Thursday, August 15th, 2013


These Kids Today

$241,080. According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that's how much it will cost you to raise a child born in 2012 for the next seventeen years. (I'm not great at math, but I'm pretty sure that's less than you'd have to spend to secure a covered parking spot in San Francisco over the same time period.) The cost of raising a kid increases to over three hundred grand if you adjust for inflation, but parents can enjoy significant savings if they're willing to cut back on a few miscellaneous items such as food, shelter, and transportation. Here's the story and a chart that breaks down the cost of raising a child.

+ When it comes to demographics in the U.S., the big story isn't these expensive kids, but rather the aging of the population. This excellent animation really tells the story of a dramatic shift.


Seeking a Path

The military crackdown in Egypt has left more than 500 people dead and thousands injured. President Obama said nothing of the foreign aid Egypt receives, but condemned the violence and canceled scheduled joint exercises with the Egyptian military (unfortunately, they seem to be getting plenty of practice on their own).

+ NPR's Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel sums up the mood: "It's difficult to see a path out of this crisis, at least not without more people dying."

+ Foreign Policy: Photos of the chaos in Cairo.


Classified Info

A recent study found that Craigslist cost U.S. newspapers more than $5 billion in revenue over a seven year period. GigaOm's Mathew Ingram rightly explains that there were a whole lot of other factors that played a role in the decline of newspapers (for example, a little thing we like to call the Internet). But it's certainly worth noting the demise of the classifieds section. The best thing Jeff Bezos can do for The Washington Post is to figure out how to bring some version of the classifieds back. In the Internet business, getting close to the transaction is the name of the game.


The Logic of the Drone

"When you consider the alternatives -- even, and perhaps especially, if you are deeply concerned with sparing civilians -- you are led, as Obama was, to the logic of the drone." The Atlantic's Mark Bowden provides his take on how to think about drones: The Killing Machines.


Winter is Coming

Given Russia's anti-gay laws, there have been some calls to boycott the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Chess great Gary Kasparov argues that world leaders shouldn't boycott the Olympics, but they should boycott Vladimir Putin. "Let him fill the seats at his side with the oligarchs and flunkies he pays so well and not the leaders of the free world. Shun him and shame him for his bigotry and cruelty. Politicians must not be allowed to use the athletes as shields for their own cowardice. The world will be watching."

+ According to NBC, there's been no slowdown in advertiser demand when it comes to spending dough on the Olympic broadcast.


We Don't Need No Stinking Screens

Think you're always connected now? Just wait. The introduction of voice commands to control your devices is one more step towards tiny computers that don't need screens. According to the head of the Conversation Search group at Google: "What we're really trying to do is enable a new kind of interaction with Google where it's more like how you interact with a normal person." Whenever I interact with a normal person, they are looking down at their phone.

+ First will come the small computers without screens that you forgot you turned on. Then will come the even smaller computers that connect with borrowed TV and radio signals and need no power source.


Thinking Inside the Box

"Essentially, the water in the starch, unable to boil because of the hermetic seal, immediately vaporizes when the seal is released and the pressure drops; the steam expands outward and puffs the starch." Yes, we're talking about your breakfast. From The New Yorker, Puffed: The Magic of Cereal.


The Lion Barks Tonight

You probably only knew them as Bassaricyon Neblina, but for the first time in 35 years, scientists have discovered a new (to us, anyway) carnivorous mammal species in the American continents. Introducing the Olinguito.

+ "He's a leading-man type: darkly handsome, a bit of a rogue, the star of two feature films. During Kerala's festival season, which nowadays stretches from December to May, he never gets a day off." In the NYT Magazine, Rollo Romig shares the details of the hard life of celebrity elephants.

+ In China, a zoo tried to pass off a huge, fluffy dog as a lion.


The Other Kind of Forty

Legend has it that, at party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, someone scratched a record on a turntable while another person threw down some rhymes ... and hip-hop was born. That was four decades ago. Yes, hip-hop, this is forty.


The Bottom of the News

The Seattle Police Department wanted to spread information about Washington's new marijuana legalization law to folks who will be attending Hempfest. So they put the information on stickers and stuck them to bags of Doritos. It would be a perfect marketing idea if most stoners didn't eat the bags.

+ In Canada, a guy Tweeted a request for a drug dealer to deliver some goods. He got a reply -- from the York Regional Police. Now even the authorities are going viral.

+ What happens when a restaurant gets rid of tipping? Mostly good things as it turns out.