Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


Caged Bird, Free

I first met Michele when she was an ESL student at one of the roughest high schools in New York. She had just moved from Haiti to Brooklyn where she slept on the floor in a Crown Heights tenement. In the subsequent years, Michele became first black woman valedictorian of Colgate University, graduated from Harvard Law, and became a law professor. So I will let Michele's words describe the impact of Maya Angelou: "As a young girl, she confirmed the yearnings of my heart and reaffirmed that: one must dance to the beat of one's own drum, must never allow anyone to denigrate or oppress one's spirit or body, and, no difficulties are so impossible that spirit and love cannot not conquer them." Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1993 Presidential Inaugural Poet, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died at the age of 86. Here is the NYT Obituary.

+ "I was raped when I was very young. I told my brother the name of the person who had done it. Within a few days the man was killed. In my child's mind -- seven and a half years old -- I thought my voice had killed him. So I stopped talking for five years." Angelou interviewed by George Plimpton in The Paris Review.

+ How Maya Angelou became San Francisco's first African-American female streetcar conductor.

+ "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 21 Maya Angelou quotes to live by.


Fools Rush In

In a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy, President Obama outlined his views on America's role when it comes to intervening abroad: "To say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution. Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures – without thinking through the consequences; without building international support and legitimacy for our action, or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required. Tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans." You can read the full speech here.


High Level Hackers

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, Edward Snowden indicated that he was more than a low-level hacker at the NSA: "I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas -- pretending to work in a job that I'm not -- and even being assigned a name that was not mine"

+ Meanwhile, John Kerry suggested that Snowden "man up and come back to the United States."

+ An American solar panel company wondered why Chinese firms kept undercutting their prices. Then the FBI knocked on their door.

+ Speaking of hackers, this is what happens when you hack and extort the Bitcoin Jesus. "Sir, I am sincerely sorry. I am just a middleman. I was being told what to tell you ... Are you going to order a hitman to kill me now?"


Beat It

Can't look up from your phone? You're not alone. Mobile is going crazy. Online photo sharing has sextupled in the two years (pun intended), and we now spend more time on mobile than print and radio combined (my kids have barely heard of either). Derek Thompson breaks down some of the more interesting charts from Mary Meeker's state of the Internet presentation.

+ Here is Meeker's entire slide deck, presented this morning at the ReCode Conference.

+ At long last, Apple has confirmed that they are buying Beats.

+ And here is my remarkably insightful piece on the topic: The Next Episode -- 10 Reasons Apple Bought Beats.


The Signs

"Rodger met with trained mental health professionals, the people we rely on to identify dangerously disturbed individuals, and they apparently failed to perceive the depth of his problems. Police officers, who spend their days dealing with violent, troubled people, described Rodger as 'polite and courteous.'" When someone is as potentially dangerous as Elliot Rodger, one hopes that he is seen by therapists and visited by police. Rodger experienced both. Slate's Brian Palmer wonders why they couldn't stop him.

+ One of the psychiatrists who treated Elliot Rodger had worked with Paris Hilton, Real Housewives stars, and has appeared in several reality shows.

+ The Guardian: America's mental health care crisis: families left to fill the void of a broken system.


Breath (and Money) Counting

"Meditation used to have this reputation as a hippie thing for people who speak in a particularly soft tone of voice ... [but] Samurai practiced meditation to become more effective killers. So too did kamikaze pilots. It's value neutral." A hedge-fund manager explains explains how investors can make a killing on Wall Street, by meditating. Om, Om, Omg...


Fifty Sense

"Make a vision board. Do it tonight, when you get home. Open your laptop. Create a new folder. Think about the things you want for your future. I want you to Google pictures and put everything you want in this folder. Everything. All right?" From GQ's Zach Baron: 50 Cent is My Life Coach. That's fine. Just don't let him be your baseball coach.


The Tapruder Film

"I'd been running for about a year. And I had a really, really bad injury. Missed two months. Couldn't run a step. And I just remember saying a little prayer - Lord, if you let me run, I'll run everyday the rest my life." I guess high school cross country coach Jon Sutherland meant what he said. He just broke the record for longest running streak in the U.S.: 16,438 days in a row.

+ James "the beast" Nielson set a record of his own. He was the first runner ever to break five minutes in the Beer Mile. But "questions about the record-setting race are being raised by beer-milers who have examined his video like assassination theorists poring over the Zapruder film."


Lighten Up

Over the years, we've seen several reports suggesting that drinking diet soda can actually lead to weight-gain. It turns out that those reports could be wrong and that diet soda can actually help you lose weight (as long as you do everything else right).

+ Or you could just skip the soda, and eat the ice. "The manufacturer of the ices did not calculate the energy required to melt the ice, and did not deduct this from the calorie calculation."


The Bottom of the News

"It gives me incredible energy I don't get from other food and drinks." From NY Mag: Meet the Men Who Drink Breast Milk. (I know a few babies who drink it, and they seem to sleep all the time.)

+ A new level of terror: A Mosquito Tornado.

+ A yet another newer level of terror: Tiger photos on dating sites.

+ Getting inside the mind of an elite spelling coach.