The dead body of 55-year-old Greg Fleniken is found in a hotel room, and with no clear motive, detectives are left trying to answer the all-important question: Why?
"There are not that many murders in Beaumont. Greg’s was one of 10 that year, which was about average. Most are not mysterious. Detective work was usually a matter of doing the obvious—interviewing the drunk boyfriend with gunpowder on his hands, or finding the neighborhood drug dealer who was owed money. A case like this was a once-in-a-career event. If you enjoy working a stubborn whodunit, which Apple does, then this one was an exciting challenge. But the problem with the hard cases is that they are indeed hard. Over the next weeks and months Apple chased down every angle he could imagine to explain the death of Greg Fleniken. But about six months into it, he was stuck."
PUBLISHED: April 11, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8189 words)
War correspondent Richard Engel on his kidnapping in Syria last December:
"Abu Jaafar said, 'Get the gasoline.'
"They drenched Abdelrazaq with liquid from a bottle.
"'No, no!' Abdelrazaq begged.
"'Burn him,' Abu Jaafar said.
"They splashed Abdelrazaq with more liquid.
"It was water.
"They wanted to break us and terrorize us and make us docile. They were having fun doing it. Abu Jaafar was laughing most of the time. In the coming days we would become familiar with his short, repetitive, girlish laugh: Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh."
PUBLISHED: March 20, 2013
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6323 words)
A look at the billionaire hedge fund managers battling over the future of a global nutrition supplement company:
"In a recent interview on CNBC, the blunt-talking and cagey Icahn hinted there would be a concerted effort to take Ackman down a peg or two in the Herbalife battle, which 'could be the mother of all the short squeezes,' he said, referring to a technique that can be used by a group of traders who band together to try to clobber a short-seller.
"Chapman agrees. 'This is like Wall Street’s version of the movie Kill Bill,' he says. 'Bill Ackman has been so arrogant and disrespectful to so many people, presumably on the theory that he would never be in a position where these subjects of his disrespect could actually act on their deserved hatred for him But now, with JCPenney [which is down 20 percent from Ackman’s 2010 investment] and Herbalife going against Ackman, his ‘stock’ has moved down, allowing once again, a decade later, for those holding their Kill Bill puts [i.e., options they have been waiting to cash in] to exercise them against him.'"
PUBLISHED: March 7, 2013
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7676 words)
How Quentin Tarantino created the film that launched his career and redefined movies in the 1990s:
"Just seven years earlier, in 1986, Tarantino was a 23-year-old part-time actor and high-school dropout, broke, without an apartment of his own, showering rarely. With no agent, he sent out scripts that never got past low-level readers. 'Too vile, too vulgar, too violent' was the usual reaction, he later said. According to Quentin Tarantino, by Wensley Clarkson, his constant use of the f-word in his script True Romance caused one studio rep to write to Cathryn Jaymes, his early manager:
"Dear Fucking Cathryn,
"How dare you send me this fucking piece of shit. You must be out of your fucking mind. You want to know how I feel about it? Here’s your fucking piece of shit back. Fuck you."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 35 minutes (8936 words)
Medical devices, cars, and home utilities can all be controlled using a smartphone—which means security flaws in our devices could have deadly consequences:
"I asked Jack if he thought anyone would actually use smartphones to try to fiddle with other people’s pacemakers, or change the dosage of their medications, or compromise their eyesight, or take control of their prosthetic limbs, or raise the volume of their hearing aids to a paralyzing shriek. Will this become a tempting new way to settle a score or hurry up an inheritance? He said, 'Has there ever been a box connected to the Internet that people haven’t tried to break into?' He had a point: a few years ago, anonymous vandals inserted flashing animated images into an Epilepsy Foundation online forum, triggering migraines and seizure-like reactions in some unfortunate people who came across them. (The vandals were never found.) Jack was reluctant to go into detail about what he thinks the future may hold. 'I’m not comfortable trying to predict exact scenarios,' he said. But then he added, calm as a State Department spokesman, 'I can say that I wouldn’t want to discover a virus in my insulin pump.'"
PUBLISHED: Dec. 19, 2012
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3764 words)
An oral history of Freaks and Geeks, which received a huge cult following after its cancellation, and launched the careers of actors like Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and James Franco:
"PAUL FEIG: We did our infamous two weeks with the writers locking ourselves in a room and telling personal stories. I wrote a list of questions for everybody to answer: 'What was the best thing that happened to you in high school? What was the worst thing that happened to you in high school? Who were you in love with and why?'
