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.
Dale Russakoff follows up on Mark Zuckerberg's headline-grabbing $100 million donation to Newark, New Jersey schools, and assesses the volatile mix of philanthropy, power, politics, and education reform four years later.
The New Yorker: Dale Russakoff - Schooled
When Winfrey asked Zuckerberg why he’d chosen Newark, he gestured toward Booker and Christie and said, "Newark is really just because I believe in these guys. . . . We’re setting up a one-hundred-million-dollar challenge grant so that Mayor Booker and Governor Christie can have the flexibility they need to . . . turn Newark into a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation." This was the first that Newark parents and teachers had heard about the revolution coming to their schools.
In an excerpt from his upcoming Console Wars book, Blake J. Harris digs into the early days of Nintendo.
Grantland: Blake J. Harris - The Rise of Nintendo: A Story in 8 Bits
Due to last-minute negotiation issues with King Features, Nintendo had lost the rights to Popeye, which forced Miyamoto to come up with something else. As a result, Arakawa, Stone, Judy, and a handful of warehouse employees didn’t know what to expect. They inserted the new processor into one of the thousands of unsold Radarscope machines and then watched the lights flicker as the words "Donkey Kong" came to life on the arcade screen. The initial impression was that this was a silly game with an even sillier name.
On 'EVE Online'
Rich Stanton details the fascinating virtual manhunt in EVE Online that spanned nearly two years.
Rock, paper, shotgun: Rich Stanton - EVE Online And The Big Game Hunters
"Maximum camp mode, twenty-four seven or twenty three seven as we say in EVE parlance [the server has a short downtime every day] and so we waited and we waited, knowing he could move at any moment. Our crew covers all time zones, some are Australian, some are European, some in the US, so we could basically follow the sun. But we had deduced the guy was Russian so we figured it was most likely to happen in early evening European timezone hours."
On H.R. Giger
Matt Zoller Seitz remembers H.R. Giger, who passed away this week.
RogerEbert.com: Matt Zoller Seitz - H.R. Giger, 1940-2014: The Xenomorph's Father
Giger knew what scared us. He always did.
And he was ahead of the cultural curve in ways that only true artists can be. His work anticipated the real-world blurring of the organic and the mechanical, the real and the virtual, that powered so much science fiction and so much horror over the last thirty years. The fact that horror and science fiction have become increasingly indistinguishable is partly due to Giger's imagery, and designs that borrowed or outright stole from him.
Tim Flannery writes about the accelerating growth of jellyfish due to human activity.
The New York Review of Books: Tim Flannery - They’re Taking Over!
It’s now known that the brush of a single tentacle is enough to induce "Irukandji syndrome." It sets in twenty to thirty minutes after a sting so minor it leaves no mark, and is often not even felt. Pain is initially focused in the lower back. Soon the entire lumbar region is gripped by debilitating cramps and pounding pain—as if someone is taking a baseball bat to your kidneys.
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.