We’re back with another edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress: below are 10 outstanding stories from across WordPress, published over the past month.
Why do we suffer from “childhood amnesia”? We lack the ability to recall memories from the first three or four years of our lives, and we have “a paucity of solid memories until around the age of seven.”
Why doesn’t New York City produce elite NBA talent like it used to?
Years ago, New York’s playgrounds and high schools served as the most fertile breeding ground for the game’s elite. Today, you’re just as likely to become a star if you’re born in Los Angeles, Toronto, or Raleigh.
An interview with writer Rebecca Solnit, who has edited two atlases of American cities, on how maps can reflect a city’s culture:
It was so satisfying to make a map of [San Francisco’s] Mission District in 2009 with life stories, gang territories, churches, soccer fields, remittance shops—to indicate where immigrants move money back to their homelands, a map that shut the f–k up about food and shopping. Maps can be mirrors of the expected and familiar, or the opposite.
The story of Nina Simone — her career and her involvement with the civil rights movement — and the furor over a forthcoming movie biopic.
“After a controversial raid on a West Texas smoke shop, nothing is hazier than the truth.” On synthetic drugs, federal muscle and the limits of freedom.
Elmo Keep on the book about her father that she decided not to write:
“I didn’t write the book because the thought of it made me feel vaguely ill at all times. Even when I wasn’t thinking about it directly I was thinking about it. None of the thoughts were good.”
Inside the increasingly difficult business of running your own franchise — margins get tighter, and vendors assert even more control:
Franchisees don’t enjoy the market powers and economies of scale of their parent companies. Rather, they run small businesses with narrow profit margins, high failure rates, and plenty of anti-corporate grievances of their own.
The story of how a Microsoft employee working on the Word team invented autocorrect:
Some of the calls were quite tricky, and one of the trickiest involved the issue of obscenity. … Microsoft was sensitive to these issues. The solution lay in expanding one of spell-check’s most special lists, bearing the understated title: “Words which should neither be flagged nor suggested.”
9. From Botanical Gardens Intern to Anthony Bourdain’s Assistant: A Job History (Laurie Woolever, The Billfold)
Woolever documents her entire career, with some important lessons along the way:
“I took out a loan and did a 6-month professional course at the French Culinary Institute, while continuing to work part-time for the family for a few months. I soon learned that I was poorly-equipped to be restaurant cook. I’m rather lazy, I loathe noise, heat, and teamwork, bore easily, and crack under pressure.”
“When writers attack bad PR, the unspoken heart of their criticism is the failure on the part of the publicist to adequately conceal that she is performing emotional work for money.” Jennifer Pan explores the gendered nature of PR, and other industries requiring emotional labor.