We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.
Grab the full list as a Readlist.
On Jeff Bauman
In a powerful feature, Tim Rohan chronicles the challenging recovery of Jeff Bauman, whose injuries during the Boston Marathon attacks led to double leg amputation.
The New York Times: Tim Rohan - Beyond the Finish Line
At some point, though, they had all stared at him. They expected him to be broken, angry and sad. He joked about his legs. He was trying to move on. But there was no escaping all these people, all their pity and all their questions. Then his legs were always so sore.
With games like Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, Remember Me leaning heavily on cinematic sequences, Maddy Myers asks if some games would be better served in a different medium.
Paste: Maddy Myers - Hyper Mode: Videogame The Movie
I find myself praising these games for being "cinematic" and then condemning the environments for not being "interactive" enough in the same breath—not to mention that, in these games, I often found myself questioning the length of combat sequences. Did they add in these extra enemies just to pad out the time on my save clock? Did they feel like their "movie" wasn’t "gamey" enough?
Amanda Hess goes behind the scenes of Asylum, the California-based studio cranking out movies like Sharknado.
Pacific Standard: Amanda Hess - Escaped From the Asylum!
If the Asylum’s films are naive camp, its marketing strategy is all deliberate. “It’s a parody of the studio system,” Latt says. “We’re making fun of the commerce side of this. You made your movie for $200 million? I’ll make it for 20 bucks.”
On the New Naturalism
Alexis Madrigal considers the pervasive anxiety about technology and recent media coverage about the Camp Grounded retreat.
The Atlantic: Alexis Madrigal - 'Camp Grounded,' 'Digital Detox,' and the Age of Techno-Anxiety
I refuse to accept that the only good response to an imperfect technology is to abandon it. We need more specific criticisms than the ever-present feeling that “‘something’s not right." What thing? Developing a political agenda to remake, improve, or forbid technologies requires some sort of rubric: how can I judge what I’m using? What are the deleterious impacts? How are they specific to these media and this time?
On police force
Radley Balk reports on the militarization of US police forces in an excerpt from his new book at Salon.
Salon: Radley Balko - “Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book”: The new warrior cop is out of control
In 2010 a massive Maricopa County SWAT team, including a tank and several armored vehicles, raided the home of Jesus Llovera. The tank in fact drove straight into Llovera’s living room. Driving the tank? Action movie star Steven Seagal, whom Sheriff Joe Arpaio had recently deputized. Seagal had also been putting on the camouflage to help Arpaio with his controversial immigration raids. All of this, by the way, was getting caught on film. Seagal’s adventures in Maricopa County would make up the next season of the A&E TV series Steven Seagal, Lawman.
Glenn Fleishman tries to find the owner of Omni magazine, the influential sci-fi and fantasy magazine.
BoingBoing: Glenn Fleishman - Who Owns Omni?
Omni Magazine was the single greatest publication of all time. I dare you to refute that. As a kid, it drove my conception of what the future would be, between its nonfiction articles (sometimes a little fanciful) about inventions and innovations underway and to come, and the fantastic array of science fiction and fantasy stories. By describing the future, Omni shaped it.
On 'Desert Bus'
Simon Parkin tells the story of the excruciatingly boring 'Desert Bus,' a minigame created by illusionists Penn and Teller that's evolved into an annual charity event.
The New Yorker: Simon Parkin - Desert Bus: the very worst video game ever created
Finishing a single leg of the trip requires considerable stamina and concentration in the face of arch boredom: the vehicle constantly lists to the right, so players cannot take their hands off the virtual wheel; swerving from the road will cause the bus’s engine to stall, forcing the player to be towed back to the beginning. The game cannot be paused. The bus carries no virtual passengers to add human interest, and there is no traffic to negotiate. The only scenery is the odd sand-pocked rock or road sign. Players earn a single point for each eight-hour trip completed between the two cities, making a Desert Bus high score perhaps the most costly in gaming.
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Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.