December 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Year in Twerking

Google is out with its annual list of the things we searched for this year. When you asked what, you wanted to know what is twerking. When you asked how, you wanted to know how to tie a tie. Overall, Nelson Mandela and Paul Walker topped the most searched of 2013 list. But most of this was compiled before Beyonce released her surprise album.

+ Here’s Google’s full Zeigeist 2013 where you can dig into many lists of the top searches in different categories including top appetizer (Tomato Mozzarella), top beer (Blue Moon), top TV show (Breaking Bad), and top dance moves (somehow, YMCA still managed to crack the top five).

+ Why did Google just buy a fleet of military robots? (I’m not sure, but just to be safe, I’m not gonna use Bing for awhile…)


Genetic Memories

According to a recent study, there’s a chance that certain memories (and anxieties) can be passed down through our genes. I guess this is why I’m always asking my kids where I left my keys.

+ Want to remember something? Then don’t snap a photo.


Waxing Brazilian

“These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.” In an open letter to Brazil, Edward Snowden appears to request asylum and offers to assist that country’s investigations into U.S. spying.

+ Here’s the full text of Snowden’s letter.

+ An NSA coworker remembers Snowden: “NSA is full of smart people, but anybody who sat in a meeting with Ed will tell you he was in a class of his own…I’ve never seen anything like it.”

+ Meanwhile, President Obama met with a bunch of tech execs to discuss the NSA controversy (and one assumes, to get some advice on how to build a website).

+ As always, there’s a conflict between our concern over spying and our willingness (and even desire) to share everything about ourselves. Would you let a smart toilet share your personal data? Most people say they would. Sidenote: If you ended up being a toilet, maybe you’re not all that smart.


And a Sweetener Runs Through It

It looks like artificial sweeteners have a pretty long aftertaste. Canadian researchers found traces of four popular sweeteners in water samples taken from the Grand River in Ontario. That means the sweeteners are passing through you and modern sewage treatment plants. The researchers also found traces of the sweeteners in municipal tap water, which means that the sweeteners are surviving water purification systems. None of this is meant to single out sweeteners. Antidepressants, antibiotics, steroids, fragrances and a bunch of other stuff has shown up in our waterways.

+ Three new studies suggest there’s almost no upside to taking multivitamins. An editorial accompanying the studies sums up the findings: “Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.”

+ Your wireless router could be murdering your houseplants. (This is based a simple study performed by high school students. But it’s pretty damn interesting.)


Arrest Me Already

“As I waited for him to jump out, grab me, or Tase me, he sped away and hung a left, leaving me standing there alone. I’ve watched the video a dozen times and it’s still hard to believe.” A former prosecutor gets himself arrested so he can get a look inside the justice system.


The Next Five Years

In the next five years, local retail shopping will beat online shopping. Do you believe that? It’s one of the five surprising things that IBM researchers say will happen in the next five years (which gives them four years to change any of these predictions.)


Music Matters

Fifteen years later, a reporter looks back at the sexual assault charges faced by R. Kelly. “The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody.”

+ Nirvana and Kiss are among the new inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

+ The Wire lists their picks for the best pop singles of 2013.


Here’s Comes Santa

There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not Santa is white. Well, if you live in Los Angeles, there’s a decent chance that Santa is a woman who is “an adult industry toy consultant and sexuality specialist” and whose sleigh is a motorcycle. In more ways than one, this is the feel good story of the day.

+ The war on Christmas is actually being waged by climate change. For example, if Santa lived at the North Pole, he would have drowned by now.

+ A sociologist studied Christmas gifts, and here’s what he learned.

+ 18 facts about your favorite Christmas TV specials.


Cats and Dogs

Children raised in homes with dogs are less likely to suffer from asthma and allergies. And it has to do with the microbes that live in our gut.

+ How humans created cats. Believe it or not, they predate the Internet.


The Bottom of the News

It’s that time of year when people send out their annual rundowns of everything that happened to them and their family members during the course of the year. One North Carolina family made a video took it pretty seriously. It’s entertaining, it’s public, it’s viral, and in the end, it’s also promoting their new business. In other words, it’s the ultimate representation of the year in humans.

+ How tight jeans almost ruined America’s money.

+ Apple’s Infinite Loop Campus recreated in Minecraft.

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