Articles I Recommend

I read a lot of articles, probably more often than I’m reading books. I go on r/indepthstories, r/longreads, and r/longform every night to find new articles to add to Pocket (an app for saving articles). In the process I’ve read hundreds of articles, some better than others.

This is a collection of my favorite articles from the past however many years I’ve had Pocket.

Last Updated June 4, 2019

Society

How Many Bones Would You Break to Get Laid?
“Incels” are going under the knife to reshape their faces, and their dating prospects.
Facial reconstruction surgery isn’t just for women. Incels have started going to one Indiana doctor in particular to look more masculine and improve their odds with women. I can sympathize with their efforts. If you feel like your face is what’s holding you back from living a better life, why not spend $30k to improve it? The community can be quite toxic, though. I would be interested to hear some how some of these guys fared in the dating world.

When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life
There is also a podcast episode about this story. This is what happens when online witch hunts have real-world consequences. It focuses on a real estate agent who becomes the target of harassment and threats and how she discovers who is behind it and why.

How Intelligent Do You Have to Be to Raise a Child?
The state said a 19-year-old with an intellectual disability wasn’t equipped to look after her baby and whisked the newborn off to another family just after birth—a decision the mother was ready to fight. But how smart do you have to be to raise a child?
This article brings up a divisive topic: who should be allowed to have kids? Here they focus on the story of a woman with intellectual disabilities who becomes pregnant. Should she be legally allowed to raise the kid? Does the government have the right to take that away from somebody?

A Deadly Hunt for Hidden Treasure Spawns an Online Mystery
I’ve read a few articles about Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt. It’s a real-life treasure hunt that nobody has solved yet. It has also led to some deaths and suspicions that the hunt is fake. I can see the allure of the hunt. Who wouldn’t want to find buried treasure using their wits to solve the puzzle that nobody else has solved yet?

She was 16. He was 25. They got married. Should that still be allowed?
When I first heard about this topic it was from a Frontline Dispatch podcast episode. I had no idea marriages this young were legal in certain states in the US and, while not huge, the number of these marriages surprised me. According to this article, 207,459 minors have been married between 2000 and 2015 (data is from 41 states). While most are 16 or 17, some are even younger and it’s mostly young girls married to adult men (86% of minor marriages are to adults). In Alaska, the minimum age to get married is 14.

I’m not recommending this story because of the writing, but just to bring to light that child marriages are a thing in the US. Though it’s not as big of an issue as in other countries where even younger kids are married out (in the US they’re generally 15-17 years old), there are still quite a few instances of 12-14 year olds marrying adults. This causes me to ask: why allow this? The podcast is quite enlightening about one story of a very young girl (age 14) who gets pregnant by a 25 year old. The family is Christian and wants them to get married for religious reasons and as a way to keep the boyfriend out of jail for statutory rape. They even cross state lines to get a marriage license, even without consent of one of the girl’s parents.

Inside the Haywire World of Beirut’s Electricity Brokers
This is a look at the ingenuity of a community to overcome the lapses in what the government should be providing. Although these electricity brokers are likely charging more than what the government would, they are providing a useful service for a much needed utility.

The Weird, Dangerous, Isolated Life of the Saturation Diver
One of the world’s most hazardous jobs is known for its intense pressure.

A look into a very obscure job I had no idea about.

Too Many Men
In countries that have previously, and still, prefer boys over girls, we are now seeing the consequences of these birth decisions. There are now too many men in China and India and they are having a harder time finding a girlfriend or wife. This is especially hard in these two countries that value marriage and taking care of family members. This article covers men and women in these countries and how they are impacted by decisions made when they were born.

The Clock is Ticking: Inside the Worst US Maritime Disaster in Decades
A recording salvaged from three miles deep tells the story of the doomed “El Faro,” a cargo ship engulfed by a hurricane.

If you haven’t heard of the sinking of this cargo ship, you should read this. As much as we rely on technology and satellites and weather tracking, we are still fallible in our decision making and deadly incidents like these can still happen.

The Sorrow and the Shame of the Accidental Killer
How do you live after unintentionally causing a death?

I have a few articles under “crime” that focus on what happens when someone accidentally kills someone. But this article talks about the emotional toll it takes on the person that has killed someone by accident. There are not many resources for these people. Some feel guilt over the deaths with no way to ever overcome it. If this happened to me, I have no idea how I’d live with myself but I know my life would be changed forever.

