Richard Jackson

Long Reads: Joshua Abraham Norton, sunken cities, Internet guardians, Syria

Joshua Abraham Norton
Image: Wikipedia

Rich Jackson’s Long Reads this week: Syria’s selfless lifesavers; Joshua Abraham Norton, “Emperor” of the US; those who guard our Facebook feed, and owning land in sinking nations.


When island nations drown, who owns their seas? – Latif Nasser (The Boston Globe)

Carbon emissions, warming planet, melting ice caps, rising oceans, submerged island nations. Numerous island countries face extinction thanks to the effects of climate change, namely the Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Kiribati has already purchased land on Fiji worth millions of dollars in order to house their citizens if the worst comes to worst. Their island, only two metres above sea level, is about the size of Kansas City. Their ocean territories however are larger than India. So what happens? Do the now displaced people still own that and have economic sovereignty over it?


The laborers who keep dick pics and beheadings out of your Facebook feed – Adrian Chen (Wired)

A story of the people employed to patrol the Internet, guarding social media users form the worst content imaginable. Scanning a monitor and witnessing graphic, sickening content during an eight-hour shift, five times a week, proves to have a psychological impact.


Whoever saves a life – Matthieu Aikins (Medium)

This was published back in June and, while I do try to keep things relevant, I decided to make an exception in this case. This was one of the most moving things I have read in ages, and nothing else I read this week was better than this (and anyway, fuck it; it’s my Long Read thing). It concerns the first responders working in Aleppo, Syria; in a conflict where each side is often seen as being as bad as each other, these guys are the good guys. These are the people who risk life and limb to run into the bombs to save civilians, trapped and/or injured under rubble. We learn why they do it, how they cope, their black humour – but mostly we learn about the bonds these guys form and their genuine brotherly love for one another.

Really beautiful writing to boot:

They were living the war with more emotion than they would ever feel again in their lives. In its wild moments, it exalted the senses higher than any drug or love affair, and in its mundane, it hardened the bonds of friendship until they seemed stronger than the bombs that fell from the sky. And even if the boys of Civil Defense were among the testosterone-and-adrenaline junkies getting their kicks on Syria’s front lines, at least they were innocent of the stain of taking human life. Perhaps that protected them. As they saved others, they saved themselves.



The original San Francisco eccentric – Jeff Campagna (

A profile piece about Joshua Abraham Norton. Self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States, Norton was one of the more eccentric persons of a US history full of them. Just when you thought John Waters, Judge Judy or George Dubya were examples of the United States of Craziness, there is Joshua Abraham Norton, who…well…take a read. Not a nut-job, just…colourful, shall we say…


Related posts

One Comment;

  1. Rainer the cabbie said:

    Thanks Richard, I appeal to the readers of TBS to read the “Whoever saves a life” story and find out what is really going on in this war and how badly civilians suffer.

Comments are closed.