TIME NextDraft

Now Teenagers Value Tech Over Clothes and Other Fascinating News on the Web

August 28, 2014


1. Cell Bottom Blues

This year, your back-to-school shopping may have included more devices and downloads than pieces of attire. According to the NYT, today’s teenagers favor tech over clothes. One retail analysts explains how his focus groups go these days: “You try to get them talking about what’s the next look, what they’re excited about purchasing in apparel, and the conversation always circles back to the iPhone 6.”

+ Of course, the days of thinking of tech and fashion as two separate verticals could soon be ending. From Horace Dediu: Apparel is Next.

+ Often tech trends are as hard to predict as the next fashion craze. The Economist has a chart that details the emerging technologies hype circle. (I was using one of those to hold up my corduroys back in the 80s.)

2. Making History

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Or maybe not. As the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik explains: “What history generally teaches is how hard it is for anyone to control it, including the people who think they’re making it.” If anything, history reminds us is to keep a current crisis in perspective, because things have been really bad before. By doing this, we can better avoid the notion that “each crisis is a historical crisis in need of urgent aggressive handling — even if all experience shows that aggressive handling of such situations has in the past, quite often made things worse.” (That sounds like an excellent excuse to take the rest of the day off.)

+ That said, has this August been the worst month ever?

3. (In) The Way of the Gun

The gun debate is back in the headlines again after a 9 year-old being taught to shoot an Uzi lost control of the weapon and accidentally shot and killed her instructor. Here’s BloombergBusinessweek with four blunt points.

+ Welcome to Nucla, Colorado. A town of fewer than 700 people with a unique law: The head of every household must own a gun.

+ In News 21, journalism students go deep on big subjects. The current topic: America’s Gun Wars.

4. Naming Names

Anonymity enables the worst Internet citizens to ruin the conversation for the rest of us. But that’s only part of the story. GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram argues that the more important part of anonymity is that it provides a safety veil for everyday people. (Maybe everyday people are the problem…)

+ Rebecca Mead on the professor and the trolls: The Troll Slayer.

5. The Hollywood Sign Points North

“Watching the ways in which his two teenage sons consumed media, Robbins became convinced that the future of youth entertainment wasn’t in broadcast or cable TV but in short-form digital videos, particularly on YouTube.” There’s a good business lesson there. Follow the kids is the new follow the money. BusinessWeek’s Felix Gillette follows it all (and just about every major media and technology company) to the YouTube networks that have become Hollywood’s big money hit factory.

6. Rabbit Recycles?

“Moran pedaled home, traded his bike for his car, and returned to Updike’s house. He hefted the trash bag filled with the honorary degrees from the street. During the years that followed, he would return to Updike’s curb more times than he could count.” The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance with the odd story of the man who made off with John Updike’s trash. Who really owns a great writer’s legacy? (And does Updike recycle?)

7. Don’t Snort the Water

More than 12,000 residents of St John Parish in Louisiana have been alerted to the disturbing news that their drinking water tested positive for a brain-eating amoeba. So far there are no current illnesses, and health officials have tried to calm nerves by explaining that “the amoeba can only be harmful if ingested through the nose.” Uh, so, yeah, go ahead and drink up.

+ The other water that Louisiana residents need to worry about is the rising ocean. The state is losing a football field of land every 48 minutes. ProPublica with an interactive report: Losing Ground.

8. Feigned Ankle

USC senior football captain Josh Shaw was regarded as a hero after he injured his ankles jumping off a balcony to save his drowning nephew. Only, it turns out that he made the whole thing up. He’s been suspended from the team, and this could just be the beginning of the story.

+ Meanwhile, USC senior running back Anthony Brown quit the team and took to social media to call head coach Steve Sarkisian a racist.

+ College football stadiums are more packed than ever. Except the student sections.

9. Almond In

“Almonds recently overtook peanuts as the most-eaten ‘nut’ (seed, technically) in the United States, and Americans now consume more than 10 times as many almonds as we did in 1965.” They are good for you. So of course, there’s got to be a dark side of almond use. Almonds should watch their back. I just saw a bottle of artisanal cashew milk in my local Whole Foods.

