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    The best writing of the week, January 12

    The best writing of the week, January 12


    Your Sunday reading

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    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 entire list as a Readlist.

    On GMOs

    Amy Harmon reports on the complex mix of fears and facts driving Hawaii's anti-GMO movement.

    The New York Times: Amy Harmon - A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops

    Still, it was hard not to be spooked by material emailed by constituents and circulated on Facebook: images of tomatoes with syringes stuck in them and of pears and apples stapled together, warnings of children harmed by parents serving genetically modified food. The specter of genetic contamination still haunted him.On harassment

    Amanda Hess writes about the challenges women face on the web and how law enforcement and Silicon Valley are responding to online abuse.

    Pacific Standard: Amanda Hess - Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet

    My fingers paused over the keyboard. I felt disoriented and terrified. Then embarrassed for being scared, and, finally, pissed. On the one hand, it seemed unlikely that I’d soon be defiled and decapitated at the hands of a serial rapist-murderer. On the other hand, headlessfemalepig was clearly a deranged individual with a bizarre fixation on me. I picked up my phone and dialed 911.On Aaron Swartz

    Janelle Nanos profiles Bob Swartz, father of Aaron, and his struggles with MIT.

    Boston: Janelle Nanos - Losing Aaron

    Bob pleaded with MIT’s administrators and lawyers to intervene. Joi Ito, the Media Lab’s director, also petitioned the university to consider it a “family matter” and speak up regarding the charges of Aaron having “unauthorized access” on a campus where anyone, anywhere, could log into the JSTOR system—or any library database—with a simple Ethernet connection. But instead, MIT took a position of “neutrality.” It made no public statements for or against Aaron’s prosecution or about whether he should be imprisoned. This is the other reason why Bob’s visits to MIT are so painful: He can’t walk through campus without feeling that MIT betrayed his son.On suicide prevention

    Linda Vaccariello writes about efforts to create programs that can help identify suicidal people.

    Cincinatti: Linda Vaccariello - Last Words

    Pestian’s idea was to use linguistics-based data to see if it was possible to teach a computer to distinguish between someone who is genuinely driven to take his own life and someone who is not. And the one way to get the undisputable words of the former was clear: “We said to ourselves, ‘OK, let’s get some suicide notes, and see what we can do with that.’”On Bitcoin mining

    Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone write about the Bitcoin mining gold rush.

    Businessweek: Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone - The Bitcoin-Mining Arms Race Heats Up

    Occasionally, he says, he stuffs the air holes of his machines with paper to bring up the temperature. “There is serious money in this,” he says, noting that he’s earned 100 Bitcoins over the past few months from mining and other transactions. He estimates his two fastest computers will earn him $150,000 each this year. “It takes up a lot of time, but I have no kids. I have no life. I have a cat.”For more great longreads, visit our friends at Longreads.

    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.