Friday, October 24th, 2014


New York State of Mind

Since it's the worldwide capital of media, you've probably heard that NYC has its first case of Ebola. Craig Spencer, a doctor who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea, is in the hospital and three people with whom he had contact have been quarantined. Meanwhile, city officials are working to trace Spencer's steps, "acting out of an abundance of caution to ensure that they find anyone who might have been at risk of infection."

+ The Verge: The NYC Ebola patient has turned us all into spies.

+ Are you panicking? No. But we're still gonna make you look at a chart of all the things much more likely to kill you than Ebola. (Bottom line: If you're traveling without a seatbelt in a free-falling plane that's struck by lightning as it crashes into the ocean where an Ebola-stricken shark eats you ... it's time to worry.)

+ How did Craig Spencer get around before he went to the hospital? He took an Uber. (That had to set a new record for surge pricing.)

+ The nurse who caught Ebola in Dallas has been released from the hospital and today she met with President Obama.


The Heroic Narrative

I think my friend, the upsettingly talented and disturbingly attractive novelist Arthur Phillips, got the Craig Spencer story just about right: "Correct me if I'm wrong, but Craig Spencer is a hero. He may have sacrificed his life, knowing the risks, to help people. He came home from that work and was careful to monitor himself ... Please, do not freak out about what he did, as if he imperiled you or your city. He behaved (as far as I can understand it) with heroism, caution, and grace. I really hope he lives through his ordeal. People should remember his name, as well as all those who are going out of their way to try to stop this (and other) plagues." Indeed, this is not really just story about New York. Here's Abby Haglage on why this Ebola case will hurt infected patients everywhere.

+ Buzzfeed's Jina Moore reporting on a man who lost everything in Liberia: "And even though it had already taken everything else, Ebola went after his home. It took his clothes and his shoes and his bed and his soccer posters, his forks and his knives and his spoons ... But Isaac is not a symbol. He is a man with nothing left, and his story is a reminder that at every turn, Ebola resists the heroic narrative arc."


Weekend Reads

"Forty-odd years on, my story probably seems like ancient history to most people, layered over with Hollywood legend. For me it's not, since at the age of 78 I'm still deaf in one ear and I walk with a limp and I carry fragments of the bullet near my brain. I am also, all these years later, still persona non grata in the NYPD." Frank Serpico in Politico Magazine: The Police Are Still Out of Control. I should know.

+ "All that battle gear you saw in Ferguson was acquired not from the military, but from private companies like the ones touting their wares at Urban Shield." From MoJo: The making of the warrior cop.

+ The New Yorker: Dropbox, Airbnb, and the fight over San Francisco's public spaces.

+ Aeon: The shame of poor teeth in a rich world.


Get Higher, Baby

"It was a wild, wild ride. I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and I held my heading." Google VP Alan Eustace just jumped from the stratosphere and fell for 15 minutes, and broke Felix Baumgartner's record. OK, Facebook and Apple VPs, what'chu got?

+ Luckily, he did not get anywhere near a distant comet which the European Space Agency has confirmed, "smells like a horse barn with a drunk and a dozen eggs."


Left Holding the Bag

There is a serious defect in the airbags found in many cars. The bags "can rupture and blast out metal shards, particularly in humid conditions." So we need a recall. But here's the problem. The airbags are used in 30 million cars.


The Money Pit

Home ownership can be a major pain. So imagine how much stress you'd have if you were about to buy 6,000 of them in Detroit. According to BusinessWeek, that's just what a mystery bidder is about to do. The total price, for all the houses, will be $3 million. But this is no bargain. Let's put it this way. These are definitely fixer-uppers.


Punt, Pass, and Sick

We've all heard stories of hazing that went too far. But waterboarding? Amid allegations of some shocking behavior, the Central Bucks High School West football season has been cancelled.


Prime Crime

Amazon reported its earnings yesterday, and revenues were great. But the company once again failed to make a profit and is on track for its biggest annual loss in almost a decade. (Maybe Amazon never makes a profit because Jeff Bezos wants to be like all the other newspaper owners.)


Coffee, Tea, or Meow

At long last, the race to open America's first cafe is over. Welcome to Oakland's Cat Town Cafe. Cats are standoffish, self-absorbed and spend all day in the same spot. So they should fit right in at a cafe.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Actress Tippi Hedren and her family (including her then-teenage daughter Melanie Griffith) lived with a pet lion named Neil for a while back in the 1970s. Here's Neil and Melanie catching a few winks together.

+ For a hundred grand, you can clone your dog.

+ How a Harvard scientist's life changed after he killed a spider. (Maybe because it was the size of a puppy.)


The Bottom of the News

"The taste is very rich. It's definitely a lot tastier ... You can just tell this is a lot more pure." From NPR: how foodies were duped into thinking McDonald's was high-end food.

+ TLC has canceled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo because, as they explained, "Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority." That's always been the feeling I got from reality TV.

+ Which state has the worst drivers?

+ Apparently some researcher came up with the notion that smart people listen to Radiohead and dumb people listen to Beyonce. Wuh uh oh uh uh oh oh uh oh uh uh no.