‘Longform Overload’

Marco Arment, on the “fetish” that is long-form prose:

Rather than fetishize length, which is completely misguided, focus on quality. Length isn’t the problem that most people are looking to solve in their online reading, but we will always have an infinite appetite for high-quality material, and it’s increasingly difficult to find.

I’ve found myself lately writing shorter pieces — say, 500 to 1000 words — and find them to be among the best. They’re clear, concise, and short; I don’t feel compelled to compete with War and Peace, length-wise, all the time.

‘I’m Pretty Thankful This Year’

Kevin Drum for Mother Jones, on his cancer diagnosis and health care:

[H]ealth care is suddenly a lot more real to me than ever before. Sure, I’ve always favored universal health care as a policy position. But now? It’s all I can do to wonder why anyone, no matter how principled their beliefs, would want to deny the kind of care I’ve gotten to even a single person. Not grudging, bare-bones care that’s an endless nightmare of stress and bill collectors. Decent, generous care that the richest country in the richest era in human history can easily afford.


‘The Executive Action That Tore a Nation Apart’

Andrew Prokop, writing for Vox, tells the story of when FDR tried to move Thanksgiving:

Since the late 19th century, Thanksgiving had traditionally been celebrated on the final Thursday in November. But in 1939, Roosevelt’s seventh year in office, that last Thursday fell on November 30. And that left a mere 24 days of shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Retailers believed this would lead to less money spent on holiday gifts, and would therefore hurt the economy (and, of course, their own bottom lines). The solution seemed obvious — the date should be moved one week earlier, to Thursday, November 23. Roosevelt agreed, and announced on August 15, 1939, that he would do just that, with an executive proclamation.


‘Darren Wilson’s Story Is Unbelivable’

Ezra Klein, writing for Vox:

[O]n Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the evidence given to the grand jury, including the interview police did with Wilson in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. And so we got to read, for the first time, Wilson’s full, immediate account of his altercation with Brown.

And it is unbelievable.

I mean that in the literal sense of the term: “difficult or impossible to believe.” But I want to be clear here. I’m not saying Wilson is lying. I’m not saying his testimony is false. I am saying that the events, as he describes them, are simply bizarre. His story is difficult to believe.


‘San Francisco Public Defecation Map Highlights a Shitty Situation’

Steve Dent, writing for Engadget:

As far as serious interactive maps go, Human Wasteland is one of the strangest we’ve seen. Created by civil-engineer-turned-web-developer Jennifer Wong, the project plots human excrement “incidents” reported by the public to SF311. Her project won a hacking contest put on by real estate site Zillow, an ironic honor considering the city’s contentious housing issues. The highest concentration of crap is at a downtown alley next to the financial district, right in a high-traffic area frequented by tourists.

No real threat of poop here in the Richmond district, thankfully.

‘The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten’

Diane Marie, writing for Truth About Education:

If we teach reading, writing, subtraction and addition before children are ready, they might memorize these skills, but will they will not learn or understand them. And it will not help their achievement later on.

Child development experts understand that children must learn what their brains are ready to absorb. Kindergarten is supposed to set the stage for learning academic content when they are older. If they are going to push our kindergarten children to move faster, what does that say for the push for “educating” Pre-K?


‘Thank You, Tim Cook’

Casey Newton for The Verge, on the significance of Tim Cook’s public acknowledgment of his sexuality:

And that’s the thing. It is one thing for the media to whisper to one another, or to post on their blogs, that the CEO of America’s most valuable company is a gay man. And it is a quite another for the man himself to step up to the microphone, with confidence and grace, and tell us himself. We knew Cook was gay; what we didn’t know is how he felt about it. Or, at a time when being gay is still very much a political act, what he planned to do with it.

‘I’m So Proud to Be Gay’

Tim Cook for Bloomberg Businessweek, “Tim Cook Speaks Up”:

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.


I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.


‘Rehearsing for Death’

Launa Hall, in an op-ed for The Washington Post on doing lockdown drills with preschoolers:

When you’re guiding 4- and 5-year-olds through a drill, your choice of words can mean everything. “Activity,” not “game,” because we laugh during games, and I can’t risk introducing laughter. I don’t say “police,” because some little kids find police officers scary, and I can’t risk introducing tears. Instead, even though our principal isn’t there this day, I want them to picture his kind but purposeful face when they hear the police officers and administrators hustling down the hallway, testing the doorknob of each room. I don’t say “quiet,” because I can’t risk them shushing one another while they are crammed together, practically sitting in each other’s laps. And because it’s not quiet that’s required for this drill, but rather complete silence. As silent as children who aren’t there at all.


‘It’s One of the Few Prison Publications By and For the Prisoners’

Jessica Pishko for the Columbia Journalism Review, on the publication of the San Quentin Times:

The San Quentin News is one of the very few inmate-run publications in the country. Operating within the walls of San Quentin State Penitentiary in Marin County, CA, the approximately 20-page monthly newspaper is staffed entirely by inmates. The newsroom recently moved to a new building just off of the prison’s main yard, where inmates with privileges play basketball and sit outside to chat. Inside the room, a television plays the news, and inmates sit around the few computers, working to make their deadlines. They produce the paper without internet access, depending on non-inmate reporters for research. Because I am a member of the so-called “free world,” many staffers ask me about recent changes in prison policy, such as the California district court’s recent moratorium on the death penalty.