TIME NextDraft

How Social Media Makes Us Feel Less Alone and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 28, 2014


1. Just Look at Yourself

Work, email, social media, a never-ending to-do list, too many commitments, too much on the schedule — you’re crazy busy. But are you this busy because it’s just the nature of life in our increasingly digital, device-driven society? Or is it — as a series of recent studies suggest — because you’ll do just about anything to avoid introspection? “In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes.” (Can an Introspection App be far behind?) Louis C.K. often touches upon this need to be busy: “Sometimes when things clear away and you’re not watching anything and you’re in your car and you start going, oh no, here it comes, that I’m alone, and it starts to visit on you, just this sadness. And that’s why we text and drive. People are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.”

2. Outbreak

Over the weekend, the Ebola virus spread to a fourth African country. Nearly 700 people have died during the outbreak.

+ NYT: Fear of Ebola breeds a terror of physicians.

+ Quartz: Why Ebola reaching Nigeria’s largest city is a whole new level of scary.

3. Critical Condition

“In the name of humanity, the violence must stop.” So said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who described Gaza as a place that is in “critical condition.” In Gaza, a hospital was hit with explosives that killed ten and injured many more. Hamas claimed the hospital was hit by Israeli airstrikes, while the IDF said the Israeli military has no role in the hospital damage, “and attributed the explosions to failed rocket launches from Gaza militants.”

+ “Death to the Jews.” The Daily Beast reports on the Isis black flags that are flying in Europe.

+ “The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.” Here’s a controversial but very interesting essay from Sam Harris: Why I don’t criticize Israel.

+ Here’s a stat that Israelis should watch: “Among Americans under 30, 29% say Israel is most responsible for the current violence compared with 21% who blame Hamas.” Here’s more from Pew on how Americans view the current Middle East crisis.

+ Even allies are arguing: From AP: US Fuming over Israeli Criticism of Kerry.

4. Face the Face

“Richard Norris was 22 when he shot himself in the face. This was back in 1997. He doesn’t remember how or why it happened, but his mom, who was three feet away, said it was an accident. She remembers pieces of Richard’s face showering her body. This was in the living room. The gunshot had blown off his nose, cheekbones, lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, and chin, leaving just his wide brown eyes and a swirl of nameless twisted flesh. The miracle that would come to define Richard’s life begins with these tragic details.” GQ’s Jeanne Marie Laskas on The New Face of Richard Norris. What’s it like to live with an entirely new face? Not nearly as easy as it looks.

5. There Goes the Neighborhood

Zillow has acquired Trulia, one of its key competitors, for $3.5 billion. In addition to making it even easier for your friends and colleagues to know exactly how much you paid for your house, will this mega-merger finally change the antiquated way we go about buying and selling real estate?

+ Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar for 9.2 billion dollars. That seems like a perfect excuse to listen to Aloe Blacc sing a live, orchestral version of I Need a Dollar.

+ Arthur S. Demoulas gained control of Market Basket from his cousin Arthur T. Demoulas, who he then fired (It’s a longstanding family thing). But the employees and managers didn’t want to work for Arthur S, and now the customers are joining the fight to bring back Arthur T. From The Boston Globe, here’s the latest on the state of Market Basket.

6. Stream Interpretation

Ken Florance “dropped out of school and, in between Grateful Dead concerts and acid trips, made a pilgrimage to the Oregon home of Ken Kesey.” In other words, he has the perfect resume to be the dude who is responsible for making sure that Netflix keeps the video streaming.

+ Will you finally be able to get HBO without paying for cable? It could be coming to a screen near you. (Though, compared to Netflix, it might be priced like Valyrian Steel.)

+ Putting lipstick on a gig: For just slightly more than the fee Netflix charges you to access shows, movies, and a lot of award-winning original content, you can subscribe to the new Sarah Palin Channel, and “go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter.” It’s worth keeping an eye on this effort. It’s backed by industry veterans and is part of a larger migration of content from TV to the Internet.

7. Leggo My Logo

“Today, on the cusp of its 40th year, the symbol borne of necessity … at Portland State is one of the most recognizable in the world — so much so that it can stand alone.” OregonLive’s Allan Brettman looks back at a chance meeting and thirty-five bucks that led to one of world’s most recognizable logos. Hint: Just do it.

8. Cuckoo for Coconuts

It began as a street fight between two guys, and now coconut water is at the center of a swirling $400 million war for shelf space. Coconut water is also the leading cause of “Why the hell am I drinking this?”

+ To us, these market shifts may seem like silly fads. But to major corporations, these trends are big business. From Time: 10 things Americans suddenly stopped buying. (Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing gluten.)

9. Time Warp

“But, but…here is the thing. In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014.” Kevin Kelly in Medium: You are not late. Unless your over 30. Then you’re late as hell.

10. The Bottom of the News

“In Connecticut pickles must bounce to officially be considered pickles.” Wired has put together a list of some of the most ridiculous laws in America.

+ Welcome to the front lines of the Times Square superhero crackdown.

+ McSweeney’s: The first annual conference on how to tell Samantha I really like her.


TIME NextDraft

A History of TMZ and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 25, 2014


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.)


