TIME NextDraft

French IT Employees Win Right to Unplug after Work and Other Fascinating News on the Web

April 10, 2014


1. Punching Le Clock

As a newsletter writer, I get a lot of out of office replies. But I never really believe them. While people might be out of a physical building, no one I know is ever really away from their work these days. But that’s apparently not the case in France where employees are officially expected to be away from their work emails after 6pm. And the rule applies to smart phones too. Under a recent deal signed by French unions and the tech industry, “about 1 million workers will be required to switch off their work phones outside office hours.” Ceci n’est pas une emploi…

+ France is not alone. Germany recently banned managers from calling or emailing staff after normal work hours, unless it’s an emergency. “Managers should apply a principle of minimum intervention into workers’ free time and keep the number of people whose spare time is disrupted as low as possible.”

+ But don’t worry. America is changing its overworking ways. A cafe in Vermont saw an increase in sales after they cut off WiFi and banned laptops. (Of course, the sales only increased because people made room for more customers by quickly satisfying their caffeine addiction and then running out to the sidewalk to tweet about it.)

2. School of Hard Knocks

There’s something new popping up on college campuses around the country: Food banks. “Food insecurity … is increasingly on the radar of administrators, who report seeing more hungry students, especially at schools that enroll a high percentage of youths who are from low-income families or are the first generation to attend college.”

+ Quartz: These charts explain what’s behind America’s soaring college costs.

+ You don’t have to wait until your kid goes to college to start spending the big bucks. In 31 states, day care costs more than college.

3. Weekend Reads

“Either, as Charlie says, he loved her so much that he had been willing to burn up a county because he thought it would make her happy. Or, as Tonya grew to believe, he loved her too much to let her be free while he went to prison alone.” Some like it hot. Like arson hot. From WaPo: Love and Fire.

+ New Yorker: “He was the most vexing kind of workaholic, the ascetic kind: hard-edged and self-punishing. Through most of his productive years, he seems to have subsisted largely on Diet Rite cola, matzoh, and prunes.” Cesar Chavez, Hunger Artist.

+ “If soldiers felt nothing about taking the life of another human being, that would be indicative of sociopathy.” Aeon: When soldiers kill in war, the secret shame and guilt they bring back home can destroy them.

+ The Year of the Pigskin: My hilarious, heartbreaking, triumphant season with the American Football League of China.

+ “She was our neighborhood bag lady, but she looked more like a retired headmistress, or a librarian exiled from her bookish hideaway.” She was also one of the most accomplished street photographers of her generation.

4. The New Math

“We identified 10 people, including Groves, who were beaten, burned, suffocated, or shot to death in 2013 and whose cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents—all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons.” Chicago Magazine tries to get to the truth about the city’s seemingly miraculous drop in crime rates. This is about as close to another season of The Wire as we’re gonna get.

+ The scary things you learn from 23 years of Oakland police records.

5. You Are Full of It

“Recent studies show that our physical level of hunger, in fact, does not correlate strongly with how much hunger we say that we feel or how much food we go on to consume.” As Maria Konnikova reports, a lot of things can make you hungry — a song, a book, a smell, even a study. “Being genuinely hungry, on the other hand — in the sense of physiologically needing food — matters little.” In other news, Tater Tots.

6. Colbert So Good

Only a couple days after David Letterman announced his retirement plans, CBS has announced that Stephen Colbert will take over his time slot. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman says he’s the perfect person for the job. This is really pretty interesting. When he hosts the new show, Colbert will be Colbert the person and not Colbert the character that’s been cultivated over the years. CBS basically hired an unknown.

+ Jon Stewart: “He’s got gears he hasn’t even shown people yet. He would be remarkable.

+ Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh chimed in saying that, with the hire, CBS “has declared war on the heartland.” Maybe it’s time for Rush to give up the character Rush.

