August 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Where Nobody Knows Your Name

Can you name your neighbors? More than half of Americans say they can’t. And we’re not alone. Between the Internet, the over-scheduling of kids, and parents who spend longer hours at work, suburban neighborhoods have undergone a dramatic shift in recent years; to the point that a third of Britons said “they couldn’t pick their near neighbors out of a police lineup.” McClean’s Brian Bethune on the end of neighbors.

+ And then there are those with no neighbors at all. Wired shares some shots of people living off the grid. (If I see an HD movie start to buffer, I panic.)


Mike Mike

Michael Brown’s nickname was Mike Mike and he was scheduled to begin college courses today. Instead, he was an unarmed victim of a controversial police shooting that led to riots and fires in suburban St Louis over the weekend.

+ St. Louis Dispatch: Clean up, calm Monday morning after violent night in Ferguson

+ From The Wire: “Whether it’s the racial bias of photos used to represent the victim, or the fact that his shooting isn’t as newsworthy as the looting and riots that followed, major news outlets are playing into the stereotypes about young black men that will lead to the next death of an unarmed teenager.”

+ The Root reports on a very powerful hashtag campaign that attempts to show how black people are often portrayed in the media: If they gunned me down.


They Keep Pulling Us Back In

There is a certain irony that the first airstrikes aimed at ISIS in Iraq came from F-18s flying off the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush. Barack Obama is now the fourth straight president to bomb Iraq. The New Yorker’s Robin Wright on the Iraq Redux.

+ Vox: “In a twist of such bitterly symbolic irony that it could only occur in the Middle East, the US would also be bombing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment.”

+ Bombs from the air, and political chaos on the ground in Baghdad.

+ BBC: An interactive video on the rise of the Islamic State.

+ Slate: The Jihadi Gift Shop.


Paper and Fire

Just about everyone I know who got one has complained about this year’s Restoration Hardware catalog. Weighing in at a cool seventeen pounds, the latest edition makes the Yellow Pages seem tree-friendly and surprisingly readable. Why do they do it? Because, for some reason, people supposedly buy more stuff from a catalog than they do online.


Cats and Dollars

Buzzfeed took the “Which Startup Are You” quiz and found out they are the one with an additional 50 million in funding. (I assume that’s 40 million in cash and 10 million in animated GIFs). Some of the money will be used to fund a motion picture division. The bottom line is that the venture market is keen on content, and that’s a very good thing. So in honor of the new funds, here are 10 surprising facts about the game Simon.

+ Mat Honan liked everything he saw on Facebook. Here’s what it did to him.

+ The NYT takes you inside Apple’s internal training program.


Hill Street Ooze

“Silva parked and went inside to see the manager. After introducing himself as LADWP, Silva said loudly, ‘You know there’s a drought.'” When the reservoirs run low in California, the Water Police hit the streets.

+ A lot of the bottled water people still foolishly drink comes from the most drought-ridden places in the country. If I were you, I’d tap that instead.


Now What?

“Distinct from the idea of a malevolent pedophile ring, these young men – and occasionally young women – said they didn’t want to hurt children and were trying find a way to make sure they never would.” In Matter, Luke Malone tackles a tough subject: You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now?

+ The Awl’s Choire Sicha talks to Luke Malone about his reporting of this story, which started out as his Columbia journalism school thesis.


Oddly Smart

Occasionally there is a person so dominant in in their field that they blow away even the second-best competitor. Nigel Richards even stands out when compared to others in this rare breed. FiveThirtyEight looks at what makes him the best Scrabble player on Earth.

+ BoingBoing’s Mark Frauenfelder introduces you to his genius friend who went to high school for ten years. (He wanted to get it right.)


In Vinyl Veritas

“I’ve gone to therapy for 40 years to try to explain this to myself.” NYT Magazine’s Monte Reel with the story of the Brazilian who’s buying up all the world’s vinyl. (I bet he’ll wish he chose another hobby when all the hipsters show up…)

+ Listen to your new favorite rock/blues/punk artist. Courtesy of NPR, this is Benjamin Booker.

+ Booker taps into some of rock’s history. The fantastic documentary Muscle Shoals puts it on full display. Great stuff.

+ An oral history of the Beatles at Candlestick Park in 1966.

+ A new study found that musical training can improve language and reading. My wife and I took our kids (5 and 8) to see Tom Petty at the Outside Lands music festival. I’m not sure it improved their reading, but they definitely have a better idea of what it looks like to pass out drunk at a music festival. (We turned it into a teachable moment and told them that the person didn’t eat their vegetables.)

+ And in cased you missed it, here’s my old McSweeney’s piece: An open letter to the guy who puked next to me at the heavy metal festival.


The Bottom of the News

Want to live a more ordered life? Forget the self-help books. Just do what the chefs do. (This is like other forms of organizing advice, but with an added cube of butter.)

+ Looking for the teenager who is going to redefine the way women are viewed in baseball? Check out Mo’Ne Davis and her 70 mph fastball.

+ Why are names so easy to forget?

+ Here’s why a chicken can live without its head.

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