TIME NextDraft

The VA Scandal and Other Fascinating News on the Web

May 30, 2014


1. It Starts at the Bottom

Eric K. Shinseki has stepped down from his position as secretary of veterans affairs “taking responsibility for a scandal in the VA health-care system over excessive waiting times and coverups of what he called systemic problems.” But will a change at the top make much of a difference when it comes to the care delivered to military veterans? It’s unlikely. From WaPo: How the VA developed its culture of coverups: “When you actually get in the room with a doctor, it’s okay. But it’s what it takes to get to that point that I think is the problem. You’re sick today. Three weeks from now, you’re either cured or you’re dead.”

+ Payouts for wrongful deaths, a doctor forced out after shedding light on the wild over-prescribing of opiates, a chief of psychiatry removed after complaining that staff members “were counseling veterans for as few as three hours a day.” The Center for Investigative Reporting has been doing a great job uncovering the challenges soldiers face when they come home. Here’s a look at what they found: Returning Home to Battle

+ In other DC news, Jay Carney has stepped down as White House press secretary.

2. Cracks in the Vaxx

Measles cases in the U.S. just hit a two-decade high. In case you can’t already guess why, assistant surgeon general Dr. Anne Schuchat explains: “The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people.”

+ Aeon: Polio whack-a-mole: “The great allies of infectious diseases are no longer poverty, nor dirt, but the global anti-vaccination movement.”

3. Weekend Reads

“For a guy who has spent six months and more than $32,000 turning the bedroom of his Manhattan apartment into an old-school video arcade, Chris Kooluris is very put together.” From Wired: Arcadia, a Love Story.

+ “Deebo is Lister’s Hamlet, his Sherlock Holmes, his artistic avatar. ‘It’s always that character. That’s what they pay to see.'” From Grantland: Say Hello to the Bad Guy, the life and times of Hollywood heavy.

+ Angelina Jolie has the best publicity game in Hollywood. Here’s how she does it.

+ D Magazine: The Exorcists Next Door.

4. Everybody Freeze

A 11 year-old boy stopped on his way to football practice. A 99 year-old man and a 5 year-old boy both deemed to be suspicious. Everyone needs to be considered suspicious if you’re going to rack up Stop and Frisk numbers like those achieved by police in Miami Gardens, where more than half the population has been stopped since 2008 (some of them more than fifty times).

5. Suspicious Minds

Three weeks before he killed six college students, police visited the home of Elliot Rodger. They didn’t search his apartment (where they would have found his stash of guns) because they didn’t consider him a threat.

+ NYT’s Room for Debate asks the question: “Do the laws regarding mental health professionals’ duty to warn the authorities of a threat need to be toughened to make them more effective?”

+ The New Yorker: The online life of Elliot Rodger.

6. Break on Through

During his Harvard commencement address, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Harvard graduates that he’s worried about today’s academic culture — specifically as it relates to the banning of certain speakers during this graduation season: “A university’s obligation is not to teach students what to think but to teach students how to think. That requires listening to the other side, weighing arguments without prejudice.” (Someone should tell that to the Internet.)

7. Coming Next Season: Clippers Vista

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer served up a record setting (and seemingly winning) bid for the LA Clippers. In summation: Donald Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million and just sold the Clippers for $2 billion.That’ll teach him.

+ Two billion is about how much Steve Ballmer has made on his stock since retiring last August.

+ As a kid, Ballmer wanted to be on the basketball team, but ended up as the manager instead. He also regularly escaped “from the Microsoft campus on time to play basketball with his sons.”

8. Wanna Get (More) Away?

The FAA just gave its clearance for Virgin Galactic’s space flight service that Richard Branson hopes to officially launch by the end of 2014. More than 500 people have dropped a total of $70 million to reserve a spot in the queue.

+ Step inside Elon Musk’s new space machine that can transport humans and “can land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter.”

9. T.I.E.

Two teenage boys were named co-champions of this year’s grueling Scripps National Spelling Bee. At this point, Spelling Bee contestants should just have to say enough letters until autocomplete takes over.

10. The Bottom of the News

According to his family, Shri Ashutosh Maharaj died in January. But his disciples at his Ashram insist that he’s still alive, and is simply meditating.

+ McSweeney’s: Client Feedback on the Creation of the Earth.

+ Breaking: Narcissists are capable of empathy after all. (I don’t know what they hell they expect me to do with that information.)

+ The 9/11 Cheese Plate has been removed from the gift shop.

