Friday, March 14th, 2014



"The facts are all over the place. It's looking less and less like an accident. It's looking more like a criminal event." That's an unidentified U.S. official quoted by the Washington Post. And after a full week of looking for a very large airplane, that's about all we've got; unnamed officials offering up conjecture based on limited information. The search for the Malaysian airliner continues.

+ Reuters reports that there is radar data that suggests that the plane may have been deliberately flown off course.

+ Here's how we (think we) know the plane kept flying for hours.

+ A combination of the mystery of the search and the demand for the media to attempt to answer our every question results in headlines like this: How much room would the missing Malaysia Airlines flight need to land?

+ We've got big data, small data, hacking, satellites, covert operations -- this is an era when people know things they're not even supposed to know. But they can't find the plane. We find it difficult to accept this kind of uncertainty in the finales of our favorite TV shows, let alone real life. NY Mag's Lisa Miller on what a missing jet means in a world where people rarely get lost.


Vision Quest

"We don't have a common vision of the situation. Our differences remain." That quote basically sums up the meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov.


Weekend Reads

"My kind of service work is not the kind of service work that puts you in the back room washing dishes for 12-hour shifts for dollars because you are considered completely expendable. But my kind of service work is part of the same logic that indiscriminately razes neighborhoods. It outsources the emotional and practical needs of the oft-fetishized, urban-renewing 'creative' workforce to a downwardly mobile middle class, reducing workers' personality traits and educations to a series of plot points intended to telegraph a zombified bohemianism for the benefit of the rich." In The Awl, Molly Osberg takes us inside the Barista class. (She even remembered to leave a little room for milk.)

+ "We walked for a few hours, up a winding valley between brown mountains mottled with patches of yellow grass that looked like lion's fur. We didn't know that we were headed toward the worst 26 months of our lives." From MoJo: Kidnapped by Iran.

+ A little-known Supreme Court ruling unmuzzled reporters -- and changed Canadian journalism. This is the story behind the Rob Ford story.


The Human Factor

There was a moment during the hacking of Target when a software program could have put an end to the problem. But that option was turned off to give the system more human control. "Had the company's security team responded when it was supposed to, the theft that has since engulfed Target, touched as many as one in three American consumers, and led to an international manhunt for the hackers never would have happened at all." From BloombergBusinessweek: Missed alarms and 40 million stolen credit card numbers: How Target blew it.

+ NYT: Consumers are not powerless in the face of card fraud.


That Kiss

Chances are, you're one of the 50 million people who have viewed the video called First Kiss. That's about three times more viewers than the president and Zach Galifianakis were able to draw. And it turns out the video started out as an ad for a small clothing company. (People who were turned on by that video of strangers kissing are gonna be amazed at what else the Internet has to offer.)

+ In addition to serving as an example of the future of advertising, the First Kiss video has spawned a series of fantastic parody videos.


Give Me a Boost

"It's critical, particularly if you want to perform and have any success at the top level." Want to be efficient in the way you use caffeine? Ask the experts. From The Atlantic: How Athletes Strategically Use Caffeine. (I'd like to compare this to the way engineers strategically use it.)

+ "In its essential form, caffeine is a bitter white powder derived from a natural insecticide found in some plants." And a tablespoon will kill you. From NPR: Wake up and smell the caffeine. Smells like victory...

+ At UC Davis, students might soon be able to major in coffee.


Popularity Contest

The MIT Media Lab is taking a stab at ranking the most famous people of all time. Jesus is in third place. So who's more famous than Jesus? (Don't worry, none of the Kardashians beat him.)


The Compression and the Damage Done

"With MP3s, you have less than 5% of the data that could be in that song if it was recorded at a higher resolution. And it was probably recorded at a much higher resolution that what you got. You've now purchased the right to recognize the song. But that's about it. What you're missing is the music." That's Neil Young echoing the opinion of many audiofiles. And now Young is crowdfunding a new audio player that he hopes will make things sound a little better.


Can You Dunk?

My slightly height-challenged friend Josh had a lifelong dream of dunking a basketball. His wife Margaret wanted to shoot a documentary. The combination of these two goals is an absolutely excellent, short documentary. Well, in this case, it's a Dunkumentary. Great stuff.


The Bottom of the News

"I found it indecent that I had to see the nipples of Anthony Kiedis." This year's Super Bowl FCC complaints are in.

+ Two weeks ago, Walter Williams died and was placed in a body bag. A few hours later, he started moving around and it turned out he was actually alive. Yesterday, he died again. (I'm guessing they'll wait a few extra hours before they start the embalming process this time.)

+ Is America falling out of love with TV dinners?

+ Someone threw up on Lada Gaga. And it was part of the show.

+ The Internet really can be pretty fun.