Welcome to the Pressure Cooker

Welcome to the Pressure Cooker

“What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving. Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house.” This was one of about a hundred times a week these same armed men in SUVs arrive at someone’s front door. What exactly led them to Michele Catalano’s house? She had been researching pressure cookers online. Her husband had been looking for a backpack. That combined with their son’s news reading habits led to the visit. Welcome to life in the the digital pressure cooker.

+ Here’s some follow-up on the story from The Atlantic’s Philip Bump: Google pressure cookers and backpacks, get a visit from the cops.


Snowden Finally Gets a Taxi

The Russian government granted Edward Snowden a one-year asylum. So he finally left the transit zone of Moscow’s airport and hopped in a cab that took him to an undisclosed location. According to his Russian lawyer: “It is up to him to choose a residence inside Russia, but his location will remain secret for the duration of his stay. For the most wanted man on earth, personal safety is his No. 1 priority now.”


Hell Beginning

“I cried every night, I was so alone. Years turned into an eternity. I spent eleven years in hell, where your hell is just beginning. You deserve to spend life in prison.” That’s a sample of what Michelle Knight, one of the victims of Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, had to say at his sentencing hearing. The judge agreed. Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus a thousand years. And given what we’ve learned about what this guy did, that sentence still seems too short.


Can You Afford Fries With That?

Fast-food workers across the country have been staging strikes in front of McDonald’s and other restaurants. The agenda: A pay raise to $15 an hour. That’s about twice as much as many of these folks currently earn.

+ How much more would you be willing to pay for a Big Mac in order to increase the wages of the people who cook and serve it? A few cents could make a big difference. From The Daily Beast: The McPoverty Calculator.

+ How many hours a week would you have to work to survive on fast-food wages? Try MoJo’s calculator and find out.

+ From NPR: Where in the world are there no McDonald’s?

+ Let’s go inside a McDonald’s test kitchen.


Advice to Graduates (and everyone else)

“So: What do I regret? Being poor from time to time? Not really. Working terrible jobs, like ‘knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?’ (And don’t even ASK what that entails.) No. I don’t regret that. Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked? And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months? Not so much. Do I regret the occasional humiliation? Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl? No. I don’t even regret that. But here’s something I do regret…” If you only read one thing today, read the advice George Saunders gave to some graduates. Trust me.


Get Back To Where You Once Belonged

In 2012, nearly twenty-seven million members of the Millennial generation were living back home with their parents. That’s 36% of people ages 18-31. Now I don’t feel so bad about having my mom proofread NextDraft every now and then.

+ Those who don’t move home with mom just text with her. A lot.


The Machine Zone

My wife and I have been known, on occasion, to play video poker for many hours at a time. While we like hitting a Royal Flush as much as the next addicts, playing video poker is really about achieving a sort of hypnotic, rhythmic relaxation. The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal describes it well: “What is the machine zone? It’s a rhythm. It’s a response to a fine-tuned feedback loop. It’s a powerful space-time distortion. You hit a button. Something happens. You hit it again. Something similar, but not exactly the same happens. Maybe you win, maybe you don’t. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s the pleasure of the repeat, the security of the loop.” This sensation probably sounds familiar to you even if you’ve never had the pleasure of playing video poker. “This is where you go when you just can’t stop looking at pictures on Facebook.” So gambling is is basically Facebook without the friends. No wonder it’s so popular.

+ Why we keep playing the lottery.


The King of English

“Entertaining their parents, for the King children, was part job, part enrichment. At bedtime, they were the ones expected to tell their parents stories, instead of the other way around.” That’s how NYT Magazine’s Susan Dominus describes life growing up with Stephen King as your father. It had an impact. There are five novelists in the family.


Old School Lifehacks

Wondering how to remove a splinter or how to light a match in the wind? Check out these lifehacks (from a hundred years ago). If nothing else, I know now how to fell a tree.


The Bottom of the News

It’s been ten years since Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez unleashed what many people believe to be worst movie of all time (none of those people, incidentally, were adolescent boys at the time of the movie’s release). Here’s a look back at Gigli. Too soon?

+ The 20 Most Inspiring Entries in Red Bull’s Epic Photo Contest.

+ Jedi Parkour. If acrobatics you can do, on YouTube you must post.

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