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Past Newsletter Stories

Mar 15 2018

I Want My ChessTV

Welcome to fast-playing, trash-talking, chair-throwing, high-stakes world of online chess.

Mar 08 2018

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Engage in Class Warfare

Inside the world of socially-conscious board games.

Mar 01 2018

Notes on Being Very Tall

The plagues and pleasures of an unusual identity.

Feb 26 2018

The 75-Year (and Counting) Christian Interracial Farm Experiment

Inside the fascinating Koinonia Farm, whose fierce anti-racist past feels even more relevant today.

Feb 15 2018

The Forgotten Zine of 1960s Asian-American Radicals

In the late ‘60s, California university campuses were teeming with new ideas. This group of UCLA students put them in a magazine called Gidra.

Feb 09 2018

The Punk Rock Church That Could Be a Cult

A radical pastor and a very disgruntled flock.

Feb 01 2018

The Surprising Success of America’s Oldest Living Magazine

In a world beset by extreme weather, accurate climate prediction is paramount. So, why are almanacs not just surviving—but thriving?

Jan 25 2018

How NASA Protects the Universe from Earthlings

Inside the laboratories that are making the universe safe from human exploration.

Jan 19 2018

Can You Arrest People Before They Commit Crimes?

How the fantasy of preventing criminal acts before they happen is becoming a reality?

Jan 12 2018

The Limits of Empathy

Virtual reality was supposed to open up the range of human emotions. But does it work?

Dec 28 2017

The 62-Year-Old Child Genius

The adult life of a very smart kid.

Dec 27 2017

Where Big Bows Come From

One company dominates the market.

Dec 20 2017

On Being ‘Young, Gifted, and Black’

The twisting journey of an iconic phrase through 20th century America.

Dec 06 2017

‘Their Spirits Were Trapped in Those Masks’

No one wants these faces of Native American POWs—not the Smithsonian, not Harvard—because of how they were made.

Nov 29 2017

The Mesmerizing World of Homemade Weapons

Get in the proverbial ring for Death Matches, where people compete with some of the most insane (and creative) weapons imaginable.

Nov 22 2017

Holiday Food Through History, Explained

Holiday food has always been special but how did we get our specific ideas about eating turkey at Thanksgiving or ham at Christmas?

Nov 16 2017

What Happened to Putin’s Face?

Vladimir Putin and the growing field of male plastic surgery.

Nov 08 2017

The Twisting History of Blood on Film

The surprisingly fascinating question of what, exactly, is movie blood.

Nov 02 2017

Faces of Death (And Larry David)

If you find a wax head in the closet, you might be in a funeral director's house. All about the art and science of facial reconstruction.

Oct 26 2017

The True, Twisted Story of Amityville Horror

The true story behind the “true story” of the notorious Long Island home, the site of a terrible murder and then the basis of scores of books and movies.

Oct 18 2017

The True Crime Story Behind a 1970 Cult Feminist Film Classic

The only film that Barbara Loden ever made, Wanda, is now considered to be a masterpiece. Here is the true story behind the fiction.

Oct 04 2017

The Story Behind the Chicago Newspaper That Bought a Bar

The oral history of how a determined Chicago reporter convinced her boss to do something that hadn’t been done before—to create a fake business with a real location.

Sep 28 2017

An Extremely Close Reading of Pop Song Duets

Ever listen to a song and think, does that even make sense? We took a magnifying glass to some of the world’s most popular he-said-she-said duets.

Sep 21 2017

Panic at Penn Station

This past spring, a panicked crowd streamed out of Penn Station because of a terrorist threat. Except there was no terrorist.

Sep 13 2017

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch

An artist goes deep, in all directions, on the where, what, when, how and why of a free watch.

Sep 06 2017

‘Rashomon’ and the Problem with Truth

We use the title of a 1950 Japanese classic as a shorthand for the difficulty with objective reality. But are we misunderstanding the film?

Aug 31 2017

The Girl Detectives

A crime club at the University of Pittsburgh takes its investigations seriously—and so do the police.

Aug 24 2017

Female Bank Robbers

A peak into a mysterious Instagram full of women (allegedly) robbing banks.

Aug 17 2017

The Female Condition

Being a woman in 2017 is incredibly confusing. To get insight into the experience, we asked a collection of interesting women what their gender means to them.

Aug 08 2017

The Magic of Animal Menopause

Scientists have been puzzling for years about why only three species in the animal kingdom are known to go through menopause. New research might hold the answer.

Aug 03 2017

There Were So Many Women Who Paved the Way

America was built in part by truckers, the people who move goods and products from place to place. Writer Mary Pilon explores the history of women whose contributions to the trucking industry are often overlooked.

Jul 20 2017

How to Get Away with Spying for the Enemy

The wild story of one lawyer, two men and some very unlikely defenses for espionage against America.

Jul 07 2017

Notes on Detention Camp

Office parks, island nations, private prisons—all immigrant detention centers. Here are six examples of how American government officials have been both metaphorically and literally hiding these bureaucratic nightmares from view.

Jun 28 2017

Conduct Yourself

Why do subway conductors point? It’s a whole secret language underground.

Jun 23 2017

Letter From the Editor

Welcome to Topic.

Jun 14 2017

Trump and the Dove

The story of how this now-infamous photo is fascinating. And we’re not even talking about what the bird is doing in the picture.

Jun 06 2017

The Inheritance Tax

What do our parents give us? In this essay, writer Namwali Serpell tackles the particular legacy of her white father.

May 30 2017

Baby Boy Trump’s First 100 Days: A Scrapbook

What a beautiful, bouncing boy!