Money

The 182 Percent Loan: How Installment Lenders Put Borrowers in a World of Hurt
Many people know the dangers of payday loans. But “installment loans” also have sky-high rates and work by getting borrowers — usually poor — to renew over and over. We take you inside one of the biggest installment lenders, billion-dollar World Finance.

Unless you live in a world where you need quick cash to cover an expense of a few hundred dollars, you never hear about all the new ways financial companies are targeting the poor. I’m always fascinated by the amount of greed with these companies and the ways they find to get more money out of people who already have so little.

The Lottery Hackers
The creativity of people is astounding. This story covers a few people who found ways to beat the lottery system. If you’ve ever wondered how to beat a “system” you’ll like this article.

Investigations

Inside the Secret Sting Operations to Expose Celebrity Psychics
Learn about a group of random people that have one thing in common: they hate psychics. Psychics prey on the vulnerable which makes them easy to dislike. This group goes undercover to expose these psychics, which they believe are checking the social media of the event attendees to use during their shows.

People

A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions
Dan Mallory, who writes under the name A. J. Finn, went to No. 1 with his début thriller, “The Woman in the Window.” His life contains even stranger twists.

He seemed like the next big thing in the suspense novel world, but allegations have surfaced about extensive lying. The article alleges he’s lied about having cancer and a brain tumor, to attending Oxford, to having a brother who died from suicide, and his mom dying from cancer.

The Mad Scramble to Claim the World’s Most Coveted Meteorite
Two meteorite hunters end up squaring off with a small town in South America over a new specimen. These guys are really fascinating and the whole meteorite hunter group is something I’d like to read more on.

Lost in the Storm
Such a well written story about a family that chose to stay in their home during Hurricane Harvey and how reliance on the emergency system ended up affecting their lives. What I took away from it is that when there’s a storm like this (earthquake, whatever) you really need to assume you’re on your own and that the police, medics, fire department can’t come to your aid. Living in Florida I’ve evacuated a few times for hurricanes. Recently during Irma, I flew to Florida to evacuate my mom because of warnings of flooding. She had wanted to stay, but in a real emergency who can come save you? You have to expect that nobody is coming.

It’s really one of the best stories I’ve read recently and I don’t want to spoil it, so just read it.

The Perfect Man Who Wasn’t
For years he used fake identities to charm women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then his victims banded together to take him down.

What Does It Mean to Die?
For the past four years, Jahi McMath has breathed with the help of a ventilator. A neurologist described her as “an extremely disabled but very much alive teenage girl.”

Nobody wants to see a loved one die. This story of a young girl being kept alive by her family is sad and also questions when it’s right to allow someone to die and how long you should keep them alive, and at what cost.

Business

How to Lose Tens of Thousands of Dollars on Amazon
A growing number of self-proclaimed experts promise they can teach anyone how to make a passive income selling cheap Chinese goods in the internet’s largest store. Not everyone’s getting rich quick.

One of my passions (is passion too strong of a word?) is finding scammers and hucksters online. In the Amazon FBA and dropshipping space there are dozens all claiming the same stuff as the two guys profiled in this article. They all sell the dream of making it big on Amazon with not that much work. If you don’t do well, they say you didn’t work hard or picked the wrong product. They’ll show off their cars, house, jewelry in an attempt to get you to believe they’re making millions off Amazon, when they’re really making a bulk of their money selling you a course. If I lost you at FBA and dropship, you should read this.

Inside the Pricey War to Influence Your Instagram Feed
Since I’m a sucker for anything relating to scams or dishonesty online, I liked this article about how cutthroat the Instagram influencer space is.

The Lie Generator: Inside the Black Mirror World of Polygraph Job Screenings
I want to recommend this article because I found it crazy that there are still jobs out there that require polygraphs. Private companies are not allowed to require them, but for whatever arcane reason government jobs are able to require them. Science has shown that these are not accurate and they can be gamed. Who are they helping and who are they hurting?

How E-Commerce Is Transforming Rural China
JD.com is expanding its consumer base with drone delivery and local recruits who can exploit villages’ tight-knit social networks to drum up business.

In high school and college I had a fascination with China. I learned some of the language and got really into the culture. I enjoy reading things like this about the country and how it’s transforming. Since I’m in the eCommerce space this is especially interesting to me. Even if you’re not that interested in either China or eCommerce this is a good read to see how other countries are innovating ahead of the US.

