Thursday, October 3rd, 2013


The Numbers Do Lie

It's National Bullying Prevention Month, so there's a decent chance you'll be seeing a statistic that has -- for years -- appeared in magazines, newspapers, and social media: 160,000 kids stay home from school each day to avoid being bullied. As The Atlantic's Eleanor Barkhorn explains, that is "an astounding, alarming, and basically false statistic." Barkhorn tracked down the origins of the bullying statistic and found that the study behind the number is at least 20 years old and was not directly focused on school bullying. I'm sure the number of kids who get bullied is enormous. But it's interesting to see how certain statistics emerge, get picked up by the media, and then spread widely until they become part of the fabric of our discourse on a particular topic. I just find this kind of stuff interesting. So many of the stats we accept as fact come from dubious sources. And I'm sure at least 99% of my 44 million NextDraft readers agree.


Stuck in the Middle

Website glitches aside, millions of Americans are now eligible to get health insurance. But there are a lot of people who will still be left out because they live in states that have declined to participate in the Medicaid expansion: "Those excluded will be stranded without insurance, stuck between people with slightly higher incomes who will qualify for federal subsidies on the new health exchanges that went live this week, and those who are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid in its current form, which has income ceilings as low as $11 a day in some states."


Is There an Echo Around Here?

"A financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse." That's how the Treasury Department described the risk of a government standoff that results in a failure to raise the debt ceiling. So far the market, while sluggish, doesn't seem to be that worried about such a catastrophe. Stay tuned.


The End of the Silk Road

Earlier this week, a bunch of FBI officials busted into a room at the Glen Park public library in San Francisco. A few minutes later, they walked out with the Dread Pirate Roberts (also known as Ross William Ulbricht). And just like that, the dark web purveyor of all things illegal -- Silk Road -- was shut down. From ArsTechnica, here's a look at how the feds took down the Dread Pirate.

+ Slate: The bonehead mistake that brought down an online drug-dealing empire.

+ There were some other boneheaded mistakes. From WaPo: Silk Road's mastermind allegedly paid $80,000 for a hitman. The hitman was a cop. One day you're trying to sell a few drugs, the next day you're hiring a hit man. Sounds like a bad episode of Weeds.

+ So what exactly was Silk Road? Take a tour and find out.


The NFL’s Big Tobacco Playbook

Syndicated from Kottke: According to an upcoming book by ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, the NFL "conducted a two-decade campaign to deny a growing body of scientific research that showed a link between playing football and brain damage." Excerpts of the book are available from ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated. An episode of Frontline based in part on the book airs next week. Interestingly, ESPN was collaborating with Frontline on this program, but they pulled out of it in August. (Sidenote: The authors of this book are the same guys who broke baseball's steroid story wide open.)

+ In somewhat related news, 49ers safety Donte Whitner is changing his name to Dante Hitner. When a reporter suggested that changing one's name is a big decision, Hitner responded: "Not really. I think one word is not as big as ten words. That's what I do." (Oh well, as long as he's given it some critical thought...)


A Self Hurt Guide

From BusinessWeek, here's everything you need to know about how to lose $34.5 Billion. It's been a rough year for Brazil's Eike Batista.


But You Can’t Check Out

In partnership with Cisco, Facebook is set to roll out a service that will provide free WiFi to local businesses. Apparently it's not enough to know everything about what you do online.

+ If you feel like Facebook is following you around, imagine how the company's employees feel. Facebook is building a 394 unit housing community near its offices. Welcome to the new company town.


Dear Miley

Sinead O'Connor has written an open letter to Miley Cyrus: "I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way 'cool' to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether it's the music business or yourself doing the pimping."


Searching for Dave Chappelle

"Like Salinger's retreat from fame, Chappelle's departure demanded an explanation: how could any human being have the willpower, the chutzpah, the determination to refuse the amount of money rumored to be Chappelle's next paycheck: fifty million dollars. Say it with me now. Fifty. Million. Dollars." Believer Magazine's Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah goes searching for Dave Chappelle ten years after he left his own show.


The Bottom of the News

A battery in a Tesla Model S caught fire - so much for zero emissions - and someone with a video camera was there to catch action. That video (along with a analyst downgrade) caused Tesla's skyrocketing stock to level off a bit. We'll get to the bottom of the cause of the fire once investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration come out to take a look. Oh whoops, NHTSA's field investigations have been suspended because of the government shutdown.

+ Are you a person who likes the Tesla but would prefer something a little more unique? I'd suggest this 1963 Ferrari GTO. It just sold for $52 million.

+ We are now sending in the robots to fight the jellyfish. It's only a matter of time until the jellyfish manage to turn the robots against us.

+ Eye contact is overrated. And besides, when we talk, I'll be looking at my phone the entire time. It makes me feel young.