Wednesday, August 28th, 2013


The Fifty Year March

Here's Ken Howard, a D.C. student fifty years ago today, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave what was to become one of history's most famous speeches: "You have to back up and think about what was happening at the time. Nationally, in 1962, you have James Meredith, the first black to attend the University of Mississippi, that was national news. In May 1963, Bull Connor with the dogs and the fire hoses, turning them on people, front-page news. And then in June, that summer, you have Medgar Evers shot down in the South, and his body actually on view on 14th Street at a church in D.C. So you had a group of individuals who had been not just oppressed, but discriminated against and killed because of their color. The March on Washington symbolized a rising up, if you will, of people who were saying enough is enough." From Smithsonian Magazine: an Oral History of the March on Washington.

+ Here's an annotated video of the "I Have a Dream" speech.

+ Leonard Freed's photos of the March on Washington.

+ Asa Philip Randolph: A 1963 Profile of the Man Who Led the March on Washington.

+ Buzzfeed: Bayard Rusin: The Man Homophobia Almost Erased From History.

+ Today in 1963: Follow along with a Twitter account Tweeting the events as they happened in the summer of 1963.


Fifty Years Later

"When we talk about the historic civil-rights gathering whose fifty-year anniversary will be celebrated on Wednesday, we usually call it the March on Washington. In fact, the full name of the event was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." The New Yorker's Vauhini Vara on race and poverty, fifty years after the march.

+ "In 1963, kids in the 10th percentile of income fell behind children in the upper echelon of wealth by about a year or so. Today, that gap is closer to four years." The Atlantic's Sarah Garland makes the argument that class is now more important to a child's education than race.

+ The Daily Beast: 50 Years of the Civil-Rights Movement -- in 10 Charts.


A Call to Arms

FP's Noah Shachtman reports that an intercepted phone call led U.S. intelligence services to confirm the chemical attack in Syria. But the contents of the call also raise a few key questions. "Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime?"

+ According to WaPo, U.S. intelligence officials have established a timeline of the Syrian chemical attack and could present it as soon as tomorrow. The U.K. is set to take the case for action to the United Nations..

+ The New Front: A pro-Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad hacktivist group called SEA took down the New York Times and Twitter's U.K. site for a brief time on Tuesday. GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham explains how they did it.


Dot Not

By now, you'd expect that large retailers would be seeing a big part of their revenue come from online sales. But that's not necessarily the case. For many major players, online sales make up only a tiny fraction of their total sales. Amazon sells more stuff online than its next twelve competitors combined. In part, we may have underestimated how much people enjoy the terrestrial store experience. But there is another big factor at work. Almost all e-commerce sites suck. The buying experience is often terrible. How many times have you seen a product on one site and then searched for it on Amazon because you trusted that the experience would be better? In the early days of the Internet, I never would have guessed that Amazon could defend its position against massive, well-known rivals. The fact that they have is a clear indication of the importance of user experience in the digital age.


Hit the Rewind Button

The Atari 1200 XL. A portable cassette player. These things might sound retro now, but they looked pretty cool to anyone who was thumbing through what Wired calls: The Amazing and Ridiculous Tech From a 30-Year-Old Sears Catalog.

+ Back then, many of us were still watching re-runs of a show about a bionic man. Today, those bionic body parts are a reality.

+ A researcher controlled another person's brain over the Internet. (I've been doing that to my Twitter followers for years.)


Gimme, Gimme, I Need

Would anyone actually go to a baseball game just because they had a chance of getting a free bobblehead doll? Of course they would. This season, teams have seen a significant attendance bump during games that included a free bobblehead.


The Other Direction

I've heard of One Direction. But that's about it. I don't have any of their tracks stuck in my head. I've never seen them on TV. In fact, I'm not sure if I've ever heard one of their songs. Yes, that makes me old. But it also says something about the ways in which marketing has become more direct. As Kevin Fallon explains, music's first-ever billion dollar boy band is both the most- and least-famous band in the world. Too bad this form of more direct marketing wasn't around when Vanilla Ice was on the scene.


The Turk

"I'm contorted at my computer, holding a ruler against my screen with one hand and tapping out long lines of numbers with the other." Jeremy Wilson on his grueling day as an Amazon Mechanical Turk. I've always preferred twerking to turking.


The Coach

As college football season gets ready to kick off, GQ's Warren St. John spends some time with the one of the sport's biggest villains. "I've been in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, all of twenty minutes when I hear my first Nick Saban-is-a-maniac story."

+ Why does the college football season always start with blowouts? Money.


The Bottom of the News

The world's oldest profession is finding it difficult to thrive alongside the world's newest technologies. The Internet has disrupted the brothel business. Maybe everyone is so busy watching, they don't have any time left to do.

+ What happens when you stand for two years? For what it's worth, I've been writing at a standing desk for about six months, and it's been ok so far. But moving around is the key. As an ergonomics guru once told me, the best position is the next one.

+ John Herman: Blackberry is a failed state.