TIME NextDraft

A Reflection on Privacy and Other Fascinating News on the Web


1. Show Me Your Public Parts

During the tech revolution, the line between public and private has become increasingly blurry (or in the case of certain below-the-belt selfies, not blurry enough). Anil Dash examines the ever-changing definition and wonders how we decide what Is public? “Public is not just what can be viewed by others, but a fragile set of social conventions about what behaviors are acceptable and appropriate. There are people determined to profit from expanding and redefining what’s public, working to treat nearly everything we say or do as a public work they can exploit. They may succeed before we even put up a fight.” — I found this article in Anil’s backpack. I hope he doesn’t mind that I published it

2. Not Going Anywhere for a While?

Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead by way of lethal injection at 3:49pm on Wednesday. His execution was initiated an hour and fifty seven minutes earlier. Wood was “gasping and snorting” for so long that his lawyers filed an emergency appeal during the execution.

+ Vox explains why it took so long.

+ Days before the botched execution, U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski argued that executions should be carried out by firing squads: “Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”

3. Hell-ter Shelter

As the violence in the Middle East hits its seventeenth day, the news continues to be bad. There’s still no ceasefire plan in place, and Israeli artillery hit a UN-run school in Gaza that was being used as a shelter.

+ Late last night, the FAA lifted its ban on flights to Tel Aviv.

+ The extent to which a sliver of territory in the Middle East can dominate world news is truly remarkable. WorldMic takes a look at what the Gaza invasion would look like (in terms of population and geography) if it took place in your city.

4. Just Don’t It?

“There’s something in the culture — there’s this magical, mysterious part of the culture that breeds helpfulness. The opposite of what I was taught growing up in New York, which was not to help. That you’re not a bad person if you don’t help.” Aeon’s Dwyer Gunn looks at the long history of people just standing there and doing nothing when someone else is being victimized and wonders, why won’t they help?

5. Call of Jury Duty

As advisor to David Cameron has suggested that laws be enacted to ensure people “who steal online items in video games with a real-world monetary value receive the same sentences as criminals who steal real-world items of the same monetary value.” I don’t know if such a law will ever pass, but I told my son to keep his Minecraft pickaxe handy just in case.

+ This Meme’s Not Big Enough For Both of Us: In New York, dozens of detectives from the homicide, counter-terrorism, and intelligence units, are searching for a skateboarder and several of his friends who could have been behind the Brooklyn Bridge flag planting.

6. It Doesn’t Add Up

“The inadequate implementation can make math reforms seem like the most absurd form of policy change — one that creates a whole new problem to solve. Why try something we’ve failed at a half-dozen times before, only to watch it backfire?” NY Mag on the story of Akihiko Takahashi and why Americans stink at math.

7. Paste Traumatic Stress Disorder

Senator John Walsh is being criticized for plagiarizing much of a paper he submitted as his 1998 master’s thesis. One of the people he borrowed from doesn’t seem too upset: “I was surprised and mildly flattered that Sen. Walsh had decided to incorporate so much of my paper into his.”

+ Meanwhile, Walsh is suggesting that PTSD may have played a role in his plagiarism. “I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor.” At least we can be completely sure he made up that sentence on his own.

8. The King and Fry

The CEO is 33. And many of the other top executives are even younger. Together, they want to run their company like a startup and want all the employees to have an “ownership mentality.” But this is no new Internet company. It’s one of America’s most recognizable brands. From BloombergBusinessweek: Burger King Is Run by Children.

+ Speaking of eating establishments run by children, how do you get yours to eat a few vegetables before they bolt away from the kitchen table? Here’s a tip from the experts: Don’t say a damn thing.

+ “Slowly but surely, the kale salad will make its way to TGI Friday’s menu, then McDonald’s, Kraft, and, eventually, as a Doritos flavor.” Meet the people who know what you’re going to want to eat before you do.

9. The Brain Guarding the Lane

“I can usually remember plays in situations a couple of years back — quite a few years back sometimes. I’m able to calibrate them throughout a game to the situation I’m in, to know who has it going on our team, what position to put him in. I’m lucky to have a photographic memory.” ESPN introduces you to LeBron’s greatest gift, and curse. His fast-twitch, incessantly churning brain.

+ What if Morgan Freeman read LeBron James’ letter discussing his return to Cleveland?

10. The Bottom of the News

“The people who want to look like Angelina Jolie are having cheek augmentations, which makes me think that the release of Maleficent was significant.” Kevin Fallon takes you inside the weird world of celebrity clone surgery. Meanwhile, a kid in India just had 232 teeth removed (and he still looks nothing like Kim Kardashian…)

+ “We all just managed to stay alive longer than everybody else.” That’s Roy Englert on the strategy that enabled his relay team of nonagenarians to set a new track record.

+ How blatantly did Xiaomi rip off Apple designs. Here’s a hint: And there’s one more thing

+ Tuaw: I searched for all 74 of the stickers in Apple’s new ad so you don’t have to.

+ A car dealership gave a disgruntled customer a $100 refund, in loose change. This story isn’t that interesting, but it does provide a good excuse to re-watch a great moment from Breaking Away.


TIME NextDraft

How to Beat Procrastination and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 23, 2014


1. Read This Later

It’s not pleasant. It leads to more stress. It worsens your health. “Why, then, is procrastination such a common phenomenon? If we don’t particularly want to procrastinate, and it causes us discomfort to do so, why do we persist in doing it?” The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova tries to answer that question and help you along the road to getting over procrastination. But be forewarned. As one expert explains: “The ironic thing is that procrastinators put off dealing with their procrastination.” So even if you conquer the procrastination, you’ll still need someone to help you get over the irony.

