February 24th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Let’s Just Flip the Switch

There is a machine. Thirty-five countries have invested billions of dollars to make it work. When completed, it will weigh twenty-three thousand tons. If its switch is ever finally flipped, the goal will be the creation of a new form of energy that could save the planet: “Beams of uncharged particles — the energy in them so great it could vaporize a car in seconds — will pour into the chamber, adding tremendous heat. In this way, the circulating hydrogen will become ionized, and achieve temperatures exceeding two hundred million degrees Celsius — more than ten times as hot as the sun at its blazing core.” (And I thought I was doing my part by driving a hybrid.) The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian shares the story of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a star in a bottle.


Wanna Get Away?

A few weeks ago Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, billionaire drug lord and infamous escape artist, seemed to be cornered by authorities when he opened a hatch in his bathtub and disappeared into the sewers. Over the weekend, his luck finally ran out when he was arrested by Mexican Marines (with the help of the DEA). In the end, his phone gave him away.

+ “It’s a fantasy. It has to be someone else. I just don’t believe it.” From the NYT: How a Kingpin Above the Law Fell, Incredibly, Without a Shot.


History Unfolds in Kiev

History is moving at an incredible pace in Ukraine. Last week, President Viktor Yanukovych was still in power. This week, he is out of power, on the run, and wanted on charges of “mass murder of peaceful civilians.”

+ “In the space of a day, everything has changed, again.” In The Atlantic, Uri Friedman provides some background on a country that seemed to change overnight.

+ With Yanukovych on the move, thousands of Ukrainians descended on his country estate which, it turns out, includes a replica galleon floating on an artificial waterway, a golf course, and a zoo. This place is basically a moonwalk away from being Neverland Ranch.

+ “He had never been knocked down. His ring name, Dr. Ironfist, is a testament to both his hitting power and his status as the only world champion ever to hold a Ph.D.” Vitali Klitschko, Ukraine’s revolutionary champ.


Organic Pseudoscience

“And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go.” In The Daily Beast Michael Schulson provides a alternate view on Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience. (The first time I read this, I nearly spit out my probiotic-infused kombucha, kale, quinoa, coconut water shake.

+ Vice: How A German Soda Became Hackers’ Fuel Of Choice.


Five Ring Circus

The Sochi Olympics will be remembered for the warm weather, the surprise winners, the controversial venue, the stray dogs, Bob Costas’ eye, and the two Canadian hockey teams that managed, for a few days, to give the citizens of their nation a break from all the Rob Ford coverage. Let’s take a look back with some amazing photos. Buzzfeed has a selection of the 33 most awe-inspiring photos from Sochi, InFocus looks back at the last few days of competition, and OregonLive has a collection of the 40 best photos of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.



“I was issued an inmate uniform and a mesh bag with my toiletries and bedding. My arms were handcuffed behind my back, my legs were shackled and I was deposited in Administrative Segregation — solitary confinement. I hadn’t committed a crime. Instead, as the new head of the state’s corrections department, I wanted to learn more about what we call Ad Seg.”

+ Smithsonian Magazine: The Science of Solitary Confinement.


Laugh Machine

SCTV, Animal House, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Stripes, Caddyshack, Meatballs. What do they all have in common? Harold Ramis, who died in Chicago at the age of 69.

+ “In Los Angeles, Steven Spielberg walks in and you’re nothing. Here, there’s nobody better than me. There’s a few Bulls around, and the Cusacks, but, basically, I’m it.” A New Yorker piece on Ramis from 2004: Comedy First.


Pay TV

Netflix is going to pay Comcast to make sure that its streams get to you in a timely manner. Did their deal just kill net neutrality?

+ Is House of Cards really a hit? (In terms of Tweets and articles, yes. What about in terms of viewership?)


Got Anything Else?

The people who want us to drink more milk hit it big when the smart folks at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners came up with the incredibly successful Got Milk? campaign. Well, that campaign and tagline are now being dropped. The new tagline? “Milk Life.”

+ Taco Bell, Waffle Taco.


The Bottom of the News

“Now I loathe and despise the media in a way I did not think possible.” Alec Baldwin says good-bye to public life. And it only took him 5357 words in a national magazine to do it.

+ Adam Muema left the NFL Combine because God told him that he was already certain to be drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. (I wonder how he’d react if God told him he’d be playing for the Cleveland Browns…)

+ Two Cellos. AC/DC’s Thunderstruck.

+ MovieFone is dead. But there are still a few services that will take your call.

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