July 25, 2014
1. What’s Inside the Vault?
I know. You don’t read TMZ and you don’t care about some cheap celebrity gossip rag. But you probably heard something about Mel Gibson’s lethal love life, or Tiger Woods’ bunker busting social schedule, or Donald Sterling’s audition tapes for a Civil War-era version of The Bachelor. TMZ breaks the stories, and then mainstream media runs with them — sometimes with attribution, almost never with a link. There is the “unique and controversial mix of scandal mongering and investigative journalism.” And then there is the vault. That’s where Harvey Levin hides the stories that haven’t been published. “The vault isn’t a secret at TMZ — even the lowest on the staff ladder have heard whispers of its existence. As to what goes up on the site and what stays vaulted, that’s a finer, more esoteric calculus — and one in which celebrities and their publicists have come to live in fear.” Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Petersen on the down and dirty history of TMZ. (I know. You don’t read Buzzfeed either.)
2. The Big Chill
In 1995, seven percent of urban Chinese families owned a refrigerator. By 2007, 95% of those families owned one. NYT Magazine’s Nicola Twilley: What do Chinese dumplings have to do with global warming? (Elon Musk should design a dumpling that doesn’t need to be chilled.)
+ On the plus side, you can now take a cruise through the Northwest Passage and get up close and personal with “an actual polar bear clinging to an actual shrinking ice floe.”
+ The weather reports says there’s a 20% chance of rain. Do you have any idea what that means?
+ What if all the ice on Earth melted?
3. Weekend Reads
“Today’s Kannapolis does not offer as many good blue-collar jobs as it used to — unemployment still hovers at 10 percent—but it does provide plenty of opportunities for locals to serve as human research subjects.” Pacific Standard’s Amanda Wilson on a town where a textile mill shut down and a biotechnology firm opened up.
+ How Buckyball fell apart.
+ “The courts are empty, the nets dangling by a thread. The crowds that used to stand four deep are gone, and so are the players. Once players asked ‘Who’s got next?’ Now the question is ‘Anyone want to play?’ And the answer seems to be no, at least not here, not outside.” From ESPN: Playground basketball is dying.
+ Grantland invented and is celebrating Rom-Com week with a fun series of articles that look at the often strange arc of the romantic comedy genre.
4. Generic Answer
Is it OK to buy generic when it comes to products like drugs and foods? Let’s ask the experts. NPR has a couple of interesting charts that detail when chefs and doctors buy generic.
+ Tylenol (aka acetaminophen) is no more effective than a placebo in the treatment of back pain according to a new study — and everyone who’s ever had back pain.
5. Face to Face
My friend who owns the deli where I get my daily coffee is Palestinian and he always calls me by my Arabic name. I’m the son of Holocaust survivors and I have many family members who live in Israel. When violence erupts in the Middle East, we both worry about each other’s families, complain about the politicians and extremists, and mourn the loss of so many children in the region. The many stories on the Internet that show Palestinians and Israelis who are couples or family or who live together and manage to get along and even share similar views about the future never surprise me. Here’s PRI on a program that brings Israelis and Palestinians together, often under the same roof. “Growing up, I never had the chance to have this kind of discussion or experience with anyone from the Palestinian side.”
+ Meanwhile, John Kerry and other international leaders continue to try to get the two sides to agree to a five day ceasefire. So far, it’s not happening. Sadly, that doesn’t surprise me either.
+ Etgar Keret in The New Yorker: Israel’s other war.
6. Turn Your Head and Google
Google seems to be getting into every industry these days. And their next stop could be inside your body. An ambitious project called Baseline will collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from 175 people — and later thousands more — to create what the company hopes will be the fullest picture of what a healthy human being should be.” (Please let it be slightly pear shaped…)
+ How does Google continue to expand into so many new categories? Total domination of the search market.
7. Only the Good Buy Young
The stock market has been soaring upwards in recent years. And that’s good news. Unless you’re of a certain age. The NYT’s Upshot explains why a soaring stock market is wasted on the young.
8. The Biathlon de France
The Tour de France is really two sporting events in one. The first is the ridiculously difficult bicycle race. The second is the amazingly challenging test of eating endurance.
9. Indiana Moans
“I was going through a divorce, and I was in a really bad mood. So I really wanted to do dark. And Steve then broke up with his girlfriend, and so he was sort of into it, too. That’s where we were at that point in time.” The simple explanation of why the second Indiana Jones movie was so dark.
10. The Bottom of the News
“Skills: All the computer programs known to man, except for Microsoft Word. That is where graphic design goes to lay down and die.” In McSweeney’s, Marco Kaye presents the world’s first and only completely honest resume of a graphic designer. And if you missed it a few weeks back, definitely take a look at the fantastic client feedback on the creation of the Earth.
+ It turns out that the almond milk wars have only just begun. (I’d say these writers are milking it, but they’re all lactose intolerant.)
+ Video: The history of the high five.
+ And for those who have wondered where the rock guitar chord went, we found it. Have a first listen to the excellent new Tom Petty album. (This guy’s been responsible for more hits than Cheech and Chong combined.)