March 12th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Resistance is Futile

“At a certain point in the process we’re looking at each other going, ‘I can’t believe they’re letting us do this,’ so pretty much the whole thing — we definitely couldn’t believe it. We kept expecting resistance, but there wasn’t any.” That’s the director of Between Two Ferns talking about the day the president was on the set. Maybe he shouldn’t have expected all that much resistance. The Internet has blurred the lines between real and hoax, between funny and serious, between international news and personality quizzes. We are interested in all of it, and none of it is ever more than a browser-tab away. The NYT can try to be funny, The New Yorker can hire Andy Borowitz, and Buzzfeed can try to publish serious journalism. We were entertained by the appearance of a sitting president on an Internet show like Between Two Ferns, but we weren’t necessarily shocked by it. It’s just too bad Obama is a dog person. Otherwise, he could have also shared some really viral cat photos.


What if There’s Not An App For That?

NYT Magazine’s Yiren Lu on Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem: “In start-up land, the young barely talk to the old (and vice versa). That makes for a lot of cool apps. But great technology? Not so much.” (We already know there is a lot of tension between tech workers and others. Is there also a rift between tech workers and tech workers?)


The Missing Plane

“All right, good night.” Those were the last recorded words of the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. It’s been nearly a week since its disappearance, and no one seems to have a solid idea of what happened next.

+ Slate: Why hasn’t radar found Flight 370?

+ Thanks to an earth imagery company and crowd-sourcing, you can help with the search.

+ The $100,000 device that could have solved the mystery.


Got the Other Milk?

About a quarter of all Americans suffer from some symptoms related to lactose intolerance. Is there something wrong with us? Or are we just drinking the wrong blend? From MoJo’s Josh Harkinson: You’re drinking the wrong kind of milk.

+ The European Union is seeking to ban the use of European names like Parmesan on cheese made in the U.S. The issue is that products like Kraft Parmesan “cut into sales and identity of the European cheeses.”



“It’s a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people.” That’s NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on a gas explosion that led to a massive blaze in East Harlem. At least two people are dead, with many other injured or missing.

+ A large fire consumed a building under construction in the Mission Bay section of San Francisco. This time lapse video of the Mission Bay fire shows the amazing work of firefighters who kept the fire from spreading to several other structures.


They’re Here

“The invasion’s already in progress: the only question is when, not if, humanoid robots will work, play and war beside us.” Aeon’s Michael Belfiore: The Robots are Coming.

+ Who are we kidding? The robots are already here. There are poledancing robots and a robot that can make Oreos. What can I say. You had me at Roomba.


Mall Where?

“I had no idea what a modern retail job demanded. I didn’t realize the stamina that would be necessary, the extra, unpaid duties that would be tacked on, or the required disregard for one’s own self-esteem.” (Sounds a little like using Twitter.) In The Atlantic, Joseph Williams reflects on his life as a retail worker: Nasty, brutish, and poor.

+ Have we reached Peak Mall?

+ Can Costco win over Millennials? (Or to put it another way, can Millennials borrow their parents car and credit card for a few hours?)


Designer Showcase

Next week, Starbucks will allow customers to tip via their mobile app. Will that mean more tips? Like many things today, it will all depend on user experience and the design of the app.

+ “The menu is really the single most important representation of the brand in the restaurant, other than the building itself.” From The Atlantic’s Megan Garber: The engineering of the chain restaurant menu.


Happiness is Overrated

“The results show that men and women who participated in the body-piercing and fire-walking portion of the ritual (high-ordeal participants) reported happier emotional states and less fatigue than spectators who participated in less stressful portions of the ritual or did not participate at all.” From Pacific Standard: The Perks of Being a Firewalker.

+ Sword Throat. Pharynx Hole. Yes, there are indeed side effects to sword swallowing. (And the Internet’s line of the day: “Sword swallowers without healthcare coverage expose themselves to financial as well as physical risk.”)


The Bottom of the News

“It takes a number of years to develop the car. It’s a great project to work on. This particular one, more so than any of them in the past. In the past, they were retrofitting existing vehicles — with this, this is really from the ground up a new vehicle, and we really do it right.” The Secret Service is seeking bids for new presidential limo.

+ “It just catches you because they were fly as hell.” The short documentary on how a controversial jersey design helped lead a team to a national title: Untucked.

+ It’s official. Well, sort of official. The five-second rule is real.

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