Long Reads: Women still aren’t funny, face transplants and escaping the Westboro Baptist Church

Richard Jackson’s Long Reads adds a dimension to the theory that women aren’t meant to be funny, the drama behind a face transplant and the story of an escapee from the Westboro Baptist Church.



Plight of the funny female – Olga Kahazan (The Atlantic)

You might have heard it purported around your social circle that women just aren’t funny. The late Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece in Vanity Fair supporting the case, putting his reasoning down to evolutionary biology: “Women have no corresponding need to appeal to men in this way . They already appeal to men, if you catch my drift.”

In this article, Olga Khazan dissects the argument and the science behind it.


How one man’s face became another man’s face – Steve Fishman (NYMag)

The story of one of the few face transplants in medical history (side note – why do we define things that way – surely medical history is still history?) This biography of a face is by its nature, the story of three people involved: the original owner of the face, David Rodebaugh, the surgeon who dared, Eduardo Rodriguez and finally, the recipient of the face, Patrick Hardison, a former volunteer firefighter.


Unfollow: How a prized daughter of the Westboro Baptist Chruch came to questions its beliefs – Adrian Chen (The New Yorker)


It’s difficult not to have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small tight-knit family who preach a radical form of Christianity. They have gained notoriety and media coverage for their protests, picketing the funerals of noted individuals and most famously, US soldiers, with signs reading “God hates fags”. They argue that their deaths were part of God’s punishment on the United States for endorsing or permitting homosexuality.

Some members have come to their sense and left the church. This is the story of Megan Phelps-Roper, who started to question church doctrine after engaging with people through Twitter. The story is a nice twist on standard stories of Twitter, that instead of it being this trolling site, reserved primarily for the emotions of anger and sarcasm, we have a story of someone broadening their horizons and becoming a better person.

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