LaunchSquad's Lunch Break Longreads: July 2015

LaunchSquad's Lunch Break Longreads: July 2015

By Meg Scarborough

At LaunchSquad, we know that the Internet is often credited with shortening attention spans. But it has also increased the appetite and market for high-quality, long-form journalism and essays. People may snack on bite-sized content all day long, but when the quality is high, we still love digging into a good, old-fashioned think piece.

We have our own internal Slack channel dedicated to unearthing some of the best examples of this form, and love using Pocket to bookmark intriguing longreads to chow down on during a lunch break (which, ideally, as partner Jason Mandell advocates, takes place somewhere other than our desks!) Whether you’re shoveling down a sandwich at your desk or enjoying a leisurely picnic outside, here are three longreads we recommend for the month of July.

The Earthquake that Will Devastate Seattle (Kathryn Schulz for The New Yorker)

In this incredibly well-researched and well-written essay, Kathryn Schulz explains in understandable terms what scientists predict will happen to the Pacific Northwest when “The Really Big One” comes. She explains the terrifying science behind the Cascadia subduction zone, the geological feature that will be responsible for the “Big One,” an earthquake that experts predict has a one in three chance of arriving in the next fifty years. The article makes it very, very easy to imagine how this would go down—and how devastating it would be. 

Quotable: “Four to six minutes after the dogs start barking, the shaking will subside. For another few minutes, the region, upended, will continue to fall apart on its own. Then the wave will arrive, and the real destruction will begin.”

Amaris Tyynismaa: The Human Body is a Miracle (Duncan Murell for Huffington Post Highline)

You might think of Tourette’s Syndrome as a compulsive cursing disease, since this is how it’s long been portrayed in the media. That symptom is often not a part of TS at all, however, and the reality of the disease can be far more frightening and painful than the often humorous depiction of it. Amaris Tyynismaa is a Tourette’s-afflicted 14-year-old who discovered that running is one of the few ways to fight the uncontrollable urges and spasms that overtake her daily life. She is such a good runner—propelled in large part by what she is running away from—that few can keep up with her, and she stands a good chance of becoming an Olympian. This article looks at the disease and its extraordinary effects, both negative and positive, on the human body, through the lens of a young girl with the undeniable drive to run, run and run some more.

Quotable: “She’s even come to appreciate the brutality of the sport, how the soreness and burning lungs eventually fade until she is electric, floating, aware of the pain and simultaneously superior to it.”

Up in the Air (Ben Wofford for Rolling Stone)

For a somewhat lighter read, check out this tale of the real-life George Clooney who jetsets around the world by gaming the airline industry’s frequent flyer mile programs and other systems. Belonging to a club known as the “Hobbyists,” Ben Schlappig and his fellow travelers have dug deep to find loopholes, fine print and industry secrets that enable them to fly anywhere they like for free, often in first class or on luxury jetliners, much to the chagrin of the airlines. The article mixes a profile of Schlappig and his psychology with a fascinating glimpse into what it takes to systematically break the airline industry’s rules and algorithms.

Quotable: “You see a whole family, 20 people, picking up someone at the airport,” he says. “People with signs, people with balloons, with flowers. There’s something beautiful about that.” He’ll watch for a few hours, pondering the stories behind the reunions and the cries of laughter that come with each new flight. But he still can’t decide if what he’s just seen is a vision of his past or the future.

What lunchbreak longreads have you been diving into recently? Leave us a comment or send us a tweet @LaunchSquad.

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