1. Failure To Launch: How New Mexico Is Paying For Richard Branson’s Space Tourism Fantasy — BuzzFeed
One of the poorest states in the nation has invested nearly a quarter of a billion dollars and 10 years in creating a hub for Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. Some see it as the crown jewel of a new space age while others call it a carnival for the 1 percent — but with persistent delays and mounting financial strain, Spaceport America is just trying to avoid becoming New Mexico’s costliest, most futuristic ghost town. Read it at BuzzFeed.
2. The Murders at the Lake — Texas Monthly
This five-part serialized story by Michael Hall examines a gristly triple homicide shocked Waco, Texas in 1982. Four men were eventually found guilty of the crime, two of whom were sent to death row. When one of them was found not guilty a decade letter, the question became: did Texas murder an innocent man? Read it at Texas Monthly.
3. Pixel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in the Gig Economy — Fast Company
Sarah Kessler spends a month hustling on websites like TaskRabbit and Postmates. “My experiences in the gig economy raise troubling issues about what it means to be an employee today and what rights a worker, even on a assignment-by-assignment basis, are entitled to.” Read it at Fast Company.
4. The Game That Saved March Madness — Sports Illustrated
A 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed in NCAA Tournament history. But in 1989, Princeton came a shot away — and helped launch the modern age of March Madness in the process. Read it at Sports Illustrated.
5. Wu-Tang, Atomically — Grantland
The surviving members of the Wu-Tang Clan are making an album together to mark their 20th anniversary. Amos Barshad visits each one and sees just how tricky a task that is. Read it at Grantland.
6. To Russia With Love — Medium
A reflection by Keith Gessen as his homeland closes back up after twenty years of quasi-freedom: “I will say, for myself, that I wish I had taken the opportunity to see more of Russia while I still had it…” Read it at Medium.
7. Return to Nib’s Knoll — Aeon Magazine
Robin Sloan reminisces about his first experiences playing online, in a world called MicroMUSE — a world that still exists. “Many years later, I thought of MicroMUSE, and discovered that it was still up and running. Indeed, you can log in today, right now.” Read it at Aeon Magazine.
8. My Dementia — Slate
Gerda Saunders writes movingly about her disease, and her late mother’s, in this essay reprinted from the Georgia Review: “For my 61st birthday, in 2010, I was given the diagnosis of microvascular disease, after Alzheimer’s the second leading cause of dementia. I was — as my rather blunt neurologist put it — already ‘dementing.’” Read it at Slate.
9. The Glorious and Necessary Torture of Dark Souls — BuzzFeed
Joe Bernstein spends 30 hours playing a frustratingly difficult and dark Japanese video game and contemplates its appeal: “Ask anyone who has played through and beaten one of the Souls games what it felt like to play another video game in the weeks afterward. They feel minor, silly, unserious — a stupid hobby.” Read it at BuzzFeed.