Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:
Bella English: Considering parole for a teen murderer. The Boston Globe Magazine, June 2014.
Because of the SJC ruling last December, 44 convicted murderers in Massachusetts could be released on parole — those who have already served at least 15 years, the minimum term for a second-degree murder conviction. A spokesman for the state parole board says that 65 current Massachusetts inmates were juveniles when they were sentenced to life in prison.
Gideon Lewis-Kraus: The Fasinatng… Frustrating… Fascinating History of Autocorrect. WIRED, July 2014.
By the early 2000s, European bureaucrats would begin to notice what came to be called the Cupertino effect, whereby the word cooperation (bizarrely included only in hyphenated form in the standard Word dictionary) would be marked wrong, with a suggested change to Cupertino. There are thus many instances where one parliamentary back-bencher or another longs for increased Cupertino between nations. Since then, linguists have adopted the word cupertino as a term of art for such trapdoors that have been assimilated into the language.
Olga Khazan: Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy. The Atlantic, July 2014.
Together, they form a polyamorous “triad”— one of the many formations that’s possible in this jellyfish of a sexual preference. “There’s no one way to do polyamory” is a common refrain in “the community.” Polyamory—which literally means “many loves”—can involve any number of people, either cohabiting or not, sometimes all having sex with each other, and sometimes just in couples within the larger group.
Bob Parks: Scan Artist. Popular Science, July 2014.
Spurred by success, repo firms have begun to make data collection an even greater part of their operations. Toth’s employer, Relentless, has hired a handful of “scouts” whose sole purpose is to suck up license plates all day. One such person is Lori Jones. For eight hours a day, six days a week, the suburban mother of four tools around Cleveland in an unassuming Honda Fit. Hidden in its air vents is a $23,000 camera suite—including a 20-millimeter lens to spot cars in motion and a 50-millimeter lens to capture vehicles parked 60 feet up a driveway. Where the back seat used to be, a rack-mounted imaging system extracts plate numbers from a photo and stamps them with the time and GPS coordinates. Jones and three other scouts in the Relentless fleet capture nearly a million images per month in Ohio.
Phyllis Rose: Secrets of the Stacks. Medium, May 2014.
There’s an element akin to secondhand smoke in the world of literature—a general consensus about whether a book is good or not that develops apart from actual ingestion of the book, as in the case of the student who, asked by her professor if she had read Madame Bovary, replied, “Not me personally.”
Matt Taibbi: Apocalypse, New Jersey. Rolling Stone, December 2013.
“I been shot six times,” says Raymond, a self-described gangster I meet standing on a downtown corner. He pulls up his pant leg. “The last time I got shot was three years ago, twice in the femur.” He gives an intellectual nod. “The femur, you know, that’s the largest bone in the leg.”