The Apocalypse -
We’re All Gonna Die! by Gregg Easterbrook - But it won’t be from germ warfare, runaway nanobots, or shifting magnetic poles. A skeptical guide to Doomsday.
The Sky Is Falling by Gregg Easterbrook - The odds that a potentially devastating space rock will hit Earth this century may be as high as one in 10. So why isn’t NASA trying harder to prevent catastrophe?
Omens by Ross Andersen - When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?
Postcard from the Apocalypse by Tim Cahill - This was ground zero for the largest man-made environmental disaster in history. It was a perfect vision of hell
Outsmarting the CERNageddon by Erik Vance - Could the Large Hadron Collider wipe us all out?
Apocalypse by Junot Diaz - What Disasters Reveal
Is Humanity Suicidal? by Edward O. Wilson - Are we racing to the brink of an abyss, or are we just gathering speed for a take off to a wonderful future?
Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math by Bill Mckibben - Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is
Easter’s End by Jared Diamond - In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism.
The Last Americans by Jared Diamond - Environmental Collapse and the End of Civilization
All Can Be Lost -
The risk of putting our knowledge in the hands of machines
Mental Health -
Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin. by Mac McClelland - It’s insanity to kill your father with a kitchen knife. It’s also insanity to close hospitals, fire therapists, and leave families to face mental illness on their own.
The Reality Show by Mike Jay - Schizophrenics used to see demons and spirits. Now they talk about actors and hidden cameras – and make a lot of sense
How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy by Kathleen McAuliffe - Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?
A New Way to Be Mad by Carl Elliott - Their legs did not need to be amputated for any medical reason. They simply wanted to have their legs cut off.
The Itch by Atul Gawande - She felt it mainly on the right side of her head. It crawled along her scalp, and no matter how much she scratched it would not go away.
Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath? by Jennifer Kahn - A growing number of psychologists believe that psychopathy, like autism, is a distinct neurological condition — one that can be identified in children as young as 5
The Power of Nothing -
Could studying the placebo effect change the way we think about medicine?
The 50 Best Articles of 2013 -
All our favourite articles, essays and journalism from 2013.
Great Articles by Lindy West -
What No One Else Will Tell You About Feminism - Guess what? You’re a feminist.
How to Shake Hands with a Woman - What’s next—dogs on their hind legs wearing pith helmets and taking all the best gentleman explorer jobs!?
No One ‘Has It All,’ Because ‘Having It All’ Doesn’t Exist - Look at me, “eating” my “cake”! And that “other” “cake” too!
Different Kinds of People - I feel like every time someone uses the word “hobo” to mean “homeless person,” somebody else has to climb up on their high horse about how “a hobo is someone who rides the rails in the Great Depression…”
A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’ - There’s been a lot of talk these last couple of weeks about “hipster racism” or “ironic racism”—or, as I like to call it, racism.
Burkas and Birkins - I watched 146 minutes of Sex and the City 2, and all I got was this religious fundamentalism.
Hello, Fellow Gym-Goers, Look at My Fat Butt - On entering a building where you know that every person inside is working toward the singular goal of not becoming you.
Hello, I Am Fat - This is my body. It is MINE. I am not ashamed of it.
Screw Your Stupid Vulva, It’s All Vagina to Me - If one more person e-mails to tell me the difference between a vagina and a vulva I’m going to start calling both of them “inside-out-dong-sock.”
If Your Boyfriend Tells You Your Vagina Is Repulsive, BREAK UP WITH HIM - Don’t you hate it when somebody finds your vagina repulsive, yet keeps putting his penis in it over and over?
In the Red Tent - The Stranger Gets a Press Release for a Gathering in a Red Tent Honoring Women and Their Menstrual Cycles and Sends Lindy West and Her Womb to Investigate.
Great Articles by Gene Weingarten -
Fatal Distraction - “Forgetting a child in the backseat of a car is a horrifying mistake. Is it a crime?”
The Peekaboo Paradox - “There are dozens of professional children’s entertainers in the Washington area, but only one is as successful and intriguing, and as completely over-the-top preposterous, as the Great Zucchini.”
Pearls Before Breakfast - “Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.”
Fear Itself - “You have weighed the facts and have concluded, rationally, that even if terrorists strike again in this country, the chances are negligible that you or anyone you know will be killed or injured…”
Snowbound - “Native Alaskans have survived one of the world’s most inhospitable climates for generations, but can they survive booze, bingo and satellite TV?”
Tears for Audrey - “Crucifixes, Sacred Hearts, Virgin Marys, bleeding Jesuses with crowns of thorns. Scotch-taped beneath the chins of many of these effigies are little Dixie cups, to catch the weeping oil…”
If You Go Chasing Rabbits… - “Here’s what happens when a middle-aged man tries to find the girl he loved in second grade.”
Why Not the Worst? - “We promised to find the armpit of America. Turns out it’s only about five inches from the heart.”
Great Articles by Tom Wolfe -
The Birth of The New Journalism - “God knows I didn’t have anything new in mind, much less anything literary, when I took my first newspaper job…”
The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes! - “Ten o’clock Sunday morning in the hills of North Carolina. Cars, miles of cars, in every direction, millions of cars…”
What if He’s Right? - “Suppose he is what he sounds like, the most important thinker since Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Pavlov what if he is right?”
