The U.S. Postal Service is losing $25 million per day—but its leadership is not giving up:
"The investment in the shipping and trucking and sorting infrastructure has already been made, so they're exploring whether there are ways to get more value from it. Postal carriers already deliver one million packages of drugs and contact lenses per day. For an aging, longer-living, and ever-more-medicated population, Rx by mail could be vastly expanded. Delivery is confidential, tamper-proof, and utterly dependable. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when subways and many drugstores in the Rockaways and elsewhere were shut down, the postal service was still delivering medicine to many of the elderly in the worst-hit areas.
"But there may also be other opportunities outside of mail and packages. The main battle in retail right now is over the 'last mile.' Amazon, Walmart, and eBay all want to be able to deliver their goods almost instantly. The postal service is uniquely suited to offer this. The idea would be that if you order a new toaster or jacket in the morning, your mail carrier would bring it to your door by dinner. According to Leon Nicholas, an analyst at consulting firm Kantar Retail, there have been high-level discussions between the postal service and Walmart over such an arrangement."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 26, 2013
LENGTH: 39 minutes (9958 words)
A look at the culture of playing through your injuries in the NFL:
"But when you're always hurting, how do you know when you're hurt?
"You don't. Not always, anyway. 'A lot of times you don't know exactly when the injury happens, because you're taking drugs like Toradol or another kind of anti-inflam, so you're feeling good,' says Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. 'Or maybe you're dealing with a previous injury, like an ankle, and you're taking Toradol, so you're feeling a little bit better, but now all of a sudden everything is feeling a little bit better. Plus, you have the rush of adrenaline — so the injury might hurt a little, but you don't really realize it. You might not feel it till the next day, or you may feel it that night. Because your mind-set is to play through everything you can, unless you cannot. And usually, it's been my experience that when you come off the field after an injury, the trainer or the team doctor is meeting you. They're like, 'You haven't moved your arm in thirty seconds. What happened?' And you're like, "I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine — leave me alone."'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 19, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5947 words)
PUBLISHED: Dec. 11, 2012
LENGTH: 2 minutes (648 words)
He's most closely connected to New York, but his writing about California helped define what makes it special:
"It started by accident. Wolfe was working for the New York Herald Tribune, which, along with eight other local papers, shut down for 114 days during the 1962–63 newspaper strike. He had recently written about a custom car show—phoned it in, by his own admission—but he knew there was more to the story. Temporarily without an income, he pitched a story about the custom car scene to Esquire. 'Really, I needed to make some money,' Wolfe tells me. 'You could draw a per diem from the newspaper writers’ guild, but it was a pittance. I was in bad shape,' he chuckles. Esquire bit and sent the 32-year-old on his first visit to the West—to Southern California, epicenter of the subculture.
"Wolfe saw plenty on that trip, from Santa Monica to North Hollywood to Maywood, from the gardens and suburbs of mid-’60s Southern California to its dung heaps. He saw so much that he didn’t know what to make of it all. Returning to New York in despair, he told Esquire that he couldn’t write the piece. Well, they said, we already have the art laid in, so we have to do something; type up your notes and send them over. 'Can you imagine anything more humiliating than being told, "Type up your notes, we’ll have a real writer do the piece"?' Wolfe asks. He stayed up all night writing a 49-page memo—which Esquire printed nearly verbatim."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 22, 2012
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4825 words)
[Not single-page] The magician Teller (of Penn & Teller) discovers a copycat has taken a trick that he's been performing since 1975:
"When Teller filed his lawsuit, it made news: ROGUE MAGICIAN IS EXPOSING OUR SECRETS!!! read the TMZ headline. Teller did not like the coverage. The publicity might have sold more tickets to the show, but it misunderstood his purpose. Most of the stories suggested that he was suing Bakardy to protect the secret of his trick, the method. 'The method doesn't matter,' Teller says. He has performed Shadows over the years with three different methods, seeking perfection. The first involved a web of fishing line that took a painfully long time to set up; the second version required rigid, uncomfortable choreography; the third, today's version, he has never revealed. Bakardy, who said that he had seen Penn & Teller's show, almost certainly didn't use Teller's present method. He knew only the idea and the effect it had on the audience. He felt the crackle that runs through the otherwise silent theater when Teller wields his knife; he saw that some people start to cry, little soft sobs in the dark; he heard that some people make strange noises and other people try to make noises and fail. What Bakardy stole from Teller wasn't a secret. Bakardy stole something that everybody who has ever seen Shadows already knows."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 17, 2012
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6243 words)
It was the inspiration for Obamacare, and beloved by the writer—but its biggest champion no longer wants to take credit for it:
"It was his signature achievement as governor of the commonwealth — a market- based solution to the problem of access to quality health insurance that included an individual mandate requiring that people be insured. If it was determined that you could afford health insurance and you didn't buy it, you were assessed a penalty on your income taxes. The law has succeeded so well that six years into its implementation, 97 percent of the working-age adults in Massachusetts are covered by one form of health insurance or another, as are 99.8 percent of the children in the state. Before the law was passed, 67 percent of the businesses in the state offered health insurance to their employees. That number is up to 77 percent now. The program consistently polls at about 63 percent in its public approval. It has made thousands of lives easier, including my own.
