Tuesday, September 17th, 2013


Your Pipes Are Not Clean

These days, it's pretty easy and not all that expensive to find and stream quality movies, television, and music right to your living room. So you would think that the habit of ripping off content via file-sharing networks would be on the decline. Think again. According to recent study, "the amount of bandwidth used for copyright infringement in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific has grown nearly 160% from 2010 to 2012, accounting for 24% of total Internet bandwidth." And this isn't just some obsessed teenager downloading a really, really big file. In January of this year, "327 million unique users illegally sought copyrighted content, generating 14 billion page views on websites focused on piracy." It seems like some of these numbers could be a litte inflated. I'm going to see if I can steal a more accurate report.

+ Don't feel too bad, at least when you're stealing all that content, you're giving companies like Netflix a lot of good data about what shows to create.

+ There will always be something irresistible about getting content for free. One of the formative periods of my adolescence took place during a week when my friends and I figured out how to descramble a cable channel. From the archives: It was the week my friend Mordy became a hero...


Stuck in the Middle

The yearly Census Bureau report on incomes and poverty is out and it paints a sluggish picture of the economic lives of many Americans. According to WaPo's Neil Irwin, the typical American family makes less than it did in 1989.

+ NPR: The stagnation of the middle class in one graph.

+ The New Yorker: Eleven things we've learned during the uneven economic recovery. (Spoiler alert: It's better to be rich.)

+ The 4x6 index card that has all the financial advice you'll ever need. (You can probably fit the advice on a smaller card if you can no longer afford a 4x6.)


Snap Shot

In the coming days, there will be a ton of media coverage focused on every detail from the background of Navy Yard mass shooter Aaron Alexis. But so far, it looks like an all too familiar equation: Mental illness plus guns. Slate has a solid roundup of what we think we know about Aaron Alexis. And here's what we definitely know about his victims.

+ Christopher P. Ryan: "I was in the car at 5:15 and pulled through the gates to the base at 6:15, handing my ID card to one of the police officers at the gate as I always do. Within a few hours, a dozen people would be dead."

+ Expect the appetite for new gun laws to go up, and then go back down. It's a pattern we've seen in the past, including in the days and months following Sandy Hook. Here's a look at the next gun control debate in six charts.

+ When a story like this first breaks, there is almost always a lot of misinformation spreading around the Internet (via social media and mainstream media sources). This time, the big blunder had to do with the viral Navy Yard shooting photo that wasn't.


Anti Antibiotics

According to a recent report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, we could be in danger of entering "a post-antibiotic era." Each year, more than two million illnesses are caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some class of antibiotics.

+ Pacific Standard: Living in a Bacterial World.

+ Want to know when you're about to get sick? Kleenex is launching a site that will tell you where germs are about to strike.


The Fire

"Through interviews with family, colleagues, and the lone survivor, a former hotshot pieces together their final hours -- and the fatal choices that will haunt firefighting forever." From Outside: The True Story of the Yarnell Hill Fire.


Thinking Inside the Box

More than a billion files are saved via Dropbox every day. But the founders of the company say that what they're doing today is just the beginning. "What we're talking about is not just sync or new features. This is really an important step in fixing a lot of what's wrong with technology." From Wired: Inside Dropbox's quest to bury the hard drive (and the many companies, big and small, that hope to beat them to the punch).


The King of Fun

"Everyone has a friend who seems tons of fun to hang out with for a night but proves so exhausting you would rather not see him for a few months. Stewart Rahr is that guy. Times a billion." From Forbes: Billionaire Stewart Rahr, Number One King of All Fun.


Playing Chicken

If you are a chicken and you suddenly find yourself getting fed scraps from some of the most well-reviewed restaurants in New York, here's a tip: Be afraid. The NYT's Jeff Gordinier takes us inside the pursuit of tastier chickens.


No Safety Net

Many people have wondered what would happen if an NFL player came out. Well, maybe we're getting a glimpse of an answer via the experiences of Kerry Rhodes. Rhodes was a starting safety through the end of last season. During the off-season, rumors surfaced that Rhodes might be gay. This year, no team has signed him. And that includes several teams who could use an experienced safety.

+ If you are an NFL fan, you should definitely read Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback. No one geeks out on the NFL like Easterbrook.


The Bottom of the News

Last night I was lucky enough to see John Williams conduct the San Francisco Symphony. Steven Spielberg was on hand, and he showed a clip of an Indiana Jones movie without music. And then he rolled the same clip with the SF Symphony playing the accompanying music. As you'd imagine, the music had an enormous impact on the emotions we all felt as we watched the scene again. Apparently, music can have the same impact on how we view other people. According to a recent study, men are more attracted to women when their personal webpages are accompanied by classical music. Meanwhile, women found men more attractive when heavy metal music was playing in the background. I think I'll stick with Spielberg and Williams and let the Jaws theme play wherever my photo appears.

+ Which is the most influential emotion on social networks? Anger. Man, that really pisses me off. And so does the fact that someone can get a Master's degree in social media.

+ Do you let your kid spend hours playing Minecraft? Well, you're off the hook. Nick Bilton of the NYT describes it as an educational tool.