Friday, October 31st, 2014


Wait For It…

For those of us who remember the modem connection sound and suffered (and suffered) through the buffering video era, it's hard to believe that big city Americans who opt for the fastest consumer Internet packages -- which run about $300 a month in most areas -- can now download an HD movie in just 1.4 minutes. But compared to many places in the world, those are sluggish and expensive stats. "Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection." The NYT's Claire Cain Miller shares the stats, describes the monopolies, and explains the potential long-term economic consequences for American competitiveness. (Americans should read this story now. If you live in Seoul, you might as well wait for the movie.)

+ The Verge: Internet traffic jams are widespread in the US, and are probably about to get a lot worse. (Don't worry. I'll be here all week.)


Cuff Link

Trick-or-treating is officially back on in northeastern Pennsylvania. After seven weeks, police finally caught Eric Frein, "a self-described survivalist and military re-enactor," who allegedly shot a state trooper. That trooper's handcuffs were placed on Frein's wrists when he was arrested.

+ "You're lucky we didn't get you during hunting season." Frein made his first court appearance this morning, and the community did not give him a warm welcome.


Weekend Reads

"He had me sitting in a corner, and he was over there, talking, selling paintings, when somebody walked over to me and said: 'Do you paint too?' And I suddenly thought -- just horrible shock -- 'Is he taking credit for my paintings?'" In The Guardian, Jon Ronson with the extraordinary story of an epic art fraud.

+ "The excitement was palpable. At the appointed signal, the women raced for the roped-off soil, grabbed shovels, and began to hunt frantically for loot." Jen Doll in Mental Floss with the history of Tupperware: How a Single Mom Created a Plastic Food-Storage Empire.

+ "Normally, I would just shut up at this point and fume at the insufferable nature of people who claim they don't need music on the subway. But tonight, I have an ace in my pocket." NY Mag's Allison P. Davis: My Week With a Flip Phone. (All kidding aside, I would love a flip iPhone.)

+ The Economist takes a deep look at the future of the book, from papyrus to pixels.

+ Castles. Laws. Markets. Those are just three things on this list of the 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years. Amazingly, sharing information in a top 10 list format didn't make the cut.


From Bad to Nurse

A Maine judge has ruled that Kaci Hickox -- the nurse who returned to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients in Africa -- does not have to remain quarantined as long as she monitors her health and stays at least three feet away from people while out walking, jogging, or riding a bike.

+ "If they are discouraged by the prospect of three weeks of near total isolation on their return, we may lose the services of many good people." From Armand Sprecher: The media's overreaction to Ebola is sending a chill through my coworkers at Doctors Without Borders.


Passing Through Oregon

"She's changed the debate by changing the audience of the debate." That debate is about the right to die. And millions are following the journey of Brittany Maynard, a woman suffering from terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon because of the state's death-with-dignity law.

+ Vox: Brittany Maynard's plan to die: how she'll use Oregon's assisted suicide law to end her life.


Be Afraid

We're more afraid of sharks than car accidents. And we're more scared of Ebola than the flu. The Atlantics's Olga Khazan tries to make sense of the psychology of irrational fear. (The rational fears are too scary to think about.)


Burn Baby, Burn

Give me some slack ... equity. The company's product is about a year old. But investors just invested $120 million into Slack at a valuation that exceeded a billion bucks, which CEO Stewart Butterfield said gives the company "maybe 60 years of runway at our current burn." I don't remember the last time I saw a company with this much user adoption and positive buzz.

+ Here's a look back at Mat Honan's excellent profile piece in Wired: The Most Fascinating Profile You'll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup. (Note: This piece was published two months ago. That's like fifty years in Internet time ... and valuation.)


The Best

"Watching Bumgarner is like feeling an expertly administered epidural nip in between a couple of vertebrae and deliver bliss: it's a gliding, almost eventless slide through the innings, with accumulating fly-ball outs and low-count K's marking the passing scenery. It's twilight sleep; an Ambien catnap." The New Yorker's Roger Angell on Madison Bumgarner: The Best.

+ "'See that? See me?' More than thirty years later, Muhammad Ali sat in an overstuffed chair watching himself on the television screen." David Remnick looks back at the champ, with the champ: American Hunger.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: You know what's pretty? Big waves and surfing in slow motion. Take a break and relax at 1000 fps with this mesmerizing video.


We’re Gonna Pump(kin) You Up

OK, let's do this. Here are seven charts that explain Halloween, eight things you didn't know about Halloween, five myths about Halloween, and this year's pumpkin carving contest winners.

+ The French town that's cracking down on clown costumes.

+ And understanding the state of the American economy by keeping an eye on those pop-up Halloween stores.


The Bottom of the News

Starting next year, Starbucks will deliver your coffee right to your desk. (CEO Howard Schultz just took another page out of the crack dealers' guide to scaling your business.)

+ People always say that scratching an itch makes it worse. And they're right.

+ "Apart from a car accident at the age of eighteen, when he overturned his car while driving under the influence of alcohol ... Osment's journey through adolescence into adulthood has been free of major indiscretion." How Haley Joel Osment Survived Being a Child Star. (Now we'll see if he can survive an article on how he survived as a child star.)

+ PSA: Hello Kitty Con is coming.