The story of Adalia Rose, a 6-year-old girl with progeria whose YouTube videos became an Internet sensation—and soon faced online attacks and death threats:
"Adalia knows she's different. She can see she's bald. She's aware how small she is—at 14 pounds, she weighs less than Marcelo, and he's one year old, a baby still, really. Unlike Mommy or Daddy or Gama, she doesn't have eyebrows or eyelashes. Other children sometimes mistake her for a boy, even though she's usually outfitted in pink. She needs help walking up a staircase. She can't go outside alone to play. She doesn't go to school. At the mall, people look at her funny. Her parents explain it's 'because they've never seen an angel.'
"Adalia knows that her difference has a diagnosis, progeria, a condition affecting approximately one child in four million. What she doesn't know is how progeria ends: The average lifespan is 13 years. At six, there's a distinct possibility she's almost halfway through her short life. Natalia and Ryan refuse to talk about that. They focus on the present, not the future."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 22, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8118 words)
Hacker Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer, an infamous Internet troll, has been convicted of computer crimes for his role in a 2010 breach of AT&T's customer data. But he also has a surprising number of supporters:
"In spite, or maybe because of, his online notoriety, Auernheimer is good at making real-life friends like Nick with the Buick, and the guy with the private jet—people who can help him out. In person, he exudes a downhome country charm that is so disarming you may not realize he's been expounding very loudly about Jewish-controlled banks and armed revolution against the U.S. government—that is, until the people in the Starbucks around you start flashing you dirty looks. Auernheimer has found a strong support network in New York, comprised of a colorful group of geeks, bohemian hackers and artists who have helped to keep him off the streets by giving him odd programming jobs and letting him crash on their couches. There is some overlap with Occupy Wall Street, which Auernheimer was involved with briefly, during its height last fall. Auernheimer refers to his New York friends as the only family he has. They clearly adore him for all his peculiarities.
"'On the one hand he can do and say some really appalling things just for the sake of attention,' says Meredith L. Patterson, a respected computer scientist and developer. 'But on the other hand when he's dealing with somebody who he thinks is genuine and not hypocritical, he's respectful and genuine towards them.' Patterson recalls how Auernheimer comforted her after a guy 'decided to get all grabby' at a hacker conference this past August in Las Vegas. 'Of all the people in the world, Weev was genuinely sympathetic and supportive,' she says."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 27, 2012
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6025 words)
Meeting the man behind Violentacrez, the Reddit persona responsible for forums filled with racist and pornographic content like "Creepshots" and "Jailbait":
"When I called Brutsch that Wednesday afternoon and told him I knew who he was, I was a little taken aback by how calm he remained during our intense but civil hour-long conversation. I had figured that a man whose hobby was saying horrible shit just to screw with people online would rise to some new horrible level when conditions on the ground actually called for it. Instead he pleaded with me in an affectless monotone not to reveal his name.
"'My wife is disabled. I got a home and a mortgage, and if this hits the fan, I believe this will affect negatively on my employment,' he said. 'I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time.'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 12, 2012
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4746 words)
A memoir of "growing up black, on parole, in Mississippi":
"I enroll at Jackson State University in the Spring semester, where my mother teaches Political Science. Even though, I'm not really living at home, everyday Mama and I fight over my job at Cutco and her staying with her boyfriend and her not letting me use the car to get to my second job at an HIV hospice since my license is suspended. Really, we're fighting because she raised me to never ever forget I was on parole, which means no black hoodies in wrong neighborhoods, no jogging at night, hands in plain sight at all times in public, no intimate relationships with white women, never driving over the speed limit or doing those rolling stops at stop signs, always speaking the king's English in the presence of white folks, never being outperformed in school or in public by white students and most importantly, always remembering that no matter what, white folks will do anything to get you.