+ 25 words that are their own opposites.

+ (New feature) Popular from yesterday’s NextDraft: The fraternity musings of the Snapchat CEO and why this doesn’t reflect my views.


TIME technology

This Is the Best Home Arcade Ever

Our games, ourselves

$32,000 buys you a lot of video games, but not happiness.

It’s fair to say that Chris Kooluris is obsessed. Though as a professional marketer he doesn’t fit the traditional profile of a geek, the 37-year-old Kooluris has spent $32,000 outfitting a small bedroom in his home into the world’s best retro arcade, complete with bubble-gum machines. His collection includes $3,000 arcade cabinet versions of hit games like Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man (for the ladies, he says).

A fascinating Wired story tracks the development of this shrine to video-game history. Kooluris grew up playing arcade games, especially Street Fighter II. He even got a copy of the game at home as a kid. He was compelled to recreate some of his childhood fascination in the home arcade, a plan that his girlfriend supported—at least at first.

Kooluris got engaged to his girlfriend, but as the arcade took over his life, she was pushed away, and eventually broke things off. He got what he was looking for in video games, but not in love. Then the video games began to sour as well, with support from fan forums waning. When the story ends, Kooluris has just spent his highest amount ever for an individual game—$6,725—but on a pinball machine, which seems to be slated for his new obsession.

In many ways, this is the story of fandom. Being obsessed with a particular video game, or comic, or superhero, is less a concern about the wider culture and more a pursuit of something within ourselves. Video games might capture that elusive sense of play and creativity found in childhood, harder to come by in real life. Of course, that fix is only temporary.


Studies Show Cat People Are Smarter Than Dog People

Egidio Maurizio / Flickr

But you already knew that, right?

Have you ever suspected that people who hang out with slinky, clever, moody cats are actually smarter than everyone with a goofy, friendly-to-everyone dog? Your hunch was likely correct, according to a new study carried out by Carroll University in Wisconsin. The study looked for personality traits in 600 college students that coincided with choices in pet ownership. Dog lovers tended to be more lively, but cat owners were “non-conformists” who preferred expediency to following the rules.

Cat lovers also scored higher on intelligence over all. So is the cat educating you, or do you just have to be smart to adequately care for such a mercurial animal?

Professor Denise Guastello noted that the difference in temperament might be because of the different needs of the two animals. “It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they’re going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog,” Guastello said. “Whereas, if you’re more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you’re more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn’t need to go outside for a walk.”

In other words, cats are more suitable for bookish personalities who prefer the indoors, whereas dogs, which figure in far more romantic comedies than their competitors, are compatible with extroverts.

Fewer people also said they were cat fans–11 percent of the survey group, compared to 60 percent identifying as dog fans. That coincides with the smaller percentage of the population who are much more intelligent, charming, and successful, right? Asking for a friend.

TIME Music

It’s a Wonderful Kind of Day When Chance the Rapper Covers the Arthur Theme Song

You got to listen to your heart, listen to the beat, listen to the rhythm, the rhythm of the street. Then once you're done with that, listen to this song

During last weekend’s Sasquatch! Music Festival, Chance the Rapper proved once again that he’s spectacularly awesome by treating the crowd to a cover of the Arthur theme. No, no, not “Arthur’s Theme” from the 1981 film Arthur. We’re talking about the theme song — originally performed by Ziggy Marley — from the PBS children’s show about an anthropomorphic aardvark. Yup.

Seriously, though, Chance’s cover of this beloved tune is quite beautiful. Enjoy!


This Is the Reason Going Into Abercrombie & Fitch Gives You Anxiety

Abercrombie & Fitch Store Opening on 5th Avenue in New York City
Abercrombie & Fitch Store Opening on 5th Avenue in New York City David Pomponio—FilmMagic/Getty Images

A new study says that the cologne sprayed throughout the store actually causes consumer anxiety

You can tell you’re within 10-yards of a club Abercrombie & Fitch by the smell. The overwhelming scent of cologne billows past tourists lined up on the street outside, giving passers-by a distinct sense of déjà vu hearkening back to days of middle school locker rooms.

If the thought of the Abercrombie smell is putting you on edge, there’s a reason. HuffPost’s Kim Bhasin reports that the unsubtle scent may directly cause anxiety in customers.

New research from Concordia University suggests that while some ambient scents in stores can calm shoppers, others cause anxiety—particularly if they are reminiscent of enclosed spaces. Bianca Grohmann, co-author of the “spatial density and ambient scent” study, says that A&F is known for its darkness, loud background music, crowded sales floors and intense smell.