+ Shouts and Murmurs: “Yesterday, at our local grocer’s, Pa and I saw that there are not one but two competing companies trying to sell lowly cabbage as a ‘kale extender.’ Pa said, ‘The only thing I’d like to extend is my middle finger.'”

10. The Bottom of the News

The web nearly exploded when we learned that Sanrio execs suggested that Hello Kitty is not a cat: “She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat.” Yeah, and next you’re gonna tell me that Snoop is not really a Dogg. Sanrio has attempted to clarify. The Wire has collected the latest updates.

+ Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s numbers suggest he’s got a better than decent shot at re-election. Let that be a lesson to you.

+ Laird Hamilton shoots the pier at Malibu Lagoon and then saves a dude who had lost his board in rough surf. Of course he did. He’s Laird Friggin Hamilton.

+ Brad and Angelina are married.

+ Fx just ordered a show from Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K. It’s about a clown. Enough said.


TIME celebrity

Watch Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert Sing a Hilarious Song Together (20 Years Ago)

Back during their days at Chicago's Second City

This video, unearthed by Splitsider, features a young Steve Carell and an even younger Stephen Colbert performing together back in 1993 at Chicago’s famed Second City comedy club. (They’re joined by fellow funnymen Paul Dinello and David Razowsky, but obviously those guys are a lot less famous.)

This clip, which features the performers singing a little ditty called “The Obvious Song,” was part of a show called Take Me Out to the Balkans. Man, look at Steve ‘n Stephen — they’re just babies here. Kids really do grow up so fast, don’t they?

TIME viral

Little Boy Finds The Idea of His Mom Being Pregnant Simply “Exasperating” in Adorable Video

"What were you thinking?!"

Typically when parents break the news to their children that they are going to be big brothers or sisters, it goes over really well or really badly.

A mother named Shanee Gibson Hart of Fort Lewis, Washington, posted a video on Facebook and YouTube describing the moment she told her son Tré and daughter that they are going to have a new sibling, and the news sends her son off on a tirade that would make Gordon Ramsey blush.

“What were you thinking?!” he wails. “It’s too much! This makes no sense!”

Turns out that the kid is not preaching from a replacement level fertility platform, it’s just that he’s really worried his mom and dad will replace him. “You have two babies! You keep loving them forever not having another baby!” Tré yells from the back seat. His mother assures him that his parents will love him and his little sister forever, which temporarily calms the kid.

The détente is broken, though, when his mother points out that his baby sister looks happy about the news and the boy realizes he has a very important question to ask: Pointing his finger at his mom, he demands to know, “What kind of baby is it?”

His mother patiently talks him down, and the boy finally concedes that the baby can exist, but only on one condition: “Buy me some earplugs.”

MORE: Here’s The World’s Fastest Dog on Two Paws

MORE: This Lamb Bouncing Gleefully Down a Hallway Will Remind You That Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

TIME Food & Drink

Here’s How Ice Cream Will Look—and Taste—in the Future

Brace yourself for edible shells and 3-D printing.

As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, we’re pretty sure that doesn’t apply to ice cream. It’s already, by many accounts, the perfect food, so it certainly doesn’t need “fixing” per se, but we’re completely open to the idea that it could be made even better.

Here, a look at three current projects that are shaking up the ice cream world — and potentially altering the future of everybody’s favorite frozen treat.

  • Ice cream that’s been 3D printed

    When faced with an assignment to develop a new and innovative technology in 3D-printing, a group of MIT students decided to think a bit differently from their classmates.

    “Everyone else was printing composites and resins and none of that was very tasty,” says Kyle Hounsell, now a recent MIT graduate, who teamed with fellow students to think of some edible options for the project. Eventually, he and fellow students Donghyun Kim and Kristine Bunker decided they’d try to 3D-print ice cream — and it ended up working.

    The team took an ordinary off-the-shelf soft-serve ice cream machine and then attached it to a Solidoodle 3D printer.

    “The technology is called fused deposition modeling,” Hounsell explains. “Basically what you do is you put down the first layer of whatever you’re doing, be it plastic or ice cream or chocolate. You extrude your first layer from this nozzle — it’s sort of like if you had a hot glue gun and you put it down on a table and made a ring, and by the time you got around to the start, you’d move the head up a little bit and go around again. And the first ring you printed has solidified, so it’s more structurally stable, but when you go back around, you extrude new stuff which melts to it and becomes part of it.”

