March 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Prosper and Live Long

Fairfax County and McDowell County are about 350 miles apart. But the distance is much greater in life expectancy than it is miles. Men living in Fairfax can expect to live 18 years longer than those in McDowell County. Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, explains: “Poverty is a thief. Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.” From the NYT’s Annie Lowrey: Income Gap, Meet Longevity Gap.

+ In Detroit, a million bucks will by you about 83,333 square feet of real estate. The amount of square footage you can score for the same dough in San Francisco is considerably less. From Slate: Here’s how much real estate $1 million buys you in every major U.S. city.



“Further provocations will achieve nothing … except further isolation.” So said President Obama as the U.S. and E.U. slapped sanctions on Russia and froze the assets of Putin’s cronies following the weekend’s vote in Crimea.

+ One of the officials targeted by the asset freeze mocked the sanctions on Twitter (where else?).

+ “Vladimir Putin, in his campaign to restore Russian dominance over post-Soviet states, has an unconventional weapon in his arsenal: vast supplies of natural gas.” The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki on Putin’s Power Play.

+ Buzzfeed: A 22-step-guide to understanding how Crimea voted to join Russia and why Eastern Ukraine might be next.



“Inflation is the ‘bang’ of the Big Bang. It’s the mechanism that caused the universe to enter this period of gigantic expansion.” Just in time to be featured on an episode of the all new Cosmos, scientists have discovered indirect evidence of the gravitational waves generated in the first few moments of the big bang, 13.8 billion years B.N.D. (before NextDraft).

+ I’m a Humanities major, so I’ll let Phil Plait explain more about what this means.

+ How do we decide what science to study? The answer to that question has changed dramatically in the past few years. “For better or worse, the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.” NYT: Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science.


Plane, Not Simple

America’s most popular profession is aviation expert. At least it seems that way if you watch the 24 hours news networks try to fill time with little or no new information related to the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner. Over the weekend, information about one of the pilot’s politics became a point of discussion. Slate’s William Dobson explains that Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s politics were closer to common sense than zealotry.

+ Here’s the latest on the search for the plane.

+ Here is a map of planes that have vanished over the past 50 years, and runways within the range of flight 370.


Shake, Rattle and React

Some experts believe that we may have just reached an end to L.A.’s drought. Unfortunately, they mean the “earthquake drought.” Los Angeles was hit with a 4.4 temblor near Westwood. That caused some TV news anchors to freak out (as a California native, I can assure you, that’s exactly the right reaction).


Guinness Out

What’s a St Patrick’s Day Parade without Guiness and Sam Adams (not to mention, the mayor of your city)? NYC and Boston had to answer questions like these as key sponsors and politicians pulled out of the parades after organizers continued to ban gays from marching under their own banner. You know where gays are allowed to march openly and freely in a St. Patrick’s Day parade? Dublin.

+ Along with public vomiting, Green food is a mainstay of St Paddy’s Day in America. But that green food actually comes from a very dark history.

+ The greening of the Chicago River.


Play it Again

My son and I listen to music together as part of our bedtime ritual, and last night, he began the session with this comment: “”I don’t want to hear anymore of the Frozen soundtrack or Coldplay. I want to hear Bruce.” While this bonding moment provided clear evidence of my parenting excellence, it didn’t last long. His sister’s alarm played Let it Go this morning (again). And she’s not alone. Here’s Aeon’s Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis on why we listen to our favorite music over and over again

+ What do misunderstood lyrics tell you about your mind? From The Chronicle of Higher Education: There must be some misunderstanding.

+ And if both of those stories sound a bit too cerebral, here’s a video of a guy sneezing into a tuba.


It’s a Mad, Mad, Madness

Nate Silver’s all new FiveThirtyEight has launched, and its debut includes a look at the odds related to college basketball’s March Madness. Odds are, Silver’s site is going to be quite popular.


There’s a New Jimmy in Town

Jimmy Fallon is off to a great start in terms of his Tonight Show viewership numbers. But these days, that’s only half the story. He’s doing even better on the Internet.


The Bottom of the News

“The end of human consciousness will also mean an end to humanity’s most perplexing and frustrating question: “How did a guy like Mark Cuban make all that money?” Since scientists are learning more about the origins of the planet, I thought I’d provide a list of the six ways the world could end.

+ Life as a Lego Professional.

+ “Actually” is apparently the most futile and overused word on the Internet.

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