From a burgeoning humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico to the nationwide debate sparked by #TakeAKnee, the week of Sept. 25 offered up an endless barrage of timely breaking news demanding our attention. But it was also a notable week for in-depth, thoughtful writing on tech, pop culture, and current events across the internet.
Now that we’re on the verge of the weekend, we’re ready to settle in with some coffee – not to mention a lot more uninterrupted focus – and spend time with some of the worthy deep reads the news churn may have overshadowed. We imagine many of you plan to do the same, so we’ve rounded up some of the best of the best writing we spotted online in the past seven days. We’re planning to share our favorite longreads every week moving forward, so stay tuned as we aim to shine a spotlight on the pieces we think truly cannot be missed . . . but may have been.
By Jessica Winter, The New Yorker
Whether it’s breast pumps or period-tracking apps, the gender-based idiocy of Silicon Valley long ago lost its shock value; what’s both surprising and incalculable is just how much money its kingmakers are leaving on the table by shunning women and mothers and babies.
Breastfeeding and Silicon Valley collide in this thoughtful, personal exploration of two worlds that seem to have much in common but never actually overlap in the way that they should. It’s a story that will certainly be coming up in many SV meetings over the weeks and months to come – and it’s a must read for anyone interested in either topic. – Chelsea Hassler, senior editor, News and Culture
By Caitlin Dickerson, The New York Times
The details of the Fawnbrook case, as it became known, were still unclear to Brown, but he was skeptical of what he was reading. . . . Before he got into the office, a friend texted him, telling him to check the Drudge Report. At the top, a headline screamed: “REPORT: Syrian ‘Refugees’ Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho.”
This piece tracks the genesis of one of 2016’s more insidious fake news stories: an unfounded claim that Syrian refugees committed an armed rape against a young girl in Twin Falls, ID. Dickerson’s investigation reveals the power of fake news to inflict real damage in even the smallest of communities and reveals how hard it can be for us to dig our way back to the truth. – Lindsay Miller, director, News and Culture
By Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker
“I’m controversial because the status of women is controversial.”
As my significant other pointed out shortly after I tweeted the Allred quote above: if you search “controversial attorney Mark Geragos,” Google comes up short. Zero results. Type in “controversial attorney Gloria Allred,” though, and you’ll find more than 300. In her four-decades-long career, Allred has represented mistresses of Tiger Woods and female Marines taking on the Facebook groups trafficking in their nude photos alike. Tolentino’s profile should make even the most enlightened among us think a little harder about gender, justice, and American values. It also made me realize just how rare it is that bold, powerful women are written about with the nuance they deserve. – LM
By Jared Keller, Pacific Standard
“Law” is about rules, while “order” is about norms. Trump’s various dog whistles against racial and ethnic minorities reveal a vision of order that relies on the cultural control of American whiteness. He has staked his entire political identity on his role not just as a strong commander-in-chief, but as a culture warrior eager to rebuff the rising tides of liberalism and multiculturalism that are ostensibly eating away at America.
For anyone who’s looking for a deeper understanding of the motivation behind Trump’s recent spate of unhinged battles, this story paints a rich picture of some of the forces at play behind the doors of the Oval Office. It also explains in depth how this whole strategy could backfire, providing the small sliver of hope for what’s to come. – CH
By Alicia Su, Wired
“He was executed just days after he was taken from Adra prison in October 2015,” Ghazi Safadi wrote on Facebook. “I was the bride of the revolution because of you. And because of you I became a widow. This is a loss for Syria. This is a loss for Palestine. This is my loss.”
I was absolutely floored by this heartbreaking and thoroughly researched piece. Bassel’s story is something we ought never to forget and helped define a generation of young people in the Middle East. Even if you’ve never heard of him, you must read this story immediately. – CH
By Meagan Day, Timeline
A hundred years ago, the United States didn’t yet have an official national anthem. And since the nation was on the verge of combat entry into World War I, it seemed like a good time to get one. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key and popular throughout the 19th century, was the top contender. Though the military had already adopted it, it wasn’t exactly sacred - set to the tune of an old drinking song, it was played in taverns as well as in military processions.
OK, OK. This pick is a bit of a cheat since it was first published back on Sept. 11. But it’s so newly timely (and so damn good), we thought it deserved a spot in this week’s reads. Day digs into the national anthem’s checkered, controversial past. It’s a popcorn-worthy history lesson that questions an American tradition that so often goes unquestioned . . . but turns out isn’t nearly as entrenched in our history as we might think. – LM
By Jamie Hibdon and Sarah Mirk, The Nib
“Redlining” and other discriminatory practices from banks have kept people of color from the American dream. https://t.co/28O4gMqhb2
– The Nib (@thenib) September 28, 2017
The Nib is one of the sites that I look at most; regardless of how I’m feeling, I can generally find a comic that fits exactly what I need at that exact moment. But when they really capture my heart is when they delve into larger societal issues in graphic, novel-like form. Outrage + well-researched history + LOADS of amazing illustrations = The Nib at its best. – CH