In a famous 1975 lecture, mathematician Don Zagier told a gathered crowd of math lovers:

“There are two facts about the distribution of prime numbers of which I hope to convince you so overwhelmingly that they will be permanently engraved in your hearts. The first is that, despite their simple definition and role as the building blocks of the natural numbers, the prime numbers grow like weeds among the natural numbers, seeming to obey no other law than that of chance, and nobody can predict where the next one will sprout. …

Art: MRCokeley Design

Disclaimer: A TV show is no substitute for professional mental health support. That said, my favorite cops-and-lawyers procedural has always been there for me.

“Look at this: Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard. Either we’re looking for a philosophy student, or we got one very depressed criminal.” — Detective Lennie Briscoe

When my best friend died unexpectedly on an otherwise unremarkable December day, the police showed up, they investigated, and then ruled out foul play. I was there when the coroner van arrived. His blood was still congealing on the floor. They left that behind for me to clean-up. What was left of my best friend was now a sticky red mess on the floor. Weeks later, the overworked LA county coroner decided my friend’s cause of…

I asked 79 white people if they would give up their whiteness. Here are the results.

Illustration: Jenn Kitagawa

Sometimes I’ll ask a white person a question I often wonder about. It’s a question only they can answer, and typically one they’ve rarely, if ever, considered:

Would you give up your whiteness?

Generally, when I ask a white person this question they look at me like I’ve just asked: Would you ever walk across the ocean? Or maybe it’s more like: Would you ever light a winning lottery ticket on fire, just to see how it feels?

How could a white person give up their whiteness? It’s not like a gym membership. But ah, in fact, it’s a lot…

Art: MRCokeley Design

Jennifer Lopez’s new crime drama is about more than strippers striking back

I’d gone to the movies to forget about America. This country had been getting the better of me and I was feeling beaten down. My brain, body, and soul all equally craved distraction. I wanted, no, I needed to go sit in a darkened theater and watch women of color get even. I wanted to see these women drug and rob the Masters of the Universe, aka the bankers of Wall Street.

When I walked out of Hustlers, I did feel better. Much better, in fact. And ironically, I’d also gained a far better understanding of America and why it…

[UPDATED: If you want to find unknown prime numbers, or to count the number of primes less than (x), check this new paper on Prime Numbers]

There is no known formula for easily calculating prime numbers. Their distribution along the continuum of numbers appears to be random. There are, however, formulas and diophantine equations that will calculate prime numbers. There are algorithms that can calculate primes into the millions of digits. But these prime-finding algorithms require a great deal of time and math to accomplish their task.

I humbly submit that I’ve discovered a super-easy way to find and count…

Matthew Cokeley

All men and women are created equal. Equally fast, and furious

Are The Fast and the Furious films ridiculous, outlandish, over-the-top paeans to tanned pecs, peel-outs, and pushing the limits of good taste? Yes.

Are they also important art that might make you weep at the truth of existence? No.

You can’t compare them to The Seven Seal, or Roshomon, or Citizen Kane. Those films are towering cinematic achievements. Yet, in some ways, I think Fast and the Furious are better. More thrilling. Like, if I’m being honest, the Fast and the Furious movies are the nitrous-burning high point of American culture.

These movies — 8 in total — are up…

Art: Matt Cokeley

The kung fu legend stood up for himself and taught others to do the same, no matter their skin color

“In memory of a once fluid man crammed and distorted by the classical mess.”

— Bruce Lee’s tombstone (which he designed)

I start each day drinking a glass of water. I don’t like to drink water. I often don’t remember to drink it even though well-meaning people constantly tell me water will give me glowing skin or delay wrinkles or flush my toxins. Those are all good reasons. But not for me. I need little reminders to care for myself, to do small things like drink water. …

Art: Matt Cokeley

Jim Rockford was a laid-back TV detective who lived in a trailer on the beach… and helped those who needed help

“There ain’t been a lot of love in this rotten life. And I just found out how much I’ve been missing. Find her, Rockfish. Find her.”

— Isaac Hayes as Gandy Fitch from The Rockford Files

My man Jim Rockford helped me solve the mystery of what it means to be a man.

Fictional detectives have always been my thing. Whip-smart sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marples were early boyhood heroes. Hard-boiled gumshoes like Sam Spade, Travis McGee, Easy Rawlins, Phillip Marlowe came later. And then there was The Rockford Files, which originally aired in the ’70s on NBC.


[photo by the author]

The paler boy stood in the center of the room and pulled his shoes off, one at a time, and as he bent over he worried he was showing his ass to Miss America. He’d picked the worst boxer briefs to wear that night, his laundry day pair. The elastic had lost its will to live and gapped badly across the top of his buttocks. He never expected to take off his costume in front of anyone, let alone strip down for a threesome. …

This was a year, alright. And now, thankfully, mercifully, it’s done. We’re on to the next one.

But first, a look back at some of my favorite pieces I wrote this year. This list features a holiday party buffet of options, there are short stories, true crime longform reported pieces, TV/film commentary and criticism, strange tales from the edges and frontiers of humanity’s pursuits, and finally, a pair of personal essays.


Best Short Stories

The Last Time I Committed Suicide I Used A Time Machine, But I Did It For Love

Time travel teaches you two great truths. One you immediately grasp, the second you come to, eventually. The first is obvious: there is nothing real but the present…

Zaron Burnett III

writer at MEL magazine, essay & short stories at Medium, and always in the mood for donuts

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