December 2nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

You Are What You Wear

“We flew drones over Mississippi. We got mugged in Chittagong, Bangladesh. We met people whom we’ll never forget — the actual people who make our clothing. At every location we had radio reporters and videographers.” From the cotton in the fields to the manufacturing machines to the container ships, NPR’s Planet Money looks at the often complex world behind the making of a simple t-shirt.


Failure to Launch

“Did you hear? The traffic is really high.” For a very brief moment in time, that was good news. The health care site was up. And people were using it. The rest is website history. While many of the site’s kinks have reportedly been worked out, the failure of its launch is a classic tale of horrible product development. It is the story of how not to build a website (and why top engineers and product mangers are not overpaid). The NYT’s Sheryl Stolberg and Michael Shear take you inside the race to rescue a health care site, and a presidency.


Gray Area Friday

The hype was unprecedented. The sales, not so much. The big holiday shopping weekend was decidedly mixed for retailers, online and off. Even though more people shopped, purchases were down 2.9 percent? What does that mean for you. More hype. More sales. More holiday season inbox madness.

+ The Holiday Smoothie: Alexis Madrigal on a high-end blender and the anatomy of a Cyber Monday hustle.

+ Want to buy the 12 days of Christmas? Here’s what it will cost you. You might want to consider replacing the dozen drumming drummers with a gift card.


The Heart of Darkness

“The study will address this question: How successfully can a pharmaceutical giant — through advertising and sales visits to doctors’ offices — sell a drug at a dose that has been repeatedly described as ineffective by the scientists who developed it?” Even in an era of rampant pill popping, there are a few blockbuster drug categories that stand out. And treating insomnia is one of them. The New Yorker’s Ian Parker has the story of Merck’s Suvorexant, a drug inspired by research on narcoleptic dogs: The Big Sleep. (If I wanted more sleep, I think I’d start by studying cats.)


Trust Goes Bust

We don’t trust government. We don’t trust financial institutions. And these days, we don’t trust each other. According to the latest numbers, only about a third of Americans say most people can be trusted. I’d provide an explanation, but you never believe it.


Sky Mall

Last night on 60 Minutes, Jeff Bezos began a Tweeting and Media firestorm with Amazon’s plans to (one day) deliver packages in under thirty minutes via drone. You’ll probably want to beware of packages sent by people you don’t like. (I wonder if Wal-Mart will counter with packages delivered in less than thirty seconds via missile.)

+ From GigaOm: Consumer drones are coming and they will change everything.

+ Wired: Why Amazon’s drone delivery service won’t fly anytime soon.

+ Of course, Bezos timely announcement of something that might happen in a few years wasn’t really about drones. It was about getting some solid holiday buzz. Here’s Brad Stone on what Amazon’s announcement really delivers. Amazon announces something that may or may not happen in a few years and it spreads throughout the Internet. Here’s a thought: We’re the drones.

+ There is some major news regarding Amazon and other big online retailers. The Supreme Court declined to take a case related to state efforts to force online retailers to collect sales tax from customers.


A Bronx Tale

“I asked everybody, ‘Listen, look at the people next to you, and if they need help, help them.’ And they did it.” As investigators gather clues about the cause of a train derailment in the Bronx, The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly tales of passengers helping passengers to survive: Amazing Grace in the Bronx.


Hells Lawyers

“We stabbed and slabbed people left and right in the day, but that way is less common now.” That was then. Today’s Hells Angels might be more likely to attack their prey in a court of law. “Just in the past seven years, the Hells Angels have brought more than a dozen cases in federal court, alleging infringement on apparel, jewelry, posters and yo-yos.” Even when you’re rumbling down the road on a Harley, it’s all about branding and lawsuits.


Beyond Bar Mitzvahs

“For a few years, my two brothers, our father, our backup band, and I drove around in a van from city to city, playing any venue that would have us — schools, churches, bat mitzvahs … It was always a struggle because every single night we were walking into hate. Sometimes people flipped us off, threw water bottles at us. Everything completely changed when Disney entered the picture.” From Joe Jonas: My Life as a Jonas Brother.


The Bottom of the News

Sixteen year-old Rosalee Ramer just scored a cool 2160 on her SAT (including a near perfect score in math). Schools like Harvard and MIT might see other students with those scores. But I bet they won’t see anyone else with Ramer’s extra-curricular activity. She drives monster trucks.

+ From 1984 to the present: 30 years of Apple Ads.

+ Third and Schlong: If the risk of brain trauma didn’t convince you to keep your kid out of football, then maybe this will.

+ Which seat should you pick in a movie theater?

+ Reuters picks its top photos of 2013.

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