• The Grandmaster Experiment
    This is the story of three sisters from (and who are famous in) Hungry who are all grandmasters, one of which is the eight ranked player worldwide. It’s a bit about how women have it tough in the male-dominated world of chess, and a bit about how their parents raised them to be such a powerhouse.

    There exist some downsides to being a female chess player that Kasparov may not be aware of. “There were many times when I felt faint at matches because of menstrual cramps,” Susan says. “When I was about 16, I did faint. I fell off the chair.” A room filled with older male adversaries is a horrible place for a girl to experience Judy Blume-esque moments. Tournament games are often six hours long, and extra time for trips to the ladies’ room is not allotted. In a game where every point is precious, even one minute of discomfort could jeopardize a woman’s score

  • How One Man Escaped From a North Korean Prison Camp
    I’m a sucker for articles on North Korea, and although what is described in this article is not new, it’s still a fun read.

    Single men and women slept in dormitories segregated by sex. The eighth rule of Camp 14 said, “Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval, the perpetrators will be shot immediately.” A reward marriage was the only safe way around the no-sex rule. Guards announced marriages four times a year. If one partner found his or her chosen mate to be unacceptably old, cruel or ugly, guards would sometimes cancel a marriage. If they did, neither the man nor the woman would be allowed to marry again. Shin’s father, Shin Gyung Sub, told Shin that the guards gave him Jang as payment for his skill in operating a metal lathe.

  • When Did Young People Start Spending 25% of their Paychecks on Pickled Lamb’s Tongues?
    This article summaries the culture of foodie-ism gone indie, whereby eating at the hippest restaurants is the cool thing to do. While I jest, I’ve participated in this hobby in the last few years too so I can’t make fun of it too much.

    Food’s transformation from a fusty hobby to a youth-culture phenomenon has happened remarkably fast. The simultaneous rise of social networks and camera phones deserves part of the credit (eating, like sex, is among the most easily chronicled of pursuits), but none of this would have happened without the grassroots revolution in fine dining. “You can now eat just as quality food with a great environment without the fuss and the feeling of sitting at the grown-up table,” says Chang’s friend Amy, who is, incidentally, a cook at the very grown-up Jean Georges.

  • How The Daily Mail Conquered England
    This article from the New Yorker is about the popularity of the paper, Daily Mail, in England; both the paper and online editions. I’ve never really visited the Mail Online aside from a few random articles, but it seems to have made itself quite popular by being filled with articles that the normal person would want to read.

    The Mail is the most powerful newspaper in Great Britain. A middle-market tabloid, with a daily readership of four and a half million, it reaches four times as many people as the Guardian, while being taken more seriously than the one paper that outsells it, the Sun. In January, its Web arm, Mail Online, surpassed that of the New York Times as the most visited newspaper site in the world, drawing fifty-two million unique visitors a month. The Mail’s closest analogue in the American media is perhaps Fox News. In Britain, unlike in the United States, television tends to be a dignified affair, while print is berserk and shouty. The Mail is like Fox in the sense that it speaks to, and for, the married, car-driving, homeowning, conservative-voting suburbanite

  • The Problem with buying Sports “experiences”
    It is worthwhile to pay a lot for a “better” sports experience? I’ve taken the approach of buying cheap tickets, so maybe I have already learned this lesson.

    A fan scans the upcoming schedule of his local (lousy) NBA team and has to pick an upcoming game — so naturally he goes for one featuring a star team or a star player. (Our editor-in-chief has been known to do exactly that when, say, the Thunder come into town to play the Clippers.) But more often than not, an unbalanced game results, one with little drama and that sees the star play only 27 minutes, much of it at half-speed. You expect a ticket agency to point that out before you shell out hundreds of dollars? Yeah. We thought not.