September 19th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Take a Whiff

We throw out a lot of food. And according to a new report, much of that food gets tossed because of confusion over the use-by dates that are featured prominently on many of our favorite consumables. Most of these dates are really suggestions about when a product is at its peak. Food that stays in your cupboard or fridge past these dates is not necessarily bad, and almost never dangerous: “Eggs, for example, can be consumed three to five weeks after purchase, even though the ‘use by’ date is much earlier. A box of mac-and-cheese stamped with a ‘use by’ date of March 2013 can still be enjoyed on March 2014, most likely with no noticeable changes in quality.” And it probably won’t be half bad in March of 3014.

+ More from MoJo: You just threw out a perfectly good gallon of milk because you think the “sell by” date means something.

+ From Buzzfeed: 21 ways supermarkets control your mind.


A Dear Vlad Letter

As promised, Senator John McCain published a response to Vladimir Putin’s NYT Op-Ed in Pravda: “President Putin doesn’t believe in these values because he doesn’t believe in you. He doesn’t believe that human nature at liberty can rise above its weaknesses and build just, peaceful, prosperous societies. Or, at least, he doesn’t believe Russians can. So he rules by using those weaknesses, by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself, not you.”

+ Unfortunately, the editorial wasn’t published in the Pravda you’re thinking of. One Slate writer describes this Pravda as a “cross between WorldNetDaily and the National Enquirer.” Either way, one assumes that at least Putin read it.


Get Over It…

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent … We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.” That’s Pope Francis on the obsession “with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception.” And here he is on homosexuality: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.” There are a lot of things that need such consideration. But this pope is definitely shifting the tone.


Like Stealing Autos From a Baby

Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2 are members of the movie industry’s very exclusive club. Both movies have pulled in more than a billion dollars this year. That’s big. But consider this: Grand Theft Auto V is knocking at that door with $800 million in revenues … in first-day sales.

+ Rockstar Games spent $115 million developing the game, and dropped an additional $150 million on marketing. And, according to BloombergBusinessweek, it’s almost obsolete.

+ Hiroshi Yamauchi has died at the age of 85. Yamauchi, who ran Nintendo for 53 years, “transformed a maker of Japanese playing cards into the world’s biggest maker of video games on the back of hits including Super Mario and Zelda.”


On Assignment

Next week, the students in my son’s second grade class will get their first homework assignments. He couldn’t be more excited. He has no inkling that this is the first step into a nightmarish and seemingly never-ending pit where the casual and carefree exuberance of his youthful afternoons and evenings will be obliterated. And chances are, mine won’t be nearly as fun either. Karl Taro Greenfeld wanted to get a better idea of just how much work was being done by his 13 year-old daughter, who “has the misfortune of living through a period of peak homework.” So he decided to try to do her homework for week. From The Atlantic: My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me.

+ How much homework do American kids do?


Apple is Doomed

Apple is over. Apple’s best days are behind it. Apple has peaked. Those are the kinds of things I’ve been reading across the media. Meanwhile, the buzz related to yesterday’s release of iOS 7 dominated everything from news sites to my Twitter feed. Apple is not over. And it’s not doomed. It’s the hottest, and probably the most interesting, company around. But there are challenges. The folks in charge in Cupertino talk about those challenges and more in this Businessweek cover story: What, Us Worry?

+ “This is the dilemma of working for a technology company that is also perceived as a luxury brand: We attract clients who understand that we provide the latest and shiniest things that they must have, while at the same time they have no idea whatsoever how to use them.” From McSweeney’s: Retail Therapy: Inside The Apple Store.

+ A very enjoyable, and quite in-depth, analysis of the top five iOS 7 ringtones.

+ The beginning of the end: A cat unlocks an iPhone 5s with a paw print.


If You Can’t Beat ‘Em

Jonathan Franzen wrote an very long and detailed critique of our “media-saturated, technology-crazed, apocalypse-haunted” modern world (I was too distracted by the iPhone’s new ringtones to read the whole thing). The New Yorker’s Maria Bustillos argues that “Franzen really ought to just come online and talk with everybody.”

+ Franzen has been making similar arguments for years. What I’ve never understood is why Franzen is so critical of an era in which he has thrived. We can’t read, we can’t focus, we’re too distracted. Well, then how the hell is he selling so many books? After seeing Franzen speak a couple years ago, I came to the conclusion that he is, whether he likes it or not, the Internet era’s unlikely poster child.

+ In Esquire, Tom Junod hits on something Internet publishers have been seeing for the past few years. In the age of short blurbs and 140 character summaries, longform content is kicking ass.


Worn Out

Many big retailers are getting beat up by a practice known as wardrobing. Customers purchase an article of clothing, wear it once, and then return it. Now Bloomingdales is trying combat the trend with some really big tags. Once you remove them, you can no longer return the item.

+ J.C. Penney just got rid of its free in-store WiFi. Wait, J.C. Penney had free in-strore WiFi?


Look, Up in the Sky

The Royal Observatory Greenwich announced the winners of its annual astronomy photography competition. And as you’d expect, the shots are pretty awesome.


The Bottom of the News

A Swedish court has ruled that it was OK for a man to pleasure himself on a public beach because his actions were not aimed at a specific person. Swedish Travel Advisory: Duck.

+ How to use body language to get served first at a bar. (If you’re really attractive, don’t bother reading this. You can just stand there.)

+ Everything you could possibly want to know about the history of the Trapper Keeper (and then some).

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