TIME NextDraft

How Doodling Helps You Stay Focused and Other Fascinating News on the Web

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1. Drawing a Blank?

Having trouble staying focused during a meeting or class? Finding it difficult to understand new ideas or remember what you heard during a presentation? Here’s a two-word piece of advice: Just Doodle. According to the WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger, “Recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information.” Now if I could only remember where I left my pen.

2. The End of the Spectrum

According to many psychiatrists and brain experts, about one in 10 autistic children sheds symptoms before adulthood. Duke researcher Geraldine Dawson explains that “there is this subgroup of kids who start out having autism and then, through the course of development, fully lose those symptoms.” Now they just have to figure out why. From the NYT Magazine: The Kids Who Beat Autism.

3. Tunnel Vision

Israel has called up an additional 16,000 reserves, and Netanyahu vows to destroy all the tunnels to Israel, “with or without a ceasefire.”

+ “You have to think through what comes next. You don’t want to actually administer Gaza and you don’t want someone worse taking over.” From The Daily Beast: You Can Keep Your Rockets.

+ “Mossad agents confronted Meshaal in Jordan and injected or sprayed poison into his ear.
It might have ended right there. But Jordan’s King Hussein, who had a peace treaty with Israel, threatened to break off relations unless Mossad delivered the antidote to the poison. And they did.” CNN provides a look at who’s who in Hamas.

+ In Politico, Dennis Ross provides an interesting of overview of how to think about the current crisis and the new Middle East.

4. One Dose

“A dose of experimental serum arrived in Liberia to be tried on a U.S. charity worker struggling for her life — but there was only enough for one of the two infected workers.” High stakes and increasing concerns on the front lines of the fight against Ebola.

+ Vox has a series of facts, figures and explainers about the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

5. DC Comics

The CIA has issued a formal apology to Senate leaders after confirming that “some employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached.” The understanding reached was that they wouldn’t penetrate the computer servers being used by a Senate Intelligence Committee that was investigating them.

+ And here’s a look at why the House just voted to sue President Obama. It’s great timing since he doesn’t have much on his plate these days.

6. The Disintermediation of Louie De Palma

We were promised flying cars, jetpack-powered commutes, and teleportation. What we got was a lot of new ways to hail a cab. NY Mag examines high tech’s traffic jam: Hail Storm.

7. A-Prod

“Eccentric, exacting, and self-destructive — Alex Rodriguez is baseball’s Howard Hughes. He didn’t just shoot steroids or rub on cream like his predecessors, he took his banned substances intravenously while breathing from an oxygen tank, or while laying in a hyperbaric chamber.” Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts with the untold and insanely weird story of A-Rod’s doping habits.

+ “Dear Greg: Lance won’t say it but I will. I apologize.” Mark McKinnon published a belated, open letter to Greg Lemond.

+ “I made the biggest mistake of my life.” As Ray Rice apologized for the violence against his fiancee (now wife), I wondered about the connection between pro football and domestic violence. FiveThirtyEight looks at the numbers.

8. Tis the Seasonal Affective Disorder

We usually associate the doldrums of seasonal affective disorder with the winter months. But for some, summer can be the depressing season.

+ When you get down about the weather, remind yourself that it could be worse. We could be experiencing (another) rainstorm of asteroids that would melt the Earth and boil the oceans. (On the plus side, that would almost certainly wipe out the Sharknado.)

+ If you want to improve your mood and your health, you might want to move closer to trees. “New research says the closer you can live to trees, the better off you are.”

9. Playing Homeless

We’re rolling … and … Action!: “California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari — a former investment banker who headed up the federal bank bailout, worked for investing giant Pimco, and now lives in a $10 million house in Newport Beach — spent a week on the streets of Fresno pretending to be homeless.” And … Cut! (I’d rather do that than spend a week pretending to be a gubernatorial candidate.)

10. The Bottom of the News

Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic: I drank a cup of hot coffee that was overnighted across the country.” Yes, it was a PR stunt (and a good one), but it also provides a look at the complicated, pervasive intersection of logistics and culture. (But sadly, they forgot the cream.)

