Monday, September 15th, 2014


Punt, Pass, and Spank

The NFL is a massive brand, so one assumed the start of a new football season would drive a lot of conversation ... about football. But in 2014, the NFL finds itself a key player in debates on topics no one drew up in the huddle. The concussion lawsuits got us talking about brain injuries. The Redskins team name has us reconsidering where we draw the lines when it comes to offensive speech. The Ray Rice elevator incident forced us to think hard about how we discuss and react to spousal abuse. And now, the one-week suspension of perhaps the league's best player has resurfaced a subject long debated around dinner tables, at schools, and in opinion columns. Is it OK to hit your child? The indictment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for "hitting his son with a switch until he left open wounds and welts" has led to divergent opinions on the matter of corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool. For us, a worthwhile topic. For the NFL, just more issue they'd rather not tackle.

+ "It's set up just like the FBI. Think of the 32 teams as field offices." Kent Babb and Adam Goldman on the NFL's elaborate security network that's supposed to protect the league from trouble.

+ Leslie Morgan Steiner: Here are the times I wish I'd left my abusive husband.



Nearly one and a half percent of the entire American economy is spent on hospital administration. In Vox, Sarah Kliff puts that into perspective: "America spends twice as much on hospital administration as it does on the entire food budget. For what we pay for hospital paperwork, we could pay for all professional American sports three times over."


So Iran and America Walk Into a Coalition…

At least thirty countries have pledged support for a broad battle against the spread of the Islamic State "by all means necessary." And while neither country seems to be willing to admit that they are working together, Iran and the U.S. share a common enemy.


Plastic Perjury?

We use a lot of plastic bags. "Worldwide, consumers use an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags each year -- nearly 2 million a minute -- with the use time of a typical bag just 12 minutes." So it comes as good news that California just became the first state to pass a bill banning plastic bags from grocery and retail stores. But as MoJo explains, other kinds of bags also have an extreme environmental impact.

+ In Austin, a college professor wanted to teach his students the value of decreasing one's environmental impact. So he moved out of his house and into a dumpster. (Looks fine to me as long as its got decent WiFi.)


The Mojang and Restless

Mojang's popular game Minecraft has sold over 54 million copies. But that, and the $2.5 billion that Microsoft just paid to acquire the company, dramatically understates the impact that this game has had on my third grader and his friends. They all wear Minecraft gear and watch Minecraft videos on YouTube. And several of them completed a week of Minecraft Camp over the summer. The way I see it, $2.5 billion just became the most anyone has ever spent on a babysitter.

+ The Verge: Why parents are raising their kids on Minecraft.

+ Markus Persson, the founder of Mojang (known as Notch), explains why he's selling -- and leaving -- the company: "It's not about the money. It's about my sanity."


Don’t You Forget About Me

Apple sold a cool 4 million iPhones in the first 24 hours of them going on sale. Wired's Mat Honan pours one out for the other part of this story -- the end of the single-use device that changed everything: On Death and iPods: A Requiem. (Yes, we're now old enough to be nostalgic about previous digital music players.)

+ Apple releases a U2 album removal tool.


Your Photographic Memories

"When the agony of missing the shot trumps the joy of the experience worth shooting, the adventure athlete (climber, surfer, extreme skier) reveals himself to be something else: a filmmaker, a brand, a vessel for the creation of content ... the purpose of the trip or trick is the record of it. Life is footage." From Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker: We Are a Camera -- Experience and memory in the age of GoPro.

+ I continue to think that none of our modern technologies are having a greater psychological impact than digital photography. From me: This is You on Smiles.


Need a New Comforter?

According to a recent study, comfort foods don't actually give you all that much comfort. (There's a simple solution to this problem: More comfort food.)

+ NYT: Off the drugs, Onto the Cupcakes.

+ Why do Americans chill their eggs when most of the world doesn't?

+ Boston Globe: "For an administration that loves to talk about the importance of local food, especially when it comes from the celebrated White House vegetable garden, it turns out that the Obama White House makes it nearly impossible to find the source of its coffee."


Flower Power

Over the weekend I was at Powells Books in Portland where I saw this guy making amazing flowers out of paper napkins. I asked if I could take a photo and he offered to give me one of his paper sculptures to take home to my daughter. He also mentioned that he was going to be featured in the local paper. That's perfect timing. Because now you can see his work too.


The Bottom of the News

A "vintage," faux-bloodstained Kent State sweatshirt. Maybe not such a great idea. But it's certainly not the first time Urban Outfitters has dressed to offend.

+ Actress Ann Dowd is having her well-deserved moment. And maybe the coolest thing about her is that she partly based her Leftovers character on Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

+ NPR: Things you can do in your sleep.

+ 36 things you might not know about cats.