July 14, 2014
1. You’re Not Human
Sure, you look human on the outside, but that’s just your shell. Inside, the real operation is run by “about 100 trillion bacterial cells. They outnumber human cells 10 to one and account for 99.9 percent of the unique genes in the body.” At the risk of getting too esoteric, these bacteria are the Oompa Loompas in your internal candy factory. And certain modern human behaviors, such as popping antibiotics like Tic Tacs, might be dramatically altering our microbiome. The NYT’s Jane E. Brody explains the problem: “Like ecosystems the world over, the human microbiome is losing its diversity, to the potential detriment of the health of those it inhabits.”
+ Gut Reaction: How what you eat can amp up or tamp down stress.
2. Turn Your Head and Upchuck
How do we know what to believe when it comes to health advice? We used to trust the doctors we visited regularly. Now, a ton of our medical tips come from TV physicians like Dr. Oz. Maybe it’s time to click our heels together and go back to the old way of making health decisions. From Vox: Meet the medical student who wants to bring down Dr. Oz.
+ WaPo: Scholarly journal retracts 60 articles, smashes peer review ring.
3. New Drone Zone
As clashes between Israel and Hamas intensify, Israel has shot down Hamas’ first combat drone. The drone — which experts believe was not armed — was shot down by a patriot missile. Meanwhile, residents are fleeing Gaza as Israel warns of more strikes.
+ Jeffrey Goldberg: What, Exactly, Is Hamas Trying to Prove?
+ “America has the capacity to save its Iraqi friends whose war never ended, before isis or the militias kill them first.” The New Yorker’s George Packer on the Iraqis that America left behind.
4. A Game Theory
“It’s been a formative narrative media for all sorts of writers.” That’s how author Junot Diaz describes Dungeons & Dragons, a game that he says served as “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.” Did D&D influence an entire generation of writers? (A lot of novels seem like they’ve been more influenced by Donkey Kong.)
5. Waxing Brazilian
Brazil hosted a wild month of soccer, and a World Cup that — with some help from social media — may have officially welcomed Americans to the global party. Will this World Cup also be known for being won by the greatest team ever?
+ “Who doesn’t want to yell ‘Goal!’ five or six seconds before their neighbors?” This was definitely the year that Univision asserted itself in America, The network “dominated its TV rivals in several of America’s largest cities.”
+ From the beginning, the biggest personal question of this World Cup was whether Lionel Messi would finally bring Argentina the cup. Well, Argentinians are still waiting for their Messi-ah, and time may have run out.
+ When can we be sure soccer has arrived in America? When a New York TV station interrupts the end of the game for a weather update, and people go nuts.
6. Making Sense of Life
Nobel prize-winning writer Nadine Gordimer, a consistent voice for a democratic South Africa, has died at the age of 90. Gordimer gave voice to a movement through her fiction and through her personal political efforts. She helped edit Nelson Mandela’s I Am Prepared To Die speech.
+ “What all artists are trying to do is to make sense of life. So you see, I would have found my themes had I been an American or an English writer. They are there if one knows where to look . . . if one is pushed from within.” Here’s Nadine Gordimer’s interview in the Paris Review.
+ “I was part of it.” Watch videos of Gordimer talking about South Africa’s racism.
7. Welcome Back, Squatter
“The borough has become a Valhalla of bars and restaurants and parks and hotels where you can play shuffleboard, cheer a professional basketball team, buy taxidermy, pretend you are in New Orleans or Chiang Mai, enjoy the forgotten muscle memory of flipping through vinyl records, sip good coffee, watch Stephane Wrembel play and frolic in parks … But Brooklyn is still Brooklyn.” Only now, Vinnie Barbarino and Juan Epstein drink lattes and work for a tech startup. In the NYT, Wendell Jamieson looks at Brooklyn,Then and Now.
+ From the SF Gate: Are tech-sector newcomers elbowing out Mill Valley’s funky-arty vibe? Even people from Marin County are complaining about the influx of money. That’s like Brazilians complaining about an influx of people who are really into soccer.
+ How do you know when the housing and economic divide has gotten out of hand? When people are building backyard treehouses that are nicer than your home.
8. The Hitmaker
MoJo introduces you to the company that knows which artists you’ll be listening to six months before you’ve even heard of them. But is the music big because it has elements that can be measured as being potentially popular? Or is the music popular because the big data crunchers tells us it will be?
9. LeBron’s Got the Brains
“If you think of him like a genius, it makes more sense. He’s smarter about basketball than you and me, and, really, anyone else. He sees things that we can’t see. During that last Miami season, I don’t think he liked what he saw from his teammates. LeBron James wanted to come back to Cleveland, but he also wanted to flee Miami. His heart told him to leave, but so did his brain. And his brain works like very few brains — not just now, but ever.” Grantland’s Bill Simmons: God Loves Cleveland.
+ CityLab: Why people still move to unhappy places.
10. The Bottom of the News
Airbus has filed a patent to make flying even more uncomfortable. Imagine taking a long flight while sitting on a bicycle seat. If I see pedals, I’m out of there.
+ Maria Konnikova: What we really taste when we drink wine. (I usually taste drunkenness potentiality.)
+ Finally, in words and pictures, you get to follow the journey of a lobster from a trap to a table. (Spoiler alert: This doesn’t end well.)
+ Wolfgang’s Vault recently put 13,000 live performances on YouTube. Rock on.