A man with advanced ALS heads out for a fishing trip with his wife. A reporter goes to Walt Disney World with his children and a reefer-addicted friend. A Korean-American sportswriter over at the intriguing new Grantland site reflects on his cultural confusion when Ichiro Suzuki came to play for the Seattle Mariners. (Should he be proud to see the Asian Ichiro disprove his doubters? Should anyone Korean root for a Japanese hitter?) Tucked in among new pieces from some of our perennial favorite authors (George Packer, Deborah Blum, etc.) are a few of the stories of summer.
“A Dirty Business,” by George Packer in The New Yorker. The rise and fall of Galleon, a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund.
One day, in the eighth-floor cafeteria, I noticed Rajaratnam standing alone by a refrigerator case, contemplating the beverage choices. By unspoken agreement, reporters had refrained from approaching him, but it was a chance that seemed unlikely to come again. In court that day, he had been carrying a small paperback. I walked over and asked what he was reading.
Rajaratnam recoiled. “Why?”
“I saw you had a book. I just wondered what it was.”
He smiled in a shy way that seemed self-protective. “No, it was just some papers.”
In a mere ten seconds, Rajaratnam had managed to lie.
“The Blink of an Eye,” by Tony Rehagen in Indianapolis Monthly (via @williams_paige). A decade after diagnosis, a young man stricken with ALS gets on with his life.
In his mind, Matt has it all laid out: captain booked, schedule set, supplies inventoried. Everything down to what he will wear. All he has to do now is relay that last bit of information to Shartrina.
She emerges from the walk-in closet, frustrated. She bends to look into her husband’s bright blue eyes. “Wind shirt?” she asks. “What is it, a jacket?”
He stares back at her.
He blinks once.
“What color is it? White?”
He doesn’t blink.
“One Army, Two Failures,” by Megan McCloskey in Stars and Stripes. Did harassment provoke an Army suicide?
Army officials often profess bafflement over the causes of the suicide epidemic, and they have spent more than $75 million on studies to try to understand the problem and reverse the devastating trend.
In Anderson’s case, at least, there was little mystery.
An Army investigation into Anderson’s unit following his suicide concluded that he had been hazed on multiple occasions and subjected to “cruel, abusive and oppressive treatment.”
“Immigrant Misappropriations: The Importance of Ishiro,” by Jay Caspian Kang for Grantland. A decade later, Kang recounts his cultural tension and baffled pride over Ichiro Suzuki playing baseball in America.
It finally occurred to me that I had been ignoring the elephantine irony of this happy scene: I was born in Korea to Korean parents, meaning the only history I share with Ichiro is that on several occasions over the past thousand years, his people have brutally occupied my home country. Rooting for a Japanese baseball player because he fit in the same constructed minority category was like if an Irish ex-pat began rooting for Manchester United because the good people of China couldn’t distinguish between his accent and Wayne Rooney’s. And in most ways, it was a lot worse than that.
“The Baby and the Baath Water,” a multimedia essay by the innovative filmmaker Adam Curtis on his BBC blog (via @TheBrowser). A surprising chronology of U.S. involvement in Syrian affairs.
Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite – and allow true democracy to flourish. They did this because they were convinced that “the Syrian people are naturally democratic” and that all that was necessary was to get rid of the elites – and a new world of “peace and progress” would inevitably emerge.
What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today.
I thought I would tell that story.
“Death in the Pot,” by Deborah Blum in Lapham’s Quarterly (via @somethingtoread). Yes, it smells like rotting corpses, but is it safe to eat? Adventures with “The Poison Squad,” pioneers of food safety.
“A Rough Guide to Disney World,” by John Jeremiah Sullivan in the New York Times Magazine. An odd story of parenthood and illicit substances colliding at the House of the Mouse, written by the author of the strangest essay we’ve ever read.
One night my wife, M. J., said I should prepare to Disney. It wasn’t presented as a question or even as something to waste time thinking about, just to brace for, because it was happening.