TIME NextDraft

U.S. Leads in Unused Vacation Days and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 1, 2014

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1. You’re Going Nowhere

At some point this afternoon, millions of American employees will take a few hours off from work to watch the World Cup (I predict over productivity will remain level). But their bosses — who will also be watching the World Cup — can hardly blame them. Staring at another screen for a few hours is about the only vacation many Americans ever take. We lead the world in leaving unused vacation days on the table, to the tune of about 429 million unused days per year.

+ Between golfing in Afghanistan, tracking silverback gorillas in Rwanda, and bungee jumping in South Africa, Lee Abbamonte (who has visited every country) makes a business of taking vacations. From NY Mag: Meet the bro who plans outrageous Wall Street bachelor parties.

2. The Vax Fax

In a recent project, researchers reviewed more than 20,000 scientific titles on vaccines. And CNN summarizes the findings: Children should get vaccinated against preventable and potentially deadly diseases. Period.

+ The Daily Beast: “Let’s pretend for a moment that the anti-vaxxers are right — that vaccines are linked with autism. Then their repeated exhortations to avoid vaccines suggest that autism is actually a fate worse than death.”

3. Act Two

You probably remember Ahmad Chalabi. The CIA certainly does. And so does anyone who searched Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. Now, according to some, Chalabi could be in the right position to be the next prime minister of Iraq. From the NYT: A potential leader with a tarnished past.

+ Of course, before the Iraqi parliament can form a new government, they have to figure out a way to stay in the same room.

4. The Need for Speed

“Most people understand that heroin and Oxycontin are both hard, addictive drugs. Not so with speed. When it comes to amphetamine, we’ve chosen a national split-screen in which doctors airily put millions of healthy children and adults on daily speed regimens while SWAT teams throw concussion bombs in baby cribs in pursuit of small-fry meth dealers.” In Vice, Alexander Zaitchik tries to explain how America got hooked on legal meth.

+ Tangentially related: 9 surprising foods with more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

5. Waxing Brazilian

FiveThirtyEight’s Benjamin Morris runs the numbers: “By now I’ve studied nearly every aspect of Messi’s game, down to a touch-by-touch level … I arrived at a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for: Lionel Messi is impossible.”

+ At the time I am writing this, it’s unclear whether or not America has a shot at winning the World Cup. One award they will not win: Best chant. Historians may someday tie this wildly uncreative chant to the demise of the American empire: “I believe that we will win!” AP takes a look at five memorable World Cup chants.

+ “Soccer takes away our hands. This makes the game incredibly skillful and exhausting, but also robs fans of much of the beauty of sport. Hands and opposable thumbs separate us from creatures of the wild.” That’s just one of the many arguments made by columnists and commentators who insist there is something wrong with the most popular sport in the world. The New Yorker’s Ian Crouch on a century of American soccer anxiety.

+ Luis Suarez finally (sort of) admits to the biting incident and apologizes … and one assumes, spits out the chunk.

+ NPR: USA vs. Belgium: If The World Cup were played In beer.

6. Cannibal Cops a Plea

A former NYPD officer named Gilberto Valle went online to some seedy sites and described his plans to kidnap, cook, and eat people. A jury sent him to prison. But now, an appeals court judge has overturned the conviction: “The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play.” Things may have turned out differently if Valle had been sharing his favorite appellate judge recipes.

7. Pay Pals

“It was a very intense environment, so there wasn’t a lot of time and energy devoted to thinking about the future.” But the future would be bright for several former Pay Pal employees. They built a big company that had a huge exit. And then things got really interesting. From Tech Republic: How the PayPal Mafia redefined success in Silicon Valley.

8. The Needle and the Damage Undone?

About ten percent of Americans struggle with depression. It’s certainly not enough to tell them to turn that frown upside down. But what about paralyzing that frown? In Pacific Standard, Taffy Brodesser-Akner visits a clinic where people think that Botox can help solve the depression epidemic.

9. Yahoo Finally Gets Community

After Community got cancelled, it’s producers (and fans) tried to get just about every channel on TV and the web to pick up the show for a sixth season. For a variety of reasons, nothing worked out. But then they signed a deal with Yahoo. You didn’t know Yahoo was in the TV business? Neither did anyone else. (I just sold a pilot to Excite.)

10. The Bottom of the News

“A man with a ponytail sold tickets to a comedy club, while guys in green vests hawked tickets for a bus tour. The crowds inched past. In the interstices of the mob were a Power Ranger, a Spider-Man, a Woody from Toy Story, Minnie Mouse, two Cookie Monsters, a Super Mario, Hello Kitty, two more Elmos, and a Batman.” The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer takes you inside the world of a Times Square Elmo. I can’t picture Travis Bickle driving his cab through this Times Square … though by now, I suppose he’d be driving for Uber.

+ In honor of Canada Day, here are seven ways Canada is better than the United States.

+ “If you’re staying for a month or two, you probably want to behave yourself and be a good neighbor, but if it’s just for a weekend, it’s probably just to party.” AirBNB visits the Hamptons.

+ GM might have to start recalling cars made by other manufacturers. They’ve already recalled more cars in 2014 than they sold in the last seven years.

+ Want your listicle to succeed? Make sure it has an odd number of items.

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