There are more than 285 competitive bagpipe bands in the United States, made up of thousands of pipers and drummers. Bands are divided into grades based on skill: Grade 5 is the lowest, akin to Little League; Grade 1 is the majors. In May 2014, the Massachusetts-based Stuart Highland Pipe Band was promoted to Grade 1, and next month they'll be facing off against other top-level bands in Glasgow at the annual World Pipe Band Championships. But first, the Stewies made their North American debut at the premier level at a competition in Ontario: Blowhards: On the road, down the bottle, and across the border with Boston’s greatest competitive bagpipe band. [more inside]
Portrait of a Young Man with Down Syndrome. A father reflects on his son's search for employment.
"Brigitte Höss lives quietly on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia. She is retired now, having worked in a Washington fashion salon for more than 30 years. She recently was diagnosed with cancer and spends much of her days dealing with the medical consequences. Brigitte also has a secret that not even her grandchildren know. Her father was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz." [more inside]
"It's his charm. It's his gift. It's his political liability, and it's part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it's hilarious. [Vice President Joe] Biden can be fantastic when he's on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton's or Obama's. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama's miserable first performance against Romney. Watching those performances, it's almost impossible to see him as a person once crippled by speech."
Her encampment is 'an old patio umbrella draped in a white plastic sheet secured with binder clips. It is flanked by two large boards with messages in capital letters: BAN ALL NUCLEAR WEAPONS OR HAVE A NICE DOOMSDAY and LIVE BY THE BOMB, DIE BY THE BOMB. This rudimentary shelter has been positioned outside the White House for more than three decades. It is a monument itself now, widely considered the longest-running act of political protest in the United States, and this woman, Concepcion Picciotto — Connie, as she’s known to many — is its longest-running caretaker.' [more inside]
In his project A More Perfect Union, artist R. Luke Dubois aggregated language used in the profiles of 19 million single Americans on 21 dating sites. He then organized the data to create "dozens of insanely detailed city and state maps which tell a wonderfully rich story about who we are, or at least, who we claim to be." A Video about the project. (R. Luke Dubois, previously on MeFi.)
"The Man Who Never Was." Vanity Fair editor Todd S. Purdum follows up his 2007 profile of then-Senator John McCain and a scathing 2009 profile of Sarah Palin by asking whether McCain, "...the leader so many Americans admired — and so many journalists covered — ever truly existed." (Previously)