Weekly Round-up

Inside The Immortality Business‘ – Josh Dean, Buzzfeed

“We humans have gone to space and cloned numerous species, not to mention invented the Internet, transplanted organs, and successfully installed bionic limbs, but if you were to rank our boldest experiments from least to most hubristic, cryonics would surely rank near the top. Because what it aims to do is to disrupt the one preordained outcome we all share and cannot escape. Life is a 50- or 70- or (if you’ve got good genes and eat enough kale) 90-year menu of choices, every one of them redirecting your path on the map. Until you reach the end, at which point there is absolutely no choice. That’s how it’s been for as long as there have been living organisms, and it’s how it will be until the world melts down. Unless, that is, you are the kind of person who might become a cryonaut.”


The Guilty Man‘ – Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly (follow-up of sorts to the excellent ‘The Innocent Man,’ which we shared a few weeks back)

“That morning marked the second time in his life that Michael had been called to testify about the now infamous murder of his wife Christine. She had been bludgeoned to death in their bed early one morning in 1986, shortly after he had left for work. The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office had zeroed in on Michael as a suspect from the start, and after a cursory investigation, he had been charged with her murder…

Now, in an improbable reversal, Michael was no longer the accused—he was the first witness for the prosecution.”


The Slut Threshold‘ – Alyx Gorman, The Vine

“Sometimes people can get very hurt by sex, without anyone having done anything particularly hurtful. The fact that our sexual behaviour can be enormously destructive cannot be underplayed. But being wilfully dreadful sexually does not deserve its own special category of shame. Lying, cheating, stealing and wrecking-shop is bad regardless of whether or not your genitals are involved. Behaving in a way that’s sexually irresponsible makes you irresponsible, not a slut.”


Is It Possible to Make a Hollywood Blockbuster Without Evoking 9/11?‘ – Kyle Buchanan, Vulture

“Action heroes used to prevent disasters, but now, they can only avenge them…

We’ve seen buildings smashed onscreen since Godzilla trampled on Tokyo in 1954 (and I have no doubt we will again when the Godzilla reboot is released next year), but now there’s a coldly pornographic attention to detail that implies that the only lessons imparted by 9/11 were technical ones. It’s as if more time and effort were spent on simulating a toppled skyscraper than in telling you why you should care about the people trapped in it.”


And some very different views on Edward Snowden, NSA leaker/whistleblower, from the New Yorker.

Why Edward Snowden is a hero’ – John Cassidy

“So what is Snowden’s real crime? Like Ellsberg, Vanunu, and Bradley Manning before him, he uncovered questionable activities that those in power would rather have kept secret. That’s the valuable role that whistle-blowers play in a free society, and it’s one that, in each individual case, should be weighed against the breach of trust they commit, and the potential harm their revelations can cause. In some instances, conceivably, the interests of the state should prevail. Here, though, the scales are clearly tipped in Snowden’s favor.”

Edward Snowden is no hero‘ - Jeffrey Toobin

“These were legally authorized programs; in the case of Verizon Business’s phone records, Snowden certainly knew this, because he leaked the very court order that approved the continuation of the project. So he wasn’t blowing the whistle on anything illegal; he was exposing something that failed to meet his own standards of propriety. The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don’t like. That’s what Snowden has done.”