TIME NextDraft

A History of TMZ and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 25, 2014

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1. What’s Inside the Vault?

I know. You don’t read TMZ and you don’t care about some cheap celebrity gossip rag. But you probably heard something about Mel Gibson’s lethal love life, or Tiger Woods’ bunker busting social schedule, or Donald Sterling’s audition tapes for a Civil War-era version of The Bachelor. TMZ breaks the stories, and then mainstream media runs with them — sometimes with attribution, almost never with a link. There is the “unique and controversial mix of scandal mongering and investigative journalism.” And then there is the vault. That’s where Harvey Levin hides the stories that haven’t been published. “The vault isn’t a secret at TMZ — even the lowest on the staff ladder have heard whispers of its existence. As to what goes up on the site and what stays vaulted, that’s a finer, more esoteric calculus — and one in which celebrities and their publicists have come to live in fear.” Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Petersen on the down and dirty history of TMZ. (I know. You don’t read Buzzfeed either.)

2. The Big Chill

In 1995, seven percent of urban Chinese families owned a refrigerator. By 2007, 95% of those families owned one. NYT Magazine’s Nicola Twilley: What do Chinese dumplings have to do with global warming? (Elon Musk should design a dumpling that doesn’t need to be chilled.)

+ On the plus side, you can now take a cruise through the Northwest Passage and get up close and personal with “an actual polar bear clinging to an actual shrinking ice floe.”

+ The weather reports says there’s a 20% chance of rain. Do you have any idea what that means?

+ What if all the ice on Earth melted?

3. Weekend Reads

“Today’s Kannapolis does not offer as many good blue-collar jobs as it used to — unemployment still hovers at 10 percent—but it does provide plenty of opportunities for locals to serve as human research subjects.” Pacific Standard’s Amanda Wilson on a town where a textile mill shut down and a biotechnology firm opened up.

+ How Buckyball fell apart.

+ “The courts are empty, the nets dangling by a thread. The crowds that used to stand four deep are gone, and so are the players. Once players asked ‘Who’s got next?’ Now the question is ‘Anyone want to play?’ And the answer seems to be no, at least not here, not outside.” From ESPN: Playground basketball is dying.

+ Grantland invented and is celebrating Rom-Com week with a fun series of articles that look at the often strange arc of the romantic comedy genre.

4. Generic Answer

Is it OK to buy generic when it comes to products like drugs and foods? Let’s ask the experts. NPR has a couple of interesting charts that detail when chefs and doctors buy generic.

+ Tylenol (aka acetaminophen) is no more effective than a placebo in the treatment of back pain according to a new study — and everyone who’s ever had back pain.

5. Face to Face

My friend who owns the deli where I get my daily coffee is Palestinian and he always calls me by my Arabic name. I’m the son of Holocaust survivors and I have many family members who live in Israel. When violence erupts in the Middle East, we both worry about each other’s families, complain about the politicians and extremists, and mourn the loss of so many children in the region. The many stories on the Internet that show Palestinians and Israelis who are couples or family or who live together and manage to get along and even share similar views about the future never surprise me. Here’s PRI on a program that brings Israelis and Palestinians together, often under the same roof. “Growing up, I never had the chance to have this kind of discussion or experience with anyone from the Palestinian side.”

+ Meanwhile, John Kerry and other international leaders continue to try to get the two sides to agree to a five day ceasefire. So far, it’s not happening. Sadly, that doesn’t surprise me either.

+ Etgar Keret in The New Yorker: Israel’s other war.

6. Turn Your Head and Google

Google seems to be getting into every industry these days. And their next stop could be inside your body. An ambitious project called Baseline will collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from 175 people — and later thousands more — to create what the company hopes will be the fullest picture of what a healthy human being should be.” (Please let it be slightly pear shaped…)

+ How does Google continue to expand into so many new categories? Total domination of the search market.

7. Only the Good Buy Young

The stock market has been soaring upwards in recent years. And that’s good news. Unless you’re of a certain age. The NYT’s Upshot explains why a soaring stock market is wasted on the young.

