Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


The Revolution Will Not Be Buffered

"More than an hour before the doors open at the Anaheim Convention Center, there's already a line that stretches from the entrance, past a nearby Hilton, around a water fountain, through a palm-tree lined promenade, and all the way to the driveway's entrance." Most of the people in line are young. So you might guess they were waiting to see a movie star, the latest boy band, or the cast of a hit TV show. But they were there to take selfies with a different kind of celebrity; one that's famous, in part, because they are not famous in the traditional sense of the word. They are stars of the small screen. Fast Company's Sarah Kessler takes you inside YouTube's fame factory. Back in my day, that would have amounted to little more than a couple cute cats wearing funny sunglasses.

+ And don't think this trend is limited to a few thousand tweens that line up at these events. According to a recent survey in Variety: "U.S. teenagers are more enamored with YouTube stars than they are the biggest celebrities in film, TV and music."

+ The trend seems to hold for the younger demographic as well. My son and his entire crew of fellow 8 year-olds are all about the new British Invasion; a high-pitched, fast-speaking young man with a British accent and a crazy laugh" who describes his adventures in Minecraft. Meet Mr. Stampy Cat.


Costing an Arm and a Leg

Being poor can cost you your mental health, your upward mobility, and your educational opportunities. And according to UCLA researchers, it can also cost you a body part. Poor people with diabetes are ten times more likely to lose limb.


Cease is the Word?

There is yet another cease-fire in the Middle East. But with Israeli troops pulling out of Gaza, there are signs that this one could actually hold.

+ What you see is what you get. Here's an interesting look at how our views are often shaped. Israel, Gaza, war and data -– social networks and the art of personalizing propaganda.

+ "You try to help the people with their suffering. It's totally different when you have the same experience. You lose six from your family -- three brothers, your mom, one of your nephews, your sister-in-law. It's really ... unexpected." From the NYT, a psychologist in Gaza who spent decades counseling trauma victims finds himself in need of the same kind of help.

+ In Afghanistan, an American two-star general was killed in an attack on an Afghan training facility.


Teenage Wasteland

"The United States is the only country in the world that routinely condemns children to die in prison." In an even-handed and compelling documentary, POV tells the story of one of those kids. Kenneth Young committed armed robberies and received four life sentences when he was fifteen years-old.

+ The Center for Investigative Reporting spent a year reporting about teens in solitary confinement. Here is Alone, a short documentary that they produced. And if you missed it earlier, definitely check out CIR's animation called The Box.

+ From The Marshall Project: The Prosecutor and the Snitch. Did Texas execute an innocent man?


Crystal Ball and Chain

"Really good detectives are born with this sixth sense, that crystal ball in their stomach. It's having the ability to get inside that person's soul whatever way you can and get the person to say what you need to hear." That's Louis Scarcella trying to describe the innate abilities that helped him become a star detective; the guy you called in when the case went cold. But now Scarcella is "accused of putting away innocent people, over decades, on false charges, by whatever means necessary -- forced confessions, witness tampering, and a total disregard for justice." From GQ's Sean Flynn: Brooklyn's Baddest.

+ Priceonomics: This is what happens when you enter the witness protection program.


The Scanner

Google scans your email. That's just one of the invasions of privacy many of us have been complaining about in recent years. But sometimes the scanning of those emails turns up people who are sharing the worst kind of images, and then Google turns them over to the authorities.

+ You want to be anonymous on the web. But so do criminals who scour the depths of the dark web. "The FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement's knottiest Internet problems: how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system." Wired explains how the FBI could end up in your computer.

+ MIT researchers can listen to your conversation by watching your potato chip bag. (If I'm in close proximity to a bag of chips, I'm usually chewing too much to saying anything.)


The Longest Bard

If you walked into an acting class in a small town in Florida, you might be surprised to see that your teacher is a guy who once dominated the movie box office for five straight years. But no one who grew up in the place where he's known as Buddy is all that surprised. To the rest of us, he's known as Burt Reynolds; or these days, Professor Burt.


Eye Yai Yai

At this time of day, I have no problem reading these words. But by this evening, the blur will set in. If this sounds familiar, then you're probably a fellow sufferer of eye strain. Here's Vox on what staring at a screen all day is doing to your eyes. Interesting article (though the font could have been a little bigger...)


Happy is as Happy Does?

Is there an equation for happiness? According to a group of researchers, the answer is yes. They can't create happiness, but they say they have figured out a way to predict it. "The researchers say their findings do support the theory that if you have low expectations, you can never be disappointed, but they also found that the positive expectations you have for something -- like going to your favorite restaurant with a friend -- is a large part of what develops your happiness." So both high and low expectations make perfect sense. This is why I hate math.


The Bottom of the News

Ashrita Furman is the man with the most Guinness World Records of all time. His dad wanted him to be a lawyer, but after watching this fun documentary, he'll come around: The Record Breaker.

+ Kottke: Sight and Sound polled 340 critics and filmmakers in search of the world's best documentary films.

+ At long last, parents can choose baby names based on domain availability. Maybe this will help my kids understand why they both have more than 47 characters in their names.

+ The neuroscience of emoticons.

+ At what age will you be your most popular? Around 29.