March 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Alright, Alright, Alright

12 Years a Slave took home the top honor at the Academy Awards, while Gravity won the most awards (whether that’s good or bad news for NASA is up for debate). Here’s a complete list of the nominees and winners.

+ Lupita Nyong’o had the line of the night during her acceptance speech: “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s.” On the other end of the speech-spectrum, Matthew McConaughey explained that his hero is, well, himself, ten years in the future. And that wasn’t even the weirdest part of his speech. I guess when you’re that good looking, any speech is considered alright, alright, alright. Meanwhile, Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto opened the evening with a shout-out to Ukrainians. In an interesting twist, his band is playing both Ukraine and Russia this month.

+ You can watch all the big moments in under two minutes, review the “best” moments with 27 Buzzfeed-collected GIFs, or just skip straight to the weirdest moment of all, John Travolta’s introduction of Idina Menzel (he may have flubbed her name, but his hair took home a CGI lifetime achievement award).

+ Most reviews of the broadcast were lukewarm or worse. Here’s a sample from The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman: “As a television event, this year’s Oscars was more like an endurance test. It was a turgid affair, badly directed, poorly produced and featuring an endless string of either tired or wince-inducing moments by DeGeneres, who, by the last 30 or so minutes, seemed to have given up entirely.” And from The New Yorker’s Richard Brody: The Sad Corporate-Pizza Oscars.

+ The Kidnapping Case: A look back at the 1853 NYT piece on the 12 years of Solomon Northup’s slavery.


You Oughta Be in Pictures.

Apparently, the TV can still tell the Internet what to do. This year’s Oscars will be remembered for the Selfie that nearly knocked Twitter out for the night. The Selfie that Ellen orchestrated quickly set a retweet record and is now pushing the three million mark. (I tried to stop Hollywood from setting the new record, but I fell short by about 2,839,228 tweets — and counting). The success of this celeb-selfie proves that stars are just as needy and desperate as we are, they’re just better at it.

+ It’s the Oscars, so here are the red carpet arrivals.


Putin’s War

“There is no question that they are in an occupation position — flying in reinforcements and settling in.” Russia appears to prepare for a potential war as Obama looks to “isolate Russia” if Putin fails to respond to international calls for restraint. Here’s the latest on Ukraine from CNN.

+ Buzzfeed: A 35-step guide to understanding why Russia decided to follow the Olympics with a war.

+ NYT: Ukraine in Maps.

+ David Remnick: Putin Goes to War.

+ Quartz: How the crisis in Ukraine could hit you right in the cereal box.


Here Comes the New Boss

We’ve seen plenty of countries fighting for more democracy in the 21st century, but as the Economist explains, these movements haven’t been going that well in the past decade. The story often plays out something like this: “The people mass in the main square. Regime-sanctioned thugs try to fight back but lose their nerve in the face of popular intransigence and global news coverage. The world applauds the collapse of the regime and offers to help build a democracy. But turfing out an autocrat turns out to be much easier than setting up a viable democratic government. The new regime stumbles, the economy flounders and the country finds itself in a state at least as bad as it was before.”

+ An interactive world map: Democracy at a standstill.


The New Gold Rush

Here’s the story of a fixer upper in a decent neighborhood. It hits the market for $895,000. A couple weeks later, it sells for $1.4 million. If you’re from somewhere else, both the numbers in that story seem crazy. If you’re from San Francisco, it’s a cliche. Nick Bilton describes the scene where a housing market has nowhere to go but up.

+ The income gap is one of the important stories of this era, and that gap is growing faster in S.F. than in any city in the nation.


The New Math

“In elementary and middle school and even into high school, we hide math’s great masterpieces from students’ view. The arithmetic, algebraic equations and geometric proofs we do teach are important, but they are to mathematics what whitewashing a fence is to Picasso — so reductive it’s almost a lie.” From the LA Times: How our 1,000-year-old math curriculum cheats America’s kids.

+ “Calculations kids are forced to do are often so developmentally inappropriate, the experience amounts to torture.” From The Atlantic: 5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus. (I’d be happy if mine learned to eat with a fork.)


Lend Me an Ear

Ever since my kids convinced me to watch Frozen for the hundred and eleventh time, I can’t seem to let go of the song Let it Go. After last night’s Oscars, you too might be suffering from “a constant loop of fifteen to twenty seconds of music lodged in your head for at least a few hours, if not days — or, in severe cases, months.” The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova on the anatomy of an earworm.

+ Those infant sleep machines can get so loud that they actually pose a longterm hearing risk.


Catching the Wave

Is it crazy that a newish, smallish company like Whatsapp could get bought for $19 billion. Sort of. In this interesting piece with some amazing growth charts, Om Malik tries to explain why this historic piece of crazy actually makes a lot of sense. It’s not just about one app. It’s about the mobile wave.

+ Wired: The Inside Story of Mt. Gox, Bitcoin’s $460 Million Disaster.


The Hot Hand

Researchers studied about 70,000 NBA shots and uncovered evidence of the existence of the “hot hand.” Sometimes shooters really are feeling it. So it turns out that every athlete who’s played any sport was right about streaks…


The Bottom of the News

Breaking Bad: You’re eating your pancakes. You have a perfect, unobstructed view of the ocean. The waves are so close they look like they could crash right through the window. And then one does. The most amazing part is the patron in the second video who’s immediate reaction is: “Time to go.”

+ It’s rare that a headline like this lives up to its promise. But this one basically does: Snake eats crocodile after battle.

+ The secret behind America’s best hoodie.

+ I know Pope Francis is trying to be a little more edgy than his predecessors. But the F bomb?

+ 55 straight green lights. You win.

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