Facing domestic violence in S.C., the last true hermit & working suit-free at the White House

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 300 women have faced violence, abuse and worse from domestic partners in South Carolina in the past 10 years while the state does little. In its special investigation, Till Death Do US Part, The Charleston Post and Courier examines the startling statistics and stories behind the state's domestic abuse issues, where more women have died at the hands of current or former partners than the total number of South Carolina soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

"Awash in guns, saddled with ineffective laws and lacking enough shelters for the battered, South Carolina is a state where the deck is stacked against women trapped in the cycle of abuse, a Post and Courier investigation has found. Couple this with deep-rooted beliefs about the sanctity of marriage and the place of women in the home, and the vows 'till death do us part' take on a sinister tone. The beat of killings has remained a constant in South Carolina, even as domestic violence rates have tumbled 64 percent nationwide over the past two decades, according to an analysis of crime statistics by the newspaper. This blood has spilled in every corner of the state, from beach towns and mountain hamlets to farming villages and sprawling urban centers, cutting across racial, ethnic and economic lines."

In The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit, Michael Finkel of GQ magazine tells the bizarre story of  Christopher Thomas Knight, better known to Maine residents as the North Pond Hermit. For almost 30 years, residents of central Maine debated the existence of a solitary figure who lived alone in the woods and committed small robberies -- a local legend they dubbed the North Pond Hermit. But when Knight was eventually discovered on video camera stealing food, the details of his self-imposed hermitage proved even more baffling. So Finkel decided to write the man and eventually met him face to face as he prepared to re-enter society:

"At the very end of each of our visits, I'd always asked him the same question. An essential question: Why did he disappear?

"He never had a satisfying answer. 'I don't have a reason.' 'I can't explain why.' 'Give me more time to think about it.' 'It's a mystery to me, too.' Then he became annoyed: 'Why? That question bores me.'

"But during our final visit, he was more reflective. Isn't everybody, he said, seeking the same thing in life? Aren't we all looking for contentment? He was never happy in his youth — not in high school, not with a job, not being around other people. Then he discovered his camp in the woods. 'I found a place where I was content,"' he said. His own perfect spot. The only place in the world he felt at peace."

And finally, the White House is trying to lure civically-minded coders to come work for the government with a weird but compelling assurance: no need to wear a suit to work. Wired brings us the story behind the launch of the U.S. Digital Service, a new initiative to overhaul and improve the way citizens interact with their government online. Mikey Dickerson, a former Google engineer, will lead the group after coming into the administration last year to help fix healthcare.gov. Don't underestimate the allure of a suit-free work environment he says:

"Dickerson says he is asked one question again and again by people curious about his new job. They 'want to know if I’m wearing a suit to work every day,' Dickerson explains in the video. Because that’s just the quickest shorthand way of asking: ‘Is this just the same old business as usual or are they actually going to listen?’”

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