Friday, October 18th, 2013


The Smoke Screen

When I'm about to deliver some bad news, I often advise people to take a deep breath. This time, that would be bad advice. According to the World Health Organization, the air people breathe in many parts of the world needs to be labeled as carcinogenic to humans. "Depending on the level of exposure in different parts of the world, the risk was found to be similar to that of breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke."

+ Quartz: Here are the world's worst cities for air pollution, and they're not the ones you'd expect.


Nightmare in Maryville

"Since the morning her daughter had been left nearly unconscious in the frost of the home's front lawn, this northwest Missouri community had come to mean little besides heartache." The Kansas City Star reports on a Nightmare in Maryville, where charges of rape led to a firestorm against the accuser's family, and a mediastorm on the Internet and beyond.

+ From XOJane: "I'm Daisy Coleman, the teenager at the center of the Maryville rape media storm, and this is what really happened." One of the most interesting parts of this story is the role played by Anonymous and the power of social media.

+ WaPo: Here's a way to never start a sentence: "I'm not saying she deserved to be raped, but..."


Weekend Reads

"She's the most famous schoolgirl in the world. She gets Skyped by the secretary-general of the United Nations, Angelina Jolie drops in for tea, and Madonna has dedicated a song to her." From Christina Lamb in The Sunday Times: My Year with Malala.

+ Even as technology advances, there's one part of medical school that seems to remain largely the same. In this four part series, the Journal Sentinel takes you along for the ride during a semester with first-year medical students as they dissect a human body: The Course of Their Lives.

+ 20 Minutes at Rucker Park: A streetballer's cross-country journey from the deepest part of hell to take his shot on New York's most storied basketball court.

+ The Matchmaker of the Mentally Ill.

+ Reminder, you can share these weekend reads or any of the day's news by clicking on the Twitter and Facebook icons beneath each blurb.


The Gamers

"I am terrible at video games. In fact, I struggle to make it past Space Invaders' first level." So says Tomohiro Nishikado. The man who created Space Invaders.

+ Buzzfeed takes you behind the scenes, at a sold-out Staples Center, for gaming's first Super Bowl. Unless you play, you have no idea how big League of Legends is.


To Dye For

"If you are healthy, and you live in a country like the UK, taking multi-vitamins and high-dose antioxidants may shorten your life." The BBC on the problem with taking too many vitamins.

+ A confession. I have a serious popsicle problem. It's an addiction really. And that probably wouldn't worry me all that much if the popsicles were clear. But they're not. Like many of our foods, they feature a rainbow of food dyes, many of which are banned in other countries. From FastCo, here's an infographic: Just How Dangerous Is The Dye In Your Food? (Short answer: I'm going to switch to sucking ice cubes.)


The New Math

"In America, what you earn depends largely on your success in school. Unfortunately, your success in school depends largely on what your parents earn. It's an intergenerational Catch 22 that's at the heart of modern poverty." Almost half of public school students are now low income.

+ Are private schools worth it? The students have higher test scores. But that could be because of the income levels of their parents, not the schools.

+ You need equipment. You need uniforms. You often need to pay for coaches and private leagues. You need to transport your kid to far away games. You need free time in the afternoon and on weekends. The costs of participating in competitive youth sports are pricing a large percentage of kids out of the market.


Head Banger

The 1.8 million year-old Skull 5 has dramatically changed the way scientists view the course of human evolution. (The last few weeks in Washington have made many of us wonder whether it happened at all...)


The Gray Area at a Black College

"He came to Bluefield State to play baseball, hoping to win the starting spot on third base. But he was surprised by what he found when he got to campus. "My first thought was: There are a lot of white people ... Where all the black people at?'" NPR shares the interesting story of the whitest historically black college in America.


It’s a Matter of Degrees

Forget that old adage about us all being just six degrees of separation away from any other person in the world. Thanks to Facebook, that number is now more like 3.9 degrees.


The Bottom of the News

"Mr. Simpson was in the house totally nude and went outside naked while his neighbor was watering her grass. Then his wife ran out of the house trying to cover him with a towel." Yes it's 2013. But the FCC is still fielding numerous complaints by television viewers who are offended by The Simpsons. And the person who lodged this complaint is only 3.9 people away from you....

+ The untold history of Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Who says investigative reporting is dead?)

+ Abraham Lincoln was really into infographics.

+ The worst thing ever to happen to local news: Mike Myers' wife had a baby.