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It's Really Hard to Be a Good Guy With a Gun

In the wake of the Las Vegas and Oregon shootings, a long-time gun owner begins to doubt the prudence of "good guys" defending themselves with firearms:

We had our biases in this argument. My wife is the child of a cop who’s lost a partner in a shootout and had a lifetime of run-ins with wannabe civilian heroes. My father is one of those wannabe heroes. So am I. Dad and I have had our concealed carry permits for a combined 42 years. We love guns. We believe in self-reliance and self-protection.

But as the years go on and the country gets crazier—stirred up by paranoiacs, political hardliners, lobbyists, and simple gun-fetishists—I come nearer to my wife’s side. The universe of scenarios in which carrying a gun seems prudent or useful just keeps shrinking and shrinking, even as the legal freedom to wield personal firepower keeps expanding. The NRA has recalibrated its message for the 21st century: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But in many ways, the 21st century has already overtaken us good guys.

PUBLISHED: June 10, 2014
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1680 words)

After 30 Years of Silence, the Original NSA Whistleblower Looks Back

Adrian Chen tracks down Perry Fellwock, also once known as Winslow Peck, whose revelations were shared four decades ago in the radical magazine Ramparts magazine:

We set a new date: Noon on a Friday, at a bench outside the train station in Oceanside. Just as I was about to hang up he stopped me.

“Wait, I don’t think meeting at the train station is a good idea because that seems a little spookish,“ he said. ”I’m not a spook, so I don’t want to do anything spookish. Maybe you could meet me while I’m grocery shopping. What’s a normal thing we can do?”

I tried to think of things a 67-year-old antiques dealer and a 28-year-old journalist might normally do together. Grocery shopping was not high on the list. Fellwock came up with another plan: We would go to a Chinese restaurant near the train station and grab lunch.

PUBLISHED: Nov. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 37 minutes (9268 words)

The Future of the Orgasm Industry

Nitasha Tiku goes inside the world of OneTaste, a San Francisco company dedicated to the practice of "orgasmic meditation," or OM:

"I first heard about OneTaste in March, at a breakfast meeting with a venture capitalist who had newly moved to New York from San Francisco. She hadn't felt compelled to try it herself, but she had a friend who worked at OneTaste, who would OM if she was nervous before a big meeting. They had lingo for the men who'd perfected the craft: 'Master stroker—that's what it's called!'

"Genital stimulation in a professional context seemed transgressive, even for hippie-hedonist San Francisco. Her friend, Joanna Van Vleck—who is now OneTaste's president—met me in June when she was in New York. 'We don't OM, like, right in the office,' Van Vleck explained. But she said, 'If we have employee problems, we're like, let's OM together. Yeah, if two people have a discrepancy, we say: OM together!'"

PUBLISHED: Oct. 18, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8147 words)

A Hollywood Ending

The writer reflects on the 1992 murder of his brother, incorporating the stories of his friends and family members:

"Dad said he often thinks about how things might’ve been if only my brother was less naïve, better prepared for confrontation. Armed.

"'I still think that,' he said quietly on the phone. 'And I think: Damn.'

"The line was silent for five long seconds.

PUBLISHED: July 27, 2013
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8328 words)

"Weaponize the Media": An Anonymous Rapper's War on Steubenville

The story of the man who led the Anonymous campaign against the Steubenville rapists:

"As KYAnonymous, Lostutter had already won some renown for KnightSec by attacking revenge-porn king Hunter Moore and helping shut down a Westboro Baptist Church protest. But the decision to take on the Steubenville case unleashed more powerful forces than he had ever encountered before: international outrage, legions of vigilante followers, and a glaring media spotlight.

"It was KnightSec that would obtain the video of a Steubenville teen joking about the rape, turning an alcohol-blurred local crime into a visual that cable news could loop like disaster footage, crystallizing public opinion against the offenders. It was also KnightSec that helped create a toxically false, conspiratorial dossier on innocent parties surrounding the case."
PUBLISHED: June 12, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7307 words)

The Princess and the Trolls

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)

Longreads Best of 2012: Emma Carmichael

Emma Carmichael is the managing editor of Gawker. She lives in Brooklyn.

Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 26, 2012

The Internet’s Best Terrible Person Goes to Jail

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)

Unmasking The Biggest Troll on the Web

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)