August 22, 2014
1. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Ten billion. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Providing nourishment to that many people could be a requirement by the end of the century. As The New Yorker’s Michael Specter explains, “sustaining that many people will require farmers to grow more food in the next seventy-five years than has been produced in all of human history … [and] nearly every arable patch of ground has been cultivated, and irrigation for agriculture already consumes seventy per cent of the Earth’s freshwater.” Those factors could turn the ongoing battle over genetically modified foods into an existential debate. Specter digs deep into the issue with a look at an activist’s controversial crusade against genetically modified crops: Seeds of Doubt.
+ Modern Farmer: Scientists try to build a tomato that grows 24 hours a day.
+ And for some lighter fare, McSweeney’s brings you the story of Hirl: “We provide meals that are completely unaffordable and unappealing to people who actually live in this neighborhood.”
2. Mad World
“The propagandists of the Islamic State must have imagined that their brutal video of the beheading of journalist James Foley would intimidate and terrorize the world. But people aren’t built that way, not in Muslim countries or anywhere else. When they see sadistic, uncivilized behavior, they are disgusted — and angry.” WaPo’s David Ignatius on the way the videotaped killing of James Foley could have been ISIS’ biggest tactical mistake.
+ The Daily Beast: ISIS should be careful what it wishes for.
+ Vox: The nine biggest myths about ISIS.
+ In Gaza, Hamas gunmen executed 18 alleged spies “including seven who were lined up behind a mosque with bags over their heads and shot in front of hundreds of people.”
3. Weekend Reads
“Jared Lorenzen and I are in love with the same woman. Her name is Little Debbie, and she makes delicious snack cakes.” ESPN’s Tommy Tomlinson on the NFL QB who shares a problem with millions of Americans. But in his case, his fat went viral.
+ Did the brutal dictator of Zimbabwe raise money from a Wall Street hedge fund to crush his opposition? From BloombergBusinessweek: The Hedge Fund and the Despot.
+ “Hi, if you are reading this then they killed me. I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed talking to you, you seem like a really great lady. I’m sorry we didn’t meet under different circumstances.” Michelle Lyons witnessed more than 278 executions. As Texas Monthly reports, that took a toll: The Witness.
+ And if you missed it earlier in the week, there’s been a lot of buzz about Michael Finkel’s piece in GQ: The Strange and Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit.
4. Brazilian Whack
“Is that you? he asks. It is, but nobody was supposed to know. He’s showing me one of my posts to Secret, the popular anonymous sharing app that lets you confess your darkest secrets to your friends without anyone knowing it’s you.” Wired’s Kevin Poulsen explains why your anonymous posts to Secret aren’t anonymous after all. Maybe next time you’ll have the guts to have someone else say it to my face.
+ Apple has removed the Secret App from its Brazilian store because the Brazilian constitution prohibits anonymous freedom of expression.
+ ReCode: Secret users have started hosting Secret dinner parties, and they are brutal.
5. Push the Pedal to the Settle
Earlier this week, Bank of America was hit with a $17 billion settlement for financial fraud leading up to and during the financial crisis. That’s big. But it’s just their latest. BofA has chocked up nearly $70 billion in penalties. And it’s not over. Just take a look at this remarkable chart.
6. The App Trap
Question: In a typical month, how many apps are downloaded by most smartphone users? Answer according to Quartz. Most smartphone users download zero apps per month. But a small percentage of users download a ton of them.
+ And I’m pretty sure this is related news: These are the 23 most viral cats of all time.
7. Strike the Pose
I just got done with my morning workout. I twisted my torso to enable my hand to grab my wallet, pulled it out, swiped my credit card, and returned the items to my back pocket. Then I did two more sets of that exercise before lunch. It turns out my exercise regimen isn’t all that atypical. Sports apparel sports sales are dramatically outpacing sports participation. The WSJ on the Yoga Poseurs. (Don’t feel bad, Yoga is all about posing.)
+ The legendary yogi B.K.S. Iyengar died at the age of 95. The Atlantic looks back at his amazing life and contortions.
8. Dress for Excess
In a bid to recruit top talent, The White House has reportedly given up on their demand that coders dress like adults. One top coder explained that “he isn’t showing up in a T-shirt, but he’s free to wear a wrinkled button-down and comfortable pants.” (If pants were required of Bay Area coders, there might not even be an Internet.)
9. TV’s Longest Running Gag
Grantland’s James Andrew Miller takes stock of SNL’s marathon man, Lorne Michaels: “Since 1975, of the close to 700 live episodes with his name on them, Michaels has missed exactly zero.”
10. The Bottom of the News
Attention ridiculous parents: The creator of the Your Baby Can Read program has “reached a deal to settle charges that he and his company made baseless pronouncements about the effectiveness of the program and that they misrepresented scientific studies to prove these bogus statements.” The program has pulled in more than $185 million over the years. Dr. Robert Titzer is required to pay $300,000 in penalties. Your baby can’t read, but they can certainly count well enough to figure out who came out ahead in that deal.
+ A photographic look at Meghalaya: The wettest place on Earth. (Don’t feel bad Seattle. You still have the Seahawks and Grunge.)
+ Deep fried tequila shots anyone?