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'Your Feeling of Autonomy Is a Fantasy'

A remarkable inside look at the hope, desperation, and financial realities for startups and founders working in San Francisco and Silicon Valley:

All the while, Martino’s ultimate warning—that they might someday regret actually getting the money they wanted—would still hang over these two young men, inherent to a system designed to turn strivers into subcontractors. Instead of what you want to build—the consumer-facing, world-remaking thing—almost invariably you are pushed to build a small piece of technology that somebody with a lot of money wants built cheaply. As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R&D for five corporate giants. In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.

PUBLISHED: April 23, 2014
LENGTH: 42 minutes (10559 words)

What Michael Did

A family copes after a schizophrenic son kills his mother:

“He did what he did out of fear,” Michael’s father says now. “He was mentally ill. Not criminally responsible means you’re not morally responsible.”

“It wasn’t his fault,” says Rebecca, who rested her hand on her brother’s shoulder as they walked out of court that day.

Her twin did not feel the same way. For years after his mother’s death, John was furious with Michael. He can admit it now because his perspective has changed. But at the time, though he didn’t broadcast it to the rest of his family, John was enraged.

PUBLISHED: April 22, 2014
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7856 words)

Why Does Anne Boleyn Obsess Us?

From Hilary Mantel’s bestselling novels to a Showtime series, Anne Boleyn haunts us still. But why?

Putting to rest the rumors of the third nipple (probably just a mole) and the sixth finger (a vestigial fingernail, but that’s what comes of generations of marrying cousins), Bordo’s larger goal is to ask: Why does Anne get to people the way she does? How could this woman have captured the heart of a king to such an extent that he would tear his kingdom apart to have her, alienating the pope and half the leaders in Europe, casting aside his wife and daughter, waiting six long years to marry a nonroyal who wouldn’t bring him any money, prestige, or diplomatic agreements? And what happened to their marriage? How could Henry have actually murdered her?

PUBLISHED: April 25, 2013
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1745 words)