Monday, October 20th, 2014


World’s Most Expensive Couch

Grow up wealthy. Don't focus on your education. Don't work hard. Those are not exactly the characteristics you'll find listed in the Horatio Alger guidebook on making it in America. But according to the hard numbers, poor kids who do everything right don't do better than rich kids who do everything wrong.

+ And WaPo's Chico Harlan explains how people who are broke can end up paying three times more for a couch.


Enemies, a Gov Story

"What are we doing here helping their fighters, who we are bombing, to be treated so they can fight again?" The Daily Beast's Jamie Dettmer on the international aid that is providing support to ISIS.

+ So you were a young jihadist from the West who fought in Iraq and Syria and now you want to kick the habit. Where do you go? I'd suggest Denmark.

+ In what could be a dramatic policy reversal, Turkey could allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross the Syrian border to fight ISIS militants in Kobane.

+ "Virtually no one, anywhere on the political spectrum, denies that the James Foley video changed everything. The beheading seared into our minds, led us to dark rooms of our national psyche, rooms that are better left bricked over. And a picture is worth a thousand troops." Matter's Marshall Sella on ISIS' mix of new-media savvy with medieval savagery: The making of the world's scariest terrorist brand.


When Panic Attacks

Media: Stop panicking. Me: I'm not panicking. Media: Don't panic. Me: I'm not. Media: Panic. Me: Wait, really? Media: Stop panicking. Should you be panicked over Ebola? In Texas, probably not. In parts of Africa, probably. And it seems to me that everyone gets that distinction. (OK, maybe not everyone.) But does anyone else find it a bit nuts that an article in CNN is telling us to stop over-reacting? (You should bookmark that link in case anyone ever asks you for a good definition of irony.)

+ Should you be more worried about getting Ebola or being crushed by your own recliner? Vox shares a highly unscientific list of threats to Americans, ranked (by actual threat instead of media hype).


We Don’t Need Another Zero

"I was Patient Zero. The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet." So said Monica Lewinsky in her speech at the Under 30 Summit. (In other news, she just joined Twitter.)

+ Lewinsky is now dedicating herself to ending cyber-bullying. So she might want to focus on the plight of Anita Sarkeesian. Rolling Stone on Gamergate: How a video game fan weathered a misogynist backlash to become pop culture's most valuable critic.


This Justin

Anyone who was around during the Internet's earliest days knows that Justin Hall was the medium's first, true patient zero. Justin was oversharing before oversharing was a thing. And with all due respect to your most prolific Facebook friends and a couple decades worth of reality TV, no one has shared like Justin shared. In a recent talk at the XOXO Festival, Justin Hall reflected on a life lived online.


To Siri, With Love

"Many of us wanted an imaginary friend, and now we have one. Only she's not entirely imaginary." In the NYT, Judith Newman on her autistic son and his virtual best friend: To Siri, With Love.


Paying for the Nazi Party?

We've all experienced legal loophole-related jaw drops, but consider this: According to a report from AP, many Nazis expelled from the United States continued to collect millions in Social Security benefits.


The Glass is Infinity Full

In an interview with NY Mag's Kevin Roose, Marc Andreessen explains his optimistic outlook: "There are people who are wired to be skeptics and there are people who are wired to be optimists. And I can tell you, at least from the last 20 years, if you bet on the side of the optimists, generally you're right." If Marc came for dinner at my parent's house, we'd have him turned before the brisket was served.


Funny Like I’m a Clown?

The New Republic's Tom Shone on how Martin Scorsese created the modern masculine ideal. "If masculinity were a product, then Italian-American masculinity -- florid, violent, hungry for respect, as thin-skinned as Italian sausage -- would be the brand leader, thanks to the movies." (I don't know about that, but many of us will always be indebted to Tony Soprano for bringing husky back.)

+ FastCo: Martin Scorsese's Film School: the 85 films you need to see to know anything about film.

+ Men Women & Children's remarkably bad opening weekend.


The Bottom of the News

I'm already a vegetarian, but from now on, I'm only eating humanely raised lettuce. As I've always suspected, plants can tell when they're being eaten. (Thankfully, most of them have a crunch that's loud enough to drown out the screams.)

+ Austin Kleon: 33 thoughts on reading (and at least one about TV).

+ "As a biracial child, I wasn't sure if higher education would even be an option for me. And, when I say biracial, I mean that my father went to Harvard and my mother attended Oberlin." Paul Rudnick's college application essay.

+ At long last, drive-thru open coffin viewing.