+ Part of procrastination might have to do with a desire to control our use of time. From the WSJ: Why power in the workplace makes people feel they control time.

2. The Dehydration of Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga recently recorded a PSA urging Californians to conserve water. No matter where you live, you might want sing the same tune. The Center for Investigative Reporting explains why the California drought affects everyone. (And I mean everyone.)

3. Fight or Flight Response

The FAA has banned flights in and out of Tel Aviv for the second straight day, while former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg landed at the airport via an El Al flight.

+ “After two weeks of protests and denunciations, it’s time to acknowledge that outrage won’t end the war in Gaza. The most plausible way to stop this cycle of violence is through internationally supervised demilitarization.” Slate’s William Saletan offers an idea for how to save Gaza.

+ Anthony Bourdain interviewed in Blogs of War: “Its impossible to see Gaza, for instance, the camps, the West Bank and not find yourself reeling with the ugliness of it all. The absolute failure of smart, presumably good-hearted people on both sides to find something/anything better than what we’ve arrived at. And the willingness of people to not see what is plainly apparent, right there, enormous and frankly, hideous.”

+ And PRI interviewed Debra Kamin about the bizarre growth in something known as war tourism. (They should only sell one-way tickets.)

4. Pieces of the Puzzle

Collectibles entrepreneur Ted Stanley saw medicine help pave the the way for his son to lead a normal life after a psychotic break and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Earlier this week, Stanley made a “$650-million commitment to fuel the search for mental illnesses’ biological underpinnings.”

5. Bipolar Bear

“It’s obvious, of course, that animals of all sorts suffer from physical pain. It’s also obvious that many animals can be tense, unhappy, anxious, enraged, compulsive, impulsive, sad, depressed, and so on. Still, it’s tempting for many people, even sympathetic ones, to put those words in scare quotes — to see animal ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ as a less intense or consequential version of their human equivalents.” Joshua Rothman on a new book that tackles the topic of mental illness and anguish in animals: See Spot Get Depressed.

+ Don’t think animals can get depressed? Try putting a polar bear into captivity, alone, and in a warm climate from which even an international petition can’t free him. From The Daily Beast: More bad luck for depressed polar bear

6. A Call to Ears

It seems clear that, at least in the near term, we’ll be getting our music via one of the streaming services. That’s why the startups are geting big valuations. And that’s why the big tech companies are getting ready for the ultimate dance off. From Quartz: An epic battle in streaming music is about to begin, and only a few will survive. Of course, you have to consider that as recently as 2007, CDs accounted for 90% of U.S. album sales. Things change fast in the music-tech space. So the winner of today’s battle may not necessarily be the winner of the war (which is just one of the reasons I’m hanging on to my 8 track tapes).

7. To Kale and Back

My wife has me trying out a pretty restrictive diet — less gluten, less sugar, less dairy, less joy — and I’ve responded by upping the portions (often measured by bunches, bushels, or cubic yards) of those foods I’m allowed to consume. So I suppose you can thank us for helping to bring on the great kale shortage of 2014.

+ NPR: Many kids who are obese or overweight don’t know it

+ Somehow that healthier lifestyle we’ve all been living has resulted in an increase in the sales of Doritos. (I blame Colorado and Washington.)

8. The Big Apple

Apple reported another record quarter yesterday and the company continues to be remarkably huge. The best way to understand how huge is to compare one of Apple’s individual units to the total size of another company. Or several other companies.

9. The Toddler Whisperer

“Despite the channel’s massive, sweeping, and somewhat perplexing popularity, no one — neither the toddlers who watch with near-religious fervor and their parents, nor executives deeply embedded in the YouTube ecosystem and its economics — seem to have much of a clue who’s behind it.” From Buzzfeed’s Hillary Reinsberg: YouTube’s biggest star is an unknown toy-reviewing toddler whisperer.

10. The Bottom of the News

“Christie Watson’s kids love eating ice cream. But one recent morning, she saw an uneaten ice cream sandwich sitting on her patio table. When she looked closer, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.” It turned out that the ice cream sandwich didn’t melt. I think the bigger concern is that she has a kid who abandoned an uneaten ice cream sandwich.

+ Every now and then it’s nice to see some courage returning to the reporting business. Lindsey Weber explains why the Kim Kardashian game Is legitimately good.

+ It turns out that Pong was never intended for public release.

+ Kottke: A couple in a kayak gets too close to a whale and then the whale raises them right out of the water. And not just for a moment either. (They seem way to calm for this to be real.)

+ The bad news is that you got fired from SNL after only one season. That’s also the good news.


TIME NextDraft

The Argument Against Ivy League Schools and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 22, 2014


1. Ivy Fatigue

In the New Republic William Deresiewicz, author and former Yale professor, argues against sending your kids to Ivy League schools. “Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” I don’t know. I think most of these kids know they’re doing it for the IPO.

2. Complications

Within the space of two hours, two federal appeals courts issued two contradictory rulings on the health care insurance subsidies associated with (and necessary to) the Affordable Care Act.

