The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

Blood Avocados: The Dark, Side of Your Guacamole. On Vocativ, the new news site that searches the Deep Web for stories, Jan-Albert Hootsen reports on the bloody takeover of the avocado industry in the Michoacán state of Mexico by drug cartels, which use extortion and wholesale takeover of plantations to boost their profits and launder money.

The Secret Science of Stock Symbols. On The New Yorker, marketing professor Adam Alter writes about how humans find more valuable things we both perceive as familiar and things that don't make us do a lot of thinking.

Cannibal Habits of the Common Tourist. In the LA Review of Books, travel writer Rolf Potts contributes an extremely insightful essay on Cannibal Tours, a 1988 documentary about wealthy Western tourists among the natives of Papua New Guinea Dennis O'Rourke.

A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage. On The Awl, writer Willy Staley proposes the relatively sensible conspiracy theory that the sudden and unpredictable appearance of McDonald's popular McRib sandwich is directly related to shifting pork prices, and what that says about the state of modern America as a whole.

The Sochi Olympics Are A Five-Ring Mess. In Outdoor magazine, writer Mackenzie Funk details the travails of the Russian scramble to complete the Olympic village in the country's seaside resort town of Sochi in time for the 2014 Winter Games and at the cost of environmental and cultural preservation.

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future. On Medium, writer Maryn McKenna explores the potential for a near-future when antibiotics, the drugs that almost single-handedly expanded the human life expectancy, no longer work, plunging medicine back into the old days when a minor cut could lead to a life-ending infection.

After 30 Years of Silence the Original NSA Whistleblower Looks Back. On Gawker, reporter Adrian Chen tracks down Perry Fellwock, better known as Winslow Peck, an NSA analyst during the Vietnam War who became the first inside whistleblower on the shady practices and unnoticed extent of the spy agency.

What Grain Is Doing To Your Brain. On Forbes, writer Gary Drevitch covers the argument by diet writer David Perlmutter that vastly reducing carbohydrates and replacing them with an equal amount of beneficial fats could reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's among people with carb-heavy diets.

What Is the Value of Stolen Art? In the New York Times, writer Ed Caesar profiles a bumbling 2012 art heist by a group of Romanian small-time crooks, one of whose mother destroyed the masterpieces when she learned her son was involved in the crime, and what other fates could have befallen the stolen works in the shady world of art fencing.

Penn Jillette Reveals the Secrets of Fire-Eating. In Smithsonian magazine, magician Penn Jillette delivers a step-by-step tutorial on the carnival practice of fire-eating, all the while wisely imploring the reader not to try it.

Mystery humans spiced up ancients' sex lives. In Nature, writer Ewen Callaway writes about the recent detection of the DNA of a third, heretofore unknown hominid species that, along with Neanderthals and Denisovans, served as fun time sex partners for Homo sapiens some 30,000 years ago.

Scientists kill world's oldest living creature. Claire Duffin of the Daily Telegraph writes a dispatch about the recent revelation that a clam scientists found in the Arctic was 107 years older than they previously thought, and that they'd accidentally killed it.