April 21st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Big Theory Bang

The closer science is to our bodies, the more we tend to believe it. Only four percent of us question whether smoking causes cancer, eight percent are skeptical about that whole DNA thing, and fifteen percent have doubts about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Things change as we move away from ourselves: “About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory.”

+ Americans are also becoming less religious. Is the Internet to blame? OMG.

+ Some new research from Carnegie Mellon suggests that although Millennials are shying away from organized religion, they are not without faith. From Vox: “While only 52 percent of Millennials look to religion for guidance, 62 percent of them say they talk privately to God.” (I didn’t know Millennials talked privately at all…)


A Holding Pattern

“We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people.” This was just a test of a mass surveillance system. But it could be coming to a city near you.

+ Quentin Hardy in the NYT: How urban anonymity disappears when all data is tracked.

+ In Kansas City, tracking technology helped police find a highway shooter. Do the upsides of surveillance outweigh the downsides? (You can just answer that silently in your head and your vote will be automatically tallied.)



“Above all, the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated.” That’s South Korean President Park Geun-hye commenting on the arrests connected to the sinking of the Sewol ferry last week. Sixty-four bodies have been recovered and there are still more than 230 people missing.

+ Most of the victims are high school students. From Bloomberg: Two Hours Turned School Island Excursion to Horror at Sea


Back On Course

Thirty-eight year-old Meb Keflezighi from San Diego won today’s Boston Marathon while Rita Jeptoo came in first in the women’s competition. In some ways, the race was a victory for the whole city of Boston. Buzzfeed has a collection of images from the scene.

+ Artist Ronnie Goodman runs up to fifteen miles a day as trains for the SF marathon. He also lives under the freeway.


Internet Famous

Jerome Jarre. King Bach. Jamie Andries. Michelle Phan. NY Magazine takes you inside the weird world of Internet fame. Who did you think teenagers were watching on their phones?

+ Surprise! Your kids are really irritated when you ignore them and fixate on your phone. (I never gave my parents enough credit for being able to ignore me with nothing more than a rotary phone and some genuine disinterest.)


Sherpas On Strike

Some Sherpas are considering a strike after Friday’s brutal avalanche, the deadliest in Everest history.

+ “If, say, 1 percent of American college-aged raft guides or ski instructors were dying on the job — the mortality rate of Everest Sherpas — the guiding industry would vanish.” Outside’s Grayson Shaffer on the value of a Sherpa life. And here’s Shaffer’s 2013 piece: The Disposable Man: A Western History of Sherpas on Everest.

+ Who dies (and where) on Earth’s highest mountain?


Being There

Kenneth and Helen Felumlee never spent a night apart during their seventy years of marriage. “When Helen Felumlee passed away at the age of 92 Saturday morning, her family knew her husband Kenneth Felumlee, 91, wouldn’t be slow to follow her.”


This One Goes to 4-21

Yesterday was April 20, otherwise known as 420, a significant number in cannabis culture. The legend began at my high school. (San Rafael High was also the school attended by the guy who played Warren Coolidge on The White Shadow). A lot has changed since 420 originated in 1971. Pot has gone mainstream and is quickly going legal. And now it’s going high tech. Wired’s Mat Honan on how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in on cannabis.

+ MoJo: 24 mind-blowing facts about Marijuana production in America.

+ Village Voice: A day in the life of your friendly neighborhood weed messenger.


Meow Nix

In the last decade, scientists have learned a lot about canine cognition. But they’ve learned very little about cats. Apparently, cats are too smart to let themselves be studied.

+ Related: Photos of metal-heads and their cats.


The Bottom of the News

It’s hard to believe, but the FBI reports that a 16 year-old survived a flight from California to Hawaii while stowed away in a plane’s wheel well. (And he left his cell phone on during takeoff and landing.)

+ Quartz: Chipotle continues to refine the science of burrito velocity. Velocity I believe, but burrito?

+ The private lives of public bathrooms.

+ How Dodgeball became America’s most demonized sport. We had Dodgeball. Our kids have web comments.

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