Monday, November 4th, 2013


This is Your Brain on Mindfulness

There's little doubt that meditation and mindfulness are extremely valuable. But these days, the labels are being attached to an increasing number of products and activities. And it's no coincidence that many ancient practices are now getting a ton of buzz as our devices make it less and less likely that we'll take the time to chill out, even for a few minutes a day. One of the ironies of the era is that you can now download apps that promise to help you meditate and be more mindful. It's a familiar trend. Technology strips away something important. Then technology is created to fill the void. From the NYT: Mindfulness - getting its share of attention.

+ And here's a Wired piece Noah Schactman wrote last summer: Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it's not just about inner peace -- it's about getting ahead. Om, Om, Ugh.



"You don't just step out of something like that and return to your suburban life. He had trouble answering to his own name, couldn't remember his own signature. His wife left him. He had to rebuild. He was in his midthirties." GQ's Jeanne Marie Laskas takes you into the world of government employees who pose as killers for hire: Oops, You Just Hired the Wrong Hitman.



Even if you're the type of person who doesn't believe that herbal supplements will cure your cold or ease your depression, you still might find yourself grabbing for a few bottles in the pharmacy when you're stuffed up or feeling down. After all, there's no downside. Well, maybe there is. A new study found that many herbal supplements are not what they seem. "Pills labeled as popular herbs were often diluted -- or replaced entirely -- by cheap fillers like soybean, wheat and rice."


Watching The Algorithm

"Amazon produced about 20 pages of data detailing, among other things, how much a pilot was viewed, how many users gave it a 5-star rating and how many shared it with friends." The WSJ's Amol Sharma takes us behind the scenes to see how Amazon execs use data to make decisions about which shows to produce. On one hand, this makes perfect sense. On the other hand, I wonder if we'll be missing out on certain shows because the data algorithm says they're no good. Consider this. An algorithm didn't suggest this article to you. A human did. Algorithms don't do serendipity. (In fairness, they also don't do typos.)


Things That Go Boom

Twitter just increased its IPO price range. It could be the second biggest Internet company IPO ever (behind Facebook, ahead of Google). How do you spot one of these rare, high-flying Internet companies during its early stages? In TechCrunch, Aileen Lee crunches the data to find out what we can learn from billion dollar startups: Welcome to the Unicorn Club.


Dead and Berried?

Blackberry is having trouble selling its products. And it's also having trouble selling itself. The company has abandoned efforts to find a buyer. They got a $1 billion investment, dropped their CEO, and plan to continue as a publicly traded company. Promotion idea: Buy a phone. Get the company too.


Political Partying

Here's a line about debates from President Obama in a very interesting excerpt from Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann."I can't tell you that 'Okay, I woke up today, I knew I needed to do better, and I'll do better. I am wired in a different way than this event requires ... I just don't know if I can do this.'"

+ Toronto police confirmed that there's a video that seems to be showing Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. So he must have the lowest approval numbers of all time, right? Wrong. His approval rating went up after the police department made its announcement and it now sits at about 44%.


Big Bully

Can a giant NFL lineman be bullied? Apparently so. The Miami Dolphins have suspended Richie Igcognito indefinitely for his role in harassing a rookie who ultimately left the team.

+ Making rookies pay for dinner or subjecting them to some hazing is a longstanding NFL tradition. But Incognito apparently went way beyond that with racial attacks and threats directed at his teammate's family members. At this point, the Dolphins probably wish they hadn't hired Richie Incognito to do this PSA encouraging fans to be more civilized.


A Diamond in the (Not So) Rough

How do you spot an NBA star in the making? It turns out that their Zip Code matters. But not in the way you think it does. "Growing up in a wealthier neighborhood is a major, positive predictor of reaching the NBA for both black and white men."


The Bottom of the News

Last week, Business Insider's Henry Blodget ranted about the weirdness of having attendants in the bathrooms at Balthazar. The restaurant's owner agreed, and those attendants will soon be out of a job. By this time next week, these guys will probably have coded a bathroom app and be raising money at a $1b valuation.

+ "Let's pick a fight with kale." Check out the inside story of Broccoli's extreme makeover.

+ Some churches have come up with a way to attract more members. They offer free beer. I guess turning water into wine wasn't enough.

+ Usain Bolt turned McNuggets into gold.

+ Thanks to the time change over the weekend, you can now expect more criminal activity. It turns out most crooks aren't morning people.

+ Two planes collided in the air. And there were no fatalities. It helps that both planes were loaded with skydivers.