TIME NextDraft

Why Things We Want Don’t Make Us Happy and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 21, 2014

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1. Happy Trails

Fame. Money. Multiple partners. Sounds good right? Abd Al-Rahman III was an absolute ruler in 10th century Spain, where he had all that and more. And yet, according to his own writings, he wasn’t all that happy: “I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.” The NYT’s Arthur C. Brooks looks at a series of studies and finds that the things many of us want don’t necessarily lead to happiness. I’d like to sign up to be a participant in one of these studies.

+ The Atlantic argues that polyamorous people handle certain relationship struggles better than monogamous people do. “Bill says watching his wife have sex with another man induces compersion — basking in the joy of a partner’s success.” (I’m pretty happy when my wife gets retweeted.)

2. The Bitter Trail

“What exactly are they trying to hide?” That was one of the questions President Obama asked as the international call for better access to the remains of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 grew louder. Meanwhile, a Russian general suggested that there were Ukrainian fighter jets close to the plane just before it was hit.

+ A deal has been reached with the rebels to hand over the black box, and a train holding the bodies of the victims has finally started to roll. Here are the latest updates on the story.

+ Nate Silver: Should travelers avoid flying airlines that have had crashes in the past?

+ Dutch cyclist Maarten de Jonge made last minute travel changes that kept him off both doomed Malaysian Airlines flights.

3. No Justice, No Cease

As U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrive in Cairo to urge a Middle East ceasefire, the death tolls continued to rise. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed, and 25 Israeli soldiers have been slain since the ground offensive began.

+ The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont on the children frozen in fear: “In most wars I have covered, you encounter one of the combatant parties, often both, but in Gaza, where death falls from the sky, those fighting are largely invisible except for the impact of their weapons. The result is that you see a war in Gaza through the prism of the suffering of the victims — a conflict in which those willing to offer an organizing rationale are absent.”

+ New Republic: The explosive, inside story of how John Kerry built an Israel-Palestine peace plan — and watched It crumble.

+ Buzzfeed: Jewish and Arab people are posing together in inspiring photos saying “We refuse to be enemies.”

4. You Can’t Get Off the Canvas

ProPublica has a report on a new kind of browser tracking tool called Canvas. It works sort of like cookies, except you can’t turn it off. Meet the online tracking device that is virtually impossible to block.

5. I’ll Show You Minecraft

“Minecraft is a game about creation, yes. But it is just as much a game about secret knowledge.” Robin Sloan on the secret of Minecraft. Amazingly, nothing about the game seems like a secret to my eight year-old son and his friends. Every party turns into a Minecraft party.

+ Maybe all this video gaming will pay off. The Verge takes you inside the life of a pro gamer.

+ And The Economist shares a chart that details just how lucrative video game prize pools have become.

6. Game Saving

Jon Michaud in The New Yorker: “My grades were mediocre, and my parents were worried about my prospects. I didn’t know it, but I was simply waiting for the right game to come along — a game in which there were no winners or losers. That day finally arrived in the spring of 1979. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Dungeons & Dragons saved my life.” Most of my 1979 was spent on a beach waiting for Bo Derek to jog by…

7. Face Saving

Facebook has launched a feature that enables users to save links, pages and events for later reading. But the company’s much bigger initiative is the introduction of a buy button. Can Facebook and Twitter move you closer to the transaction without chasing you away from their services?

+ Shakira just became the first the person to reach 100 million Facebook likes. Here’s the WSJ on how she got to be the Queen of Facebook.

8. A Homeric Binge

Along with a new site design, The New Yorker has opened its archives on stories published since 2007. (You can find my stories rejected by The New Yorker since 2007 on my blog.) Longform has a list of their 25 favorite unlocked New Yorker stories.

+ When you’re done reading those stories, you can binge on some episodes of The Simpsons. Well, 552 episodes to be exact. FXX is about to redefine the meaning of a series marathon.

9. One-Way Ticket to Ride

“These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.” It’s been 45 years since humans walked on the moon and returned to Earth. Here was the speech prepared to be delivered in the event that the men were stranded on the moon.

10. The Bottom of the News

Carlos Slim, the world’s second richest person, has an idea. He thinks you should only work three days a week. (This works better if you’re not being paid by the hour.)

+ New at Banana Republic: The Startup Guy Collection. In my experience, that just includes undershorts and equity.

+ In 2004, the odds were 500-1 that Rory McIlroy would win the British Open within the next decade. His dad took those odds and made the bet, and won it yesterday.

+ At long last, cake you can spray out of a can.

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