March 13th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

You Snooze, You Win

Is there one policy change that would help teens to improve their performance in school, in cars, and maybe in life? According to many experts, we just need to let them sleep in. A recent study out of the University of Minnesota “found that the later a school’s start time, the better off the students were on many measures, including mental health, car crash rates, attendance and, in some schools, grades and standardized test scores.”

+ And here’s another reason to sleep in. Scientists have debunked the notion that 10,000 hours makes you an expert. (But they only spent 9000 hours on the study, so who knows.)


Run-On Sentences

“Certain types of cases result in too many Americans going to prison for far too long, and at times for no truly good public safety reason. Although the United States comprises just five percent of the world’s population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.” The content of that statement is nothing new. But it is news that it came from the mouth of the Attorney General of the United States.

+ NPR: Why for-profit prisons house more inmates of color.


A Water View

“A giant tsunami created by the quake would wash away coastal towns, destroy U.S. 101 and cause $70 billion in damage over a large swath of the Pacific coast. More than 100 bridges would be lost, power lines toppled and coastal towns isolated. Residents would have as few as 15 minutes notice to flee to higher ground, and as many as 10,000 would perish.” The LA Times explains that the risk of a monster quake and tsunami off California’s North Coast is greater than researchers once thought.

+ Maybe that’s why Chris Robinson is building a tsunami-proof pod in his Palo Alto backyard. On one hand, I think that’s extreme. On the other hand, it can’t hurt to make friends with Chris Robinson.

+ California just had its warmest winter on record.

+ How dry is it? This year, 12 million Chinook salmon will travel from the Sacramento River to the ocean. By truck.

+ Maybe Californians just need to start digging. Some scientists now believe that, deep beneath the Earth’s surface, there is vast reservoir that may hold as much water as all of our oceans combined.


The Ignition Switch

“That’s what haunts me the most: We knew something was wrong. The car should have been checked on. I feel guilty.” GM has recalled 1.6 million cars due to a faulty ignition switch “that, if a knee hit it or the key ring was too heavy, could turn off the engine and the car’s electrical systems, and among other things, disable the air bags.” The big question: Did GM wait too long?

+ BloombergBusinessweek: Four blunt points about the coming GM ignition litigation storm.

+ The driver who evaded a drunk-driving stop and plowed into dozens of people attending SXSW will be charged with murder.


The Plane

Did Malaysian Air’s missing plane actually fly for hours after it lost contact with people on the ground? That’s the latest theory being discussed. From Slate: The Mystery of Flight MH370, already unprecedented, just got even bigger.

+ What happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is unlike anything we’ve known before.

+ CNN: Missing airliner, questions and answers. (There are fewer of the latter.)


Meanwhile, Back in Syria

This is the third anniversary of the war in Syria. Banksy is teaming up with Idris Elba and other to remind us of the horrors of this war.


Buy Coffee or Juan Valdez Gets It

TOMS, known for their shoes, is about to get into the coffee business. And “like the shoes that made TOMS famous, the coffee comes with a built-in plan for doing social good. In this case, the ‘give,’ as TOMS employees call it, is water: For every bag of TOMS beans sold, a person in Rwanda, Malawai, Guatemala, Honduras, or Peru – the areas where TOMS is sourcing beans – will get clean water for a week; for every cup, someone gets water for a day.” So either I drink a million cups of coffee today, or I don’t know, we just give the thirsty people the damn water.

+ Here are some numbers from Lady Gaga’s charity. They “gave out $5,000 in grants in 2012, after spending $1.85 million on lawyer, PR and social media fees.” This contrasts with many charities that raise millions of dollars so the founders can meet celebrities like Lady Gaga.

+ Those numbers might not be all that unusual. Take a look back at the Center for Investigative Reporting series on the dirty secrets of the worst charities.


You Know Joe

Even if you have young kids in your house, I doubt you’ve heard the name Joseph Garrett. But you’ve almost certainly heard his Internet name: Stampy. Garrett is a 23 year-old who lives at home and has built up a following of tens of millions of kids who love to watch videos of him playing Minecraft. “Maybe one day it’s going to eventually sink in, but I’m really happy, I’m not going to lie, I think I’ve got the best job in the world … I play video games all day.” From BBC: Minecraft gamer’s YouTube hit more popular than Bieber.

+ The Verge: Video games are weird again.


In a World…

“When you go past superstar status, you reach icon status in this business, where people know you by one name only.” You may not know the name: Hal. But you definitely know the voice. Hal Douglas, who died on Friday, was a superstar of movie trailer voiceovers.

+ Here’s Hal at work on the trailer for Comedian, the movie.

+ Lake Bell directed a fun movie about movie trailer voiceover artists called: In a world


The Bottom of the News

The record for crushing walnuts with one’s head has been completely obliterated. Mohammad Rashid smashed 155 walnuts in a minute. And thanks to the glory of the Internet, you can watch this laudable achievement over and over.

+ We spent $56 billion on our pets last year (and my cat’s still pissed).

+ The secret to holding your breath for 20 minutes.

+ “A few months ago I spent one of those beautiful Scottish summer mornings watching a 450 kilogram pig ejaculate into a coffee Thermos that was being held at an appropriate ‘catch-all’ angle by a bearded Slovenian man. Wait. Let me clarify.”

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