3. No Fly Zone

Following a missile strike in the area surrounding Israel’s only international airport, the FAA followed the lead of several international airlines and prohibited all flights to Israel for 24 hours. From Jeffrey Goldberg: “The FAA may wind up having more influence over the course of the Gaza war than the State Department.”

+ As international efforts towards a ceasefire continue, Hamas claims to have captured an Israeli soldier.

+ “More than 500 Palestinians and at least 18 Israelis have been sacrificed on the altar of this deluded strategy. When we eventually emerge from the chaos, no one will be safer. And many of the wounds created can possibly never heal.” Claire Hajaj: My Jewish mother, my Palestinian father and a family torn apart.

4. Being There

As if we needed another reminder that location is everything, and that living in a society under siege can damage people in multiple ways, there’s this: 11 of the parents of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls have died since their kidnapping. Seven by violence. Four from heart failure, high blood pressure and other stress-related illnesses.

5. A Little Help From My Friends

“If we expect a genius to be somehow fundamentally different from the rest of humanity, studying Einstein’s life and opinions will disappoint.” Aeon’s Matthew Francis takes on the notion of cognitive celebrity. “Albert Einstein was a genius, but he wasn’t the only one — why has his name come to mean something superhuman?”

+ “The lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Fortunately, a more truthful model is emerging: the creative network, as with the crowd-sourced Wikipedia or the writer’s room at The Daily Show or — the real heart of creativity — the intimate exchange of the creative pair, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney.” the NYT’s Joshua Wolf Shenk on the end of genius. (I think my body of solo-work suggests I was way ahead of the curve on this one…)

6. Corrections Academy

“Despite the inadvertent hilarity, the real marvel of our mobile text-correction systems is how astoundingly good they are. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to call autocorrect the overlooked underwriter of our era of mobile prolixity.” (More importantly, it has given wildly unfunny people a small chance of being inadvertently funny on occasion.) From Wired: The fascinating history of autocorrect.

7. Sleep Apathy

Researchers are staying up all night to prove just how many hours of sleep is ideal. The latest volley in the sleep wars suggests that seven hours is perfect, and the much-hyped eight hours could actually be dangerous. Wake me when it’s over.

+ Wired: Why does sleeping in just make me more tired?

8. Welcome to Landlordia

The guest checked in but he didn’t check out. And now the person who rented out the condo has learned a key lesson of the era: We’re all landlords now.

9. Peaking Early

“Everyone’s favorite seasons of shows are seasons two and three, because you’ve had a year to get to know them, and then you’re still in the honeymoon period where you go, ‘This is great!’” The Atantic tries to answer that age-old question: Why do so many TV shows peak in season three?

+ Netflix now has a ton of content and more than 50 million subscribers. Of course Netflix has 50 million subscribers. Where else can you get a babysitter for $8.99 a month?

+ Classism, sexism, anti-environmentalism bordering on racism, and more.
Tracy Van Slyke with a few thoughts on Thomas the Tank Engine. And don’t even get her started on Barney…

10. The Bottom of the News

New Yorkers are wondering who put the two white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge. (You didn’t expect the hipsters to stand and fight, did you?)

+ The Cornish beaches where Lego keeps washing up.

+ Chipotle is now a $20 billion company and analysts say there’s still plenty of room to grow. (Sure, they could start selling real burritos…)

+ Derek Jeter by the numbers. It’s good to be the Captain.

+ And how about a little love for the Internet’s least viral videos.


TIME NextDraft

Why Things We Want Don’t Make Us Happy and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 21, 2014


1. Happy Trails

Fame. Money. Multiple partners. Sounds good right? Abd Al-Rahman III was an absolute ruler in 10th century Spain, where he had all that and more. And yet, according to his own writings, he wasn’t all that happy: “I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.” The NYT’s Arthur C. Brooks looks at a series of studies and finds that the things many of us want don’t necessarily lead to happiness. I’d like to sign up to be a participant in one of these studies.

+ The Atlantic argues that polyamorous people handle certain relationship struggles better than monogamous people do. “Bill says watching his wife have sex with another man induces compersion — basking in the joy of a partner’s success.” (I’m pretty happy when my wife gets retweeted.)

2. The Bitter Trail

“What exactly are they trying to hide?” That was one of the questions President Obama asked as the international call for better access to the remains of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 grew louder. Meanwhile, a Russian general suggested that there were Ukrainian fighter jets close to the plane just before it was hit.

+ A deal has been reached with the rebels to hand over the black box, and a train holding the bodies of the victims has finally started to roll. Here are the latest updates on the story.

+ Nate Silver: Should travelers avoid flying airlines that have had crashes in the past?

+ Dutch cyclist Maarten de Jonge made last minute travel changes that kept him off both doomed Malaysian Airlines flights.

3. No Justice, No Cease

As U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrive in Cairo to urge a Middle East ceasefire, the death tolls continued to rise. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed, and 25 Israeli soldiers have been slain since the ground offensive began.

+ The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont on the children frozen in fear: “In most wars I have covered, you encounter one of the combatant parties, often both, but in Gaza, where death falls from the sky, those fighting are largely invisible except for the impact of their weapons. The result is that you see a war in Gaza through the prism of the suffering of the victims — a conflict in which those willing to offer an organizing rationale are absent.”

