October 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Why Your Cat Needs Crossfit

Over the past decade, there’s been no shortage of media coverage when it comes to the expanding waistlines of humans around the world. We eat too much. We don’t move enough. But here’s the thing. We’re not alone. Animals are getting fatter too. And not just the ones that we feed too much or fail to walk around the block often enough. So what gives? From ProPublica’s David Epstein: Do these chemicals make me look fat?

+ If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll definitely want to check out David Berreby’s piece in Aeon: The Obesity Era.


Chemical Reaction

In a move that surprised the oddsmakers, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons — the folks who are currently busy trying to get rid of deadly weapons in the middle of Syria’s war zone. The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey says the choice makes perfect sense. “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and developer of munitions, brought the technology of slaughter into the industrial age. When he died in 1896, he endowed the prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and especially ‘peace,’ not least, to make amends for what he’d wrought on the battlefield.”

+ While the OPCW is currently at work in Syria, its biggest job to date has been working to destroy the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the world. In the United States and Russia.

+ Most people were expecting the award to go to Malala Yousafzai — the 16 year-old girl who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. Here’s a video of her recent appearance on The Daily Show. Something tells me she’ll get plenty of awards.


Weekend Reads

“As recently as five years ago, American corrections officials almost uniformly denied that rape in prison was a widespread problem.” In The New York Review of Books, David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow shed some light on the shame of our prisons.

+ From the Boston Globe Magazine: Why is it so hard to find a doctor? Here’s a hint: “While primary care doctors’ pay averages over $220,000 a year, good money to most of us, doctors who specialize average close to $400,000 a year.” It also doesn’t help that you’re living longer.

+ Here’s a weekend listen from KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting: Hunger in the Valley of Plenty. “California may be the world’s breadbasket, but many who harvest our crops can’t afford them.”

+ “Meem is 9 years old and works as a sewing helper in a garment factory. For a few days this summer, she was also my boss.”


That’s Entertainment!

Check out this rather harrowing opening paragraph from the latest Pew report on our news gathering habits: “Even at a time of fragmenting media use, television remains the dominant way that Americans get news at home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen data. And while the largest audiences tune into local and network broadcast news, it is national cable news that commands the most attention from its viewers.” I watch my fair share of cable news. But I don’t really consider it news. Just like I don’t really consider WWE wrestling to be an actual sport.


Throw the Bums In

In a recent poll, sixty percent of Americans said “if they had the chance to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including their own representative, they would.” It’s unclear whether any of those polled saw any connection between their answer to that question and voting.

+ Now Starbucks is trying to get customers to sign a “Come Together” petition urging elected officials to reopen the government and agree on a long term budget deal. It’s a nice thought, but it might be time for Howard Schultz to switch to decaf.


A Safe Bet?

“The pursuit of an infidelity is a biological drive. We underestimate our ability to withstand temptation.” So says Noel Biderman, the founder of site dedicated to enabling extramarital affairs. Big Wall Street firms tend to avoid brands like these, but Ashley Madison is doing so well that some firms are finding it hard to withstand the temptation to put their money behind the site. From Newsweek’s Lynnley Browning: Wall Street Loves a Cheater.


Neighborhood Watch

While we’ve seen a lot of coverage of the way the NSA follows us, it should be noted that big tech companies are doing the same thing — and they are about to do it even more aggressively.

+ Google changed its terms of service to allow the company to “include adult users’ names, photos and comments in ads shown across the Web.”

+ And Facebook just made it impossible for users to omit themselves from its search engine.

+ On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg has provided an example of a way to gain a little more privacy. Just buy up all the neighboring houses.


Crazy is all the Rage

Elizabeth Wurtzel makes the case that a lot of television’s leading female characters tend to be a little manic, and a little nuts. Or as she puts it: Crazy is the new bitchy.


I Do. But I Don’t

According to a recent survey, more than half of brides and grooms do not have sex on their wedding night. A lot people said they were too drunk. And eleven percent cited having to put their kids to bed.

+ From NPR: What humans can learn from a simple kiss (other than the realization that you’re both way too drunk to do anything else).


The Bottom of the News

Can you judge a bottle of wine by its label? The wine industry sure thinks you think you can. Here’s a few examples of how they trick you into buying.

+ Malcolm Gladwell says one his most vocal critics should calm down. He explains that his readers “are perfectly aware of the strengths and weakness of the narrative form. They know what a story can and can’t do, and they understand that narratives sometimes begin in one place and end in another.” Counterpoint: People don’t understand anything.

+ Related: Fact checking Snapple’s Real Facts.

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