"Mama's antidote to being born a black boy on parole in Central Mississippi is not for us to seek freedom; it's to insist on excellence at all times. Mama takes it personal when she realizes that I realize she is wrong. There ain't no antidote to life, I tell her. How free can you be if you really accept that white folks are the traffic cops of your life? Mama tells me that she is not talking about freedom. She says that she is talking about survival."
PUBLISHED: July 28, 2012
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4711 words)
Tracing a years-long Internet hoax back to its creator, a 22-year-old woman in Ohio:
"On the evening of May 13, Mother's Day, a Canadian woman named Dana Dirr was hit head-on while driving to the Saskatchewan hospital where she worked as a trauma surgeon. She was 35 weeks pregnant, but determined to work until the moment she gave birth. The morning after the crash, her husband John ('J.S.') Dirr posted a note on Warrior Eli, a Facebook page the Dirrs had created to document their 5-year-old son Eli's battle with cancer: 'Last night at 12:02am I lost the love of my life," J.S. wrote. "I lost my wife, the mother of my children, and my best friend.' Miraculously, Dana had held on in the hospital just long enough to have her baby—a daughter, and the Dirr's eleventh child.
"If any of it had been true, it would have made for a very sad story—the kind of story that would have taken over the news cycle on Mother's Day, even. But there was none of that, because the Dirrs are not real. They are, in some ways, just the latest example of the countless hoaxes perpetrated by bored, lonely people the world wide web over."
PUBLISHED: June 6, 2012
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3606 words)
A weeklong investigation to discover who created the Twitter account that spits out "context-free nonsense" and in doing so has now amassed more than 40,000 followers and a devoted fanbase:
"The feed's strangely poetic stream has been embraced like a life-preserver by internet users drowning in a sea of painfully literal SEO headlines and hack Twitter comedians. Since it appeared in August 2010, word of Horse_ebooks has spread steadily, propelled by blog posts and Twitter chatter by internet obsessives. But unlike many internet culture phenomenons, it never truly went viral. Horse_Ebooks is too weird, too much of an acquired taste to break into exponential growth.
"But these same qualities that have relegated Horse_ebooks to relative obscurity have inspired a passionate Twitter fanbase rivaled only by Beliebers. Followers have fashioned an elaborate fandom based on Horse_ebooks, comics, fan-fiction, merchandise, and inside-jokes. A browser plug-in that turned the text of any website into Horse_ebook-isms was the latest craze among fans. A characteristic Horse_ebook superfan boast is: 'I unfollowed Horse_ebooks, because my friends retweet all its tweets anyway.' We're so deep into Horse_ebooks, you couldn't escape it if you tried."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 24, 2012
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2141 words)
Meet Martin, the I.T. guy who's helped everyone from drug dealers needing to dodge wiretaps, to restaurants looking to inflate their Foursquare numbers:
"If you've seen that episode of The Wire, you know principle behind Martin's system: 'Burners,' prepaid cell phones drug dealers use for a short time then abandon to thwart wiretaps. Prepaid phones have become so associated with drug trafficking and crime that New York Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to require an I.D. to buy one. (Martin said if I.D.s were required he could still run his business 'but I would probably charge triple because I'd have to make fake I.D.s')
"But burners can be a pain. For maximum security, phones need to be switched as often as possible—a top Cali cartel manager was once reported to use 35 cell phones a day. Martin's system makes it easy for a crew to switch all their phones rapidly."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 25, 2012
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1956 words)
Favalora, who was the most powerful Catholic official in Southern Florida from 1994 until last year, stands accused of cultivating what one group of pissed-off Catholics describes as a corrupt "homosexual superculture" in the 195 churches, schools, missions, seminaries, and universities that constitute the Miami Archdiocese. If their allegations are to be believed, for sixteen years Favalora ran his organization like the don of a lavender mob, rewarding his favorite homosexual sons and forgiving their many indiscretions—rampant sex, hedonism, embezzlement, alcoholism, and the railroading of chaste priests among them—while punishing those with the temerity to complain.
PUBLISHED: July 28, 2011
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5663 words)