The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

Edgar Allen Poe and Cryptography: Are there hidden messages in 'Eureka'? A Baltimore Sun article by Rene van Slooten that's a bit like a miniature thesis paper. The author lays out the evidence supporting his hypothesis that Edgar Allen Poe, a lover of cryptography -- the art and science of creating hidden messages, actually inserted them into his own work as well. van Slooten's ideas are tempting: they would explain a lot of the mysteriously clunky sentence structures in some of Poe's work and it's even possible that some of the quotes and mottos preceding his works may be keys to the ciphers he uses. Most of all, the idea that Edgar Allen Poe's already-genius works contain literally hidden material might raise the author to an even higher echelon in the pantheon of writers.

How the Trailer Park Could Save Us All. Writing in Pacific Standard magazine, author Lisa Margonelli chronicles life inside the Pismo Dunes Trailer Park, a sprawling expanse of manufactured homes in Pismo Beach, Calif. Upon close examination, the author finds that the park -- and by extension, any trailer park -- is organically fulfilling the requirements for healthy aging among its inhabitants: access to socialization, community help, exercise, a sense of ownership and freedom. By aging researchers' standards, trailer parks could be just the ticket to address the impending aging crisis the U.S. faces as the Baby Boomer population fully enters retirement. This article gets the Most Alarming Fact award: "The generation of Americans now facing retirement is so financially ill prepared that half of them have less than $10,000 in the bank."(!)

20 years after fire, David Koresh's tragic spell lingers. Writing in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Tim Madigan marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians at their compound outside of Waco, Texas. Madigan is the author of two books on the Branch Davidians and he visits some of the survivors of the fiery siege of the compound that killed 74 men, women and children, including Koresh; two decades later he finds that many still believe that Koresh was Jesus Christ. An interesting reintroduction to one of the darkest moments in American domestic history.

In Virginia's Fairfax County, Robbing Banks for the CIA. Perhaps a little hurried by his deadline or his editor at BusinessWeek, Tom Schoenberg rushes what is certainly a more in-depth story, but the article is worth reading nonetheless. It describes a spate of bank robberies in the metro DC area in the summer of 2012 and the whopper of an alibi given by the perpetrator when he was finally caught. Even more incredible, the man had proof to back his story up.