July 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Dependence Day

“The migrants are standing at this particular point — away from an official port of entry but close to Border Patrol’s regularly patrolled routes — because they want to get caught.” Why would large groups of underaged migrants, down to their last mile of a brutal journey, stop just across the river from the border? Because the smugglers who got them to this point have convinced them that getting caught is a lot better than the life they’ve left behind. The Daily Beast’s Caitlin Dickson explains why there might be a lot of truth in that.

+ Steve Lopez in the LA Times: “Juxtaposed against the simplistic and ugly ‘go back home’ rhetoric spouted in the streets of Murrieta this week are the horrific realities of some of the human beings – women and children, no less — aboard those buses.”


Charts All Around

The latest U.S. jobs report is better than expected and the Dow just surged past 17,000 for the first time. That all probably means it’s time to be worried, but in the meantime, let’s celebrate with some of the most important charts from the jobs report.


Weekend Reads

“Scientists often say that we don’t know what animals feel because they can’t speak to us … But the thing is, they are reporting their inner states. We’re just not listening.” And many zoo animals are telling us they’re pretty depressed (that’s how I feel at the zoo, and I’m not even in a cage). From Alex Halberstadt in the NYT Magazine: Zoo Animals and Their Discontents.

+ Drake Bennett: Inside Monsanto, America’s third-most-hated company.

+ Nick Summers: The truth about Tinder and women is even worse than you think (and that’s really saying something…)

+ Fifty years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act, NPR gathered journalists, lawyers and civil rights activists to explore the historic legislation — pulling the language out of history and telling us how it’s relevant today.

+ Believer Mag: The ex-lovers of rock stars reflect on their wounds, real and metaphorical. Without You I’m Nothing.

+ And if you’re looking for something a little longer to read over the weekend, my syndication pal Jason Kottke has put together an excellent list of scientist biography recommendations.


Comedy is Not Pretty

It’s been 25 years since the debut of Seinfeld. A lot has changed since then, including what it takes to be considered a top television show. In their first year, Jerry and the gang had an 8.0 rating. That was good enough to make it the 14th rated show. Today, that rating would put it at the top of the charts. Of course, back in 1989, the average American household received 27 channels. Today, I’m pretty sure I have 27 channels of Cinemax.

+ Quartz: The completely serious decline of the Hollywood comedy. (We’ve got memes, tweets, and animated GIFs. Who needs funny movies?)


Waxing Brazilian

Many of us are just getting a toe-grip on soccer, but it’s already time to learn about a different (but related) sport called Futsal. If Brazil wins the World Cup, Futsal could be why. According to Pele, the sport “makes you think fast and play fast. You try things, it makes you dribble. It makes you a better player.”

+ The secret of Lionel Messi. Walking.

+ Should the Americans, now without an obvious team to root for, be going Dutch? (With our team out and the biting dude suspended, let’s just hope Americans will even know the Cup is still going on…)

+ “Tim, you’re gonna have to shave your beard so they don’t know who you are.” Obama calls Tim Howard. (Thankfully, Howard didn’t block the call.)


Stoppage Time

“Up ahead, the traffic is jammed so close together that pedestrians are climbing over pickup trucks and through empty rickshaws to cross the street. Two rows to my left is an ambulance, blue light spinning uselessly. The driver is in the road, smoking a cigarette, standing on his tiptoes, looking ahead for where the traffic clears. Every once in awhile he reaches into the open door to honk his horn.” In other words, you really have no right to complain about traffic, unless you’re driving in Dhaka, Bangladesh: the traffic capital of the world.


The Life

President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent Louis Zamperini’s parents a formal condolence back in 1944. It turned out that Zamperini was still alive and would live another seventy years — including 47 days on a life raft and two years being beaten and tortured. His biography was a best seller and a movie is being made about his life. In the meantime, here’s the obituary of a guy who lived quite a life.


Poking and Prodding

“There’s no review process, per se. Anyone on that team could run a test. They’re always trying to alter peoples’ behavior.” The WSJ takes you inside Facebook’s data lab where experiments had few limits.

+ Vox puts things in perspective: Screwing with your emotions is Facebook’s entire business. (You know, the Internet business.)

+ Related: Belief in God is declining. But belief in Satan is on the rise.


Read Between the Lines

More than a hundred thousand people helped Reading Rainbow to raise more than $5 million during its Kickstarter campaign. “Reading Rainbow’s campaign hits the Internet’s sweet spot: millennial nostalgia; a kitschy, easily parodied theme song; an Upworthy-worthy goal of putting books in every child’s hands nationwide.” But The New Yorkers Adrienne Raphel wonders whether the new and for-profit Reading Rainbow (of course, it’s an app) will actually help kids read. If nothing else, Reading Rainbow has taught our kids how to raise a shitload of money.


The Bottom of the News

When I was a kid, I regularly reported to my parents that I could hear the lettuce screaming when I ate my salad. Time has proven that my reports were driven more by neurosis than scientific observation. Until now. According to a recent study, plants can hear themselves being eaten.

+ Ten tricks to appear smart during a meeting. (This piece skips number eleven: Don’t attend.)

+ As the hot dog eating contest approaches, it’s time to ask whether Joey Chestnut is the most dominant athlete in a century.

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