8. The Biathlon de France

The Tour de France is really two sporting events in one. The first is the ridiculously difficult bicycle race. The second is the amazingly challenging test of eating endurance.

9. Indiana Moans

“I was going through a divorce, and I was in a really bad mood. So I really wanted to do dark. And Steve then broke up with his girlfriend, and so he was sort of into it, too. That’s where we were at that point in time.” The simple explanation of why the second Indiana Jones movie was so dark.

10. The Bottom of the News

“Skills: All the computer programs known to man, except for Microsoft Word. That is where graphic design goes to lay down and die.” In McSweeney’s, Marco Kaye presents the world’s first and only completely honest resume of a graphic designer. And if you missed it a few weeks back, definitely take a look at the fantastic client feedback on the creation of the Earth.

+ It turns out that the almond milk wars have only just begun. (I’d say these writers are milking it, but they’re all lactose intolerant.)

+ Video: The history of the high five.

+ And for those who have wondered where the rock guitar chord went, we found it. Have a first listen to the excellent new Tom Petty album. (This guy’s been responsible for more hits than Cheech and Chong combined.)

nextdraft

TIME U.S.

Little Boy Battling Cancer Receives 30,000 Birthday Cards

He said all he wanted for his birthday were cards with his name on them -- and the world responded

Today, Danny Nickerson turns six. It’s been a tough year for him, as he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last fall and had to stop going to kindergarten, ABC News reports. The Boston area boy told his family that all he wanted for his birthday were cards with his name on them — and it looks like his wish has definitely been granted.

When people around the U.S. — and even around the world — heard about Danny’s story and his one birthday wish, they began to flood his family’s P.O. box. Danny’s mom told ABC News that she received messages from far as Switzerland, Germany, Australia, California, Alaska, Norway and Sweden, all asking how to send Danny a card or package.

The Nickerson family has been posting about the influx of mail on Facebook:

By the time Danny reached his birthday on July 25, he’d received more than 30,000 cards, Boston.com reports. In the meantime, the local post office is preparing for many more. If you want to send Danny a belated birthday card, here’s the address his family provided:

Danny Nickerson
PO Box 212
Foxboro, MA 02035

TIME animals

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

They had been apart for two years. But don't worry, the dog is fine.

+ READ ARTICLE

There’s little doubt that people love their pets, after all, you don’t spend $56 billion on animals you just barely tolerate. While companion animals can’t show their love financially (Grumpy Cat nothwithstanding), it’s pretty clear that pets love their people, too. Take for example, Rebecca Ehalt’s reunion with her beloved Schnauzer, which she uploaded to YouTube. This dog was so happy to be reunited with his human friend, that it passed out from joy.

According to the YouTube posting, Ehalt had been gone for two years — that’s 14 dog years! – and the family pet just couldn’t contain all the feelings coursing through its little four-legged body and ended up shrieking in happiness until it keeled over. Don’t worry, though, the pup was taken to a vet who gave the dog a clean bill of health.

MORE: This Website Knows Where Your Cat Lives

MORE: Machine, and It Will Dispense Food for Stray Dogs

TIME

Look Out, Beyoncé: This Woman’s Subway Performance Of “Halo” Is Amazing

America's got talent, all right

+ READ ARTICLE

Waiting for the subway can be a pretty dull, quotidian activity, but on a few rare occasions it can be punctuated by a bout of pure underground magic. Take, for example, the lucky commuters who were able to witness this woman singing her heart out to Beyoncé’s “Halo.”

While most subway singers have some talent, this anonymous woman is clearly gifted in the vocals department and her rendition of the song gives Queen Bey a run for her “Halo” money, which undoubtedly explains why none of the commuters seem annoyed by her singing. A busker has to be confident about their skills if they are going to burst into song on a subway platform, but in this clip, the New York City commuters end up applauding the woman’s efforts — and that alone says a lot about her talent.

[h/t Daily Picks & Flicks]

MORE: Beyonce Leads the 2014 VMAs With Eight Nominations

MORE: Beyonce’s Getting a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Exhibit

TIME

This Supercut Shows What Cheesy 80′s Movies Thought Computer Hacking Looked Like

Bring on the cliches

+ READ ARTICLE

There’s a series of electronic beeps over a Tron soundtrack. The screen is filled with a series of green letters and then a psychedelic interface. This is computer hacking, as told to you by any number of 1980′s computer films, oozing with cheesy perfection.

