February 10th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Sam: “I Am”

Over the weekend, Missouri All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam “stated publicly what his teammates and coaches at Mizzou have known since August: ‘I am an openly, proud gay man.'” And with that, Sam will soon become the NFL’s first active openly gay player. Here’s the behind the scenes story of how NFL prospect Michael Sam came out: The Eagle Has Landed.

+ “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet. In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.” That’s an NFL player personnel assistant giving you an idea of how far behind the times some people still are. A decade or two? Thankfully, Michael Sam has helped to move the timetable up a bit. But you can bet his courage will cost him in some ways. According to CBS’ NFL Draft Prospect Board, Michael Sam has already fallen 70 spots.

+ Is the NFL ready? Here’s one answer from The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates: “Powerful interests are rarely ready for change, so much as they are assaulted by it. We refer to barriers being broken for a reason.

+ NYT’s Frank Bruni: “A news flash for every straight man out there: You’ve been naked in front of a gay man.”


The Everything Store

“Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S.” But it all started with selling books and Amazon has completely altered that marketplace. The New Yorker’s George Packer provides a brief and interesting history of Amazon and wonders: Is Amazon bad for books?


Deadly Lessons

In a camp outside of Baghdad, a commander who was leading a group of militants in a suicide bombing class “unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives.”

+ Following a 13-year hunt, special forces abducted an operative thought to have once been close with Osama bin Laden. A surveillance video caught the abduction.


Who Gives?

Between the Google Bus protests, Tom Perkins’ bizarre letter, and the battle over Vinod Khosla’s beach, it hasn’t been a great P.R. year for Bay Area tech companies and their backers. But here’s a change of pace. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife were the most generous philanthropists of 2013. Yes, you’ve got to have a lot to give an lot, but it’s great to see a young guy like Zuck shelling out the dough. Here’s a look at the fifty most generous donors of the year.


Five Ring Circus

While NBC couldn’t seem to stop talking about the Olympic rings malfunction during the opening ceremonies, Russian TV didn’t show it at all. But that isn’t so bad compared to NBC’s decision to edit out a major anti-discrimination statement made by IOC president Thomas Bach. Seems like a remarkably bad decision.

+ What do the Olympics rings mean anyway?

+ Volunteers are wanted in Sochi. To fill seats. And if you choose to volunteer, you might want to wear something light. It’s a very warm Winter games.

+ A few days before my wife and I got married in Italy, we asked our wedding band to play something Jewish as we walked down the aisle. They played the theme from Schindler’s List. So it never surprises me where that song shows up. It seems to be especially popular among figure skaters.

+ Johnny Quinn’s bobsledding competition hasn’t started yet, but he’s already had plenty of action. The other day, he punched his way out of a locked bathroom. And today he got stuck in an elevator.


Family Matters

Over the weekend, the NYT continued its “coverage” of the Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow story by publishing Woody Allen’s self-scripted defense: Woody Allen Speaks Out. Are these opinion pieces really helpful or are the dueling op-eds journalistically lazy, damaging, and further proof that the news is becoming Twitter? If I have to go to Vanity Fair to get the facts behind a series of stories published by the NYT, it might be time to have a meeting.

+ No matter who’s telling the truth, there’s no doubt that child abuse is a big problem. This is a very moving and very interesting piece on the topic from Gawker: “That this darkness is actually woven into and throughout the fabric of our society — that these abusers are among us — is simply too much to bear. So the darkness is ignored except for the most distilled, theatrical, and viscerally repellent cases.”


They’ll Never Make It

“Consider the following: At the end of 1963, virtually no one in America had heard of the Beatles. Yet on Feb. 9, 1964, they drew the largest TV audience in history-73 million viewers-when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. How could such a conquest have occurred so quickly?” Fifty years later, Billboard’s Steve Greenberg looks back on how the Beatles went viral.

+ “Visually they are a nightmare, tight, dandified Edwardian-Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Musically they are a near disaster, guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony and melody. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of “yeah, yeah, yeah”) are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments….” Suffice it to say, not all of the early reviews of the Beatles were positive.


That a Baby!

“Late last week, Tim Armstrong, the chief executive officer of AOL, landed himself in a media firestorm when he held a town hall with employees to explain why he was paring their retirement benefits. After initially blaming Obamacare for driving up the company’s health care costs, he pointed the finger at an unlikely target: babies. Specifically, my baby.”


As Good As New

Teslas are not only pretty cool cars, they might also be good investments. It looks like some Model S sedans are worth as much used as they are new.


The Bottom of the News

For a few brief Internet moments, game maker Dong Nguyen had the very thing that everyone who puts stuff on the Internet thinks they want more than anything: A full-fledged hit. Flappy Bird went viral, and it went to the top of the charts in the app stores. And then it went away right after its creator tweeted: “I cannot take this anymore” and removed the game from stores.

+ So you want to be the ambassador to Argentina? This seems like a fair question: Have you ever been to Argentina?

+ People waiting for six hours in the rain for a beer? It must be Pliny the Younger.

+ Bruce Springsteen plays Highway to Hell. (You’re welcome.)

+ Ice dancing not exciting enough for you? Maybe you’d prefer to watch people walking across a tightrope between two hot air balloons.

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