Monday, May 12th, 2014


Oh Grow Up

During the American revolution, the eventual winners enjoyed a two-inch height advantage over their red-coated foes. By the middle of the 19th century, Americans were about two and a half inches taller than Europeans. But things have changed in recent decades as Europeans have shot past Americans on the height chart. And it could have something to do with nutrition. Consider this: "Studies of North Koreans found that those born after the country was divided in two were about two inches shorter than their counterparts in the South." From The Atlantic's Olga Khazan: How We Get Tall.

+ MoJo: I went to the nutritionists' annual confab. It was catered by McDonald's.


Reading, Writing, and Reality

"Everybody's getting paid, but Raheem still can't read." You had two powerful and charismatic politicians who were willing to cross the partisan aisle. And you had a tech CEO willing to drop a cool $100 million over five years. The goal: To reform Newark's schools. In a lengthy and interesting piece, The New Yorker's Dale Russakoff explains how they got an education.


From Russia With Gov

Following a vote on self-rule, separatists called for Russia to annex part of eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government denounced the referendum as a "criminal farce ... [arranged by] a gang of Russian terrorists."

+ Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin participated in an exhibition hockey game. And surprise ... he scored a lot of goals.


Troubling Video

"She looks to be in her early teens. She says her real name has been changed to Halima since she converted from Christianity to Islam. Like the other girls, she is wearing a hijab, a piece of cloth that covers whole body and the back of head but not the face." Boko Haram's leader releases a video showing some of the missing Nigerian girls and demands the release of his captured fighters.


Trust the Stache

"Such a pimp move. It was, Guess what I'm gonna do? Whatever the (expletive) I want. In the world today, it's truly impressive. That's what makes him the best guy to work for, and why so many of us would kill for the guy. It's very simple: Trust The 'Stache. It's big and powerful for a reason." That was how one of St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher's younger employees greeted the news that the Rams had drafted Michael Sam, now the NFL's first openly gay player. The always excellent Michael Silver happened to be in the room when the decision came down and provides a behind-the-scenes account, including this quote from Fisher: "I know exactly what we're getting into, and I'm not worried at all. Michael Sam will help us, and we'll give him every chance to succeed, and you know what? It's gonna be pretty cool."

+ Here's the moment that Michael Sam found out he'd been drafted. At least one NFL player didn't like the move. Dolphins defensive back Don Jones was fined and suspended after publishing a negative tweet about Sam.

+ Michael Sam's jersey is the second best seller among all just-drafted rookies.


Fail Whale

In his examination of the epic fails of the startup world, James Surowiecki tries to understand what attracts people to the highly risky world of Internet startups: "The fact that most new businesses fail is hardly a secret. So why are so many people gambling on ventures that are likely to end badly?" (Hint: It's fun as hell, it beats sitting in a cubicle, you have a chance to put your work on the screens of millions of people, and you get to wear a t-shirt to work.)

+ Start-ups, along with big tech players, are often getting sports-like coverage from the media. So when a deal like Apple buying Beats gets reported, everyone watching has an immediate opinion. Including me. Here is The Next Episode: Ten Reasons Why Apple Would Buy Beats.

+ On the next crop of startup founders: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding.


Kill Them With Kindness

"I remember him seeing walk around the house like a shell of a man for more than a week, his eyes hollowed out and a blank look on his face. I'd heard that someone was set for execution, common fodder over the dinner table at my childhood home, but I hadn't asked any questions. It's frightening to be a child and see one act transform a firm, powerful man into a despondent figure going through the motions of his life." Christopher Connor on what he learned from his father who spent 21 years as the chief special prosecutor for the Montana Attorney General. A Kinder Way to Kill.

+ "The prospect of incarcerating, disenfranchising, and ultimately executing white humans at the same rate as black humans makes makes very little sense. Disproportion is the point." Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Inhumanity of the Death Penalty.


In With the Old

There have been a lot of efforts by a lot of companies, big and small, to get you to pay for stuff with your phone. But for the most part, you seem to be sticking with your credit cards. (Maybe because your already using your phone to text, Tweet, and update Facebook while standing in the checkout line.)

+ Wired: Square Wallet had everything going for it. And now it's Dead. "So far, for both customers and merchants, the old way is just good enough."


Psychological Hell?

Twitter has introduced a mute button.

+ CNET: Being ignored on Facebook is psychological hell. (Being contacted on Facebook is no picnic either.)


The Bottom of the News

In China, "every day, Kenny G's Going Home is piped into shopping malls, schools, train stations and fitness centers as a signal to the public that it is time, indeed, to go home." Makes sense. I usually leave when I hear Kenny G.

+ "Andre Johnson, the rapper known as Christ Bearer and/or Andre Roxx, says that it was a combination of missing his two daughters, marijuana and a book about monks and vasectomies that inspired him to remove his penis with a steak knife last month."

+ Syndicated from Kottke -- Spurious correlations: Tyler Vigen is collecting examples of data that correlate closely but are (probably) otherwise unrelated.

+ Want to live in Tony Montana's house? The mansion where some of Scarface was filmed is for sale in Montecito, California. (Little friend not included...)