Technology

The Young and the Reckless
What happens when you hack the Xbox and try to profit off of it? What about when you hack into Microsoft to gain access to the unreleased Xbox One? And what happens when Microsoft and the FBI actually come after you for it?

The Ultra-Pure, Super-Secret Sand That Makes Your Phone Possible
I love stories like this that teach me something new. I didn’t know how important sand is, and very particular sand, for our tech needs. It’s excerpted from a book called The World in a Grain which I have on my to-read list.

Crime & Law

The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail
An epic tragedy on a small block in Queens.

This is a very well-written piece about one Chinese woman who was working in a “massage parlor” in Queens. It focuses on her family, how she tries to support them after her husband’s restaurant failed, and how the police target sex workers as opposed to the bosses and Johns.

What Happened at the Lake
A Father Took His 10-Year-Old Fishing. She Fell in the Water and Drowned. It Was a Tragic Accident — Then He Was Charged With Murder.

This is a really sad, well-written story of when something that sounds like a deadly accident involving a child turns into a case against a father. You can see why the justice system has a hard time figuring out the truth. In this case, I don’t see 100% certainty that he did it, but I can see how a jury could see past any doubts and convict.

Blood Will Tell Part 1 & Part 2
Is Joe Bryan an innocent man, wrongfully imprisoned for the past 30 years on the basis of faulty forensic science?

From the New York Times, this very long, in depth 2 part investigation covers one of the many cases in which someone who doesn’t sound guilty is found so based off forensic evidence that isn’t all that clear.

Witness to the killing
In many homicides, police believe they know the killer’s identity but can’t get a witness to cooperate.

This story from the Washington Post does a great job of showing just why some witnesses won’t cooperate with the police. The witness in this case wants to provide justice but the toll it takes on his family is tremendous, so I can see why the easier thing to do would have been to say nothing. It brings to light the issues the police face in trying to get witness cooperation and how they need to do much more for these witnesses if they want their help.

A Florida doctor went to court to clear his name. He gave up so much more.
Plantz, a former emergency room doctor, was sued for medical malpractice in 2009 after the death of one of his patients two years earlier. Against the urging of his insurance company, Plantz refused to settle the case and move on. The legal fight that resulted has lasted for nearly a decade.

It’s the conundrum faced by many people sued over something and wanting to fight back to get justice. In this case it’s a doctor who gets sued for malpractice and ends up obsessing over it for years. The legal system is tough on people who want justice. The process is long and complicated, costs lots of money, and even if you know you’re right the ruling can end up in the other party’s favor. Is it worth the fight?

Commonwealth v. Mohamed
A car crash in Kentucky left a 13-year-old girl dead. A Sudanese refugee was charged with her killing. Could anyone get justice?

A very sad story about what happens when someone gets charged with a death in a car accident. Especially interesting because it involves a refugee who is involved in their new community, but the accident happened in another state.

When Does an Accident Become a Crime?
Another story about a car crash that ends up being deadly. Someone is charged but it’s not clear if that person was 100% at fault. It’s interesting to see both sides: the family of the person killed wanting to see justice, and the person that is being charged who knows their actions led to someone dying but didn’t purposefully do it. How do you come to a resolution in a case like this and the thousands of car accidents that happen?

How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions
This story captured my attention because we all remember that McDonald’s Monopoly game. As a kid I collected some of those hoping to win. But then I read this article and come to find that the real winners were an insider, his cronies, and his family.

The murder that shook Iceland
In a country with one of the lowest murder rates in the world, the killing of a 20-year-old woman upended the nation’s sense of itself.

Iceland has a very low murder rate, so when a murder actually occurred it impacted citizens that didn’t even know the victim. It’s an interesting look into what happens when crimes occur in other countries. In the US, it’s so rare for a murder to make an impact on people outside of that person’s community.

When cops become robbers
Inside one of America’s most corrupt police squads.

This Is the Worst Roommate Story You’ll Ever Read
“You’ve got your whole life in front of you. You’re pretty, you’ve got this house — well, you don’t have this house anymore. This house is my house.”

This scammer has the legal right to squat and take people’s homes from them. If you feel like getting angry at how the law can let people get away with certain things, then you’ll like this story.

Where to find more articles

Longform Newsletter

Longreads Newsletter

New York Times Magazine

The Atlantic

New Yorker

The Intercept

California Sunday

The Atavist