7. Did Jesus Put a Ring On It?

Recently, researchers introduced a piece of Egyptian papyrus in which there was a reference to Jesus’ wife. It was immediately written off as a modern fake. But new tests have shown no evidence of forgery. I can see the wedding invitation: Save the Date (and your soul)…

8. Who Let the Kids Out?

Here’s a strange correlation. It seems that the fewer babies Americans give birth to, the more small dogs they buy. (And people tend to have fewer children once they realize they want to keep the iPad to themselves.)

+ As of 2012, the name Khaleesi is more popular than the name Betsy.

9. One Eye Open

“So should we care about who gives the performance? Probably. But we rationalize away the flaws of the performer because we don’t want to let go of the way he transports us outside of and beside ourselves.” GQ’s Andrew Corsello enters the moral universe of the artist (and the viewer). Is it OK to hate the sinner but still judge the damn movie for yourself?

10. The Bottom of the News

For the latest cover of Rolling Stone, Julia Louis-Dreyfus took off her clothes and had the Constitution Photoshopped to her back. A little lower, we see John Hancock’s signature. Unfortunately, he signed the Declaration of Independence. It’s now almost impossible to differentiate between Dreyfus and a real Veep.

+ At least five percent of American Samoa has pink eye. Islands are the new cruise ships.

+ Buzzfeed: 2,321 words for drunk, ranked.


TIME animals

Man Sues Ex-Girlfriend Over Stuffed Animal Obsession 

(Not the actual couple) Emilio Labrador / Flickr

Dating is expensive, especially with stuffed animals involved

A man in China’s Hubei province is reportedly suing his ex-girlfriend for $6,450—all because she insisted on bringing her stuffed animal, Snoopy, on dates throughout their four-year relationship. According to a report from China’s Global Post, Snoopy was third-wheeling it all over the place: the boyfriend had to buy extra food and tickets to the movies just for the stuffed animal.

Eventually, the boyfriend snapped, throwing Snoopy in anger after refusing to take it (him, apparently) into the bathroom. He broke up with his girlfriend, but then decided the “mental anguish” caused by Snoopy deserved compensation.

This animal love triangle might be strange, but we’re guessing that the girlfriend had a not-so-secret case of plushophilia, a fetish for stuffed animals that’s well-documented on the Internet.

Plushophilia is different than being a furry—less than one percent of furries (anthropomorphized animal fetishists) are plushophiles, according to one study. The gentleman from Hubei probably would have been equally put off by either one, however.


Watch Stevie Nicks And Jimmy Fallon (as Tom Petty) Expertly Recreate a Classic 1981 Tune

Jimmy Fallon does a pretty mean Tom Petty impersonation, and Stevie Nicks does a pretty mean Stevie Nicks impersonation

Stevie Nicks — objectively one of the coolest people alive and if anyone would like to dispute that just DO NOT– stopped by the Tonight Show Wednesday night and teamed up with host Jimmy Fallon to recreate her 1981 hit “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Fallon played the part of Tom Petty, who sings along with Nicks in the chorus and the bridge.

Fallon does a pretty convincing Petty, but the highlight here is clearly Stevie Nicks, because she’s Stevie Nicks.

The duo stays pretty faithful to the original video:


TIME Bizarre

California Teen Reportedly Sold Pot Brownies to Raise Money for Her Prom Dress

Getty Images

Northern California news outlets are reporting that she could face deportation

A California teenager was reportedly selling pot brownies to raise money to buy a prom dress, but got caught when a student who consumed one had to be hospitalized, CBS News reports.

River Valley High School student Saira Munoz of Yuba City was reportedly 18 at the time when she enlisted the help of a friend to help sell marijuana-laced brownies last fall.

CBS Sacramento reports, “A judge sentenced her to four years probation on Monday and nine days in jail with credit for time served.” The station, as well as FOX 40, say questions about her legal status and whether she could face deportation now, according to the Sutter County Probation Department.

