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5 smart reads for the weekend
An investigation into Junior Seau's tragic suicide. A profile of the brother-and-sister team behind Cloud Atlas. And more compelling, of-the-moment stories to dive into
 
Junior Seau in 2009. The beloved ex-NFL star committed suicide earlier this year.
Junior Seau in 2009. The beloved ex-NFL star committed suicide earlier this year.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

1. "Beyond The Matrix"
Aleksandar Hemon, The New Yorker

On Friday, an ambitious, polarizing film adaptation of David Mitchell's 2004 novel Cloud Atlas hit movie theaters theaters across the country. The film has been a labor of love for co-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski, the siblings behind the Matrix trilogy, who were commonly described as the "Wachowski Brothers" until Lana (formerly Larry) came out as transgender in 2002. Here, an excerpt from a profile of the directing duo's Hollywood career, and their Herculean efforts to get Cloud Atlas made:

Ron Wachowski remembers watching his children direct a scene on the set of Bound. Not having discussed anything between themselves, Larry and Andy got up from their chairs to talk separately to the actors, then sat back down without exchanging a word. Each of them already knew what the other one had said. “They have the same picture in their mind without talking,” he told me. “I watched two bodies and one brain.” The phrase “two bodies, one brain” is often deployed by people who have worked with the Wachowskis. According to James McTeigue, who was their first assistant director on the Matrix films, “There’s a little bit of myth in it. The unification of mind comes through the filmmaking.” The siblings develop their ideas together, arriving at a common vision after a long process of creative negotiation; by the time they’re on the set, all possible disagreements have been worked out. Their relationship, if anything, has improved since Larry became Lana. “She’s a lot easier to work with than Larry,” Andy told me. “Understandably, Larry had issues, but he could take them out on people. On me. Lana is much more open-minded.” “They have the best marriage I have ever seen” is how Ron Wachowski puts it.

Read the rest of the story at The New Yorker.

2. "The careless language of sexual violence"
Roxane Gay, The Rumpus

On Tuesday, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock drew widespread criticism for answering a question about abortion in cases of rape or incest by replying that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." Mourdock's comment comes just weeks after Missouri Republican Todd Akin made a controversial (and factually incorrect) comment about "legitimate rape." Here, an exploration of the ways in which language and culture affect the way Americans talk about rape:

We live in a culture that is very permissive where rape is concerned. While there are certainly many people who understand rape and the damage of rape, we also live in a time that necessitates the phrase “rape culture.” This phrase denotes a culture where we are inundated, in different ways, by the idea that male aggression and violence toward women is acceptable and often inevitable. As Lynn Higgins and Brenda Silver ask in their book Rape and Representation, “How is it that in spite (or perhaps because) of their erasure, rape and sexual violence have been so ingrained and so rationalized through their representations as to appear ‘natural’ and inevitable, to women as men?”  It is such an important question, trying to understand how we have come to this. We have also, perhaps, become immune to the horror of rape because we see it so often and discuss it so often, many times without acknowledging or considering the gravity of rape and its effects. We jokingly say things like, “I just took a rape shower,” or “My boss totally just raped me over my request for a raise.” We have appropriated the language of rape for all manner of violations, great and small.

Read the rest of the story at The Rumpus.

3. "The iPad launch: Can Steve Jobs do it again?"
Stephen Fry, TIME

On Tuesday, Apple unveiled the iPad Mini. The device, which goes on sale next week, is the next evolution in the massively successful iPad line — but before its debut, the iPad's success was far from secure. A conversation with Steve Jobs from just a few days before the iPad's United States release in April 2010:

We are human beings; our first responses to anything are dominated not by calculations but by feelings. What [Jonathan] Ive and his team understand is that if you have an object in your pocket or hand for hours every day, then your relationship with it is profound, human and emotional. Apple's success has been founded on consumer products that address this side of us: their products make users smile as they reach forward to manipulate, touch, fondle, slide, tweak, pinch, prod and stroke. If you are immune to that kind of thing, or you think it somehow weak, pretentious, artsy-fartsy or unbusinesslike, then there are enough functional objects in the market for you. But you might consider this: from the starting point of delight, detail, finish, polish and design come not, it seems, shallow high-end toys for the affluent but increasingly products that are ... well, awesomely functional.

Read the rest of the story at TIME.

4. "Generational warfare: The case against parasitic baby boomers"
Jim Tankersley, National Journal

On Monday, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met in Florida for the third and final presidential debate of the election cycle. Though the debate was intended to focus on foreign policy, the candidates both repeatedly pivoted back to the U.S. economy, which has come to dominate both the Obama and the Romney campaigns. A discussion of the flagging U.S. economy — and which generation is ultimately responsible:

Ultimately, members of my father’s generation — generally defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 — are reaping more than they sowed. They graduated smack into one of the strongest economic expansions in American history. They needed less education to snag a decent-salaried job than their children do, and a college education cost them a small fraction of what it did for their children or will for their grandkids. One income was sufficient to get a family ahead economically. Marginal federal income-tax rates have fallen steadily, with rare exception, since boomers entered the labor force; government retirement benefits have proliferated. At nearly every point in their lives, these Americans chose to slough the costs of those tax cuts and spending hikes onto future generations.

Read the rest of the story at National Journal.

5. "Junior Seau: Bitter endgame"
Jill Lieber Steeg, San Diego Union-Tribune

A tragedy has cast a pall over much of this year's football season: The May 2012 suicide of Junior Seau, a former Pro-Bowl NFL linebacker whose death has led many to criticize the league for failing to help ease players' transition from professional football upon their retirements. An in-depth look at the case of Junior Seau, and how similar tragedies can be avoided in the future:

As his depression deepened and his drinking accelerated, Seau’s chronic insomnia got worse — he seldom slept more than three hours a night. His anxiety increased. He stopped working out with same intensity. He ate fast food and gradually gained 25 pounds. Because Seau always played the role of leader, as the community business and philanthropic figure, as the captain of his various NFL teams or as the breadwinner for his extended family, he was too proud to share his feelings and fears, his struggles and failures. But if he had confided in those around him, especially former NFL players who were among his dearest friends — Hall of Famers [Warren] Moon, Ronnie Lott and Marcus Allen — Seau would have discovered that all had undergone psychological counseling during and/or after their NFL careers. Perhaps Seau would’ve found comfort in knowing that he wasn’t alone in the difficult challenges he was facing transitioning from the NFL into the real world.

Read the rest of the story at UT San Diego.

 

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