September 5th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Too Busy For This?

You’re busier than ever. You work longer hours. You get less sleep. And the situation is only getting worse. What if that’s all wrong? University of Maryland professor John Robinson (nicknamed Father Time) has been studying how people spend their time for more than five decades. Here’s what he’s learned. We work less than we think we do, we sleep more more than we used to, and we have plenty of free time. FastCo’s Vivian Giang explains how everything we tell ourselves about how busy we are is a lie.


Landing Gear

A robotics professor once told me that if a plane lands hard on the runway, that means the pilot took over the controls. The computer wouldn’t make the mistake. The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova provides an interesting look at the hazards of going on autopilot. “What we’re doing is using human beings as safety nets or backups to computers, and that’s completely backward. It would be much better if the computing system watched us and chimed in when we do something wrong.” Wait, I thought that’s what social media was for.


Weekend Reads

“You would bomb the thing, for sure. You might not understand a single question. And yet as disorienting as that experience might feel, it would alter how you subsequently tuned into the course itself — and could sharply improve your overall performance.” NYT Mag’s Benedict Carey explains why flunking exams is actually a good thing.

+ “In a time when America is more divided than ever, Nelson could be the one thing that everybody agrees on.” From Rolling Stone: All Roads Lead to Willie Nelson. (Just follow the smoke signals…)

+ How Anonymous incited online vigilantism from Tunisia to Ferguson. David Kushner on The Masked Avengers.


Talk to the Wrist

In few days, we’ll find out what Apple has in mind for the future of your wrist. Here’s The Verge with 9 things to expect from Apple’s iWatch.

+ While all the buzz is focused on your watch, the bigger story might be about your wallet. Here’s Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen on how the next iPhone could finally kill the credit card, and BloombergBusinessweek’s Josh Brustein on how Apple can make mobile wallets actually work. (Ever notice that technology seems to give us more ways to pay and fewer ways to earn?)

+ Several years ago, my friend Jeff O’Keefe did an excellent ad depicting payments and the supermarket of the future. Maybe it’s a bit ironic that the ad was for IBM.


A Lifetime of Work

“I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyoncé’s.” Joan Rivers’ funeral requests.

+ “And when you were around Joan, you were never bored. Do you know how hard that is, to never be boring? To Joan Rivers, it was like breathing.” What it was like to work for Joan Rivers.

+ Digg: Joan Rivers’ best standup, starting with a 1967 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show when her timing was already perfect.

+ Joan’s appearance on Louie.

+ Joan’s most recent interview with Howard Stern.

+ And via Netflix, the documentary on Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.


Ghost Stories

“People assume that if they cannot explain something in natural terms, then it must be something paranormal.” More than 40% of Americans believe in ghosts, and the number in the UK is even higher. From The Atlantic: Why do people believe in ghosts? (I blame the Snapchat logo.)


The Blue Period

“Workers have been busy in this bucolic, out-of-the-way ski town: The streets have been painted blue, as have the light poles. Blue props and fencing have been hauled in, rendering the place almost unrecognizable.” The NYT on what happens when a town becomes a beer ad.


It’s All a Blur

My eyesight is OK during the day. But by the time I get home and try to read something in the dim evening light, it’s all a blur. And I’m not alone. From GigaOm: What is the blue light from our screens really doing to our eyes? And NPR on the dry, scratchy eye epidemic.


Be the Algorithm

The Internet got pretty mad when Twitter’s CFO suggested that the company will be using algorithms to put additional tweets into your stream. In Medium, Zeynep Tufekci gives several reasons why Twitter should not algorithmically curate the timeline, and brings up several human curation vs computer curation topics. (The way I see it, if Twitter chooses which idiots I see in my stream, then I’ve wasted half a decade carefully selecting those idiots myself.)


The Bottom of the News

Jeanetic Engineering: After years of consistent growth, sales of jeans dropped by about 6% last year. What happened? Yoga pants happened.

+ Fabiano Caruana could be having the best week of chess in history.

+ Many of the best players in tennis have one thing in common. The guys who string their rackets.

+ Hate when your kids eat cotton candy? You can blame a dentist.

+ Welcome to the world of river surfing.

+ NPR: Deal with it, headbangers. Babymetal is here.

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