MORE: The Rise of Fake Pot

MORE: Colorado Restaurant Introduces Menu with Food and Weed Pairings

TIME Family

Here’s the First Word to Be Added to the Scrabble Dictionary in 9 Years

Fans voted for this first new word update in nearly a decade.

The people have spoken: Scrabble fans have voted to add “geocache” to the players dictionary — the first new addition in nine years.

Hasbro revealed the word, “a verb meaning to seek items by means of a GPS device as part of a game,” on ABC’s Good Morning America today. “Geocache” beat out other finalists “zen” , “ew”, and “booyah” as part of a call for nominations on the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page.

“We’ve been watching geocache for some time,” Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, said in a statement.

According to a 2010 New York Times article, this high-tech treasure hunt has been popular “only since May 2000, when President Bill Clinton announced that intentional degrading of signals received by civilians end, making their GPS devices more accurate.” It has become a family pastime, a budget-friendly hobby among parents and their children because they only need their smartphones to play. They find coordinates on websites like geocaching.com and head out to suburban malls and amusement parks together to find a “cache” or trinket hidden somewhere.

In fact, some might say it will be easier to find “caches” than to find a place to put down “geocache” on the Scrabble board because it’s an eight-letter word. On the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page, players are complaining in the comments section, arguing “Most bingos are 7-letter words that are connected to other words with an S or by a two-letter joiner (such as EW)” and “When will we ever need to use that one- always try to use ZEN and EW- many more opportunities for that to happen.”

TIME society

This Sketch Hilariously Skewers the Way Women Food-Shame Themselves

The clip from 'Inside Amy Schumer' is very funny, but it also has a message

Inside Amy Schumer
Get More: Comedy Central,Funny Videos,Funny TV Shows

On this week’s episode of Inside Amy Schumer, the comedian took on the topic of female food-shaming in a sketch reminiscent of last season’s brilliant “Compliments.”

A group of women are out to a seemingly normal lunch when the conversation takes a dark turn. The friends all begin to shame themselves for unhealthy eating choices — “I ate a ball of mozzarella like it was a peach” — followed by the familiar lament, “I’m so bad.” Meanwhile, they pepper in stories about things they did that are actually reprehensible — “I took a smoke machine to the burn unit to see how they’d react” and “I knelt on my gerbil to see what sound it would make” — without a trace of concern.

As Paste magazine points out, there’s a deeper message here, which is that “conversations like these are a natural byproduct of the beauty-first onslaught we get from the media—women’s magazines in particular—and the ways women can’t help falling victim to it.”

The sketch takes an unfortunate gory turn at the end, but otherwise, Amy Schumer gets two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this one. We’d suggest she celebrate the success with a big piece of chocolate cake, but that would be so bad.


See Every #Selfie Posted on Instagram in Real Time 

Getty Images

Feed your selfie habit

Judging selfies has become something of a habit for Internet users. Who does it better, Kim or Taylor? Even devoted selfie fans, however, will be overwhelmed by Selfeed, a website that shows every selfie posted on Instagram with the #selfie hashtag in real time.

Created by artists Tyler Madsen, Erik Carter, and Jillian Mayer, the site presents an endless deluge of self-portraits, each one on the screen for less than a second. Certain trends emerge: a downward angle, pursed lips. But more than anything, Selfeed is a pure flood of humanity.

“We created it because we wanted it to exist,” the artists told us. “We enjoy the constant flow of selfies and find it incredibly hypnotic and fascinating.” The site is “supposed to exist neutrally,” they explain. A hot-or-not, selfie-rating version would no doubt be popular, but Selfeed is about inspiration. It creates a kind of communal global, selfie that goes beyond any one person.

“Most of the selfies that are aggregated are self-portraits with one singular figure,” the artists say. “On Selfeed, these figures exist alone, but together.” What better way to connect with the world than taking a selfie and joining the feed?