    That’s the process you’ll see in the video above. You might notice that the ice cream looks a bit runny, but that’s only because the team had to keep the machine’s door open to capture the video. To make sure the ice cream solidified, the students added a nozzle to sprays liquid nitrogen onto the freshly-printed layers.

    The next step, Hounsell says, is to file a patent and figure out what the future of 3D printed ice cream could hold.

    “Novelty would be a strong factor. I feel like you could just plop one of these down in a Target or something in a glass-walled freezer and sit there and watch,” he says. “Watching 3D printers work is mesmerizing. At least to me.”

  • Ice cream that’s made to order with liquid nitrogen

    Toni Gauthier / Toni Bird Photography A boy observes Smitten Ice Cream's Brrr machine in action.

    In the heart of San Francisco sits Smitten Ice Cream, where every batch of ice cream is made to order, on the spot, using a high-tech machine called Brrr. This apparatus, which took years to develop and patent, produces what Vogue called “arguably the freshest, if not the best, ice cream on earth.”

    The key ingredient? Liquid nitrogen.

    “The gist is that the faster you freeze ice cream, the smaller the ice crystals can be, and the smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the texture,” Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher says. “To freeze really fast, you freeze really cold. So liquid nitrogen, being negative 321 degrees Fahrenheit, really fits that bill.”

    Making ice cream this way means you can produce smooth, dense, tasty ice cream — and it also means you can cut out emulsifiers, preservatives and stabilizers, instead using fresh, local ingredients.

    “The whole impetus of me starting the company is just that I was getting kind of of grossed out by looking at the back of ice cream cartons and realizing how many ingredients were in the product that I couldn’t even pronounce,” Fisher says.

    Fisher admits that making ice cream with liquid nitrogen is nothing new — but other ice cream shops tend to do this with a basic kitchen mixer, and without a carefully engineered machine, it’s difficult to get the right texture every time. Plus, customers get to watch the machine in action as it churns their ice cream in a whirring, cloudy haze.

    For now, Smitten has four locations around the Bay Area. While Fisher doesn’t have plans to take over the world, if this ice cream is truly as delicious and fresh as it looks, you never know.

  • Ice cream served inside an edible shell

    WikiFoods WikiPearl ice cream balls

    These golf ball-sized ice cream spheres are designed to be easy to eat, but they’ve also got an eco-friendly purpose: eliminating wasteful food packaging. They’re called WikiPearls and they were developed by Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards, who was inspired by foods like grapes and coconuts that essentially come with built-in packaging.

    But of course, this is still ice cream we’re talking about — so taste is a priority.

    “For a new food form to be really successful, it has to be really good and give benefits that people are looking for in food,” Edwards says. “So the packaging is a great thing but from a consumer point of view, it just needs to be really great.”

    The edible skins are made of natural food particles that are bound together with nutritive ions to form a soft skin that keeps the ice cream inside cold for several hours. You can throw them inside a Thermos and carry them with you throughout the day, popping them into your mouth when you need a snack. (Portion control, anyone?)

    For now, WikiPearls are sold at a little shop in Paris, but Edwards says they’ll soon be available in the U.S. at Cafe ArtScience opening in September in Cambridge, Mass. Flavors are fairly standard (mango ice cream with coconut skin, chocolate ice cream with hazelnut skin) but Edwards says some more eccentric flavors — like foie gras ice cream with an onion skin — are coming this fall.

    Frozen yogurt in WikiPearl form exists too, if you’re into that sort of thing. They’re a bit smaller — about the size of a grape — and can be found at a few Whole Foods locations around New England. (As we all know, though, frozen yogurt is great, but it can’t really replace the true star of the show.)

    While Edwards hopes that WikiPearls will one day be the new normal of ice cream, he’s also got plans to expand this technology into other culinary realms. He’s already created versions including cheese, fruits and vegetables — and while we’re not sure how receptive consumers will be to those, we do think the ice cream balls could be a hit.

