The Weekender, March 31, 2017

1) “The Trouble with Innocence” (Texas Monthly, 57 minutes, March 2017). Warning: The crime committed here was particularly brutal; as the article says, “the killing was so savage that it was inconceivable for a family man or a teenage daughter or a roommate to have carried it out.” The subhead: “For almost forty years, Kerry Max Cook did everything to clear his name after being convicted of a horrifying murder in Tyler. So when he was finally exonerated, why did he ask for his conviction back?”

Five days after his exoneration, Cook posted the craziest thing of all: he needed an attorney to throw out the agreement and give him back his wrongful conviction. “I’d rather be convicted again than live with this lie,” he wrote. His friends thought he’d lost his mind, or at least his grasp of reality. “His obsessive contempt for [the prosecutors who pushed for his conviction] has clouded his mind,” McCloskey told me. “I think they did him wrong, no question. But to get the DA’s office to toss the conviction was a major accomplishment.”

If you want more: here’s a podcast (1 hour, 48 minutes) which, for the most part, is an interview with Mr. Cook.

2) Win Yourself a Vacation:  I’ve teamed up with a handful of other newsletters and we’ve cooked up a pretty neat giveaway — a $500 travel voucher and a Bellagio Carry-On Spinner Trunk (which I think runs about $450, retail). It’s free to enter. You’ll get signed up for the other newsletters, which you should give a try, but you can always unsubscribe from them if you don’t like them. Enter here, and good luck!


3) The Now I Know Week in Review:

And a bonus item: April Fools’ Day is tomorrow, so here’s the story of one of the most incredible pranks ever pulled.

4) “America’s Television Graveyards” (Motherboard, 11 minutes, February 2017). When I first saw the headline, I clicked thinking “please be about actually television sets and not a metaphor for old TV shows.” I was not disappointed — until I saw how big of a problem this apparently is:

The business plan for Closed Loop Refining and Recycling was simple: The company was going to be a one-stop shop for CRT recycling in the United States, a dream that has remained elusive since the last US factories making CRTs with recycled glass shut down. Founded in 2010 by recycling industry veterans David Cauchi and Brent Benham, Closed Loop’s strategy was to build a furnace that could melt the lead out of CRT glass, creating two separate commodities that could be sold for a profit.

[ . . . ]

Today, Closed Loop’s facilities are the nation’s two largest television graveyards, an environmental and economic disaster with no clear solution. There are at least 25,000 tons of glass and unprocessed CRTs in Arizona, and much of it is sitting in a mountainous pile outside one of the warehouses. The Ohio facility is considerably larger, with several former employees and auditors I’ve spoken to suggesting there could be as much as 100,000 tons of potentially hazardous waste stored in two warehouses there. The company’s landlords have been told that it will cost tens of million dollars to safely dispose of the glass that’s been stockpiled there.

5) “I Went to the Hospital to Give Birth…And Tested Positive for Meth​” (Narratively, 9 minutes, May 2016). The test was a false positive, but that almost makes it worse — as the government is going to step in, just to be on the safe side:

A part of me recognizes the hospital is acting in the interests of my child. But even if I were a drug user, does that justify turning delivery into something criminal? At what point do the rights of my child outweigh my own?

As soon as I signed a waiver and checked in to the labor ward, this birth belonged to the hospital. All sense of agency was stolen from me – from how I was forced to labor in an unnatural position, flat on my back, to the way I was treated like a drug addict when I was at my most vulnerable. Now my future feels like it’s in their hands too.

6) “The Whole Crazy Process Of Creating A TV Show, From Pitch To Pilot” (io9, 11 minutes, January 2015). Thanks to Matthias H. for this one. The title tells the story of what’s to come, or so you think — as an outsider, the process seems so odd, and so impossible to have predicted.

Have a great weekend!