August 12th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News


Of course, everyone who ever met, worked with, or watched Robin Williams has something nice to say about him today. But in this case, they would have said the same thing yesterday, last week, or last year. We’ll miss the jokes. We’ll re-watch the movies. But that pit in our collective stomach today is there because on some level, we always knew he was one of the good ones. At his high school in Marin, his classmates voted him most humorous and least likely to succeed. They were half right. The LA Times with full coverage: Robin Williams, 1951-2014.

+ “Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist and that he had to examine me immediately.” A few memories from their friendship from Williams’ Juilliard roommate Christopher Reeve.

+ A mashup of his iconic roles, and some of his funniest moments.

+ Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast: Remembering Robin Williams.

+ From Longreads, five in-depth pieces about Williams.

+ And Norm Macdonald’s great story about meeting Robin Williams in the dressing room before appearing on Letterman for the first time.


Shedding Some Light on the Darkness

“And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.” Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has apologized for making those remarks. But they probably (and sadly) reflect a widely held opinion. The truth is that depression has nothing to do with bravery or courage. It is a monster that strips those traits away before it even gets warmed up. If anything, Robin Williams’ suicide is another reminder that all the talent and humor in the world is no match for the power and darkness of depression. The way I see it, if you can fight off depression for 63 years and make others laugh and feel good, you are one courageous dude.

+ The Guardian: “Dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut.”

+ “In Paris on a chilly evening late in October of 1985 I first became fully aware that the struggle with the disorder in my mind — a struggle which had engaged me for many months — might have a fatal outcome.” From one of the best pieces of writing on the topic of depression. William Styron’s Darkness Visible.

+ On Comedians and depression: Comedy clubs are “hardly the sort of venues where one goes to hear banter suited to a therapy session. And yet, for the past three years, the Laugh Factory has provided both: Once they’re done with a set, comedians can see an in-house psychologist.”

+ We should be talking about this topic. More Americans die of suicide than in car accidents.


A Dozen Doses

The World Health Organization has established that it is ethical to use untested drugs on victims of Ebola as the virus continues to spread. But as of this moment, there might only be 12 doses left.


Rescue Mission

There are about 40,000 Yazidis hiding from ISIS in the mountains of Iraq. CNN takes you on a rescue mission that brought some of them to safety. And Alan Taylor has a collection of images from the scene.


Right Place, Wrong Outcome

“Michael Brown didn’t die in the dark. He was eighteen years old, walking down a street in Ferguson, Missouri, from his apartment to his grandmother’s, at 2:15 on a bright Saturday afternoon. He was, for a young man, exactly where he should be.” In The New Yorker, Amy Davidson asks: Why did Michael Brown die in Ferguson?

+ Dorian Johnson witnessed the shooting. So why haven’t the police spoken to him?

+ Vox provides an excellent overview of this developing story.


Taken For a Ride

Uber employees have reportedly ordered and canceled nearly 6,000 rides from their rival, Lyft. Employees at Lyft should repeatedly call Uber and just say, “Baba Booey.”

+ WSJ on tech’s fiercest rivalry: Uber vs. Lyft. (I just saw a tank with a pink mustache drive by. This shit’s getting real.)


Reset Your Brain

“The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains.” In the NYT, the director of McGill’s Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise warns that the often overwhelming information age requires us to go offline and reset our brains. Now I’m overwhelmed by an urgency not to miss the next article about the importance of taking time off from the computer.


If You Like BPA Coladas…

Even though it’s completely responsible for making life on Earth possible, getting too much sun can be bad for you. Does sunscreen help? What do the SPF numbers really mean? Is sunscreen more harmful than helpful? FiveThirtyEight on why you might just want to stay in the shade.

+ BPA is bad for you. So many manufacturers got the compound out of their plastic bottles and containers. Now it looks like the new compound could be just as harmful.

+ Does some Colgate toothpaste contain known carcinogens?


The King of Beers

“His will is law. There’s one dude in the government who gets to control a multibillion-dollar industry with almost no supervision.” If you’ve seen a beer label in the last few years, then you’ve seen a design that’s been approved by Kent “Battle” Martin. Meet the beer bottle dictator.


The Bottom of the News

A lot of you let me know when you find a typo in NextDraft. Well, I can finally explain why it’s often impossible for me to catch them myself. It’s because I’m wildly intelligent and working on an extremely high level task. (I’m also distracted, have blurred vision, and just finished my second quart of French Roast.) From WIred: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos.

+ My son is only eight, but he already slams his door shut and cranks rock music at top volume. He recently asked me: “How do you play an electric guitar?” Kid, let’s start with this video: The history of the electric guitar in one song. (But as soon as you’re done watching it, you’re learning to code!)

+ And if you missed it yesterday, there were some great music-related links: In Vinyl Veritas.

+ “Capricorn Ted Cruz can’t get along with ‘typical Leo’ Barack Obama. Maybe the Zodiac can explain why DC is so screwed up.

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