Pointing to some excellent writing -- mostly longer essays.
Inside America’s Toughest Federal Prison
Mark Binelli writes at length in the New York Times magazine about the "United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility", generally known as "the ADX", which is in Colorado.
The ADX was designed to be escape-proof, the Alcatraz of the Rockies, a place to incarcerate the worst, most unredeemable class of criminal — “a very small subset of the inmate population who show,” in the words of Norman Carlson, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, “absolutely no concern for human life.”
Binelli elaborates on the terrible toll that the facility has taken on the mental health of its occupants, particularly those -- like Jack Powers -- who were certainly not "irredeemable".
“If you looked at Jack’s criminal history, at the bizarre, unhappy confluence of circumstances that led him to the ADX and into this incredible descent into madness, it’s impossible to believe what happened to him has nothing to do with his conditions of confinement.”
Many of the details of what the ADX is -- what it has become -- are horrifying and sobering.
Follow the White Ball
You needn't be a fan of snooker to derive great pleasure from Sam Knight's long essay on the game and on the purity of Ronnie O'Sullivan's gifts with a cue.
In the professional game, frames tend to unfold with vivid, unsettling ease—the balls slide into the pockets as if there were nowhere else for them to go—or with staggering, metaphysical difficulty, as the players foil one another by arranging the balls in illogical patterns, a type of play known as “safety,” and everyone’s nerves go to hell.
Can the greatest darts player of all time step away from the game that made him?
In a similar vein to Sam Knight's piece, Ed Caesar writes about a man and a game: Phil Taylor and darts.
When you see Taylor in public, it is clear that his sense of self is intimately connected to darts. He is a genuine celebrity, unable to walk down a street without being asked for an autograph or a selfie. His professional success is only part of his appeal. In an era of Ferrari-crashing Premiership footballers, Taylor seems attuned to earlier, more modest generations of British sportsmen: Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks, Steve Davis. He rarely drinks alcohol. He is polite. Although he has a terrible memory for names, he covers by calling people “bud” or “buddy”. (If he really should know the person’s name he calls them “Reggie”.) He hates to say no to autograph-hunters, and has developed a code with his driver to prise him from difficult crowd situations: if he asks for “oatcakes” then his driver will intervene.