TIME animals

Now There’s Yoga for Horses

You'll neigh-ver believe it

Avid yogis may be familiar with “horse face pose” (Vatayanasana), but they may not know that horses do yoga, too.

An Outside Online article going viral this week highlights yoga as a method of taming “wild, traumatised or nervous horses” at Doma India School in San Luis, Argentina, a philosophy championed by father and son pair Oscar and Cristobal Scarpati.

This video of a horseman working with the animal — even doing a handstand on its girth — reportedly provides a glimpse of this technique in action:

PHOTOS: This Little Girl Is Amazing at Yoga


Time-Lapse Video Shows An Entire Saturday Night Live Taping in Two Minutes

Watch the complete transformation of Studio 8H

Ever wondered how an episode of SNL comes together? This time-lapse video, posted on the show’s YouTube channel, shows the entire taping process, condensed into just two and a half minutes. It’s from this past weekend’s episode, which featured Anna Kendrick as the host and Pharrell as the musical guest.

You can see everything: the producers and camera guys who all seem to be bald (so, real-life Pete Hornbergers), the cue cards, the set changes, the Weekend Update desk, etc. The only thing missing is Stefon. (Rest in peace.)

TIME society

Dove’s New Ad Makes Women Look Gullible and Kind of Dumb in the Name of ‘Real Beauty’

How Dove's newest Real Beauty ad fails

Dove’s empowerment-as-advertising Real Beauty campaign has taken a recent turn towards deception—and it’s a deception that is so obvious to viewers, it’s become almost insulting to watch.

The concept of the four minute spot above is simple and only unpredictable to anyone completely unfamiliar with psychology: Unilever’s Dove has created a “revolutionary” magical beauty patch (RB-X) that will pump bursts of self-confidence into what you’ll soon start seeing as Michelle Obama-quality arms. After two weeks, it will enhance women’s perception of self-beauty.

Suspect as the product sounds, real-life women tell a real-life psychologist their very real-life insecurities—”If I was more confident I would have the ability to like approach a guy maybe”; “I almost kind of avoid marriage lately because I, you know, feel bad about myself”— and then join a “trial” to test the product and keep a video diary to track the change. Just as marketers predicted, while at first the women saw no difference (because it was a placebo?), in a couple days they were getting called pretty by coworkers (placebo effect?), smiling at strangers (placebo effect?), and confidently dress shopping. (Dare I say placebo effect?)

Dove then has the beaming, beautifully confident women women gush about RB-X and how this has “definitely been a life altering experience” only to reveal that the patch was, in fact, a placebo. It contained nothing all along. The music swells, tears fall, we were beautiful all along.

For ten years, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has used female empowerment as an advertising tactic, wooing female customers by proving they are more beautiful than they think they are and that their bodies should be a source of pride rather than anxiety.

And Dove has used said feel-good strategy with great success. Real Beauty Sketches, in which a forensic artist was employed to draw sketches of women who underestimated their looks, became the eighth most-watched (says Visible Measures) and fourth most shared (says Unruly Media) video ad of all time. With a success like that, it’s no wonder that Dove has tried to replicate and replicate the model with hopes that women will share branded video content not because it’s for a beauty product, but because it exposes the fault of their own insecurities and make them feel beautiful.

As someone who tears up during emotionally fraught pet food commercials, I’m overall okay with some degree of emotional manipulation in the name of marketing. Even though there is an argument to be made that the ads problematically show beauty is paramount when evaluating self-worth, I kind of liked Real Beauty Sketches because I could identify with the insecurities and believed the concept of the ad.

And that’s why I think Dove has failed in its latest Real Beauty iteration. While I believe that I would hide from a camera on a bad hair day, and I believe that I would accentuate the size of my nose to a forensic artist who asked me to describe myself, I just can’t believe the thinly-veiled marketing ruse that there is a patch that can make us more beautiful. It makes women seem too gullible, too desperate, and overall helpless against the all-knowing master manipulators at Unilever.

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