+ New Republic: The explosive, inside story of how John Kerry built an Israel-Palestine peace plan — and watched It crumble.

+ Buzzfeed: Jewish and Arab people are posing together in inspiring photos saying “We refuse to be enemies.”

4. You Can’t Get Off the Canvas

ProPublica has a report on a new kind of browser tracking tool called Canvas. It works sort of like cookies, except you can’t turn it off. Meet the online tracking device that is virtually impossible to block.

5. I’ll Show You Minecraft

“Minecraft is a game about creation, yes. But it is just as much a game about secret knowledge.” Robin Sloan on the secret of Minecraft. Amazingly, nothing about the game seems like a secret to my eight year-old son and his friends. Every party turns into a Minecraft party.

+ Maybe all this video gaming will pay off. The Verge takes you inside the life of a pro gamer.

+ And The Economist shares a chart that details just how lucrative video game prize pools have become.

6. Game Saving

Jon Michaud in The New Yorker: “My grades were mediocre, and my parents were worried about my prospects. I didn’t know it, but I was simply waiting for the right game to come along — a game in which there were no winners or losers. That day finally arrived in the spring of 1979. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Dungeons & Dragons saved my life.” Most of my 1979 was spent on a beach waiting for Bo Derek to jog by…

7. Face Saving

Facebook has launched a feature that enables users to save links, pages and events for later reading. But the company’s much bigger initiative is the introduction of a buy button. Can Facebook and Twitter move you closer to the transaction without chasing you away from their services?

+ Shakira just became the first the person to reach 100 million Facebook likes. Here’s the WSJ on how she got to be the Queen of Facebook.

8. A Homeric Binge

Along with a new site design, The New Yorker has opened its archives on stories published since 2007. (You can find my stories rejected by The New Yorker since 2007 on my blog.) Longform has a list of their 25 favorite unlocked New Yorker stories.

+ When you’re done reading those stories, you can binge on some episodes of The Simpsons. Well, 552 episodes to be exact. FXX is about to redefine the meaning of a series marathon.

9. One-Way Ticket to Ride

“These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.” It’s been 45 years since humans walked on the moon and returned to Earth. Here was the speech prepared to be delivered in the event that the men were stranded on the moon.

10. The Bottom of the News

Carlos Slim, the world’s second richest person, has an idea. He thinks you should only work three days a week. (This works better if you’re not being paid by the hour.)

+ New at Banana Republic: The Startup Guy Collection. In my experience, that just includes undershorts and equity.

+ In 2004, the odds were 500-1 that Rory McIlroy would win the British Open within the next decade. His dad took those odds and made the bet, and won it yesterday.

+ At long last, cake you can spray out of a can.


TIME NextDraft

The Malaysia Airlines Crash and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 18, 2014


1. Outrage

President Obama called the downing of the Malaysia airlines plane an “outrage of unspeakable proportions.” Early indications suggest the plane was shot down by a missile fired from the area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. Meanwhile, the UN security council called for a “full, thorough and independent international investigation.”

+ Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations: “It is impossible to rule out Russian technical assistance” in the operation of the surface to air missile system.

+ “We have just shot down a plane.” Is this alleged intercepted audio a smoking gun?

+ Putin has now called for a ceasefire. (He’s a little late with that request.)

+ “Vladimir Putin, acting out of resentment and fury toward the West and the leaders in Kiev, has fanned a kind of prolonged political frenzy, both in Russia and among his confederates in Ukraine, that serves his immediate political needs but that he can no longer easily calibrate and control.” David Remnick nails it in a must-read New Yorker piece: After the Crash.

2. The Bitter Trail

There is the geopolitical story which is just beginning to unfold. Then there is the immediate shock of the human tragedy summed up just after the plane’s downing by the NYT’s Sabrina Tavernise: “Headphones and computers were scattered throughout a field of sunflowers. In another field, a Dutch passport lay open. Bodies fell from the sky, looking like rags or clumps of ash.”

+ Joep Lange and many other AIDS researchers were on the plane, enroute to a research conference in Melbourne. BBC on some of the passengers.

+ A family that lost two members on the still-missing Malaysian Airlines flight lost two more on Flight MH17.

3. Weekend Reads

“I was 29 years old and living the dream, or at least my version of it, when everything changed. I was in love with an amazing woman and had a rent-controlled sublet in New York City’s West Village and a good job at a glossy magazine. By any estimation as I now recall my life before it was tossed upside down, my girlfriend and I had no discernible problems.” In Matter, Larry Smith’s My Life with Piper: From Big House to Small Screen.

+ Pitchman: How Tom Emanski changed the sport of baseball — and then disappeared.

+ How long do you have to react when a line drive is hit into the stands? Sometimes, not long enough. From Atlanta Magazine: Foul Territory.

+ Speaking of baseball, if you enjoy the sport, you’ve got to watch the new Netflix documentary: The Battered Bastards of Baseball.

+ As NFL players and staff get ready to report to training camp, check out the story of the building of the new 49ers stadium. It began with a really bad stink.

4. No (Ha)mas

As his military targets tunnels used by Hamas militants, Israel’s prime minister warns that the scope of the ground war could widen.

+ Bill Clinton: “Hamas was perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets in Israel. They fired a thousand of them. And they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them.” Jeffrey Goldberg: Understanding what Hamas wants.