"JUDD APATOW: 'What was your worst drug experience? Who was your first girlfriend? What’s the first sexual thing you ever did? What’s the most humiliating thing that ever happened to you during high school?'
"PAUL FEIG: That’s where most of our stories came from. Weirder stuff happens to people in real life than it does on TV. It was a personal show for me and I wanted it to be personal for everybody else.
"GABE SACHS (writer, 'I’m with the Band,' 'The Garage Door'): We thought the questionnaires were a private thing between us and Judd and Paul, so we wrote really honest. And the next day at work we get them all bound together. We’re laughing with everyone but going, 'Oh, man!'"
PUBLISHED: Dec. 6, 2012
LENGTH: 34 minutes (8608 words)
On the 1962-1963 printers strike in New York City that effectively shut down the seven biggest newspapers in the city, killed four of them, and made names for writers like Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe and Nora Ephron:
"A city without The New York Times inspired rage and scorn, ambivalence and relief. A 'Talk of the Town' item in The New Yorker lamented a weekend without the 'fragrant, steamy deep-dish apple pie of the Sunday Times.' James Reston—pillar of the Establishment, Washington bureau chief and columnist for the Times, and intimate of the Sulzberger family, to whom he directed a controversial entreaty to use non-union shops—was allowed to read his column on New York’s Channel 4 in early January 1963: 'Striking the Times is like striking an old lady and deprives the community of all kinds of essential information. If some beautiful girl gets married this week, the television may let us see her gliding radiantly from the church. But what about all those ugly girls who get married every Sunday in the Times?'
"A city without newspapers was a city in which civic activity was impeded, as two out-of-work Times reporters hired by the Columbia Journalism Review soon documented. Without the daily papers, the Health Department’s campaign against venereal disease was 'seriously impaired.' So was the fight against slumlords: 'There’s a distinct difference,' the city’s building commissioner said, 'between a $500 fine and a $500 fine plus a story in the Times.' The New York chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality discovered that, without newspaper attention, its boycott of the Sealtest Milk Company was considerably undermined. The newspaper strike, the C.J.R. study concluded, had 'deprived the public of its watchdog."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 30, 2012
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5728 words)
A critical look at the political newspaper and website Politico:
"One classic method of unleashing irresistible Drudge bait on the Internet is to boil another outlet’s story down to a couple salacious-sounding excerpts, or (failing an effective condensing strategy) to simply reinterpret the material to fit a Drudge-friendly narrative. This past May, for example, Vanity Fair published an excerpt from Maraniss’s biography of Barack Obama. (The liberal media vetting blackout continued apace, in other words.) Politico’s Dylan Byers took the excerpt and turned it into a little micro-news story: Obama admitted to Maraniss that certain figures in his first memoir were 'compressions'—i.e., composite characters. Byers completely missed that Obama explicitly said at the outset of his own book that some characters were composites, but Drudge didn’t care. 'Obama Admits Fabricating Girlfriend in Memoir,' went his headline, with a link to Politico instead of Vanity Fair—and another false right-wing meme got its wings."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 5, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6530 words)
An adaptation of Mark Bowden's new book
on the hunt for Osama bin Laden:
"Everyone else favored sending in the SEALs. Clinton, who had faulted Obama during the primary campaign for asserting that he would send forces to Pakistan unilaterally if there was a good chance of getting bin Laden, now said that she favored the raid. She delivered this opinion after a typically lengthy review of the pros and cons. She noted that the raid would pose a diplomatic nightmare for the State Department. But because the U.S.-Pakistani relationship was built more on mutual dependence than friendship and trust, it would likely survive the crisis. Admiral Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation before delivering his endorsement. Mullen had witnessed McRaven’s rehearsals at Fort Bragg and in Nevada. He had high confidence in the SEAL team.
"Brennan, Donilon, Clapper, Panetta, and Morell all agreed. The C.I.A. director felt strongly about it, which was not surprising. This had been his project all along, and the analysts who worked for him would have felt betrayed if their boss had changed his mind. Panetta told Obama that he ought to ask himself this question: 'What would the average American say if he knew we had the best chance of getting bin Laden since Tora Bora and we didn’t take a shot?'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 13, 2012
LENGTH: 39 minutes (9960 words)