Wednesday, March 19th, 2014


You Have a Secret Admirer

If you work in technology, there's no doubt you've heard of (and have probably used) an app called Secret. As the NYT's Jenna Wortham explains, Secret "is testing the limits of just how much sharing Silicon Valley thinks is a good thing. That's because the sharing is done anonymously. And, as it turns out, much of the chatter is about Silicon Valley itself -- offering a rare, unvarnished look at the ambitions, disappointments, rivalries, jealousies and obsessions of the engineers and entrepreneurs who live and work there." (Because apparently, the tech industry's navel-gazing isn't already unvarnished enough...) Even when people put their names to posts and Tweets, the Internet can be used as a tool to spread lowbrow, false, and often malicious information. Will anonymity make things worse?

+ Either way, it's worth noting that many of today's hottest apps enable private or anonymous messaging. Private is the new public. And if an app called Cloak is any indication, antisocial is the new social. Cloak uses check-ins and geolocation to help you avoid the people you'd rather not see.


The Heart of Dark Web

"Never before in the history of this agency have we identified and located this many minor victims in the course of a single child exploitation investigation." Sometimes, anonymity is used for harmless fun. On the dark web, it's often used to hide criminal activity. The interception of an item sent through snail mail led authorities to a major bust of an international ring of people sharing indecent images of children. While the move caught of few of the ring's organizers, the numbers show how terrible this problem is: This one group had photos of 250 kids and was subscribed to by more than 27,000 people.


Climate Change

"A month ago, most Americans could not have found Crimea on a map. But its lightning-quick takeover by Moscow has abruptly redrawn the geopolitical atlas and may have decisively ended a 25-year period of often tumultuous yet also constructive relations between the United States and Russia." In the NYT, Peter Baker ponders a future that might not be a full-on Cold War, but it could definitely get chilly.

+ Ukraine's military is pulling out of Crimea.


The Obsession

"They pass the hours scouring the Internet and watching television, desperate for information ... They are exhausted and angry." Think your friends and family are obsessed with the news coverage about the missing Malaysian plane? Imagine how the friends and families of the passengers must feel.

+ According to the latest reports, some data had been deleted from the home flight simulator owned by one of the pilots. The FBI has been asked to help recover the data.

+ AP asks the big question: What if the missing plane is never found?


Pod Casting

We love those single serving coffee pods. Last year, we spent more on them than we did on instant coffee. In fact, if you created a line of all the pods sold in 2013, it would circle the Earth 10.5 times. So what's the problem? One word. Plastic. From MoJo: Your Coffee Pods' Dirty Secret.


Gut Check

Your gut bacteria makes chocolate healthy. Maybe we can train it to make everything healthy? (I'm increasingly convinced that the future of health is in your gut. Stay tuned.)

+ "When a soldier goes into the battlefield, he does not have a dentist, or a dental office." Enter combat gum that "blows up" the membrane of bacterial cells. And it could be available to all of us soon. (In the meantime, I'm sticking with Pop Rocks.)

+ Lost sleep might mean lost brain cells. (A fact that makes you more worried and less likely to fall asleep at a reasonable hour...)


Quick Wardrobe Change

Someone walks down a runway in Paris wearing the latest creation from a popular designer. A few months later, wealthy shoppers begin to see those fashions for sale at high-end retailers. That was the old model. Now those fashions featured on the runway are copied, created, and on the rack at discount retailers within a couple weeks (that's about how long I've been wearing this T-shirt). From Pacific Standard: The Secret World of Fast Fashion.

+ Inditex (owners of the Zara chain) pioneered the art of fast fashion for the mass market. But now, other players are starting to do the same thing, only faster.


From the Couch

"People worry that psychiatrists think everyone is crazy because they make the mistake of equating any form of psychiatric illness with being crazy." (I worry that my shrink thinks I'm normal, but he just won't admit it to me.) From Joseph Pierre in Aeon: A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever -- did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognize it?


Via Webcam

Didn't get to attend this year's TED Conference in person? Well, you're not alone. Edward Snowden "appeared" courtesy of a telepresence robot. You can watch his interview here. And a bunch of this year's TED Talks are available on their YouTube Channel.


The Bottom of the News

"On his computer he keeps an up-to-date list of his progeny to reduce the risk that they might unwittingly interbreed." Ed Houben donates his sperm, in "the traditional way." And he's up to 98 kids and counting.

+ Ten years after the show's debut, the Lost writers are still answering questions. They're the ones we should ask about the missing plane...

+ Armadillos nearly always give birth to identical quadruplets. If you didn't know that, then you might want to check out this list of 77 facts that sound like complete lies.

+ Here's a dog that just sold for $2 million. (My cat wouldn't even appear via telepresence robot for that money.)