5. Calling All Cars

Law enforcement officials and fellow drivers rightfully cheered when California banned the use of handheld phones by motorists. The law has been in place for six years. So why hasn’t it reduced motor accidents?

6. Pill Drop Shipping

When your fix absolutely, positively has to be there overnight… “US prosecutors have unveiled allegations that FedEx, despite warnings from the government, acted as the distribution network for illegal online pharmacies that sold restricted drugs, from pain-killers to anti-anxiety medicines, to be used recreationally.”

7. Quinoat’s Up With That?

Here’s the thing about fruits and vegetables. They’re (sort of) designed to kill. And that’s the element that’s missing from many supplements. “Fruits and vegetables are indeed healthful but not necessarily because they shield you from oxidative stress. In fact, they may improve health for quite the opposite reason: They stress you.” They definitely seem to stress my kids. From Nautilus: Fruits and vegetables are trying to kill you.

+ Quinoa has risen to the top shelf in your supermarket thanks to the gluten-free movement. But there are more supergrains on their way to a shelf near you. (You can’t say you weren’t warned.)

+ Join Chris Ziegler as he spends a month living on Soylent. (Unfortunately, I’m lab-made liquid nourishment intolerant.)

+ What are we chewing now that we are chewing so much less gum?

8. It’s How You Live

The Espy’s are usually a pretty playful awards show. But this year, ESPN’s Stuart Scott gave a moving and poignant speech about his life with cancer. “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.”

9. Yo Money

Remember Yo, that sort of goofy notification app that swept the Internet a few memes ago? Well, they just raised $1.5 million to expand the product. Maybe to $Yo.

10. The Bottom of the News

Build a rocket. Shoot some arrows. Swim, ride, throw, camp, and more. It’s the season for Summer Camp for Adults. (When your kids are away at summer camp, and you’re at home, that’s summer camp for adults.)

+ The average shoe size is up about two sizes since the 70s. I wondered why my bell bottoms looked like skinny jeans.

+ It’s been a long news week. Let’s unwind with a kids swearing in movies mashup.


TIME NextDraft

The Parts of the Brain You Use The Most and Other Fascinating News of the Web

July 16, 2014


1. Use Your Brain

“It is estimated most human beings only use 10 percent of the brain’s capacity. Imagine if we could access 100 percent. Interesting things begin to happen.” That’s one of Morgan Freeman’s lines in an upcoming movie called Lucy. This whole 10 percent of the brain thing is a commonly held belief (more commonly held than evolution). But it turns out to be entirely false. As The Atlantic’s Sam McDougle reports, humans already use way more than 10 percent of their brains. (It just seems like they don’t.)

+ Pacific Standard: What if a drug could make it possible to learn any new skill as if we were children? (From what I can tell from my kids, that means learning a new skill by constantly complaining and screaming “I know, I know.”)

2. Fruity Call

Back in 2009, cigarette flavors with exotic fruity flavors were banned because they were (justifiably) believed to be targeted towards kids. Now we’ve entered the age of the E-Cig where your puff of nicotine can come in just about any flavor you can think of. The NYT’s Matt Richtel on this week’s big cigarette merger and the race for exotic vapor flavors.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Over the past century, adult per capita cigarette consumption in the US rose from nearly nothing in 1900 to a peak of morre than 4000 cigarettes per year in the early 60s and then fell to the current rate of around 1000/yr. Currently, smoking in the US correlates highly with level of education and poverty. Check out this graph on the rise and fall of American smoking.

3. Storming the Beach

“The rocket threat cannot be addressed thoroughly from the air only.” So said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who urged a ground war in Gaza where four Palestinian kids were killed by a shell that landed on a beach.

+ The battle between Hamas and Israel is not only about military maneuvers. It’s a cyber and media battle for hearts and minds. I think our hearts and minds are ready for some peace in what seems like the world’s longest running series of bad sequels.

4. Throwing Sanity Under the Bus

“Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law … I was able to actually see some of the children on the buses, and the fear on their faces.” That was Arizona state legislator Adam Kwasman as he warned of a new bus of child immigrants rolling into his town. I’m sure the kids on their way to YMCA camp were wondering what all the protesting was about.

+ Vox: 14 facts that help explain America’s child-migrant crisis.

5. The Acquisition of Thrones

Rupert Murdoch reportedly offered $80 billion to acquire TimeWarner. The deal was rejected and talks have stalled, but Rupert usually doesn’t give up too quickly.

+ TimeWarner has plenty of valuable assets, but HBO might be the one Murdoch wants the most.

+ Interestingly, Rupert’s WSJ’s most popular story of the day is focused on the smartest ways to cut the cord.

+ Rupert’s not the only one who has deals fall apart. As many as two-thirds of Shark Tank’s done deals never actually get funded. There’s nothing left to believe in.

+ Forget all the fancy analysis. The only economic indicator you need to track is CEO F-bombs.

6. Club Med

Meditation isn’t just for relaxing and centering yourself. It’s now apparently a way for hedge fund managers to increase their performance. This is the age of meditation for strivers. In that case, I think I’ll settle for chilling out.

7. Human Achievement

Forty-five years ago, we landed men on the moon. Forty-five years later, Kanye West referred to himself as a genius for coming up with the idea of leather jogging pants, and Buzzfeed began work on its “What Astronaut Are You?” quiz. We never stop achieving. Here are some incredible photos from the moon landing. I’ll let you find the jogging pants on your own.

