October 7th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Grabbing for the Boob Tube

Years before you had any inkling of the way the Internet would rock your world, you sat on your couch and watched television, occasionally getting up to adjust the rabbit ears or whack the side of the box in an effort to improve the picture. Now, thanks to high speed connectivity and a digital revolution, you’ve got laptops and mobile devices that have completely changed the way you interact with the world. But that TV, while a lot flatter and more advanced, has somehow remained at the center of your living room. And the companies that we all figured would replace the boob tube are doing everything they can to play a supporting role in a living room where the television is still the star. From The Atlantic: Why Facebook and Twitter are fighting over your television.

+ Nielsen is set to start measuring the audience of TV-related tweets.

+ Facebook is providing worldwide TV networks with data about our conversations related to particular shows.

+ From FastCo: A look back at the moment when Twitter met TV.

+ Tired of focusing on multiple screens? Try using the strategy deployed by folks in the Fox news room. Make your tablet really, really, really big.


Industry Town

If you have an idea for a startup and you drive down Second Street in San Francisco with your trunk open, someone will throw a sack of cash into it. It’s that easy to get funded these days (and with the new crowd-funding models set to open up the floodgates, getting dough will be easier than ever). At times, it seems like everyone in San Francisco is either running or backing a tech startup. The New Yorker’s Nathan Heller heads to SF to find out how the city’s new entrepreneurial culture is changing the country.

+ Fortune’s JP Mangalindan: “Everyone in the Bay Area seems to think they can start their own tech companies. They can’t. Welcome to the world of the wantrepreneur.”


More Exciting Than Homeland

“Four vans with tinted windows converged in a comfortable Tripoli neighborhood as a leader of Al Qaeda returned home on Saturday from early morning prayers. As his wife watched with alarm from a window, the men — armed with silencer-equipped weapons, some masked and some not — smashed his car window. Within moments, they were gone, taking with them one of America’s most wanted terror suspects.” The U.S carries out two military raids, 3,000 miles apart. One worked. One ended without a key goal being achieved. Welcome to the front lines of modern war.

+ Abu Anas al-Libi, a key member of al Qaeda and a familiar face atop the U.S. most wanted list (for his role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies) is currently in custody and being questioned on an American warship.


Playing Fish

This might be the ideal time to go on the government shutdown diet. Basically, you need to adjust your eating patterns according to which imported foods are no longer being inspected by the FDA. And there are a whole lot of them. If nothing else, you might want to kick your popcorn shrimp habit.

+ Five quotes about the debt ceiling that will totally freak you out. If you want to know how much too worry, just watch the market. So far, it still doesn’t believe the craziness in DC will get crazy enough to cause a massive default.

+ Of course, if the market does take a hit, here’s a word of advice: Buy. Don’t take it from me. Look at Warren Buffett’s amazing run since the 2008 bust.



New York state attorney-general Eric Schneiderman won’t be staying on your couch anytime soon. His office just subpoenaed Airbnb, demanding that the company hand over the identities of all 225.000 people who have rented out their places on AirBnB. The big “issue for Airbnb is that the rental of entire apartments without the owner present is still illegal under New York state law, and likely more than half of Airbnb listings in New York City alone violate the statute.” In many ways, the most amazing part of this developing story is the number 225,000. The sharing economy is massive.


Working Nine to Forever

Here’s a stat that might surprise you. In the 1950s, French citizens worked 300 hours more per year than their American counterparts. Those numbers shifted dramatically in the ensuing years. Now some in France are fighting to work more hours than they currently do. These days, it’s almost impossible to measure the length of the work day. It really only ends when we shut off our devices. Which is to say, never.


Humans Hanging On

The WSJ’s Farhad Manjoo set out to find a place where humans in the workforce are still managing to outdo their robotic counterparts. He found that cashiers at grocery stores still beat those digital self-checkout machines. Of course, those self-checkout machines aren’t exactly robots, and their major flaw is that they require shoppers to do something. Several years ago, my friend Jeff O’Keefe wrote a great supermarket of the future spot for IBM. It’s a vision that doesn’t seem that far off now, and it takes the self completely out of the self-checkout process.


Don’t Knock Knocking on Wood

You’re not at all superstitious. But you occasionally knock on wood or worry that mentioning a streak will invariably end it. A couple of professors of behavioral science got to wondering: “Why do people who do not believe that knocking on wood has an effect on the world often do it anyway?” Their answer: Because it works. I don’t believe that. But I didn’t want to jinx myself by not including it in NextDraft.

+ Want to get better at reading the thoughts of others? Try reading literary fiction.


The Product Demo

“It’s hard to overstate the gamble Jobs took when he decided to unveil the iPhone back in January 2007. Not only was he introducing a new kind of phone — something Apple had never made before — he was doing so with a prototype that barely worked.” A great look back at the product demo that changed everything.


The Bottom of the News

You’ve got to give Gregory Berns some credit. He managed to train a dozen dogs to walk into an MRI scanner and stay there while he tried to figure out how their brains work. His conclusion? Dogs are people too. That’s the key difference between cats and dogs. Dogs see that description as a compliment.

+ Forget copywriters and market research teams. Just let Will Ferrell shoot about 70 ads for your vehicle while playing the role of Ron Burgundy.

+ If anybody even tries to whisper the word diet, I’m like, You can go f–k yourself.” — Jennifer Lawrence

+ My friend Asha Dornfest cowrote an excellent book called Minimalist Parenting. This month, all of the author royalties from sales of the book go towards helping women at risk in Ethiopia. That makes this the perfect time to grab a copy.

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