The World’s Most Popular Petri Dish

The World's Most Popular Petri Dish

You may not have heard of Henrietta Lacks. But if you are in the medical research industry, you definitely know her name. Lacks died of cervical cancer back in 1951. After she died, doctors realized that her cells could thrive in a lab. That was a first. In the decades since, Henrietta’s “cells have been the subject of more than 74,000 studies, many of which have yielded profound insights into cell biology, vaccines, in vitro fertilization and cancer.” It wasn’t until 1973 that anyone in Lack’s family had any idea that her cells were being used in this way. And as of this week, the family has finally been given some say in how Lacks’ cells are used. The cells in question are more than sixty years old, but their use provides an insight into the privacy and personal issues related to studying genomes.

+ If you want to learn more about this story, I’ve heard great things about Rebecca Skloot’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.


The Do Not Share Button

“I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on — the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise.” Email service provider Lavabit shut down in order to avoid sharing data with the feds. Edward Snowden was reportedly one of their customers. From The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson, The N.S.A. and Its Targets.

+ This recycling bin is stalking you. From what I can tell, most people don’t seem too fazed by intrusions into online privacy (in fact, most people respond by voluntarily sharing even more). But I wonder if being targeted based on the location of you and your cellphone will change people’s minds a bit.

+ Slate: How the FBI used a baby-faced WikiLeaks volunteer to spy on Julian Assange.


Weekend Reads

“The team is rowing in a wild nighttime sea when a rogue wave the size of a small house hoists their boat, tosses it into a valley and crashes over it. The force of the water snaps one of the oars in Kreek’s hand.” What happens when four guys try to cross the Atlantic…in a rowboat.

+ Buzzfeed: The Royal Prank: The Story Behind The Worst Radio Stunt In History.


The Skinny on The Skins

This week, two publications have announced that they will no longer refer to Washington’s football organization by its team name. And that’s good news, because the name Redskins should have been dropped a long time ago. The bad news is that the two publications, Slate and Mother Jones, really don’t refer to anything related to football all that much. But here’s what makes the timing of these moves really interesting. A very big newspaper in The Redskins’ hometown just happens to have been recently acquired by a forward-thinking tech leader. If The Washington Post refused to use the team name, the pressure would be on.


The Melting Not

According to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll, many Americans have no friends of another race. “About 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race.” Thankfully, these numbers shift pretty dramatically when we look at the younger crowd. “About one third of Americans under the age of 30 who have a partner or spouse are in a relationship with someone of a different race.”


The Browser Wars

From the early days of the web, companies have been trying to convince people to use their browsers. In the last few years, Google’s Chrome has dominated and become the most popular browser in many countries across the world. The Economist has an interactive chart that shows just how quickly Chrome has taken over. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. My old version of Mosaic still works just fine.


The Most Amazing Question…

I’ll soon be adding a new feature to NextDraft in which I will be asking fascinating people to answer ten questions about about themselves. I want the questions to be simple enough to answer without a ton of work, but open-ended enough to leave room for the fascinating people to show us how fascinating they really are. Each person will get the same set of 10 questions. I have some ideas for the questions already, but I need more. That’s where you come in. Please let me know if you have any great questions to ask. To give me your take, email subscribers can just hit reply. App users can put their finger on the top teal line of the app, slide it to the right, and hit the “contact Dave” button. Or you can just email me at dave (at) davenetics dot com.


Here Kitty Kitty

It’s not easy to get a close-up shot of Serengeti Lion. But Photographer Nick Nichols and videographer Nathan Williamson managed to combine guts, patience, and technology to get some fantastic photos and video. Here’s a look at some of the portraits. And if you’re not on your phone, check out NatGeo’s fullscreen, interactive look at these amazing cats.


The Wrong Time To Text

Syndicated from Kottke: Leave it to Werner Herzog to take the driver safety video to new heights. From One Second To The Next is a 35-minute documentary film by Herzog on the dangers of texting while driving. Powerful stuff. Don’t text while you’re driving, okay?


The Bottom of the News

Juice bars. Private classes. Kid’s birthday parties. Certified trainers. Expensive gear. These are not the things one associates with Parkour. But apparently, the activity born on the streets has moved indoors.

+ Alec Baldwin is reportedly set to host a show on MSNBC. Isn’t a job as a cable news host a step down for someone who is a major TV and film star (or for anyone else doing any other job)?

+ Six teens who are way, way smarter than you.

+ A father and a son were found after living for 40 years in the jungle (and the son’s hair is still shorter and better groomed than my son’s).

+ The Oral History of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

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