+ Why did Neil Armstrong get to be the first to step on the moon?

8. Jerking Soda

Like many countries, Mexico is facing a severe obesity crisis. They’re latest effort is to restrict soft drink TV ads during the hours when kids tend to watch. The rest of the world will be watching to see if that works.

+ My wife recently made me switch to almond milk. So this MoJo headline caught my eye: Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters.

+ Make fun of my almond milk all you want. At least I’m not drinking seaweed craft beer. (Although I have tried a keg or two of the gluten-free stuff.)

9. SPF 1980

You are constantly told of the importance of wearing sunscreen. But the FDA seems to be in no hurry to approve new and improved formulas. Your sunscreen is out of date.

+ Looking for a growth business? Try tattoo removal.

10. The Bottom of the News

He feels like the game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 portrays him as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.” So former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega is suing Activision Blizzard for using his name without permission. The Onion should sue Noriega. This story infringes on their turf.

+ What happens to a parody artist when life becomes a parody. We’re about to find out. From Grantland: The Winter of Weird Al.

+ Street art emerges and gets painted over or washed away. But now Google is helping street artists to preserve their work forever.

+ A big crater just opened up in Siberia, in an area already referred to as the end of the Earth.


TIME NextDraft

What Makes The Myers-Briggs Test “Meaningless” and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 15, 2014


1. With Friends Like These…

I was sharing some witty banter with my good friends George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Jon Hamm when we started talking about the fact that not only do we tend to look a lot like our close friends, we also resemble each other genetically. According to a recent study, “our friends are as similar to us genetically as you’d expect fourth cousins to be.” My fourth cousin Ryan Gosling will totally get a kick out of that.

+ Don’t trust you genes to pick the right friends? You could take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which among other things, can serve as “a powerful framework for building better relationships.” The only problem according to Vox is that the test is totally meaningless.

2. The Undocumentarian

An undocumented immigrant was detained by border patrol officials at McAllen-Miller International Airport today. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be big news. But in this case, it was America’s most well-known undocumented citizen and a loud voice for immigration reform. Journalist and documentarian Juan Antonio Vargas just became the poster-adult for America’s child migrant crisis.

+ Here’s Vargas’ 2011 piece in NYT Magazine: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant. And you can follow Vargas on Twitter.

3. Lull, Bye

A proposed ceasefire in the Middle East lasted all of four hours before it was rejected by Hamas’ military wing. Following the rejection and the continuation of rocket strikes on Israel (where the first civilian fatality was reported), Israel resumed its attacks.

4. Parental Guidance

A recent study may shed light on a key way parents can reduce their stress. It turns out that mothers who work full time report less stress than those who work part time who report less stress than those who don’t work at all. Surprise: You’re kids are stressing the hell out of you. (Bring them to work and let your boss deal with them.)

5. The Moonies

“Do we believe there is life beyond Earth? I would venture to say that most of my colleagues here today say it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone.” NASA scientists say they’re closer than ever to finding habitable planets and life beyond our planet. (Good, because we’re getting bored with destroying the Earth.)

+ Slate’s Gregory Benford on how to terraform the moon and make it habitable and a lot like Florida. That’s an idea that can make an entire galaxy cringe.

6. School Deform

“I’m not going to let the state slap them in the face and say they’re failures … I’m going to do everything I can to prevent the why-try spirit.” The New Yorker’s Rachel Aviv on the school that went to great lengths to ‘leave no child behind.’ Lengths that included a razor blade, a lighter, and a copy machine. In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice.

7. Half and Half

“In elections up and down the ballot, each party now relies on voter coalitions that overlap remarkably little with each other in their demography, geography — or priorities.” Ron Brownstein explains why it’s become almost impossible to be the president of the entire United States.

+ They hate political parties, but they like Congress more than the rest of us. They want to cut spending and spend more. They think government is wasteful but want more government. In other words, Millennials’ political views don’t make any sense.

+ Some scientists think our biology determines our politics.

8. Dough Piercer

Want to see the new and critically acclaimed sci-fi movie Snowpiercer? You can go to one of a handful of theaters or you can watch it from your couch. This could be the new model of movie distribution where straight to video is the quickest way to take it straight to the bank.

+ Yahoo tries to get relevant in the streaming video game with a daily series of live concerts. The more the big players compete, the more they’ll be playing our tune.

9. Heavy Mettle

A heavy metal band that gained popularity via YouTube just signed a record deal worth nearly $2 million. And they’re in eighth grade. This is why I always let my kids rock out on their guitars when they’re taking a break from coding a messaging app.

+ Forget practice. You get to Carnegie Hall with talent.

10. The Bottom of the News

Whenever I call customer service, I warn them that the call may be recorded for quality control. Journalist Ryan Block should have done the same as he recorded the already infamous Comcast service call from hell.

+ What makes one design cool and another uncool? Here’s FastCo on the science of cool. And here’s BoingBoing on the history of weird.

+ A brief history of houses built out of spite.

+ And how a church ended up on George Carlin Way.