FoundItemClothing.com made the video, which features scenes from Real Genius, War Games, and Spies Like Us, to name a few.

TIME cities

This Drone Video Reveals Downtown LA’s Hidden Architectural Gems

See the City of Angels from a whole new perspective

+ READ ARTICLE

Downtown Los Angeles has been undergoing a visible revitalization for years, but this aerial video from a downtown resident shows that many of the city’s gems have been hiding in plain sight.

“One of the things you’re told growing up in New York City is that only the tourists look up,” said Ian Wood, who used a GoPro camera attached to a drone to capture the city. “Now with this project in mind I was looking up and seeing all these amazing things.”

Among the sights in the video are the colorfully-designed tiled tower atop the Los Angeles Public Library, breathtaking murals and street art, and a whole lot of art deco architecture.

Sit back and enjoy.

TIME weird

Person Who Left Dolls on Little Girls’ Porches Not a Huge Creep After All

Handout of a combination photo showing two of the porcelain dolls found on doorsteps of numerous residences in the Talega community of San Clemente
A combination photo showing two of the porcelain dolls found on doorsteps of numerous residences in the Talega community of San Clemente, Calif., July 24, 2014. Oragne County Sheriff's Department/Reuters

Each doll resembled a little girl who lived in the house

There are few things spookier than opening your front door and finding a porcelain doll that looks like your young daughter, but that’s exactly what happened to eight families in a Southern California town.

Many residents were freaked out by the dolls, and thought there could be some kind of stalker on the loose. “I’m actually thinking the worst, like someone creepy watching our children and I’m actually pretty scared about it,” Mary Robin Baziak told NBC Southern California. “(Someone) found a China doll on her stop that looked like her daughter.”

The dolls, which started appearing on doorsteps in San Clemente on June 16, had initially stumped police. But the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday that they’ve identified the person responsible as a woman who went to church with some of the families and didn’t mean any harm. “Investigators have concluded that her motivation was out of goodwill and that she intended it as a kind gesture,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a press release.

 

TIME Appreciation

Watch a 6-Year-Old Kid Rollerskate Under 39 Cars

Yes, really. It's called limbo skating

+ READ ARTICLE

For the past several years, this ridiculously flexible kid has been honing some pretty impressive rollerskating skills. He’s 6-year-old Gagan Satish from India, and he might have just broken a world record by skating under 39 SUVs.

But to him, 39 is nothing. His next goal is to glide under 100 cars. We have complete faith in him. (Seriously though, how? How does he make his body do this? What is happening?)

TIME

Pictures of the Week: July 18 – July 25

From rising death toll on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the return of MH17 victims to the Netherlands, to wildfires in Washington and the fight to protect flamingos, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

 

TIME animals

You Will Barely Recognize This Abandoned Dog After His Much Needed Haircut

Ziggy the dog's road to recovery

When a clearly neglected Shih Tzu was dropped off at a Long Island animal shelter, rescuers were shocked. More than 25% of his body was covered in thick, matted fur — which inspired his new name: Ziggy.

Suffolk County SPCA

 

“I’ve only seen one worse in my 30 year career,” says Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County SPCA. “Even the fleas could get through the fur, that’s how bad it was.”

The 5 or 6-year-old pup could barely walk, and it took rescuers 3.5 hours to shave 4 pounds of hair from the now 11 pound dog. The change is jaw dropping:

Suffolk County SPCA

“He will be up for adoption, but not now,” Gross says. “He has a long road to recovery.”

Ziggy will have to undergo extensive physical therapy to retrain his walking muscle memory.

“There’s also a criminal investigation, and the dog could serve as evidence,” Gross says. “This is another horrible case of animal cruelty.”

A $2,000 reward is being offered to anyone who provides information about the dog’s owner if it leads to arrest and conviction. Call the Suffolk County SPCA at (631) 382-7722.

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