April 23, 2014
1. Don’t Touch My Junk
At the outset, the Internet looked like a panacea for misanthropic germaphobes. We could interact with the world without actually having to physically engage with its messy parts. But then the sharing economy emerged and everything changed. We went from happily hiding behind our screens to being expected to join in a new age of sharing in the physical world. Wired’s Jason Tanz describes the cultural shift: “We are hopping into strangers’ cars (Lyft, Sidecar, Uber), welcoming them into our spare rooms (Airbnb), dropping our dogs off at their houses (DogVacay, Rover), and eating food in their dining rooms (Feastly). We are letting them rent our cars (RelayRides, Getaround), our boats (Boatbound), our houses (HomeAway), and our power tools (Zilok). We are entrusting complete strangers with our most valuable possessions, our personal experiences—and our very lives. In the process, we are entering a new era of Internet-enabled intimacy.” Yeah. Gross.
2. Get of Jail Free Card?
“Older, stringent punishments that are out of line with sentences imposed under today’s laws erode people’s confidence in our criminal justice system, and I am confident that this initiative will go far to promote the most fundamental of American ideals — equal justice for all.” That’s Deputy Attorney General James Cole explaining some of the reasoning behind a new program urging non-violent offenders serving excessively long (sometimes, ridiculously long) sentences to apply for release under new clemency guidelines.
+ Bars, schools, churches, airports. Those are just some of the places Georgia residents could be allowed to bring their guns thanks to a new law signed today.
3. Knock (it) Off
“Asking athletes to play on minimal sleep degrades their ability to get the most benefit out of training. They spend all this time practicing but never get to sleep.” Some professional sports teams hire Harvard’s Dr. Charles Czeisler as a consultant to help them win. His advice is always the same: The players need to get more sleep. (Stay tuned. Before long, your boss will be telling you to do the same thing.)
4. The New Things
Private smartphones, brain mapping, agricultural drones, and the Oculus Rift all made the list in Technology Review’s guide to the breakthroughs that will matter for years to come.
+ Somehow, the shoe insoles that tickle your feet to give you directions did not make the list.
+ Among cows, the biggest technological breakthrough has changed an entire industry. “Desperate for reliable labor and buoyed by soaring prices, dairy operations across the state are charging into a brave new world of udder care: robotic milkers, which feed and milk cow after cow without the help of a single farmhand.” (Is it weird that I’m turned on?)
5. Bedroom Debts
The Washington Post takes a look at what you’d need to make in every county in America to afford a decent one-bedroom. (Or why you might want to consider looking for an apartment in Arkansas.)
“Twelve years ago, when he was 23, Michael killed a woman at her home in Renfrew, Ont. The victim, a 51-year-old nurse with a husband and four grown children, was no stranger to him. June Stewart was his mother.” The Toronto Star’s Amy Dempsey tells the story of how a family copes when one member — in the midst of a psychotic episode — kills another. What Michael Did.
7. Get Higher Baby
“You’re socially engineered every time you walk through the cereal aisle in the supermarket. The healthy stuff is down at your feet and the stuff with the most sugar and chocolate is at your eye level – or your child’s eye level.” In Vox, Ezra Klein and Michael Pollan talk about big food, and the influence Wall Street has over what we eat.
+ Want to keep your weight under control. Get high. Living in the mountains could prevent you from becoming obese.
8. The Beautiful People
People just named Lupita Nyong’o as the year’s most beautiful person. (No word yet on the year’s most handsome avatar).
+ “I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin … And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse.” That’s from a recent speech on race and beauty given by Nyong’o. It’s worth a listen.
9. Monkey See, Monkey Sue
“We’re definitely asking a judge to make a leap of faith here; what some might see as a quantum leap. My job is to make it seem as small as possible.” From the NYT Magazine: Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner? (Opposable thumbs. Lawsuits. They’re officially human.)
10. The Bottom of the News
“The phones are taking away the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that forever-empty thing … that knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re alone … The thing is, because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away with a little phone or a jack-off … You never feel completely sad or completely happy, just kinda satisfied with your product, and then you die.” GQ’s most excellent Andrew Corsello pays a visit to Louis C.K., America’s undisputed king of comedy.
+ It’s never too late to become an environmentalist. Welcome to the world of eco-friendly burials. (I’m still hoping to be recycled.)
+ The perks of being president. Obama got a reservation at the Jiro Dreams Of Sushi’ restaurant. I can’t wait to read his Yelp review.