From Robert Kolker for the New York Times: "The beginning of the story was strangely familiar, like the opening scene in a shopworn police procedural: A woman runs screaming down a street in Oak Beach, a secluded gated community on Long Island’s South Shore, only to vanish, it seems, into thin air. It was almost dawn on May 1, 2010. None of this made the news, not at first. A missing sex worker rarely does. Not even when another woman advertising on Craigslist, Megan Waterman, was reported missing a month later. Then the police started finding human remains in the underbrush — 10 in all, including a man and a toddler. This summer, after more than 13 years, the police finally made an arrest in the Gilgo Beach murders. Rex Heuermann is a 59-year-old architect and married father of two who commuted to Manhattan from his home in Massapequa Park, a bustling bedroom community in central Long Island. Heuermann had been in plain sight the whole time in any number of ways."
An artist who has struggled with mental illness reviews a book about madness
From Lorna Collins for The Polyphony: "I am not necessarily reading this book (only) to inform my own knowledge. I am reading it as someone who has experienced madness, from the perspective of being diagnosed or mis-diagnosed – depending on your perspective – as psychotic or schizophrenic, currently given the label of ‘organic hallucinosis’. As I am reading about the philosophy of psychiatry in Morgan’s book, I find myself (my hallucinations) reacting violently. I do not usually include my visionary perspectives in an academic review. But these experiences seem to show something valid about the field defined in this book, if not the book itself. I see words floating and trembling in front of me, becoming physical. They are separated from my mind, separated from sense, hanging in helium balloons, suspended, mid-air, in front of me."
At the height of China's Great Famine in 1960, a group of students launched a magazine
From Ian Johnson for China Books Review: "When the Hundred Flowers Campaign began in 1956, in which the Party encouraged citizens to voice their opinions, Zhang criticized the lack of books and poor teaching. For that, he was accused of trying to overthrow the university and in May 1958, as part of the Anti-Rightist Campaign, he was exiled with a group of forty other students and faculty to Tianshui, a city in the southeast of Gansu province. Two members of the group, physics student Miao Qingjiu and chemistry student Xiang Chengjian, were entrusted with printing the first issue. They had been assigned to work at a sulfuric acid plant in the nearby town of Wushan. The plant had an old mimeograph machine, which they could occasionally access. Their jobs also required them to cultivate bacteria used to make fertilizer, a process that required a sealed-off space. This allowed them to bar themselves in the room with the mimeograph machine, claiming that they were making the bacteria."
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Students made Oxford the murder capital of medieval England
From Phys.org: "A project mapping medieval England's known murder cases has now added Oxford and York to its street plan of London's 14th century slayings, and found that Oxford's student population was by far the most lethally violent of all social or professional groups in any of the three cities. The team behind the Medieval Murder Maps—which plots crime scenes based on translated investigations from 700-year-old coroners' inquests—estimate the per capita homicide rate in Oxford to have been 4-5 times higher than medieval London. "A medieval university city such as Oxford had a deadly mix of conditions," said Prof. Manuel Eisner. "Oxford students were all male and typically aged between fourteen and twenty-one, the peak for violence and risk-taking. These were young men freed from tight controls of family and thrust into an environment full of weapons, with access to alehouses and sex workers."
Why people compete in an ultra-marathon called Big's Backyard Ultra
From Matt Webb: "A “backyard ultra” is an ultramarathon format with simple rules: You run a 4.167 mile loop (“yard” in the backyard parlance) before an hour is up. Easy: this is the pace of a brisk walk. The next hour, you do the yard again. And again. And again. At the top of the hour there’s a bell. You have to move forward off the starting line when that bell goes. At the end of the hour there’s a bell too. You have to have returned to the starting line and completed the loop before that bell. Otherwise you’re timed out. It doesn’t matter if you’re not in first place for a loop. Just complete the 4.167 miles before the hour is up. Everyone starts the next yard at the same time. Last year, the winner was Harvey Lewis. Lewis ran 85 yards, or to put it another way: 354 miles in 3 days, 13 hours. “It’s like being punched in the face,” said Backyard Ultra competitor told the BBC. “Not hard, just a little bit. But you do it again, and again, and again.”
Rachel Humphreys, the transgender woman who acted as Lou Reed’s muse
From Pubali Dasgupta for Far Out magazine: "Reed met Humphreys, a much-loved drag queen, in the 82 Club, a location which was in transition from a trans performance club to a glam rock venue and then, later, a punk club. At that time, Reed’s career was on the rocks, a situation that pushed him towards alcoholism and drug addiction. He recalled being captivated by Rachel in an interview with the Bambi magazine, in which he stated: “It was in a late-night club in Greenwich Village. I’d been up for days as usual and everything was at that super-real, glowing stage. I walked in there and there was this amazing person, this incredible head, kind of vibrating out of it all. Rachel was wearing this amazing make-up and dress and was obviously in a different world to anyone else in the place. The only aspects of their three-four year relationship during 1973-1977 that became public are some cheesy photographs of the two and, of course, Reed’s 1975 album Coney Island Baby in which Humphrey acted as a muse.”