Monday, September 23rd, 2013


Breaking Better

"Thank you so much. Um, I gotta go. Bye." So said Nurse Jackie's Merritt Wever in what had to be the shortest (and quite possibly the best) Emmy Awards speech of all time. Wever was one of several surprise winners of the night, along with a gum-chewing Jeff Daniels and Boardwalk Empire's Bobby Cannavale. Modern Family and Breaking Bad took home top prizes in comedy and drama, but the rest of the night was filled with upsets. Here's a list of the six biggest upsets of the night. And here's a list of all the winners. The show itself was pretty forgettable, but it was interesting to see the multiple (well-deserved) wins for the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, Michael Douglas' innuendo-filled acceptance speech, and Elton John's comments preceding his song dedicated to Liberace: "It's a feeling of being at peace and being yourself. Liberace left us 25 years ago – and what a difference those years have made to people like me." The TV industry and its customers have come a long way since Ellen first came out. These days, Hollywood is almost as comfortable with homosexuality as the pope.

+ The Daily Beast has a collection of video highlights from the evening.

+ Netflix shows didn't take home too many statues, but the service was still one of the night's big winners. Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan explains why his show's victory is shared by Netflix: "I think Netflix kept us on the air. Not only are we standing up here, I don't think our show would have even lasted beyond season two … It's a new era in television, and we've been very fortunate to reap the benefits."

+ Jeff Daniels opened his acceptance speech with the words, "Oh crap." I imagine that's how editors at the Louisville Courier-Journal felt when they realized they had published a reader letter that was really a monologue from Newsroom.

+ And finally, the line of the night goes to my wife: "If Jon Hamm can't pull off a beard, every other man should just start shaving."


Are You Ready For Some?

"In the past few years ... football fans have been forced to confront something that we already knew from plain sight: the sport is dangerous for the people who play it -- for their joints, and bones, and muscles, and, especially, for their brains." The New Yorker's Ian Crouch asks: Is It OK to Watch Football?

+ For most people, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. NBC's Sunday Night football matchup basically crushed The Emmy Awards -- which saw a big jump in viewership, thanks in large part to lead-in from an afternoon NFL game.


Barbarians at the Westgate

Kenyan forces believe they've finally freed all remaining hostages and surrounded the remaining terrorists following a multiday siege on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya. At least 62 people have been killed. Here's the latest from CNN.

+ The NYT reports that the Kenya mall attack shows the resilience of a Somali terror group known as the Shabab.

+ Christopher Dickey in The Daily Beast: "How, exactly, do you guard against people willing to slaughter innocents as they work, or shop or play, far from any battlefield or confrontation?"

+ The group claiming responsibility for the attack is claiming that some of the participants were from the United States.


Thinking About Suleimani

"There will be ten people in a room, and when Suleimani walks in he doesn't come and sit with you. He sits over there on the other side of room, by himself, in a very quiet way. Doesn't speak, doesn't comment, just sits and listens. And so of course everyone is thinking only about him." The New Yorker's excellent Dexter Filkins on Iran's Qassem Suleimani, the Middle East's most powerful operative.


The Golden Years and The Golden Arches

"Today, the 77-year-old former vice president of marketing for Oral-B juggles two part-time jobs: one as a $10-an-hour food demonstrator at Sam's Club, the other flipping burgers and serving drinks at a golf club grill for slightly more than minimum wage." Bloomberg profiles Tom Palome, whose experience of his retirement years might look familiar to many baby boomers who had good jobs, put their kids through college, but didn't save enough for their golden years.

+ Retirees who need to work is a troubling trend, but nowhere near as troubling as the child labor numbers. Nearly 170 million kids are considered child laborers. And that number actually represents a significant decline.


Five Starstruck

"What we've found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising. When you look at a billboard, you can tell it's a paid advertisement -- but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you're reading authentic consumer opinions." So said NY attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman who announced a major crackdown on companies posting deceptive reviews on the Internet. (I give this crackdown three stars.)

+ These fake reviews are a major drag. But let's not underestimate the effectiveness of good, old fashioned deceptive advertising. Take a look at these old ads produced by the sugar industry, and learn why it's really healthy to enjoy an ice cream cone shortly before lunch.


Apple Still Has Juice

Last week, I saw dozens of articles warning of key signals that Apple had finally hit the wall and that demands for its new iPhones would not reach the levels of the company's recent heydays. Strike that, reverse it. Now it's this week and we know that what we were actually witnessing was Apple's most successful product launch ever. The company sold 9 million new iPhones over the weekend. And two hundred million people have already upgraded to iOS 7.

+ Some of those upgraders did so at the request of the NYPD.

+ Meanwhile, Blackberry has signed a preliminary deal to sell itself to a private investor for just under $5 bilion. That makes my old rotary phone worth right around $4 billion.


Shoot From the Hip

"I was clueless, hung over, and totally worthless with a firearm. Four hours later, I was officially qualified to pack heat." MoJo's Tim Murphy on how he got licensed to carry a concealed weapon in 32 states.



In 1961, a B-52 bomber broke apart, went into a tailspin, and started falling. The result of that situation was that the United States dropped two nuclear bombs near Goldsboro, North Carolina. These bombs were about "250 times as powerful as the device that the United States dropped on Hiroshima." Three of the four safety mechanisms failed. Spoiler Alert: The fourth worked.


The Bottom of the News

Here's the bottom line: There are only three things that you should ever flush down a toilet, and two of them come from your body. All those bathroom wipes that are advertised as flushable are crushing old sewage systems.

+ Is it racist to call a spade a spade? In modern society, yes. But the phrase originally referred to one of those little shovels.

+ Six castles that cost less than an apartment in NYC. (Don't be fooled. It's the moat upkeep that'll kill you.)

+ Pepsi learns the critical importance of choosing the right font.