+ This is the era of advertising as content, when it takes a lot to stand out as a brand. How much? Well, you can start with Bret Michaels singing a cover of Endless Love to a van (and meaning it).

+ In Seattle, one police officer wrote 80 percent of the tickets for consuming marijuana in public this year. (Some folks will do anything for a contact high.)

nextdraft

TIME

Tara Reid Created a Perfume Called ‘Shark’

Yes, really

Tara Reid can thank the Sharknado franchise for many things. Not only has it reinvigorated her career, but the movies have inspired a sense of entrepreneurship in the former party girl.

Today, you can be the owner of Shark by Tara, a perfume inspired by, you guessed it, sharks.

According to TaraReid.com, the $24.95 bottle “is a light and refreshing perfume perfect for day-to-day wear. It also incorporates a plethora of ‘lavender’ colored flowers, which is Tara’s favorite color, making them a true fit for Shark by Tara.”

TIME animals

How to Bury Your Pet in Space

Unlike this stock photo, your pet's cremated remains would be sent to space in capsules. Getty Images

First flight blasts off in the fall

A Houston company called Celestis, which has been sending cremated human remains to space since 1997, has announced a program for the remains of dogs and cats, Reuters reports.

On October 7, 2014, Celestis’s first pet memorial spaceflight is expected to blast off from Spaceport America in New Mexico carrying the remains of a blue merle Australian Shepherd, aptly named Apollo. A biography of his life on the Celestis website describes him as a dog who enjoyed long walks, though noted that as a “libertarian, he was not a fan of the local leash laws.”

The mission is part of the company’s Earth Rise service, which sends “a symbolic portion of your loved one’s cremated remains to space,” according to the Celestis website. “The cremated remains then return to Earth and are recovered.” The family will “receive the flown space capsule or module — with the cremated remains still inside — as a keepsake.”

The price of that kind of mission starts at $995. For $4,995, the remains will orbit the Earth. For $12,500, you can send them to the Moon or deep space.

Celestis is known for launching “22 lipstick-sized metal vials” containing ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and American psychologist and LSD expert Timothy Leary at 6,200 mph.

 

TIME book

Happy 34th Birthday Harry Potter—You’re Way Older Than We Thought You Were

Harry Potter
Warner Bros.

He isn't even a Millennial!

I still remember meeting Harry Potter for the first time. We were both going through our awkward phases. Granted, he was a prepubescent wizard with a lightning bolt scar instead of acne on his forehead. And he was saving the world from forces of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, while I was still covertly playing with American Girl dolls.

But when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit American bookstores in 1998, despite the slightly different circumstances, we were peers. Just two 11-year-old kids with unkempt hair, trying to figure things out.

So imagine my surprise when I read on JK Rowling’s official blog that July 31 this year is Harry Potter’s 34th birthday — when I’m just 26-years-old.

Not only is Harry almost a decade further along than me but, according to Pew researchers, he isn’t even a part of my so-called “Millennial” generation! How did he grow up without me?

Here’s the thing that many Harry Potter fans didn’t fully realize: Though the first book starring an 11-year-old Harry Potter was released in 1997 in the UK and 1998 in America, it takes place almost a decade prior. Rowling concocted her tale on a crowded train in 1990. So Harry Potter’s story begins then–the same year Maggie Thatcher quit as Prime Minister of Muggles.

Rowling didn’t make this timeline explicitly clear in the books. Dates are scarce throughout the series and since the world of Hogwarts is somewhat removed from current events anyway, it was hard to isolate cultural details that would put its timing in a greater context. We might know when the Xbox came out. But a Nimbus 2000? Not so much.

Luckily, some extremely dedicated Potter fans created a timeline on their own, based on one concrete date given in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A 12-year-old Harry and friends were celebrating Nearly Headless Nick’s 500th anniversary of his October 31, 1492 deathday. And quicker than you can say, “Aparecium!” there it is–a clear indication that Harry was born in 1980.

