August 1st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

It’s Your Choice

With all the recent news about violence, viruses, and victimization, it’s sometimes hard to believe that people can be unhappy in places where there is relative calm and plenty. Psychiatrist Zbigniew Lipowski once wrote: “I maintain that it is specifically the overabundance of attractive alternatives, aided and abetted by an affluent and increasingly complex society, that leads to conflict, frustration, unrelieved appetitive tension, more approach tendencies and more conflict — a veritable vicious cycle.” In other words, if you have too many choices, it can stress you out. And that can be true whether those choices are heart-wrenching or trivial. From Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker: When it’s bad to have too many choices. (At least you have someone to help you choose the news to read.)

+ We’re often reminded that positive experiences make us happier than material goods. But what if those material goods are experiential in nature? (Yup, more choices.)


Cease Desisted

Within a few hours, a planned three-day ceasefire broke down in the Middle East as rockets flew, battles raged, and an Israeli soldier was captured.

+ The situation is already bad. Did we just reach the tipping point where it completely comes off the rails?

+ “In 15 years of covering conflict around the world, I can’t recall another seven-day period when there were as many acts of war and terrorism, in as many places, as we’ve seen this week.” In Quartz, Bobby Ghosh provides an overview of the horrors that haven’t topped the news.


Weekend Reads

“I am not afraid of clowns. But there’s something that happens when you walk into the forgettable bathroom of a hotel lobby and meet a fully made-up clown standing by the sink, reflection staring back at you with the Kubrickian blankness of a greasepaint grimace. I almost wet my pants.” Buzzfeed’s Leigh Cowart heads to a clown convention where the participants know you think they’re creepy.

+ “Singapore has become a laboratory not only for testing how mass surveillance and big-data analysis might prevent terrorism, but for determining whether technology can be used to engineer a more harmonious society.” FP’s Shane Harris: The Social Laboratory.

+ “The air still smelled of lunch, warmed-up cans of Progresso soup and hot dogs from 7-Eleven. Scattered about were household objects with gruesome tales.” D Magazine’s Jamie Thompson spends time with Sergeant Brenda Nichols to see what it’s like to be a detective who works child abuse cases. “Nichols steeled herself for the work that lay ahead, reminding herself, as she had so many times before, You wanted this job.”


Coming to America

Two Americans infected with the Ebola virus will be coming to Atlanta’s Emory University for treatment. The first challenge: Finding a plane that’s equipped to transport them.

+ World Health Organization: The disease is moving faster than the control efforts.

+ The New Yorker’s Michael Specter: “‘The single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on this planet is the virus’ the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Joshua Lederberg once wrote. Few epidemiologists would disagree. There is no bomb, no poison, no plan of attack with the potential to do as much damage.”


We Gotta Get Out of This Place

“What if taking vacation not only made you healthier and happier, as a number of studies have shown, but everyone around you?”

+ Between work, connectivity, and picking up the slack for those who are out of town, is summer the busiest time of the year?

+ According to science, and Charles Dickens, you should leave work at 2pm and go for a long walk. (That doesn’t leave much time for binge-watching Netflix.)


Follow the Money

“Driving through the Mission together around midnight, Buzi noticed a man who seemed down on his luck on the side of the road. He tried to hand some money to him, but scared him off. ‘There’s probably a better way to do this,’ Budman said. ‘Like what? We’ll just hide money around?’ Buzi replied. It turned out to be that simple.” Meet the folks behind the Hidden Cash Twitter account. They managed to make generosity go viral.


The Bottom Line

Patagonia figured out a way to make wetsuits out of a natural rubber derived from a desert shrub. Needless to say, they were stoked. Then they shared the idea with their competitors. “Instead of holding the manufacturer of the rubber, Yulex, to a yearslong exclusive contract, Patagonia is encouraging its competitors to use the product, hoping to see its use grow and drive down the price.” The NYT’s Diane Cardwell: When the bottom line includes Earth. (I should note that NextDraft is printed on recycled internet.)

+ James Surowiecki on the rise of the B-Corp, for-profit companies that pledge to achieve social goals as well as business ones.


Ice Ice Barista

“Right away, I sensed it was going to be huge. Blue Bottle was already making 10,000 cartons a week, even though they’d only rolled out in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Somehow, Freeman had scaled perfection. On behalf of all craftspeople, including writers, I had to know how.” The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal on Blue Bottle and the future of iced coffee.


Downward Dogma

“What is being sold or promoted is hopelessly entangled with what is supposed to be the message, as if saying: ‘Breathe free, pose well, and buy enlightenment, sexiness, joy, and peace!'” The Baffler’s Jorian Polis Schutz on Yoga in America: The State of Stretching.


The Bottom of the News

Facebook went down for a few minutes. So obviously, people called the Sheriff. (In fairness, it’s a lot less stressful than calling Comcast…)

+ This is how you umpire a little league game. (Do they check these guys for ‘roids?)

+ The real estate Rorschach test: Neverland is for sale.

+ Why won’t anyone give Tom Brady a high-five?

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