“In terms of Abercrombie & Fitch’s scent, it’s one of their colognes called Fierce and it is a very masculine and strong scent,” she told TIME. “Although we did not particularly test this particular scent, this kind of scent is actually directionally more associated with enclosed spaces.” And thus increases anxiety, upping the likelihood of wanting to get out as soon as possible.

Abercrombie is known for spritzing the cologne in stores throughout the day. A TIME staffer who used to work in a Florida store says that store managers told employees they even sprayed it in the air conditioning system.

Last week, the struggling retailer announced that it would be turning down the music, turning up the lights, and cutting its fragrance spritzes by 25%. Although according to Grohmann, that might not be enough if the store continues to use the same cologne.

“If the scent is associated with enclosed spaces toning down the intensity might not make the enclosed space feeling go away,” she said.

Although that might not be a turnoff to all consumers. Grohmann’s study had 180 participants ranging from 18 to 42. While the adults with bigger bank accounts might go running, teens may be unfazed by the high-octane shopping experience. But the smell was notorious enough that people held a protest to combat the cologne-infused Abercrombie air in 2010.

Abercrombie did not respond to questions about whether the cologne choice would change and instead directed us to CEO Mike Jeffries’ quote in a recent Bloomberg article: “Its customer is changing, and we’re ready to change with her and him.”

[Huffington Post]

TIME Bizarre

U.S. Airways Flight Makes Emergency Landing after Dog Poops in the Aisle

Getty Images

The smell reportedly made other passengers ill.

A Philadelphia-bound U.S. Airways flight from Los Angeles had to make an emergency landing in Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this week after a dog defecated in the middle of the aisle–twice.

A man named Steve McCall, who says he was a passenger on the plane, U.S. Airways Flight 598, told Inside Edition that the smell made people physically sick. NBC Philadelphia has rounded up tweets that appear to be from other passengers who are complaining about how the flight had already been delayed because of fuel issues before the incident onboard.

Chris Law, an NFL producer, live-tweeted the episode, including a photo of the clean-up after the emergency landing, and complimented the crew’s handling of the situation:

We’ve reached out to U.S. Airways for comment and will update if we hear back.

TIME nation

WATCH: This Music Video Was Made by the Sons of Obama Officials

General theme: skateboards and Slurpees

The sons of Obama officials are in a boy band called Twenty20, and the music video for their first song “Heart Thief” is now on YouTube, the New York Daily News reports.

Members of Twenty20 are outgoing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s son Hugo (vocals), U.S. Trade Rep. Mike Froman’s son Ben (guitar), HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s son Lucas (bass), and Joey Doyle (drums), the son of Patti Solis Doyle, who was a campaign advisor for both Obama and Hillary Clinton.

In the video, the boys rock out on the D.C. Metro, wander around Union Station, buy candy and Slurpees at 7-11, go skateboarding, and ride their bicycles in the streets.

The band has been together since 2011 and is working on an EP, according to the YouTube description.


When Mariah Carey Rides the Subway, She Wears a Ball Gown

Stars are just like us!

Some celebrities subtly ride subways, trying—but often failing—to blend in with the morning rush. But not Mariah! When the diva goes underground, she makes sure to wear a ball gown for the occasion.

Obviously the Glitter star documented the event on Instagram. Because you guys, she’s JUST LIKE US!

Only… in #subwaycouture

Remember when Jay-Z had a lovely conversation with an old lady outside his demographic on New York’s R train. (“Are you famous?” “Not very famous.”)

Yeah, this wasn’t like that.

TIME celebrity

This Is Now the Most-Liked Instagram Photo of All Time

Guess which celebrity couple it features?

Good job, Kim Kardashian. You now hold the record for the most-liked Instagram of all time. Of all time. Behold:


A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

This photo of Kim kissing Kanye at their wedding in Italy — yup, their first smooch as a married couple — has racked up 1.97 million likes (and counting). It breaks the previous record, which belonged to none other than Justin Bieber. His photo with on-again off-again-girlfriend Selena Gomez, captioned “Love the way you look at me” (barf), had gotten a comparatively measly 1.82 million likes:

Love the way you look at me

A photo posted by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

As many people have pointed out, Kim Kardashian is kind of famous for nothing, but no longer! Now she’s famous for uploading the most popular Instagram ever. Proud of you, Kim.

(h/t Mashable)

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