Rowling was wise to leave these details vague: A powerful kinship is created when your target demographic grows up alongside its newfound hero. Every year, the Harry Potter generation would wait in line at midnight to see what his slightly aged wizarding cohort was up to. Over nearly decade, we transitioned from getting chaperoned by parents way past our bedtime at book stores, to driving ourselves to now defunct Borders to pick up a copy.

Harry Potter may not be a peer. The father of three is in the upper echelons of the Ministry of Magic, I’m still on Tinder figuring out what a 401K means. But I still think it’s fair to say that we still grew up together. So happy birthday, Old Man Potter!

TIME Television

Maggie Gyllenhaal on Israel and Palestine — and How Obama Broke Her Heart

"I still root for him," she says

+ READ ARTICLE

Maggie Gyllenhaal comes from a long line of lefties, including her mom Naomi Foner, whose screenplay for Running On Empty was nominated for an Oscar. The actress has been politically outspoken before standing up against the Iraq war. So it’s kind of surprising that she’s not such a fan of Obama,not will she take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Or maybe not that unexpected. Taking sides in the Middle East could turn potential viewers away from her new miniseries The Honorable Woman, which starts on July 31 on Sundance. “You know, you say one word on one side or the other, and you alienate hundreds of thousands of people,” she says in the longer version of her interview for the 10 Questions page of Time. “And I’m hoping actually to open many people’s minds and hearts even the tiniest bit. So, yes, I’m trying to think about what my ultimate intention is…and I’m trying to think before I speak.”

In the longer video below (pro-tip: skip the first minute if you watched the one above), Gyllenhaal also explains how President Obama broke her heart. “I really believed in him and I’m not sure what he believes in any more.” She thinks he wasn’t aggressive enough in dealing with the National Security Agency, after it was shown that their activities were Enemy of the State-ish than most Americans had been led to believe. “I still root for him,” says Gyllenhaal. “But I feel a little hopeless right now….I hope for a leader who will stand up and be unpopular.”

 

 

 

 

TIME technology

This Dozing Desk Means Never Getting Out of Bed Again

Hanko

Lazy? Me?

Some incredible—or incredibly useless—inventions have come out of Japan, like the ramen face shield. But this “Super Upward-Looking Dozing Desk,” discovered by Kotaku, is something every lazy technology user would love to own. The contraption brings us one step closer to becoming the pod people from Wall-E.

The Dozing Desk forms a kind of armature over your prone body in bed. It holds a laptop precariously above your face with the help of elastic ties (hopefully secure enough to keep it from falling on you, which it looks poised to do). Your eyes now have a straight line to the screen even while laying down, and your keyboard is perfectly aligned to your hands. The only problem might be a lack of circulation to your arms, but you don’t type that much anyway, do you?

The desk apparatus looks funny, but there’s a burgeoning line of products for those who don’t want to do their computing while sitting—which, after all, kills you slowly. The Zero Gravity Desk kind of looks like a dentist’s chair, with its various arms and levers. But it’s designed to keep your body perfectly balanced and unstressed while working, and who wouldn’t want that?

These devices are the closest thing we have to becoming floating brains in tanks, controlling our digital lives through the power of our thoughts. Before we achieve that singularity, there’s always the bed-desk. Or at least these prism-spectacles that let you read while laying down.

TIME

This Dog’s Brakes May Need Checking [VIDEO]

Hey dog, that's weird

+ READ ARTICLE

Stella the Yellow Lab has no need for convention.

Sure, most dogs slow down before coming to a complete stop, but Stella isn’t most dogs. Instead of laying off the gas to slow her roll, Stella does the canine equivalent of pulling the car keys out of the ignition — she simply stops mid-stride and belly flops on the ground, legs splayed out behind her like a Thanksgiving turkey.

It’s an adorably weird quirk that was uploaded to YouTube, so the whole internet could head-scratch over the cute canine oddity. The uploader assures concerned viewers that Stella is completely healthy and she just uses this unique braking technique “to cool down on the grass after she’s been fetching and playing.” Keep on being you, Stella.

