May 14, 2014
1. The Mod Squad
The debate over the labeling of genetically modified foods affects a lot of people, and a lot of food — about 60-70 percent of processed foods contain GMOs. People on one side of the debate want labels on foods and argue that they have a right to information. People (and corporations) on the other side argue that their position is supported by science, and that labels would imply that people should be worried when there’s no cause for concern. As Molly Ball explains in her very interesting piece in The Atlantic: “Both of these lines may be true as far as it goes; what the debate comes down to is politics.” Want to Know If Your Food Is Genetically Modified?
+ Thirteen people just got arrested in Italy, where food ingredients are taken seriously. It turns out the buffalo mozzarella was being made with cow’s milk.
2. Live Like a Refugee
The number of people who have been forced from their homes due to violence has hit its highest number in 20 years. In Syria, 9,500 people are forced from their homes every day. And in Nigeria, 3.3 million have fled their homes (due in large part to Boko Haram).
+ Syrian children were given cameras to show what life in the world’s second largest refugee camp looks like.
3. Disaster in a Coal Mine
“This was not an accident, it happened because not enough is ever done to protect workers … The government is complicit in these deaths, in our tragedy.” As the Turkey mine disaster’s death toll rises, there is an increasing level of anger and violence on the streets.
4. A PhD in STFU
In the past five years, there has been a surge in the number of graduation speakers who have been protested, withdrawn their names, or had their invitations revoked. It can make sense to disagree with the politics of a speaker. But does it make sense to shut that speaker up? The Internet was supposed to herald in an era of unfettered discourse and free speech. But it seems like this is becoming the era of silencing those with opposing opinions.
+ Smith College President Kathleen McCartney: “I want to underscore this fact: An invitation to speak at a commencement is not an endorsement of all views or policies of an individual or the institution she or he leads…I remain committed to leading a college where differing views can be heard and debated with respect.” That was in response to her school’s commencement speaker dropping out.
5. History’s Most Consistent Storyline
A new global survey resulted in some very disturbing numbers when it comes to the worldwide levels of antisemitism. (The numbers are even worse for Muslims.) An amazing number of people were unaware of the Holocaust — “66% had either not heard of it or didn’t believe the historical accounts were accurate.”
6. War Games?
“The catalog of the walking dead also includes zombies that come from outer space; those deliberately created by Frankensteinian bio-engineers; and humans that have been invaded by a pathogen that turns them into zombies.” FP with an unusual exclusive: The Pentagon has a plan to stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously. (Thanks to FP for making their content available to NextDraft readers … including zombies.)
7. Forget Me Not
Matt Ford of The Atlantic on censorship and the troubling implications of the EU’s new right to be forgotten. Europeans want the right to be forgotten online and most Americans freak out if they’re forgotten for five minutes.
+ “Could your town’s mayor spark a police investigation into your activities that ends with town cops rifling through your mobile phone, your laptop, and the full contents of your Gmail account—all over an alleged misdemeanor based on something you wrote on social media.” Pretty much. Ars Technica: How a mayor’s quest to unmask a foul-mouthed Twitter user blew up in his face.
8. The Ocarina of Time(clock)
Videogame producers utilize music to keep you engaged, increase your achievement, and give you the energy to make it to the next level. So maybe you just found your ideal work soundtrack. (Up until now, this newsletter was being typed to the tunes of Zelda. I’m kicking it up to Call of Duty for the next few items.)
+ Aside from being entertained by the brothels and beheadings, how does George R.R. Martin stay focused when he’s writing Game of Thrones? “I actually have two computers: I have the computer that I browse the Internet with that I get my email on, that I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine not connected to the Internet.”
9. A Piece on Shit
“The mechanics of the disease are still not well understood. Some experts believe that fecal matter leaks out of your colon and travels through your lymphatic system into your writing. Others think it’s figurative. But those distinctions matter little when you are looking at a page of your own writing and seeing shit.” Andy Bobrow explains how writing for the TV show Community cured him. “Five years ago, shortly after my beautiful daughter’s third birthday, I was diagnosed with advanced SWS – Shit Writing Syndrome.”
10. The Bottom of the News
A cat in Bakersfield may have saved a kid’s life when it chased away a
vicious dog. And in doing so, the cat reminded us once again why the Internet was invented.
+ Whatever happened to roller skating?
+ Eighteen ways to say awesome.