Friday High Five: Printable Guns, Tourism in War Zones, Publishing Post-1996

The transformation of publishing, post-1996

Joanna Rakoff’s memoir of her year working in an old-fashioned New York literary agency (where typewriters were still the norm) in 1996, around the time email became ubiquitous, has been a bestseller. My Salinger Year (Salinger, or ‘Jerry’, was the agency’s star client) is a story of publishing as it used to be. An essay in The Millions looks at Rakoff’s memoir in this context, and reflects on how dramatically publishing has changed since 1996.

Warzones as tourist destinations

Forget checking government websites to make sure travel destinations are safe … some tourists seek out war zones as entertainment. Kobi Marom, a retired Israel Defense Forces colonel who now works in the tourist industry, tells The Atlantic all about how he takes tourists to watch the fiercest fighting of the Syrian civil war.

‘I’ll have tourists sitting at a wonderful lunch one mile from the border, and I tell them that al-Qaeda is looking at them, and they go crazy with it. They say, “Are you sure?” To them, it’s like something from the moon, and they want to see.’

Tech anarchists create printable guns and untraceable money

Meet the two anarchists (and tech geniuses) who have created some of the most controversial software ever offered to the public. There’s the world’s first 3D fully printable gun, a prototype for a decentralised online marketplace, DarkMarket, designed to be impervious to shutdown by the feds, and Dark Wallet, a piece of software designed to allow untraceable, anonymous online payments using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

Amir Taaki, left, and Cody Wilson, in Wilson’s Austin apartment. Julia Robinson/*Wired*.

Amir Taaki, left, and Cody Wilson, in Wilson’s Austin apartment. Julia Robinson/Wired.

Ten most anticipated Australian books: second half of 2014

Last week, we shared The Millions‘ selection of their staff’s most anticipated books of the second half of 2014. This week, Readings has published a similar exercise, with a twist - staff members have selected their most anticipated Australian books, covering the same period. From Wayne McCauley’s Demons to Helen Garner’s This House of Grief, there’s lots to look forward to.

Portugal’s drug decriminalisation: By Liam Pieper

Liam Pieper wrote about his experiences as a teenage drug dealer (and user) in his recent memoir, The Feel-Good Hit of the Year. And in the current Meanjin, he writes about drugs from another perspective - looking at the results of (and reasons for) Portugal’s 2001 decriminalisation of drug use. In the five years following decriminalisation, heroin-related deaths fell by half, and new HIV injections by injecting users fell by half.

Liam Pieper

Liam Pieper