The Secret Vice - “Real buttonholes. That’s it! A man can take his thumb and forefinger and unbutton his sleeve at the wrist because this kind of suit has real buttonholes there.”
The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce - “Grinnell Iowa: the last town in America that people would have figured to become the starting point of a bolt into the future that would create the very substructure of life in the year 2000 and beyond.”
The Me Decade -“The new alchemical dream is: changing one’s personality—remaking, remodeling, elevating, and polishing one’s very self … and observing, studying, and doting on it. (Me!)”
One Giant Leap to Nowhere - “The space program, the greatest, grandest, most Promethean quest in the history of the world, died in infancy at 10:56 p.m. New York time on July 20, 1969.”
The Rich Have Feelings, Too -“I feel like boffing some bimbos in the Caribbean. Anybody like to come along?”
Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died - “Brain imaging was invented for medical diagnosis. But its far greater importance is that it may very well confirm, in ways too precise to be disputed, theories about the mind, the self, the soul, and free will.”
Pell-Mell - “The American idea was born at approximately 5 p.m. on Friday, December 2, 1803…”
Great Articles by Gary Wolf -
Venture Kapital - "Some look at the reconstruction of Berlin and see the heart of a new Europe. But maybe what’s really going on here is a monumental branding event."
The Church of the Non-Believers - A band of intellectual brothers is mounting a crusade against belief in God. Are they winning converts, or merely preaching to the choir?
The Dumbass, The Daytrader, and The New Democracy -“The public is there for one reason and one reason only, they are there to absorb the risk.”
Who Owns the Law? - "A private database owner has effectively asserted copyright ownership over thousands of decisions handed down by the courts of the United States. If you want to cite these decisions you have to pay."
The Curse of Xanadu - "It was the most radical computer dream of the hacker era. Instead itbecame the longest-running vaporware project in the history of computing. The amazing epic tragedy."
Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess - In a design straight from the earliest days of the Web, miscellaneous posts compete for attention on page after page of blue links, undifferentiated by tags or ratings or even usernames. Is this really the best we can do?
Gold Mania in the Yukon - "Behind the new Klondike gold rush is the rising price of gold, and behind that price is fear."
A Simple Plan to ID Every Creature on Earth - "He wants to know more than just the names, of course; he wants to know who lives where and who eats whom and to unravel the mysteries of the ecosystem. But his first question is always the most basic: What is it called?"
The Wisdom of Saint Marshall - "By the time of his death, Marshall McLuhan had been dismissed by respectable academics. But in light of the digital revolution, McLuhan’s relevance is being recognised again."
An Interview with Marshall McLuhan - "The real message of media today is ubiquity. It is no longer something we do, but something we are part of."
11 Brilliant Essays From 2013 That Made Me Want to Write -
We asked essayist, storyteller and all-round literary woman-about-town Megan Stielstra to tell us about her favourite writing from 2013. This is what she chose:
My Husband’s New Son by Lisa Schlesinger - “If your friends, a lesbian couple, ask your husband to donate sperm so they can have a child, would you agree?”
Coming Out Of Your Closet by Ash Beckham - Technically this is a speech, but let’s crack open the idea of essay, shall we?
The ‘Tough Teen’ is Quietly Writing Stories by Matt de la Pena - “He had all these feelings he didn’t know what to do with. So he wrote them into stories.”
Writers Respond to Typhoon Haiyan, an excellent series in the wake of the recent storm in the Phillipines - “But writing, that wormhole from one person’s world to another’s, heeds its highest calling when it works to ignite empathy for what lies beyond our own experience.”
Goodbye to All This by Lauren Quinn - “There’s a difference between writing and Being a Writer.”
You Are the Second Person by Kiese Laymon - “You wondered out loud what writing “multiculturally” actually meant and what kind of black man would write the word “bro” in an email”
I’ll Not Yield At This Time by Callie Collins - On our personal connections to political and cultural events.
The Art of
Fiction Prayer by Bryan Furuness - I love Hobart’s whole The Art Of series.
When They Let Them Bleed by Tod Goldberg - While I’m loving on Hobart, this essay was orginally published in their print edition and was later included in The Best American Essays 2013.
Radio Silence by Jill Talbot - Challenges our perceptions about single mothers.
And for live storytelling excellence… I’m lucky enough to be involved in the performance community in Chicago, and many of the essays that most inspired me this year weren’t written for the page. These kicked my ass in the best possible way:
Khanisha Foster at 2nd Story on being an actor of color
Samantha Irby at Write Club on what it means to be free
Suzy Krueckeberg at Guts & Glory on finding humanity in the most awful of circumstances
JC Aevolitis at The Paper Machete on the Sandy Hook shooting
Megan Stielstra’s personal essay collection, Once I Was Cool, is forthcoming May 2014, and her excellent essay Channel B was recently included in The Best American Essays 2013. She is the Literary Director of 2nd Story and teaches writing and performance at Columbia College and Northwestern University.