as what I once pirated, discovered, or dug up. When I look at my Spotify Discover playlists, I wonder how many other people got the exact same lists or which artists…

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What If the Price of the American Dream Is Too High?


In a blistering essay in VogueKarla Cornejo Villavicencio — the daughter of undocumented immigrants from Ecuador — rips apart the American Dream that lures migrants to U.S. shores with the promise of opportunity, then forces them to lives under the constant threat of deportation, or having their families ripped apart.

I never identified as a DREAMer. First, I thought the acronym was cheesy. Second, I feel sick at the thought of the American public pitying me for my innocence, my hands clean from my parents’ purported sin in bringing me here. It’s a self-righteous position I want to kick in the balls—pitying the child while accusing the parents of doing something that any other good parent would have done under the same circumstances. And if American citizens’ love of law and order is so pure that they would have let their children rot or starve or be shot…

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How the NRA Uses Fear to Sell Guns in America


Crime levels are down in the United States, gun manufacturers are laying off workers and going bankrupt in the face of plunging sales and profits, yet that won’t stop the National Rifle Association from using fear to manipulate people into buying a gun.

At The New Republic, “military veteran, big game hunter, and gun owner” Elliott Woods goes undercover at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas to learn about how the NRA marketing machine has gone into high gear to combat what they’re calling the “Trump Slump.”

Since the 1990s, the NRA has been enormously successful at stoking white Americans’ fears about their darker-skinned fellow citizens while simultaneously cultivating paranoia about left-wing politicians seeking to take away their guns. Barack Obama’s presidency was a watershed event in this dynamic. During his eight years in office, the NRA’s membership grew from three million to five million…

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One Coastal Scottish Village Learns the Real Meaning of Community


Although geographically small, the harbor looms large over the village of Portpatrick on Scotland’s rugged west coast. Once a thriving port, the rail line closed, the ferry moved elsewhere, and fisherman quit coming as much as they used to. After years of outside ownership, locals formed a trust to transfer ownership of the harbor back to the community. Then the real trouble began.

For Harper’s, Samanth Subramanian narrates the village’s struggle to save its harbor and identity through a once-obscure ownership model called “community shares.” Portpatrick’s is a story about the pitfalls of capitalism and the benefits of doing what’s best for your town’s quality of life, rather than for a few peoples’ bank accounts.

In the United Kingdom, the law enabling bencoms to issue withdrawable shares is more than a century old, but it was only in the 1990s that it was rediscovered, and only in the…

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