TIME NextDraft

Why America’s Toys Are Getting Cheap and Other Fascinating News on the Web

May 2, 2014

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1. Let Them Eat Cake Boss

We’ve seen the gulf between rich and poor widen dramatically over the past decade. If a smaller percentage of the population has a greater percentage of the cash, then why are advanced phones, computers and especially televisions flying of the shelf? It turns out that the prices of those items are going down. But “prices are rising on the very things that are essential for climbing out of poverty.” The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson: Why America’s essentials are getting more expensive while its toys are getting cheap.

2. Class is in Cession

On my first day working at a high school in Brooklyn, I was subbing for a teacher who had been stabbed in the hand with a pencil by student who was unwilling to give up his Walkman. I can’t imagine what it takes for today’s teachers to distract students from their much more advanced devices. And apparently, it was harder than ever yesterday, when teens went bananas for the new Snapchat update. Software is the new rock star.

+ A senior at Parkway High School in Rockford, Ohio took his great-grandmother to his prom. (And I bet he still got further than I did at my prom.)

3. Weekend Reads

“I was apparently the first person from our high school with whom she’d had contact in nearly 10 years.” A gay teenager shook her high school and her Marin County community when she was the victim of a rash of hate crimes. Then it turned out that she committed the crimes herself. And she never spoke publicly of that era again, until now. Buzzfeed’s Sandra Allen: Why would a gay teenager commit hate crimes against herself?

+ “If they didn’t receive the money, they were saying that at any moment they might give him a machetazo — a whack with a machete — chop off an arm, a finger, whatever, and he would never play baseball again, not for anyone.” LA Magazine with a story about a Dodger that’s so interesting, even a Giants fan could love it: Escape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey to the Dodgers.

+ The NBA’S improbable pipeline: How alumni from tiny Emerson college infiltrated pro basketball’s front offices.

+ And for your queue-filling pleasure, our friends over at Longreads have a links to many of the 2014 National Magazine Award Winners.

4. Shots Fired

Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said that many have been killed in an operation targeting pro-Russian rebels in the eastern city of Sloviansk. The U.S. called the actions, “proportionate and reasonable.” Moscow warned of “catastrophic consequences.”

+ Vice: How Russia conquered eastern Ukraine without firing a shot.

5. Fast Break

“Suddenly, out of nowhere, here was such an issue, but one more charged than Johnson could have imagined, with the potential to pull apart a league that is about three-quarters black.” How Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA player) Kevin Johnson’s influence pushed Adam Silver to push Donald Sterling all the way out of the league.

+ The head of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP resigned after his connections to Donald Sterling came under scrutiny (along with his term as a judge in Detroit when he was indicted on federal bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and racketeering charges).

+ It turns out that the Sterling tape was leaked by a friend of a friend of V. Stiviano. (Maybe that friend also knows what the V stands for…)

6. The Pox Talks

During the 20th century, Smallpox killed about 300 million people worldwide. Since the disease was eradicated decades ago, should we finally destroy our last living samples of the virus?

7. A Leg to Stand and Fight On

“Now Pitcher stole a look downward at the sheet covering his lower body. There was one mound instead of two. He swore. ‘And then I just spiraled down into complete depression.'” That was two years ago. Today, Army Lt. Joshua Pitcher is the first member of the 82nd Airborne Division to return to paratrooper duty as an amputee.

8. Strange Days Indeed

“These were the days when everyone was still beautiful, and we were all still rich. The things big bubble-pop doomsayers kept predicting hadn’t happened yet, and Facebook was on top of everything else. It was just firing. And firing. And firing.” Wired’s Mat Honan: The Year of the Facebook.

+ Paul Ford: I set myself the task of picking five great works of software.

9. Pooch on the Couch

Theresa Fisher explains how behavioral pharmacology — treating animals’ anxiety with medication — has become widely accepted in veterinary practice. I was going to put my cat on Prozac, but then his shrink suggested that I instead get him started with juicing, a strictly artisanal diet, and a steady stream of TED Talks on YouTube. And now he seems fine.

10. The Bottom of the News

Was Pippa Middleton wearing a false bottom? Is Stephane Bern, “a Knight of the Order of Grimaldi in Monaco … known as a top royal ettiquette expert” correct in his assertion that, in reality, Pippa has normal buttocks? (The fact that someone can suggest such a thing and still have a head attached to his body is proof that the Royals have no power left.)

+ Wired: What’s the Pressure Inside an Exploding Whale?

+ New feature from InFocus: Photos of the Week.

+ How to win at rock-paper-scissors.

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