The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

Buzzkill. Patrick Radden Keefe, writing in the New Yorker, presents an in-depth look at the facets and factors and people involved in the seven-month-long scramble to prepare Washington State for the legalization of marijuana that takes effect in January, as well as all of the reasons the experiment in decriminalization may fail.

The Skunk Party Manifesto. On Truthout, Yves Smith produces a fairly comprehensive sketch of what a new political movement requires.

The internet mystery that has the world baffled. In The Telegraph, writer Chris Bell reports on the year-long, internet-wide mystery of a shadowy group providing top-notch cryptograms on message boards and forums in a stated effort to find the world's best codebreakers. The thing is, no one knows who is creating these puzzles and to what end.

Native Intelligence. In a 2005 article in Smithsonian, 1491 author Charles C Mann throws away the concept of the Indians as savage saviors sent by God to rescue the Pilgrims and thus allow the United States to find purchase in the New World and approaches the initial contact between English settlers and Northeastern tribes by examining the actual backdrop that provided the setting, lending agency to both groups.

What Was Greek to Them? Classics professor Mary Beard reviews a recent book on the rivalry among those involved in deciphering of Linear-B, the prehistoric predecessor to Greek, discovered in the early 20th century and demystified five decades later.

Oops, You Just Hired The Wrong Hitman. In GQ, writer Jeanne Marie Laskas profiles "Charles Hunt", an ATF agent among the very few who work undercover in murder-for-hire cases posing as a hitman to entrap people who want someone rubbed out.

Fire ants' super powers could inspire self-healing bridges. In the Los Angeles Times, Amina Khan reports on recent studies into fire ants' singular, but collective, ability to form resilient mass shapes that can fluidly adapt as conditions change and what these findings will mean for human fields like civil engineering and materials science.

The Berners Street Hoax. On, the blogger writes about what is arguably the best practical joke to be executed in late-18th-century London.

Study Suggests Link Between Dread Pirate Roberts and Satoshi Nakamoto. In the New York Times, John Markoff writes about a recent academic paper that found a link (now disproven) between the anonymous designer of Bitcoin and the alleged operator of Silk Road in the form of a bitcoin account.

Is Bitcoin a Government Conspiracy? On Motherboard, Alec Liu provides a brief rundown on the conspiracy theory that the all-digital currency is the result of a government program.

How Someone With An American Public School Education Who Didn't Really Pay Much Attention In Class But Learned Just Enough To Pass Exams Imagines The First Thanksgiving. On McSweeney's, Matt Passat delivers just what the title suggests.

The Neuroscientist Who Discovered He Was a Psychopath. In Smithsonian, Joseph Stromberg writes about a researcher of neuroscience who one day by chance noticed that his own brain scan displayed the very biological signs of psychopathy that he was researching.

The Search for the Lost Marines of Tarawa. In the New York Times Magazine, writer Wil S. Hylton covers the grudging partnership between the military archaeology unit tasked with finding the lost remains of American soldiers and a private citizen who has forced them to work on a recovery project on the bloodiest WWII Pacific island.

A Stiller Ground. In This Land Magazine, Gordon Grice writes an excruciating account of the stillborn birth of his child.

It's a Steal! How Columbia House Made Money Giving Away Music. On Mental Floss, writer Ethan Trex provides a glimpse behind the business model that trapped so many teenagers into owing music distributor Columbia House money through the tantalyzing offer of a lot of tapes or CDs for just one penny.