TIME viral

Watch Stephen Hawking Do the Ice Bucket Challenge

Physicist Stephen Hawking, who had pneumonia last year, said it “would not be wise for me to have a bucket of cold water poured over [him]” — referring to the viral fundraising effort in which people dump ice water over themselves or donate money to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research. Instead, his children, Robert, Lucy and Tim, volunteered themselves as his proxies.

Hawking, who’s nearly totally paralyzed after being diagnosed with ALS at 21, urged everyone to donate to the Motor Neurone Disease Association to “eliminate this terrible disease.”

According to the ALS Association, the viral fundraising effort has raised about $95 million so far.


Watch Johnny Manziel Dancercize in New Snickers Ad

Meet Johnny JamBoogie

As the Snickers tagline goes, “You aren’t you when you’re hungry.” So what does Cleveland Browns backup quarterback Johnny Manziel turn in to when his tummy is growling? According to a new commercial, Johnny Football transforms into Johnny JamBoogie, an aerobics instructor jazzercising his way into our hearts.

While the entire point of the commercial is that a bite of a candy bar has the power to get his football helmet-wearing head straight and turn his back on florescent leotard-wearing older women, we must ask — does Manziel have to choose? Dance can be an important part of any pre-game or post-touchdown routine.

Signature steps can get you new endorsement deals, Manziel. Embrace the JamBoogie.

TIME society

Artist Hid $16,000 Worth of Gold on a Beach, and You Have to Find It

Single gold ingot.
Anthony Bradshaw—Getty Images Single gold ingot.

Starting today, it's finders-keepers.

There is about £10,000 ($16,000) worth of gold bullion buried in the sand on a beach in England as part of an innovative public art installation. Oh, and starting today it’s finders-keepers.

German artist Michael Sailstorfer buried the bars in the sand of Outer Harbour beach in Folkestone, England as part of the Folkestone Triennial, a public art project. The mad dash to uncover the buried treasure will begin this afternoon when the tide goes out, and if you find one of the gold bars, it’s yours.

But how, some might ask, is giving away free gold a work of art?

Lewis Biggs, the Triennial curator, told The Guardian that the art piece is about what the lucky few will do with the gold, rather than about the precious metal itself: “Do you take it to the pawnbrokers or do you take it to Sotheby’s? Or do you keep it on the mantlepiece because you think it is going to be worth more later?”

Claire Doherty, the director of the group who commissioned Sailstorfer’s piece, told The Guardian that the beauty of the project is that it will endure even after all the gold is found, sold or displayed: “A lot of people won’t admit to having found one even if they have. Would you?”


TIME animals

This Lamb Bouncing Gleefully Down a Hallway Will Remind You That Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

And also that baby lambs are so, so cute

Forget about your problems for a moment, and look at this lamb who comes hopping down a hallway when you call his name:

His name is Winter and Vine user Life of Shannen explains: “He was found weak from the cold and so we took him in to care for him.” Looks like he’s doing just fine now. Here he is being extra bouncy:

Oh man. This is almost as good as that llama who pranced to DMX. Almost.

TIME Travel

See Images of Airplanes at Night Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before

Holiday travel is never easy, but these long exposures are beautiful

This summer, photographer Kevin Kunstadt began making long exposures of airplanes as they flew over the New York City area at night, creating these surreal and eerily beautiful images that chart the flight paths travelers will take this weekend. “A bit of guesswork and luck was involved due to the variability of the flight paths and the time it takes to set up each shot — you can only kind of estimate where the planes might go based on prior flight paths that you might see while framing the shot, ” Kunstadt told TIME. “The website Flightaware.com was tremendously helpful as far as gauging the timing of potential planes, and figuring out when to start an exposure. The exposures themselves were between 3 and 30 minutes.” His images capture light trails usually invisible to the human eye, and a view you are unlikely to see during this weekend’s travel.

TIME viral

The Best News Bloopers of August

With a special cameo from the 'Apparently Kid' and a hilariously solemn "breaking news" announcement

It’s been a pretty dismal month, as far as world events go, but the news wasn’t all bad thanks to some very entertaining on-air mishaps. So here you go: seven minutes of pure schadenfreude.

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