Tuesday, November 5th, 2013


Your Happy Place

Are you trying to be more happy? If so, you might want to consider getting out of your car. According to Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City, we tend to be happier in places where we take to the streets and interact with each other. "As much as we complain about other people, there is nothing worse for mental health than a social desert. The more connected we are to family and community, the less likely we are to experience heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. Connected people sleep better at night. They live longer. They consistently report being happier." Here are the secrets of the world's happiest cities.


The Loners

If getting out of your car and interacting with other people is one of the keys to happiness, then Americans are on the wrong track. There are a lot of new ways to commute to work, but an old one still leads them all. "Last year, about 76% of workers 16 years and older drove to work alone -- just shy of the all-time peak of 77% in 2005." In 1980, about 20% of Americans carpooled. Today that number is under 10%. This is supposed to be the age of the sharing economy, but it seems like all we're sharing is the road.

+ Between driving alone and working from home alone, a lot of people are spending more time by themselves. When does being alone turn to loneliness?


Poll Positions

There are some big elections taking place today. NPR provides an overview of nine elections to watch. And MoJo takes a look at some of the more interesting ballot measures, from GMO labels to pot taxes.

+ In a suburb near Houston, voters are being asked to foot the bill for a $70 million football stadium. For a high school.

+ "I don't twit. I only walk. I don't email. I don't Facebook." In other words, the new mayor of Newark is a little different from his predecessor.

+ Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is a little different from all his predecessors. And today, he finally admitted that he smoked crack. But in his defense, he was really drunk at the time.


Cuckoo for Coconuts

In many parts of the world, demand for coconut water is outpacing the rate of production. We either need to plant more trees or get a new fad.


The World’s Least Exclusive Club

Let me guess. You have an Apple account and the company has your credit card on file. How do I know that's true? I'm just betting the odds. Apple has about 600 million accounts on file. It seems like it's only a matter of time until we're using our Apple accounts to buy stuff all over the place.


No Backup for the Backup

As Twitter gets set for its IPO, you'll be reading a lot of stories about the keys to tech company success. But the truth is, most companies don't make it. And even having a good service or technology is no guarantee of success. For the past six months, I've been using a photo site and app called Everpix. It was a good service. But then, in the blink of eye, the company went bust. From Casey Newton at The Verge: Everpix was great. This is how it died.


Same as it Ever Was

The United States was a very different place sixty years ago when the Supreme Court rendered its Brown v. Board of Education decision. But it's also an oddly similar place when it comes to school segregation. "In the 1968-69 school year, when the U.S. Department of Education started to enforce Brown, about 77 percent of black students and 55 percent of Latino students attended public schools that were more than half-minority. By the 2009-2010 school year, the picture wasn't much better for black students, and it was far worse for Latinos: 74 percent of black students and 80 percent of Latino students went to schools that were more than half-minority. More than 40 percent of black and Latino students attended schools that were 90 percent to 100 percent minority."


School Bullying

Richie Incognito has never had a problem when it comes to talent. He's a good football player. But, over the years, he's been such a jerk that teams have actually released him. And in the NFL, it takes a whole lot for a good player to get released because of his personality. Standing out as a douche in the NFL is like standing out for having a bad attitude among web commenters. Incognito's bullying finally went too far with racial attacks and threats on his former teammate Jonathan Martin. Slate's Emily Bazelon and Josh Levin wonder whether the Dolphins' suspension of Richie Incognito could change the culture of pro football. Now that's what I call fantasy football.

+ "Only in the NFL can a Harvard degree have negative consequences." Are NFL players from better schools more likely to be bullying targets?


Crafting the Game

"Some might regard what Markus did as intellectual-property theft. Without beating around the bush, he revealed where he found his inspiration and even went as far as to call Minecraft a clone of an existing game." From Wired: The Amazingly Unlikely Story of How Minecraft Was Born. Most parents I know are less interested in how it was born, and more interested in ways to kill it.


The Bottom of the News

We have too many patents. We have too many cat stories on the Internet. But we can still use a list of 12 bizarre cat-related patents, including my two favorites: device for restraining a cat and another device for restraining a cat.

+ The U.S. military is working to create an Iron Man suit.

+ Mexico's drug cartels love social media.

+ Two planes collided, but everyone survived. All the passengers were all skydivers. Here's the video. (It's getting harder and harder to go viral.)