Retracting "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory": Turns out that amazing This American Life episode about working conditions at Apple's factories in China was full of made-up stuff. The resulting retraction episode -- in which Mike Daisey comes into the studio to own up to his fabrications -- is even more riveting than the original. (This American Life)
How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp: Absolutely incredible story about how a young Korean man, born inside a North Korean labor camp and expected to grow up, live, and die there, managed to escape to South Korea. Not for the faint of heart: "He despised both his mother and father for selfishly breeding in a labour camp, for producing offspring doomed to die behind barbed wire." I wouldn't mind if this one were made up. (The Guardian)
The giant, underestimated earthquake threat to North America: In Japan, geologists were surprised by the severity of the recent quake, which was 25 times more powerful than they'd anticipated, because they hadn't looked "far enough back in geologic time to see that quakes and tsunamis just this big had indeed occurred" before. The same might be true about America's West Coast. (Discover)
How to climb Mount Erebus on your day off: One of my favorite recent stories, about a construction worker on assignment in Antarctica who decides to climb Mount Erebus (pictured above) pretty much on a whim, by stealing a snowmobile and setting out "with a bag of sandwiches from the galley." Gets creepy, even metaphysical: "I definitely had this feeling there was something else there, and I was being watched. And whatever entity was watching was, at the very best, neutral." (Big Dead Place)
Inside Syria's struggle: Fantastic documentary from Al Jazeera, put together by an anonymous journalist using only his cellphone to record video. A must-watch. (Al Jazeera)
Taking to the streets in Greece: Sobering account of the political situation in Greece; John Markakis thinks that "the country is on the verge of radical social change," and not in a good way. "Politicians avoid public places for fear of being pelted with yoghurt and eggs, enter and leave parliament between phalanxes of police, and are besieged by demonstrators threatening to immolate them in it." (The London Review of Books)
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.