2 Feb 2018

Weekly Reading: Best longreads on the web

3:00 pm on 2 February 2018

Our weekly recap highlighting the best feature stories from around the internet.


Jenna Wortham talks to RuPaul Charles this week for the New York Times.

Jenna Wortham talks to RuPaul Charles this week for the New York Times. Photo: Facebook/Rupaul's Drag Race

Is ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ the Most Radical Show on TV?, by Jenna Wortham, The New York Times

“Amid the glitz and glamour of drag, the show doesn’t obscure the violence and terror that accompanies the life of the marginalized. On the first season, a contestant named Porkchop described being shot at while standing outside a gay bar. In Season 8, Kim Chi, a shy Korean-American queen known for elaborate outfits, talked about hiding her colorful drag persona from her parents out of fear of shaming them. Trinity K Bonet talked about living with H.I.V. Last season, Cynthia Lee Fontaine revealed that if not for a last-minute change in her schedule, she would have performed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando the night of the mass shooting there; one of her friends, Martin Benitez Torres, unaware of the change, came to see her and was killed in the massacre.”

How to Not Die in America, by Molly Osberg, Splinter

“My credit is awful. I have a massive, unpaid bill from a few years back when someone made international calls on my stolen phone. Maybe, because of this, I’m transferred to a public hospital, where there aren’t 20-odd specialists to arrange an “unusual” surgery. Doctors are required to stabilize a patient, but they aren’t required to, say, stabilize a patient just long enough to keep them breathing and take them to another hospital with a full infectious disease wing to do something risky. So maybe that’s when I die, before they even figure out what’s wrong, because I’m not the type of patient whose financial health can support an elaborate, life-saving procedure.”

Customer Satisfaction at the Push of a Button, by David Owen, The New Yorker

“HappyOrNot is satisfying because you can use it effortlessly and anonymously, without condemning yourself to a lifetime of targeted ads, and without adding still more monetizable information about yourself and your family to the world’s exponentially growing online hoard of permanently lost privacy. But Väänänen, Levaniemi, and Theisen have bigger ambitions. “Think of an airport,” Theisen told me. “If you’re a passenger and you’ve a bad experience in security, it can cloud your day. You’re pissed off, so you speak nastily to the salesperson at Starbucks, and they speak nastily to the next customer—it’s like a chain of events.”’

Hipster Culture and Instagram Are Responsible for a Good Thing, by Jamie Lauren Keiles, The New York Times

“Five days later, from down on the street, the face of Kendrick Lamar looked so precise that nobody would have guessed it was painted by hand. Then one person stopped to take a photo, and others began to look skyward and do the same. The mural was scheduled to stay up for a month. By the end of January, it was all painted over with white.”

Who Gets A Happily Ever After In 2018?, by Jamie Green, Buzzfeed

“Romance reminds us that women want, and it celebrates this fact. How sad that that’s subversive, but it is. Also subversive: the idea of women reading books that are escapist delights instead of “bettering” themselves via the male-adjudicated canon or, honestly, doing housework or tending to their kids. Romance novels are political because of, not despite, the fact that they are usually really fucking fun.”

What Amazon Does to Poor Cities, by Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

“Another Moreno Valley employee, who has been a picker at Amazon for two-and-a-half years, says the company constantly sends messages to workers’ scanners telling them to work faster. They’ll run competitions such as a “Power Hour” in which workers are encouraged to work as hard as they can for a prize. One recent prize was a cookie. Another time, the winner of Power Hour would be entered into a raffle to win a gift card. “I don’t want a cookie or a gift card. I’ll take it, but I’d rather a living wage. Or not being timed when you’re sitting on the toilet,” said the man, who lives with his father because he and his girlfriend can’t afford their own place, and didn’t want his name used because he hopes to get promoted at Amazon.”