PUBLISHED: March 11, 2014
This week's reading list by Emily includes stories from The New York TImes, n+1, and Der Spiegel.
Ron Suskind explores how his autistic son Owen found a voice through the lessons and sidekicks in Disney films. The story is an excerpt from the journalist’s new book, Life, Animated:
Owen’s chosen affinity clearly opened a window to myth, fable and legend that Disney lifted and retooled, just as the Grimm Brothers did, from a vast repository of folklore. Countless cultures have told versions of “Beauty and the Beast,” which dates back 2,000 years to the Latin “Cupid and Psyche” and certainly beyond that. These are stories human beings have always told themselves to make their way in the world.
But what draws kids like Owen to these movies is something even more elemental. Walt Disney told his early animators that the characters and the scenes should be so vivid and clear that they could be understood with the sound turned off. Inadvertently, this creates a dream portal for those who struggle with auditory processing, especially, in recent decades, when the films can be rewound and replayed many times.
PUBLISHED: March 9, 2014
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9118 words)
Our favorite stories of the week, featuring the Boston Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Washingtonian, Mother Jones, and The New Yorker.
Every week, Syracuse University professor Aileen Gallagher helps Longreads highlight the best of college journalism. Here’s this week’s pick.
Our latest Longreads Member Pick is now free for everyone: Matt Siegel’s love story about identity, sex and finding companionship:
It was an acquaintance and former editor of one of those gay lifestyle magazines who advised twenty-year-old me to tone it down if I ever wanted to find a boyfriend. This coming from a man obsessed with anything Disney-related; the walls of his West Hollywood condo adorned with carefully framed Snow White and Fantasia animation cels. “You don’t need to tell them how much you love Belinda Carlisle on your first date,” he said. “But I do love Belinda Carlisle! That quavering vibrato!” I whined. “Well,” he said, “they’ll find out eventually, and by that point they will love you, Belinda and all.” While I hate(d) him for saying it, I understood the algorithm: gay men are attracted to men, so the more you resemble a man, the more desirable you will be to a gay man. [Insert frowny face emoticon.]
PUBLISHED: March 4, 2014
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7343 words)
These four fantastic fiction pieces will take you far away from this perpetual winter.
This week, we are excited to give Longreads Members exclusive early access to a new story from Matt Siegel, to be published next week on The Awl. Here’s more from The Awl co-founder and editor Choire Sicha:
“Matt Siegel’s very funny nonfiction story of love, deceit and betrayal (oh my God, I know!!!) comes on all unassuming and conversational. Unlike many citizens of the MFA world (Matt’s a recent graduate of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program), he keeps his techniques hidden. We’re really looking forward to publishing this at The Awl, but we’re more thrilled to share it with Longreads Members—like ourselves!—first.”
) has previously written for The Huffington Post, The Hairpin, Flaunt Magazine, and The Advocate.
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PUBLISHED: March 2, 2014
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7343 words)
Our ability to edit the genome using DNA-cutting proteins may have a profound effect on the way we treat diseases in the future:
It is likely to be at least several years before such efforts can be developed into human therapeutics, but a growing number of academic researchers have seen some preliminary success with experiments involving sickle-cell anemia, HIV, and cystic fibrosis (see table below). One is Gang Bao, a bioengineering researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has already used CRISPR to correct the sickle-cell mutation in human cells grown in a dish. Bao and his team started the work in 2008 using zinc finger nucleases. When TALENs came out, his group switched quickly, says Bao, and then it began using CRISPR when that tool became available. While he has ambitions to eventually work on a variety of diseases, Bao says it makes sense to start with sickle-cell anemia. “If we pick a disease to treat using genome editing, we should start with something relatively simple,” he says. “A disease caused by a single mutation, in a single gene, that involves only a single cell type.”
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2014
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2509 words)