"There is chronic disease in my immediate family. Last fall, I left a job that provided health insurance and went back on the open market. I worked through the Health Connector and Commonwealth Choice, both of them programs set up in order to implement the 2006 law. There was a remarkable lack of red tape involved, and I was able to insure my family with as good a health-insurance plan as I could afford. Under the old system, at least one member of my family would have been uninsurable for reasons with which Mitt Romney is very familiar."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 11, 2012
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5593 words)
A look at the power, money and politics behind building the Freedom Tower that has delayed its completion:
"The PA is run by a board of twelve unpaid commissioners, six appointed by New York's governor, six by New Jersey's. Traditionally, the board chair is a New Jersey commissioner, and the executive director — effectively the Port's CEO — is selected by the governor of New York. In theory, the idea — a product of the Progressive Era of American politics — was to create a quasi-governmental corporation, self-supporting, free of corruption, and insulated from partisanship.
"In practice, the PA has yielded to the surrounding political culture. From 1942 until 1971, the PA's executive director was Austin Tobin, the strongman who built the World Trade Center. More powerful than any elected official, Tobin used the PA's power of eminent domain to seize those sixteen acres and erect the Twin Towers, the world's two tallest buildings when they were completed in 1973, steamrolling the city's private real estate developers, who found it unsporting that a regional transportation agency would flood New York with more than ten million square feet of office space for lease.
"Austin Tobin answered only to himself, and his PA was a monolith, omnipotent, opaque. The opacity alone remains; the Port Authority these days is little more than a punching bag, patronage pit, and piggy bank for politicians and those who own or are owned by them. Its stewardship of Ground Zero — in substance and as symbol — has been a bumbling puppet show and an obscene gold rush." #Sept11
PUBLISHED: Aug. 20, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6561 words)
[Not single-page] The origins and consequences of the Obama administration's focus on drone strikes to kill enemy combatants:
"Of course, the danger of the Lethal Presidency is that the precedent you establish is hardly ever the precedent you think you are establishing, and whenever you seem to be describing a program that is limited and temporary, you are really describing a program that is expansive and permanent. You are a very controlled man, and as Lethal President, it's natural for you to think that you can control the Lethal Presidency. It's even natural for you to think that you can control the Lethal Presidencies of other countries, simply by the power of your example. But the Lethal Presidency incorporates not just drone technology but a way ofthinking about drone technology, and this way of thinking will be your ultimate export. You have anticipated the problem of proliferation. But an arms race involving drones would be very different from an arms race involving nuclear arms, because the message that spread with nuclear arms was that these weapons must never be used. The message that you are spreading with drones is that they must be — that using them amounts to nothing less than our moral duty."
PUBLISHED: July 9, 2012
LENGTH: 41 minutes (10371 words)
[Not single-page] A difficult life with a father remembered through his favorite words and phrases:
"He never once found comfortable shoes, and when he'd come home from the plant after a double overtime, the searing pain in his feet would have him whimpering like a child. Swornin' to goodness! was his pain expression. Was it his horrible feet?
"His maniacal mother, my grandmother, Letha (we called her 'Lethal'), taught him that 'if it isn't perfect, its not worth doing,' thus paralyzing my father for life. It was she who dragged my father, aged eight, to a hotel in downtown Baton Rouge, busted into a room, and showed him his father in bed with another woman. 'Look at your father,' she said. Was it Lethal?
"Or are unhappy people born unhappy?
"Would he have been the way he was if he had never had children? Did I turn my father into a monster?"
PUBLISHED: June 8, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4073 words)