November 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Take Your Medicine

Take two aspirin and hold a press conference in the morning. President Obama announced a health care law fix to allow insurers to continue plans that previously would have had to be canceled. Here are a few highlights from the press conference to give you an idea how things are going. “We did fumble the ball.” … “We should have done a better job of getting this right on day one.” … “Those who got cancellation notices do deserve better and they received an apology from me. But they deserve more than words.” … “I was not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to. I get accused of a lot of things but I don’t think I am stupid enough to go around saying this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn’t going to work.” At this point, most Americans would settle for Webvan.


Football’s New Position

By the time I showed up at the maternity ward with my son’s first football-themed onesie, my wife had already informed me that “there is no way” her son would ever play football. Today, that position has become a trend. Between 2010 and 2012, Pop Warner saw 9.5% drop in participation. And even the league’s chief medical officer admits that the number one cause for the decline is a growing concern about brain injuries: “Unless we deal with these truths, we’re not going to get past the dropping popularity of the sport and people dropping out of the sport.”


The Graveyard Slot

The late shows are over. Morning is still a ways off. Most of us are asleep, but TV stations have to fill the so-called “graveyard slots” with some kind of content. So they let the infomercials roll. If you happen to be up, that’s when you’ll see crazy pitches for products you can’t believe anyone would buy. You’ll also be seeing something else. An absolutely massive and growing business at work.

+ Shopping at all hours of the day and night has become America’s favorite pastime. And now more and more big box retailers want in on the action. If your favorite store isn’t open on Thanksgiving day this year, it will be by next year. News coverage of big box retailers open on Thanksgiving will give everyone who’s not there something else to be thankful for this year.


Changing Times and Fonts

My third grade teacher Mrs. Mitchell regularly made me stay after school to practice cursive on her chalkboard. And I’m pretty sure that my capital Qs are as illegible today as they were then. But does that matter anymore? That’s a question facing many educators. Keyboarding has replaced handwriting in the core curriculum, but several states are trying to get cursive back into the classroom. (In fairness to Mrs. Mitchell, my typing class didn’t go much better.)


Domo Arigato?

“Whether you are a factory worker or an accountant, a waitress or a doctor, this is the wave that will lift you or dump you.” In Politco’s new magazine, Tyler Cowen explains the economic (and political) consequences we face now that the robots are here.


Facing Life (and then some)

“The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes, are almost unfathomable … You have, in some ways, over time become a face of this city …. It’s regrettable.” So said US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper as she handed down a sentence that will keep Whitey Bulger in prison for the rest of his life.



“Mr. Odón, 59, an Argentine car mechanic, built his first prototype in his kitchen, using a glass jar for a womb, his daughter’s doll for the trapped baby, and a fabric bag and sleeve sewn by his wife as his lifesaving device.” That was the first experiment (based on a parlor trick of extracting a busted cork from a wine bottle) that could lead to a device that will dramatically improve the way people across the globe deal with babies that are stuck in the birth canal.


This is You Being Productive

Wasting time “can make you more creative. Even seemingly meaningless activities such as watching cat videos on YouTube may help you solve math problems.” It’s all just a matter of making sure that you waste time properly. I should be wasting time right now, but I’m procrastinating.


Mickey D’s and Don’ts

“There is no world in which pork spare ribs could be eaten straight through, even after having been slow cooked such that some of the cartilage breaks down. It’s a partial explanation for the horror and the delight wrought by McRib.” The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost goes deep into the ingredients and meaning of McDonald’s strangest seasonal sandwich.


The Bottom of the News

“It’s challenging, and all the competitors describe significant physical benefits to competing.” Pacific Standard takes you inside the world of competitive laughing. I’m holding out for the chagrin championships.

+ It’s not too surprising that the woman who claimed to be Andy Kaufman’s daughter and also claimed that he faked his own death has turned out to be a hoaxer. At this point, I’d settle for a few seasons of Taxi on Netflix.

+ The Yankees were interested in signing pitcher Brian Wilson, but only if he shaved his beard. In other words, no deal. (Something tells me the Red Sox would have no such restrictions.)

+ Meet the people who love Disney so much, they moved there.

+ Graffiti you’ll find only in Canada.

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