Why is the rent too damn high? My rent tripled after moving from Victoria, Texas to Washington, DC in 2012 and I wanted some answers. Then I met Jay Austin and I got the idea for this video. Jay had figured out how to build cheaply in one of the most expensive cities in America. This was too much for the municipal housing authorities, who found his 145-square-foot home in violation the municipal zoning code.
Four years later, in a bizarre twist of fate, Jay and his girlfriend were murdered by ISIS militants while cycling across Tajikistan. The memory of his iconoclastic soul lives on in this video.
THE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE RACKET
I’ve probably shot a half-dozen photo assignments for articles that uncritically praise alternative medicine. I always suspected it was bullshit but I could never convince the writers to look beyond the sales pitch. By the time I joined the staff of Reason magazine, I’d had enough. A little research revealed a multibillion dollar cesspool of charlatanry and a story that needed to be told. I don’t blame desperate patients who fall for this hocus pocus, but I’m amazed at how many journalists continue to write glowingly about supernatural medicine.
LIFE + 185 YEARS: THREE STORIES OF INCARCERATION
The United States, Land of the Free, is the undisputed world leader in incarcerating its own citizens. Excessively long sentences are one part of a complex problem that emerged from the War on Drugs of the 1970s and 1980s and the “tough on crime” legislation of the 1990s.
Worse still, tens of thousands of these prisoners are nonviolent and never posed a threat to society. I spoke to three people who recently had their sentences commuted and were enjoying their freedom for the first time in decades. Their life stories are the stuff of nightmares.
REALITY SHOW PRESIDENT: INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE PR MACHINE
How did we become so cynical about the news? I’ve been worried about the decline of trust in our institutions for a long time. It’s tempting to blame it all on Trump, who ridiculed and threatened “fake news” journalists to the delight of his base.
But as this video shows, President Obama pioneered the use of social media to bypass mainstream journalists and sell elegant propaganda directly to an unsuspecting American public. (Prophetically, I titled this video “Reality Show President” two years before we elected the real thing).
TRAVEL SHOWS WERE BORING AS F*CK. THEN CAME ANTHONY BOURDAIN
I’m not sentimental about celebrities, but Anthony Bourdain’s suicide hit me hard.
Bourdain’s shocking death made me reflect on how deeply his life of adventure had influenced my own.
“FOR THEIR OWN PROTECTION”: CHILDREN IN LONG-TERM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
Our “tough on crime” policies of the last few decades have put thousands of young offenders in adult prisons. Unable to defend themselves, teenagers are easy targets for older and stronger inmates.
The solution has been to keep them in solitary confinement “for their own protection”. And that’s how the most vulnerable population gets subjected to the harshest punishment allowed by law, the closest thing we have to torture. This story looks at recent efforts to change this shameful practice.
GURGAON: INDIA’S PRIVATE CITY
India grows at the astonishing rate of 18 million people annually. That’s like adding the entire population of Chile to itself, year after year.
Accommodating all those new people is a major challenge. One solution is to build instant cities. I visited Gurgaon, a radical experiment in metropolitan living, that barely existed 25 years ago.