Sophie Benjamin, engagement editor
“Whether they are professors, journalists, or technocratic experts, contemporary intellectuals are unlikely to live and work in the places where they are born. In contrast, the average American lives about 18 miles from his or her mother. Like college education, geographic mobility in the service of personal career ambitions is common only within a highly atypical social and economic elite.
“In their lifestyles, too, intellectuals tend to be unusually individualistic, by the standards of the larger society. I am aware of no studies of this sensitive topic, but to judge from my experience the number of single individuals and childless married couples among what might be called the American intelligentsia appears to be much higher than in the population at large. The postponement of marriage in order to accumulate credentials or job experience, the willingness to move to further career goals, and — in the case of bohemians — the willingness to accept incomes too low to support children in order to be an avant-garde writer or artist or revolutionary sets intellectuals and other elite professionals apart from the working-class majority whose education ends with high school and who rely on extended family networks for economic support and child care.”
Sally Whyte, journalist
Simone Biles just won the all-round gold for gymnastics at the Olympics. She’s considered the best in the world. But what does she do that is so good? This great piece of story-telling from the New York Times highlights her signature move a “double layout with a half twist and a blind landing”. If that sounds like another language to you, watch this, and you’ll understand “the Biles”.
Bernard Keane, politics editor
“Of all the stories surfacing about the new DC Comics film Suicide Squad — from the dismal reviews to the box-office reports — the most disconcerting are the ones that detail how Jared Leto got into his role as the Joker. Leto was reportedly so committed to the part that he gifted the cast and crew with a litany of horrible items: used condoms, a dead pig, a live rat. To get into the character’s twisted mindset, he also watched footage of brutal crimes online. “The Joker is incredibly comfortable with acts of violence,” he told Rolling Stone. “I was watching real violence, consuming that. There’s a lot you can learn from seeing it.”
“Watching Leto tell one disturbing tale after another makes one thing abundantly clear: Method acting is over. Not the technique itself, which has fueled many of cinema’s greatest performances and can be a useful way of approaching difficult roles. But Leto’s stories show how going to great lengths to inhabit a character is now as much a marketing tool as it is an actual technique — one used to lend an air of legitimacy, verisimilitude, and importance to a performance no matter its quality. Leto’s Joker is the latest evidence that the prestige of method acting has dimmed — thanks to the technique’s overuse by those seeking award-season glory or a reputation boost, as well as its history of being shaped by destructive ideas of masculinity.”
Josh Taylor, journalist
“Some 57,000 refugees are living in Greece, and most of them aren’t happy about it. They were fleeing wars in Syria and elsewhere, on their way to other European countries. The border closed in March, and they were stranded. The majority now live in more than 40 camps scattered around Greece, in a crazy variety of places.
“A team from This American Life visited, and sent a group of architects and engineers to capture each camp in the architectural renderings that follow. Take a tour to see how people live on the third base line and what others do to deal with the wild boars that roam around at night.”
Cassidy Knowlton, editor
“On the inaugural episode of More Perfect, we explore three little words embedded in the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “cruel and unusual.” America has long wrestled with this concept in the context of our strongest punishment, the death penalty. A majority of “we the people” (61 percent, to be exact) are in favor of having it, but inside the Supreme Court, opinions have evolved over time in surprising ways.
“And outside of the court, the debate drove one woman in the UK to take on the U.S. death penalty system from Europe. It also caused states to resuscitate old methods used for executing prisoners on death row. And perhaps more than anything, it forced a conversation on what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”
Myriam Robin, media reporter
“Had the mouse on the operating table raised its red eyes, it would have seen three seemingly unrelated posters. The first shows two mice: a black mouse with a white head and a white mouse with a black head. The second shows a monkey with thick zigzag stitches circling its neck, like a choker necklace. The third shows a tiny Russian man in a wheelchair.
“The common connection is their heads. The half-black/half-white mice look Photoshopped, but in fact Ren’s team surgically switched their heads, decapitating each mouse and grafting its head onto the body of the other. The monkey poster is the “after” shot of a primate head transplant performed in Ren’s lab in January. And now Ren is preparing to perform a head transplant on another primate, a human being — and the Russian in the wheelchair has volunteered to go first.”
Dan Wood, subeditor
Dom Cosentino, former Deadspin staffer: Five minutes after the Deadspin tweet was sent, Ley did a post about Trump’s initial tweet, just to remind Trump he had forgotten about Dickey. That’s the kind of great hustle that always distinguished Deadspin from other sports and culture blogs.
Tom Ley, Deadspin staffer: All I remember is someone dropping it in Campfire, and everyone being like, “We should say something really mean back.”
Scocca: I’ve made so many good and bad decisions that other people get credited or blamed for. But this is the one thing that people think I did that I had nothing to do with.
Petchesky: I suggested “Go fuck yourself.” It seemed to the point and accurately summed up our reaction. Scocca wanted something slightly different. Something about clowns?