This week, Obama dropped the mic. GOP contenders surrendered to he who loves the uneducated and the Hispanics. A piece of our home and native land (read: Canada) caught terrible fire. Italy’s top court ruled in favor of hungry people stealing food. A kid grew hundreds of mini brains for science. Legend of the cement shoes leapt from the pages of mafia fiction and into IRL. A Chinese company won the right to call their handbags iPhones. KFC made nail polish that was actually, literally, “finger-licking good.” And we loved our moms, for this coming Sunday.

Joan Didion never did cover the Patty Hearst trial for Rolling Stone, though it was what she set out to do on her 1976 pilgrimage to San Francisco. Instead she wrote for what would in time become her masterful book Where I Was From. This week, The New York Review of Books prints her notes and they are, as ever, most supple.

At the center of this story there is a terrible secret, a kernel of cyanide, and the secret is that the story doesn’t matter, doesn’t make any difference, doesn’t figure. The snow still falls in the Sierra. The Pacific still trembles in its bowl. The great tectonic plates strain against each other while we sleep and wake. Rattlers in the dry grass. Sharks beneath the Golden Gate. In the South they are convinced that they have bloodied their place with history. In the West we do not believe that anything we do can bloody the land, or change it, or touch it.

“First Draft"
This two-part BBC history of the music industry’s disastrous adaptation to the digital age doesn’t get into much you don’t already know. But with a staggering array of inside voices from Radiohead to old-school label bosses to Mick Jagger, the one-time drummer of Menswear (Britpop’s worst band ever) Matt Everitt tells the story frankly and smartly. He turns to the tortuous complexities of the current economic models, from streaming to touring, and carefully traces the myriad conundrums inherent to them all.

For Hazlitt, Laura Maw writes this mighty piece about the binary system at play between the urban woman and the urban man: a woman walker instinctively understands the danger of her city, while “the male walker’s corporeal and psychological sensitivity to urban rhythm is something that must be activated.”

After the elites destroyed Burning Man, they built their own thing to burn. Further Future is a space that allows them to do what they were already doing while feeling less hypocritical about it. Trigger warning: Eric Schmidt wearing gold chains.

The tragic story of Britney Spears bears uncanny resemblance to that of Brian Wilson, both living under a heavy conservatorship that tracked their every movement. For Britney, e.g., buying a coffee must first be approved by her guardians. But as Serge Kovaleski and Joe Coscarelli detail in their feature for the Times this week, Brit is thriving in Vegas, happy as ever, and a good mother to her boys. Has the conservatorship run its course? Is she no longer a girl—now, finally, a woman?

For The Point, Katie Fitzpatrick reflects on the concepts of irony, sincerity, and how one can hope to be politically engaged in the twenty-first century.

Eyeo's AdBlock Plus has been downloaded 500 million times, earning the trust of users and the fear of publishers. Quick to take advantage of the rift, they’re selling whitelist status to well-behaved advertisers and, in partnership with Flattr, are facilitating micro-payments from readers to publishers. AdBlock has created a slapdash shell of a two-sided market—one that aims to ransom ads and eyeballs without providing any added value.

We like to talk about the power struggle between journalism and social media through the lens of platforms and publishers. But let’s not forget that the organization that is Facebook is made up of people too, some of whom are journalists. Their experience as employees demonstrates how this struggle is also being negotiated in terms of organizational culture.

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Illustration by Chris Lange.