TIME NextDraft

Foods That Stress You Out and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 14, 2014


1. You’re Not Human

Sure, you look human on the outside, but that’s just your shell. Inside, the real operation is run by “about 100 trillion bacterial cells. They outnumber human cells 10 to one and account for 99.9 percent of the unique genes in the body.” At the risk of getting too esoteric, these bacteria are the Oompa Loompas in your internal candy factory. And certain modern human behaviors, such as popping antibiotics like Tic Tacs, might be dramatically altering our microbiome. The NYT’s Jane E. Brody explains the problem: “Like ecosystems the world over, the human microbiome is losing its diversity, to the potential detriment of the health of those it inhabits.”

+ Gut Reaction: How what you eat can amp up or tamp down stress.

2. Turn Your Head and Upchuck

How do we know what to believe when it comes to health advice? We used to trust the doctors we visited regularly. Now, a ton of our medical tips come from TV physicians like Dr. Oz. Maybe it’s time to click our heels together and go back to the old way of making health decisions. From Vox: Meet the medical student who wants to bring down Dr. Oz.

+ WaPo: Scholarly journal retracts 60 articles, smashes peer review ring.

3. New Drone Zone

As clashes between Israel and Hamas intensify, Israel has shot down Hamas’ first combat drone. The drone — which experts believe was not armed — was shot down by a patriot missile. Meanwhile, residents are fleeing Gaza as Israel warns of more strikes.

+ Jeffrey Goldberg: What, Exactly, Is Hamas Trying to Prove?

+ “America has the capacity to save its Iraqi friends whose war never ended, before isis or the militias kill them first.” The New Yorker’s George Packer on the Iraqis that America left behind.

4. A Game Theory

“It’s been a formative narrative media for all sorts of writers.” That’s how author Junot Diaz describes Dungeons & Dragons, a game that he says served as “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.” Did D&D influence an entire generation of writers? (A lot of novels seem like they’ve been more influenced by Donkey Kong.)

5. Waxing Brazilian

Brazil hosted a wild month of soccer, and a World Cup that — with some help from social media — may have officially welcomed Americans to the global party. Will this World Cup also be known for being won by the greatest team ever?

+ “Who doesn’t want to yell ‘Goal!’ five or six seconds before their neighbors?” This was definitely the year that Univision asserted itself in America, The network “dominated its TV rivals in several of America’s largest cities.”

+ From the beginning, the biggest personal question of this World Cup was whether Lionel Messi would finally bring Argentina the cup. Well, Argentinians are still waiting for their Messi-ah, and time may have run out.

+ When can we be sure soccer has arrived in America? When a New York TV station interrupts the end of the game for a weather update, and people go nuts.

6. Making Sense of Life

Nobel prize-winning writer Nadine Gordimer, a consistent voice for a democratic South Africa, has died at the age of 90. Gordimer gave voice to a movement through her fiction and through her personal political efforts. She helped edit Nelson Mandela’s I Am Prepared To Die speech.

+ “What all artists are trying to do is to make sense of life. So you see, I would have found my themes had I been an American or an English writer. They are there if one knows where to look . . . if one is pushed from within.” Here’s Nadine Gordimer’s interview in the Paris Review.

+ “I was part of it.” Watch videos of Gordimer talking about South Africa’s racism.

7. Welcome Back, Squatter

“The borough has become a Valhalla of bars and restaurants and parks and hotels where you can play shuffleboard, cheer a professional basketball team, buy taxidermy, pretend you are in New Orleans or Chiang Mai, enjoy the forgotten muscle memory of flipping through vinyl records, sip good coffee, watch Stephane Wrembel play and frolic in parks … But Brooklyn is still Brooklyn.” Only now, Vinnie Barbarino and Juan Epstein drink lattes and work for a tech startup. In the NYT, Wendell Jamieson looks at Brooklyn,Then and Now.

+ From the SF Gate: Are tech-sector newcomers elbowing out Mill Valley’s funky-arty vibe? Even people from Marin County are complaining about the influx of money. That’s like Brazilians complaining about an influx of people who are really into soccer.

+ How do you know when the housing and economic divide has gotten out of hand? When people are building backyard treehouses that are nicer than your home.

8. The Hitmaker

MoJo introduces you to the company that knows which artists you’ll be listening to six months before you’ve even heard of them. But is the music big because it has elements that can be measured as being potentially popular? Or is the music popular because the big data crunchers tells us it will be?

9. LeBron’s Got the Brains

“If you think of him like a genius, it makes more sense. He’s smarter about basketball than you and me, and, really, anyone else. He sees things that we can’t see. During that last Miami season, I don’t think he liked what he saw from his teammates. LeBron James wanted to come back to Cleveland, but he also wanted to flee Miami. His heart told him to leave, but so did his brain. And his brain works like very few brains — not just now, but ever.” Grantland’s Bill Simmons: God Loves Cleveland.

+ CityLab: Why people still move to unhappy places.

10. The Bottom of the News

Airbus has filed a patent to make flying even more uncomfortable. Imagine taking a long flight while sitting on a bicycle seat. If I see pedals, I’m out of there.

+ Maria Konnikova: What we really taste when we drink wine. (I usually taste drunkenness potentiality.)

+ Finally, in words and pictures, you get to follow the journey of a lobster from a trap to a table. (Spoiler alert: This doesn’t end well.)

+ Wolfgang’s Vault recently put 13,000 live performances on YouTube. Rock on.


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