Tuesday, October 7th, 2014


You Think You Know

Hate speech. Bomb threats. Rape threats. Death threats. Those are just a few of the reactions the Internet has had to Anita Sarkeesian's video series, Feminist Frequency, in which she comments on the portrayal of women in videogames and the media. Her evenhanded views have been met by a barrage of attacks that have sadly turned her into something of an expert when it comes to Internet hate and rage. I'm a pretty public person on the Internet. I've had a fair share of unseemly commentary spewed in my direction. I thought I knew about the Internet's underbelly. But I had no idea. Anita Sarkeesian shared her experiences in a very interesting and enlightening talk at the recent XOXO Conference in Portland. It's well worth your time to listen to her story and better understand the tactics used to attempt to discredit her -- and many other women -- online.

+ "It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It's disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That's why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody's mind is to make a profit from it. It's so beyond me. I just can't imagine being that detached from humanity." Jennifer Lawrence talks to Vanity Fair about the celebrity photo hacking ordeal.

+ He scoured her cellphone to find images that he could use to create a fake Facebook page where he communicated with suspected criminals. And he was a federal agent. And the Justice Department thinks it was OK. Our laws are way behind our technology.


Getting the Picture

Sometimes photos can tell a story better than words. Here's a pretty remarkable collection of photos of health care workers and volunteers wrapped in plastic as they try to deal with the Ebola crisis.


Striking Out?

Islamic State militants are reportedly close to taking over the Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane. Whether or not they can be stopped will be a key test of the effectiveness the US-led coalition airstrikes.

+ ISIS could be the most well-funded terror organization ever. They make around a million bucks a day. Where does it come from? CNN follows the money.

+ ISIS' latest weapon: Water.

+ Illustrations of scenes from daily life in the de facto capital of ISIS.


Better Off LED

Find it difficult to relate to the work of most of those who take home the Nobel Prize for physics? Well, this year you'll be able to relate (in fact, your benefiting from their work right now). Three researchers helped revolutionize lighting and more with the invention of the "blue light-emitting diode (LED), a technology now used in high-speed networking, data storage, smartphones, water purification, and efficient home illumination."

+ Vox: The amazing progress of LEDs in one chart. (They really should give out a Nobel Prize for charts.)

+ Quartz: Today's Nobel Prize-winning physicist only got $200 for his invention. (He would have been better off building a tool to share disappearing selfies...)


We’ll Never Be Royals

"The key to the glitch was that under just the right circumstances, you could switch denomination levels retroactively. That meant you could play at 1 cent per credit for hours, losing pocket change, until you finally got a good hand -- like four aces or a royal flush. Then you could change to 50 cents a credit and fool the machine into re-awarding your payout at the new, higher denomination." The house always wins. Unless there's a software glitch. Well, maybe the house wins even then. From Wired's Kevin Poulsen: Finding a Video Poker bug made these guys rich -- then Vegas made them pay.


And There’s the Shrub

"California has a remarkable ability to weather extreme and prolonged droughts from an economic perspective." A study of a virtual 72-year mega-drought suggests that California would somehow find a way to survive.

+ Hopefully that study is on the mark, because the conservation thing doesn't seem to be working too well. Especially when it comes to California water officials, most of whom are using more water than the average household. One Riverside councilman uses enough water to supply 8 households. "Do I have to sell my house to set that example, or do I have to just abolish all my shrubs? I don't know what to do." (Hint: shrubs, abolish)

+ Vox: Our cities' water systems are becoming obsolete.

+ Still not convinced of the importance of water? Then check out the secret of New York City's mythic bagel-making water. (Thirst I can handle. But not lousy bagels.)


The Science of Fear

The only thing to fear is fear itself. That and researchers described in Outside who "created something they call the Kitchen from Hell, designed to measure stress tolerance by subjecting its victims -- usually unsuspecting psych majors -- to an onslaught of minor miseries, from a teakettle that won't turn off to honking cars, barking dogs, a loud ticking clock, and a 'failure task': find your lost keys as soon as possible. Only (heh heh) there are no keys." Can scientists figure out a way to help you conquer your greatest fears?


Getting from Money to Happy

"Waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good." The Atlantic's James Hamblin on the studies that continue to suggest we should buy experiences, not things. (Of course, once you buy the experience, you're gonna need some new gear...)

+ One thing you probably don't need to buy is new friends. As The New Yorker's Maria Konnikova explains: Social networks are already pushing us to the limits of friendship.


Food Fight

"If there was a war to fight against childhood obesity, then school cafeterias would be a perfect place to wage it." NYT Magazine's Nicholas Confessore takes you to the front lines of the school lunch battleground. (No cutting.)

+ A Delaware mother was arrested after her four year-old brought 200 little bags of a white powdery substance to her daycare.


The Bottom of the News

"He began to draw in notebooks at the hospital, and continued to paint several paintings a day at home." Pacific Standard on the strange case of an accountant who began to furiously paint after a suffering a brain hemorrhage. (I think I'd still opt for art school.)

+ MoJo: Is your dentist ripping you off? Maybe. But do you really want to pick a fight with your dentist?

+ Why are fast food drive-thru lanes getting slower? (It's gotta be because the people at both ends of the transaction are texting on their phones.)