MORE: This Dog Was So Excited to Be Reunited With Its Owner That It Passed Out

MORE: Why Do Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Butts? Here Comes the Science

TIME celebrities

Deadmau5 Took Toronto Mayor Rob Ford On A Coffee Run In His Nyan Cat Ferrari

Mayor Ford's coffee order explains a lot

+ READ ARTICLE

Have you ever wondered what embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and superstar EDM producer deadmau5 would talk about during a coffee run? Football, for starters. The difficulty of left turns, Nyan Cat and the importance of taking care of Toronto’s pot holes were also on the agenda for their conversation and it’s all captured on tape for the whole internet to gawk at.

The video was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday by deadmau5 as part of his new Coffee Run series. In the clip, the Canadian mayor and music producer take deadmau5’s so-called Purrari — a Nyan Cat-wrapped Ferrari 458 Italia — for a spin through the city streets with a quick stopover at a Tim Horton’s drive thru window, because where else would two Canadians go?

While both men are known for creating controversy, Ford’s Horton’s order of five espresso shots in a single cup is the most jaw-dropping moment of the whole 30-minute video.

MORE: Kevin Spacey Just Made Rob Ford’s Day

MORE: deadmau5 Sounds Off on DJs, Antagonizing Everyone and His Label: Q&A

TIME animals

WATCH: Swan Attacks Man Taking a Selfie

The man ruffled its feathers

+ READ ARTICLE

A swan “attacked” a man who was just trying to take a selfie with it.

As YouTube user Steven Takata explains in the description of the video, “My brother-in-law got a little too close for his selfie with the trumpeter swans at the Great Bend Zoo in Kansas.” The clip also shows the selfie, which turned out pretty well, making the whole ordeal worth it after all.

It is possible that the swan wanted to make sure it was featured prominently in the shot, given it’s North America’s largest waterfowl.

MORE: Elephant Takes The Greatest Selfie of All Time

TIME Food & Drink

Behold the Unhealthiest Meal You Can Eat at a Chain Restaurant

Red Robin
A.1. Peppercorn burger, Bottomless Steak Fries, and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake is seen at a Red Robin restaurant in Foxboro, Massachusetts July 30, 2014. Dominick Reuter—Reuters

At 3,540 calories, this meal is not going to make your waistline happy

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has handed out their annual Xtreme Eating Awards to the fast food meals and chains that they deem the unhealthiest. After surveying over 200 chain restaurant menus for meals and combos that are especially high in calories, fat, sugar and salt, the winner of this year’s ignominious prize is a real monster. Specifically, Red Robin’s “monster-sized” A.1. peppercorn burger, served with “bottomless” fries and a “Monster” milkshake, which clocks in at a whopping 3,540 calories.

According to CSPI, it’s the “single unhealthiest” meal available at a chain restaurant, with 69 grams of saturated fat, 6,280 mg of sodium and an estimated almost three-quarters of a cup of added sugar. CSPI notes that to work off a meal of such, ahem, monstrous proportions, the average person would need to walk briskly for a full 12 hours, presumably not walking from one Red Robin to another. (One takeaway from this dubious distinction is that perhaps limiting one’s intake of foods preceded by the word “monster” should be step one towards healthy eating.)

Joining Red Robin in the winner’s circle for this ignoble prize is the Cheesecake Factory. While Red Robin won the top prize for its monster combo, the Cheesecake Factory earned itself three spots on the list. The popular chain’s Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic clocked in at 2,410 calories, which CSPI notes is “the calorie equivalent of a five-hour jog.” Also in the ranks are the Bruléed French Toast, which rang up 2,780 calories, and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake that contained 1,500 calories. Yes, the cheesecake had almost one thousand fewer calories than the innocent sounding chicken and pasta dish. Luckily the restaurant has many “Skinnylicious” menu options that make it easier to make healthier choices.

Consumers can make healthier eating choices at chain restaurants as they increasingly add low calorie, low carb and weight watching friendly items to their menus. For example, at Red Robin you could swap french fries for steamed broccoli, but that’s a different type of monster entirely.

MORE: 11 Worst Fast Food Restaurants in America

MORE: McDonald’s Liable for Employees’ Treatment, Labor Board Rules

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