March 27th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Only Race That Matters?

We’re not doing a very good job when it comes to slowing down the pace of climate change. So as seas rise, air becomes less breathable, and weather patterns become more volatile, some scientists find themselves asking a new question. From FiveThirtyEight’s Sarah Laskow: Can human evolution outrace climate change? Had I known we would be racing, I probably wouldn’t have bought a hybrid sedan.

+ If we’re looking to outrace the bad stuff we’re doing to the planet, we better hurry. According to a recent study by the World Heath Organization, seven million people died in 2012 as a result of air pollution.

+ Here’s a look at California’s historic drought in photos.


Football Teamsters

Following a decision by the Chicago regional branch of the National Labor Relations Board, college athletes will be allowed, for the first time, to seek union representation. “The ruling means that Northwestern football players are employees of the university in the eyes of the government.” For now, the Northwestern football players aren’t after money. But this could be a first step in a long battle to reform the way the NCAA treats its athletes.

+ Which college majors are the biggest waste of money?

+ How fake were UNC’s fake classes? You can answer that pretty much any way you want and you’ll still pass.


Let Them Eat GDP

Many of the word’s poorest countries have seen a significant rise in GDP over the past decade or two. But that hasn’t helped the hungry kids who live in those countries. It turns out that a booming economy doesn’t save children from malnutrition.

+ A very clear look at inequality in six charts.


Rap Sheet

“But nobody saw when I [expletive] smoked him. Roped him, sharpened up the shank, then I poked him, 357 Smith & Wesson beam scoped him.” Those rap lyrics led to an arrest. And things like that are becoming more common as musical artists share more of their content online. But is a song evidence? As one professor of criminology points out: “If you aspire to be a gangsta rapper, by definition your lyrics need to be violent.” (It’s becoming more clear that I’ll eventually do time for my headline puns, and maybe I deserve it.)


Boy Vey

“By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD … The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong, and that most of those boys are being drugged for no good reason — simply for being boys.” In the past four years, sales of ADHD drugs have increased by 89%. Are we better at diagnosing and treating, or are we overdoing both? From Esquire: The Drugging of the American Boy.”

+ Autism rates among American kids have jumped 30% in two years.



Leland Yee, a Caliornia State Senator, has been arrested in a wide-ranging corruption case that at times reads like draft of the script for American Hustle 2. We’re talking Russian arms dealers, terrorist groups, envelopes of cash, and Chinatown gangs. Here are a few of the highlights from the indictment of Leland Yee.

+ The case raises an interesting question: If you can’t trust a guy named Shrimp Boy, who can you trust?


Pope-ularity Contest

President Obama visited the Vatican where he had is first face to face meeting with Pope Francis. One assumes they discussed religion, economics, war and peace, and their mutual regret that neither focused his career on launching a messaging app.

+ Luckily, none of Obama’s Secret Service agents made any headlines at the Vatican. The same was not true in Miama or in Amsterdam where a junior agent passed out drunk in a hotel hallway.


These Kids Today

“How a 19-year-old hacker behind Oculus Rift set out to invent a gaming headset but ended up reviving a dead technology and building a global communications platform, worth $2 billion to Facebook.” Time’s Lev Grossman on the virtual genius of Oculus Rift.

+ “I really didn’t think about it becoming as successful as it is. I made it just as a weekend project. It was a way to pass some time.” So said the 19 year-old creator of the most popular app in Apple’s App store.

+ Ann Makosinski designed a flashlight that can be powered by the body heat in your hand. And she’s in high school.


And Beyond…

Syndicated from Kottke: Fast Company talked to a number of ex-Pixar employees about how they are using lessons learned at Pixar in their new endeavors. “Delight may be an intangible concept, but it’s a useful term to describe Pixar’s relationship with its audience, and one that any company can strive for even if they don’t make heartwarming cartoons.”

+ If you want to understand the genius of Pixar, you have to start with the math.


The Bottom of the News

“We think first of vague words that are synonyms for progress and pair them with them with footage of a high speed train.” This is a generic brand video.

+ According to some studies, wearing sunglasses makes you less moral. Who knows what kind of a monster you’ll become when you’re wearing virtual reality goggles

+ How a kid from Long Island became the King of Ramen.

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