August 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

G.I. Joke

Riot gear. Swat teams. Armored personnel carriers. Snipers. High powered rifles. Tear gas. These are the tools of war. But last night in Ferguson, they were deployed as the tools of crowd control. Instead, sparks were turned to flames and a media firestorm swept from Twitter to the mainstream media and back. From Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: How a demonstration turned into a disaster. At one point during the night, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar explained: “We’ve done everything we can to demonstrate a remarkable amount of restraint.”

+ The New Yorker: “What transpired in the streets appeared to be a kind of municipal version of shock and awe.”

+ Buzzfeed: The latest coverage of the fury in Ferguson.

+ Photos of the protests in Ferguson, and Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: the images that define the protests. And here’s a pretty amazing photo from students at Howard University.


And We’re Rolling

“Moments later, the police reemerged, telling us that we had to leave. I pulled my phone out and began recording video.” On social media, the story really got rolling when a couple of reporters were arrested by police. From the Washington Post: Wesley Lowery gives account of his arrest.

+ The events and coverage from Ferguson crystallized two key lessons about modern media. Lesson One: Do not abuse reporters if you don’t want a story to spread. Lesson Two: Everyone is a reporter. GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram on crowd-powered journalism.


Armor All?

Over the past few years, the Pentagon has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment to civilian police forces. As James Fallows explains, turning policemen into soldiers is the culmination of a long trend.

+ Just about every citizen is carrying a camera. Should police officers be required to record themselves? In 2012, researchers studied the impact of wearable cameras on police (and citizen) behavior. The results were pretty amazing.


Control Salt Delete

A new and massive study confirms that we’re consuming too much salt and “about 1.65 million deaths from cardiovascular disease each year can be attributed to sodium consumption.” In other news, the study also confirmed that not eating enough salt can result in a much higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.


For Whom the Bell Trolls

Earlier this week, several Internet idiots tweeted offensive comments towards Robin Williams’ daughter (who has since left the platform). Now Twitter says it will do more to crack down on the trolls. But is it really possible to delete the jerks?

+ Pacific Standard’s Nicholas Jackson on comments: “Even if they’re not vile and psychologically damaging, most of them aren’t worth your time. And we already have a better system in place.” I’d love to get your take on this divisive topic. (Kidding…)


Somewhere Out There

“There’s a name for the kind of education Fin and Rye are getting. It’s called unschooling, though Penny and I have never been fond of the term. But ‘self-directed, adult-facilitated life learning in the context of their own unique interests’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so unschooling it is.” Outside’s Ben Hewitt makes the case that that we should set our kids free from the standardized testing and indoor inactivity that’s choking the creativity right out of them: We don’t need no education. I suppose I’d let my kids go outdoors for a few hours as long as they bring a coat, wear plenty of sunscreen, take their Claritin, remember their allergies to all nuts and berries, and promise not to touch, eat, or otherwise engage with anything until they arrive back at my doorstep for their Purell scrubdown.

+ The Atlantic on the future of college. No libraries. No tenure. No ivy-covered buildings. No football games.


Want Fake Fries With That?

You wanted healthy. So Burger King introduced fries with less fat. And here’s what they learned. You didn’t want healthy.

+ “People who ate more fruits and vegetables over the 13-day period reported higher average levels of curiosity, creativity, and positive emotions, as well as engagement, meaning, and purpose.” Oh, I’m sure that study will totally get your kids to eat their brocolli?


Another Happy Subscriber

Everyone wants to kill email. And reports of its death have been prematurely reported for more than a decade. Well, it won’t die. And maybe it shouldn’t. After all, as Alexis Madrigal explains, it’s the best thing on the Internet.


Being There

“I differentiate between explorer and tourist: the former being someone that travels to an unfamiliar place to learn about it, the latter a barbaric asshat driven by the desire to document his very existence. The ‘I was here’ photographer with a penchant for flashing a peace sign. The Verge’s Thomas Ricker with an ode to the loss of serendipity. I’m not sure I agree with everything in this article, but I’ll link to just about anything that begins with the sentence: “Look at these idiots.”


The Bottom of the News

The NYT’s Alex Williams provides a list of some of the modern day power couples: “Thanks to the limitless opportunities for self-promotion that exist on Twitter, Facebook and other sites, each member of a power couple can now serve as the other’s best publicist, pumping his or her partner’s latest television appearance, award or book signing, all in the spirit of love.”

+ The Scrabble King is dead.

+ Advertisers may soon target you based on what they see in the background of your Selfies.

+ Tom Hanks just released an iPad App that mimics a typewriter (sans the whiteout).

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