Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


Big Brother is a Total Mother

NextDraft will not be published tomorrow. I need to attend a pair of school Halloween parades.

You know who might save the newspaper business? Edward Snowden. His leaks are being consistently doled out as major front page stories. In the latest chapter, we learn that the NSA (along with its British counterpart) has secretly broken into the links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers. "By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot."

+ The Snowden leaks have created a narrative that is at once geopolitical and deeply personal. The New Republic's Judith Shulevitz explains why you shouldn't spy on your kids -- even though you can: Big Mother is Watching You.

+ According to a recent survey, young people are a lot less concerned about privacy. But they are far more likely to employ tactics to keep their personal information private.

+ From Alan Rusbridger in the NY Review of Books: The Snowden Leaks and the Public.


Please (Don’t) Be Seated

Is it possible to run marathons and still be considered a couch potato? That may overstate it a bit. But more and more studies are warning of the dangers of excessive downtime, even if your uptime is pretty damn active.

+ From NPR: For a longer life, you might try mowing the lawn. (For what it's worth, you can derive the same benefit by briskly walking away from a lawn that needs mowing.)


Reviewing the Reviewers

On Amazon, a product with negative reviews sells better than a product with no reviews at all. So Amazon has essentially created a crew of reviewers who get free products in exchange for giving them a review on the site. I give this program one star.


Across the Lake

On one side of the lake, people are doing quite well. On the other side of the lake, many residents live in extreme poverty. Welcome to Lake Providence, Louisiana: The most unequal place in America.


Bird’s Eye View

If the Boston Red Sox can take one more game from the St. Louis Cardinals, it will be the first time they've clinched a title at Fenway Park since 1918. Back then, the Sox had a pitcher named Ruth and game updates were delivered via carrier pigeons.

+ "I came to realize that professional baseball players are masochists: hitters stand sixty feet and six inches from the mound, waiting to get hit by a pitcher's bullets; fielders get sucker punched in the face by bad hops, and then ask for a hundred more. We all fail far more than we succeed, humiliating ourselves in front of tens of thousands of fans, trying to attain the unattainable." In The New Yorker, Adrian Cardenas explains why he quit big league baseball for creative writing. If you can make it to the majors and have an essay published by The New Yorker, that's not a bad streak.


Long Way from License Plates

A new computer program could save Oklahoma prisons as much as $20 million a year. And it was written by two inmates.



"Everyone who had anything to do with this film getting made -- from the producers, to director Steve McQueen, and the committed, talented cast -- should sleep tonight and every night knowing that for once, the escapism, bluster and simple provocation that marks a good 95 percent of our film output has been somehow flanked, and subversively so." David Simon shares his take on the movie 12 Years a Slave.


The Crowded Skies

"Drones hold the promise of companies anticipating our every need and delivering without human involvement. Everything from pizza delivery to personal shopping can be handled by drones." Someone should invent a drone that shoots other drones out of the sky.


It’s About Ethics

I consider myself to be a pretty ethical person. Of course, I haven't had lunch yet. And that can make all the difference. It turns out that we're more likely to behave unethically later in the day. (But never at dusk...)


The Bottom of the News

"To watch a movie at home, you'd have to go outside first." Here's a video called Video Stores Explained to Modern Kids. (The video is more than two minutes, so no modern kid will make it all the way through it...)

+ Virgin America tries to revitalize the entire music video industry with their new in-flight safety video.

+ Candy Corn. The most polarizing candy of the them all.

+ Here's Kanye West arguing that Kim Kardashian should be on the cover of Vogue: "No one is looking at what Obama is wearing. Michelle Obama cannot Instagram a pic like what my girl Instagrammed the other day." For some reason, I've never been prouder to be an American.