Monday, April 28th, 2014



Are e-cigarettes the ultimate tobacco cessation tool or merely a fruity-flavored gateway to a new generation of addiction, illness, and health care costs? The front lines of that debate could be in Oklahoma. According to one vapor store owner: "You can't even get commercial retail space in Tulsa right now in that 1,200- or 1,500-foot range because everyone is opening a vapor store -- it's crazy." Crazy good or crazy bad? The NYT's Matt Richtel takes you to the place where vapor comes sweeping down the plain.


A Sterling Reputation

This weekend, all news of the NBA playoffs was overshadowed by audio tapes featuring LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling making a series of racist remarks (some connected to photos of Magic Johnson) in a conversation with his girlfriend. On Sunday, his team staged a silent protest by turning their practice jerseys inside out. Was that enough?

+ The comments on the tape were outlandish, but not necessarily surprising. From Grantland's Charles Pierce: "The point is that all of what we've discovered about Donald Sterling over the past three days has been an open secret for as long as he's owned the Clippers."

+ "Decades of racist policy renting housing in Los Angeles, which turned Sterling into a real-estate mogul wealthy enough to buy and run a professional sports team, didn't elicit any such furor." Kevin B Blackistone: The real tragedy of Donald Sterling's racism: it took this long for us to notice.

+ This headline is not from The Onion: NAACP Nixes Donald Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award.

+ And there go the sponsors.

+ Weird potential outcome of all this: What if Sterling sold the Clippers to Magic Johnson?


Ruble Cube

As promised, the United States imposed new sanctions, asset freezes, and visa bans on Russia, targeting 17 companies linked to Putin's inner circle.

+ Why are we imposing sanctions on Russia if the strategy won't work?



"The sky turned the weirdest color of gray I'd ever seen. You always hear how still it gets, and there was not a leaf moving." NBC takes a tour of the deadly opening winds of tornado season hammering states from Iowa to the Carolinas.

+ Esquire: This is what it looks like on the ground in Arkansas right now.


Dine and Dash

"Diners would be startled by a team of gunmen, who would politely but firmly demand their telephones, promising that they would be returned at the end of the evening. Chapo and his entourage would come in and feast on shrimp and steak, then thank the other diners for their forbearance, return the telephones, pick up the tab for everyone, and head off into the night." The New Yorker's Patrick Radden Keefe takes us along on the hunt for El Chapo: How the world's most notorious drug lord was captured.


Backseat Driver

"A year and a half ago, Google's team shifted focus from the predictable sweep of freeways to the unpredictable maze of city streets. I was invited along as the first journalist to witness how the car is handling its new urban lifestyle." Atlantic Cities' Eric Jaffe gets taken for a ride by a robot.

+ A Canadian woman who struck and killed a teen bike rider is now suing the dead youth's family because her "enjoyment of life has been irretrievably lessened."


Taking Risks

"On the night the SS rounded up the Jews of his Ukrainian ghetto, eighteen-year-old Yosel Epelbaum crawled on his hands and knees to a nearby forest. There he joined a diverse band of pro-Soviet partisans, led by a kind of warlord in the wilderness, who created a forest republic behind Nazi lines." It is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here's the incredible, awe-inspiring, story of a guy who fought back (and who is about to celebrate his 90th birthday). My dad. This is his book: Taking Risks.


Code to Joy

Stanford is working on a joystick that will know when you're bored. What we really need is a solution for kids who are bored anytime they don't have a videogame controller in their hands.


The New Math

Last week, Bank of America announced a stock buyback program and a dividend boost. This week they took those both of those offers off the table. What happened? It turns out they made a math error.

+ Why has JP Morgan Chase started to shut down the accounts held by performers in the adult film business? Please don't tell me that a large investment bank is going to accuse others of unscrupulous dealings.


The Bottom of the News

You Never Forget Your First: Ten things about the night I brought my 7-year old son to see The National at the Greek Theater in Berkeley

+ "If you were to cross paths with one of your farming ancestors (circa 7,500 to 2,000 B.C.), he'd shove you to the ground, kick sand in your face, and jog off into the sunset with your mate slung over his shoulder." In other words, by comparison, you are out of shape.

+ Coffee is so expensive, even Starbucks doesn't want to buy it.