September 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Generation D Minus

Smaller brains. Slower reaction times. A gradual decline in IQ scores. Barry Ritholtz has collected a variety of stories and studies that, when taken together, raise an interesting question: Is modern life making us dumber?

+ This is not definitive, but it’s certainly suggestive of an answer to that question.

+ Still not convinced?

+ Related: A compilation of ice bucket challenge fails.


Caught with Your Breaches Down

Vanity Fair’s Michael Joseph Gross summarizes the deal we all make when it comes to the cloud: “Call it connectivity; call it seduction, or surveillance; call it voyeurism or exhibitionism. Whatever you call it, its tools have the whole world hooked. These tools let users live in streams of information about other people’s lives while enabling the same users to send out streams of information about their own lives. In exchange for these tools, users allow the tech giants to handle and inspect all the stuff we show, and all the stuff we look at, and to keep copies of it, perhaps forever, on computer servers that we do not control, and never will.”

+ Wired: The police tool that pervs use to steal pics from the cloud.

+ The seedy underbelly of the web is worse than you think. “What we see in the public with these hacking incidents seems to only be scratching the surface. There are entire communities and trading networks where the data that is stolen remains private and is rarely shared with the public.” (And this stuff is mild compared to what one would find in the dark web.)

+ Did you even know that Home Depot is investigating a massive hack? If not, you may be suffering from data breach fatigue.


Killing Instinct

“Consider this: in many of the videos, the cameraman narrated the moments before the blast with palpable excitement, panting and exclaiming as the explosion neared. It’s impossible to watch without concluding that those guys were enjoying what they did.” The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins on the Islamic State and killing as a means and an end.

+ “He told them he was sick and didn’t want to eat, even though we were served eggs that day … He used to pray secretly in the direction of Jerusalem. He would see in which direction (his Muslim captors) were praying and then adjust the angle.” Steven Sotloff worked hard to hide the fact that he was Jewish and had dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship.


Ivan Ilych is Dying

Russian President Vladimir Putin shared the broad outlines of a potential peace plan for eastern Ukraine that might include the Russian-backed rebels keeping the land they’ve secured.

+ Russia is not in an all out war with the world. Yet, you’d think they were given the country’s mortality rate. In the New York Review, Masha Gessen looks at the remarkable numbers and wonders: “Why are Russians dying in numbers, and at ages, and of causes never seen in any other country that is not, by any standard definition, at war?”


Fleeing There

Even if you are an ardent climate change denier, it can’t hurt to plan your vacation schedule wisely. Matter is here to help out with a list of 33 things to eat, drink, see, and do before climate change ruins everything. (Just to be safe, dress in layers.)

+ Modern Farmer: “This will be worse than anything seen during the last 2,000 years.” Is the Southwest facing a megadrought?

+ How dry is it out west? Let these photos do the talking.


Throw the Book at ‘Em

Feeling depressed or suffering from some other form of mental illness? Just read the bible and you should be OK. That might sound like odd advice, but “for millions of Americans suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar or obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, anorexia, or even schizophrenia, biblical counseling is the sole form of treatment they are likely to receive.” Pacific Standard’s Kathryn Joyce on the rise of biblical counseling.


Working the Dox

“And sometimes he needs a little persuasion. Maybe a visit from henchmen with cattle prods. Or the old Taser-to-the-balls trick. After a few hours of this kind of torture, the stubborn husband will sign pretty much anything.” GQ’s Matthew Shaer on a powerful rabbi/thug who used some very unorthodox methods to get orthodox Jewish husbands to agree to divorces (or just about anything else): “It was always his name that came up. He was beating guys up, he was giving them bloody noses, he was using cattle prods. He had a gang of thugs, and he had a van, and he’d scoop you right off the street.” (I’m pretty sure this is the same guy who worked with me on my Bar Mitzvah torah portion…)


Peace and Gov

“It’s expensive. You hear stories about people dying from cancer who don’t have the money.” The NYT’s Ian Lovett on Berkeley’s new plan to provide free medical marijuana to those who can’t afford it.

+ Partnerships. A private equity fund. Increasing readership. These are high times at High Times.


I Get So Emojional Baby

My wife is just about to release an incredible new emoji app, but first she needs a little wisdom from our crowd. Please take a few seconds and take her Emoji Intelligence Survey 2014. If you complete the survey, it will be like me sending her some emoji hearts for which I will get a smiley face in return. So WTF are you waiting for?


The Bottom of the News

The first rule of Mile High Fight Club is: You do not talk about Mile High Fight Club. The second rule is you don’t recline. The LA Times on the cramped seats and angry passengers that have led to several diverted flights.

+ Introducing the NFL linebacker who is 14 inches tall and 235 pounds. Occasionally, Madden NFL has a small glitch.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: It turns out that this close-up video of slow motion skateboard tricks is all I’ve ever wanted out of life.

+ Pop Quiz: As of last March, you can bring a gun into public college campuses in Idaho. On Tuesday, a professor accidentally shot himself during class.

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