Tuesday, October 1st, 2013


Going Down

For the first time in seventeen years, the federal government has entered shutdown mode. Teresa Washington, an EPA worker, summed up the feelings of voters across the nation: "Let's fire 'em all -- we need to get rid of them. It's not fair. They still get paychecks, and we don't." Here's WaPo's list of absolutely everything you need to know about how the government shutdown will work.

+ MoJo: 48 ways a government shutdown will screw you over.

+ Obama on NPR: "I will not negotiate ... This perpetual cycle of brinksmanship and crisis has to end once and for all."

+ Atlantic Wire: Scenes from a shutdown.

+ Google's Doodle celebrates Yosemite's 123rd birthday. Just as the park shuts down. Meanwhile, a group of vets didn't let a pesky shutdown and some barricades stop them from visiting the World War II Memorial.

+ Whoa, whoa. A football game might get canceled? This has officially gone too far.

+ And, by a landslide, the Daily News wins the newspaper cover competition.


Advancing on the Ceiling

How much damage is the government shutdown going to do the economy? Well, so far, the market isn't all that worried. But that could change when the debate shifts to the debt ceiling. Here's The New Yorker's James Surowiecki on the last debt ceiling fight in 2011: "Even though a debt-ceiling deal was eventually reached, the Dow fell almost fourteen per cent in less than a month during the crisis, in part because it made people realize that a U.S. default was no longer unthinkable." And the folks in Washington probably hate each other even more now than they did then.


Not Everyone is Closed

In the headlines, the shutdown has nearly shut out the fact that many online insurance markets opened this morning. There were, as you'd expect, some technical glitches and connectivity issues. Part of the reason is that the sites were visited by a lot more people than anyone expected.


Back at the Water Cooler

The numbers are in for the Breaking Bad finale. The show was watched by 10.3 million viewers (each of whom, it seems, Tweeted about eight hundred times). The Atlantic's Nolan Feeney argues that Breaking Bad is an example that Netflix and On-Demand aren't killing water-cooler TV, they're saving it.

+ While we have a lot of people around the virtual water cooler chiming in about shows like Breaking Bad, it's worth putting the numbers in perspective. For one thing, there is a difference between buzz and viewership. Breaking Bad wasn't even AMC's biggest finale of the season. That prize goes to The Walking Dead. When The Sopranos ended, it felt like the whole world was glued to a television set. In reality, fewer than 12 million people watched that series finale. Sure, more people will watch these episodes via streaming services and on-demand, but we'll never reach the numbers of the water cooler's heyday. When MASH aired its final episode, it was watch by over 105 million people.

+ If you didn't like the conclusion of Breaking Bad, here are five alternate endings from Vince Gilligan.


Where the Tunes Are

For many young people, YouTube is the first stop when it comes to discovering and enjoying music. So it makes some sense that YouTube is set to launch a new music awards show. Let's hope no one invites any YouTube commenters.


Married with Income

Here's one reason the rich get richer. They get married. To each other. And then they have kids that are pretty well off too.


Rabbi Larry David

What exactly does it mean to be Jewish? According to the latest numbers from Pew, it has less and less to do with religion. About a fifth of Jews say they don't really have a religion, even though they still consider themselves to be Jewish. The intermarriage rate among non-Orthodox Jews is a whopping 71%. "Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year." And from what I can tell, there aren't too many of us who can still make a decent plate of Latkes.

+ Here's the full report from Pew, including this important stat: 42% of Jews said having a good sense of humor is essential to their Jewish identity. That seems low.


The Sauce of Life

Over the weekend, Marcella Hazan died. During her life, she taught a generation of Americans how to cook Italian food with simple recipes that featured precise details. "Cooking came to me as though it had been there all along, waiting to be expressed; it came as words come to a child when it is time for her to speak."

+ Marcella Hazan changed my life.

+ Make some tomato sauce in honor of Marcella.


On Ice

"The three most judgmental places on earth are (1) the Vatican, (2) Park Slope, Brooklyn, and (3) Facebook. My wife and I live near Park Slope and spend too much time on Facebook. So we get hit twice." The excellent Paul Ford reflects on his experiences with a high tech fertility procedure and the two frozen embryos that remained after he and his wife had twins. Do you know where your children are?


The Bottom of the News

"In theory, a hug sounds nice. In practice, it can turn even the simplest hello into a logistical nightmare. But the most pernicious aspect of the act is the false sense of intimacy it imposes over all human relationships, from the most superficial acquaintances to the deepest friendships. It doesn't matter if we love each other, hate each other, or don't know each other at all -- we're all expected to awkwardly collide at the same rate, reducing a potentially intimate act into a rote affectation." Slate's Amanda Hess doesn't want to hug it out.

+ How do gas pumps know when to stop?

+ There is a dog surfing competition. And there are photos.

+ These tuba players look like the sort of people who will grow up and shut down the federal government someday.