Thursday, November 6th, 2014


Words with Former Friends

Amazon used to be the little guy in the book business. All those book mega-chains were gaining too much influence, so the industry welcomed an Internet upstart that launched by mailing books out of Jeff Bezos' garage. Times have changed and the plot has thickened "The dispute between Amazon and the publishers is a dispute between an e-commerce giant and companies that have for generations been printing text on paper. In some respects it is also a dispute between the East Coast and the West Coast. It is definitely a dispute between hyper-capitalism and cultural conservation. But in the end it is a dispute that comes down to different visions of the future of the written word." In Vanity Fair, Keith Gessen looks at the public spat between Amazon and Hachette and the war of the words.


Save It

You're sharing the details of your latest fabulous vacation and your friends are thinking to themselves, "you know where you can go..." At least those are the findings of a new study that suggests your friends really don't want to hear all about your vacation. As one Wharton assistant professor tells the NYT: "This suggests that people may be rolling their eyes at all those posts about amazing vacations."


There Goes the Neighborhood

The Daily Mail has published a piece that once again names Rob O'Neill -- who was also involved in missions that inspired Captain Phillips and Zero Dark Thirty -- as the Seal Team Six member that killed Osama bin Laden. In an interview, O'Neill's father said he's not worried about the publicity: "People are asking if we are worried that ISIS will come and get us because Rob is going public. I say I'll paint a big target on my front door and say come and get us." (In my neighborhood, the homeowners association gets mad if someone wants have chickens in their backyard.) I love how the Mail's Martin Gould refers to "last year's Esquire magazine interview -- by Sharon Stone's ex-husband Phil Bronstein." I think he means former war correspondent and Pulitzer prize finalist and Exec Chair of the Center for Investigative Reporting Chair Phil Bronstein who apparently beat him to this "exclusive" by about a year.

+ WaPo: Ex-SEAL Robert O'Neill reveals himself as shooter who killed Osama bin Laden.

+ NYT: Is the ISIS wave of might turning into a ripple?


Now Hiring

Systemic violence. Heavy recruiting of young fighters. Horrific images shared on social media. Killing sprees that cross borders and terrorize communities. That could describe ISIS. It also describes the Mexican drug cartels.

+ "For more than a decade, cartels have been battling for control of smuggling routes along the border. The violence has devastated nearby towns and claimed the lives of some 60,000 people." And the cartels are hiring. The Center of Investigative Reporting with a video piece on a key part of the drug wars: the recruitment of child soldiers by the Zetas.


The Road Taken

"Let's be clear -- this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison. Those looking to follow in the footsteps of alleged cybercriminals should understand that we will return as many times as necessary to shut down noxious online criminal bazaars. We don't get tired." So wrote Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara as Silk Road 2 ended the same way as the original; with a major drug bust and an arrest in San Francisco.


Meet the Neighbors

"They sort of had put in their service. This was their 'reward' ... for their spy service ... coming to the United States and being able to live out their lives basically with anonymity and no scrutiny." In this Fresh Air interview, author Eric Lichtblau explains how thousands of Nazis managed to settle in the United States after World War II, courtesy of the U.S. government.


Power to the People

Vallejo was broke and the city's government wanted to shake things up. So they came up with a grand idea. They implemented a new system that "allowed citizens, rather than politicians, to decide how to spend infrastructure dollars." It was a cool plan. It should have had a happy ending. But as The Atlantic's Alana Semuels explains in this interesting piece, there are few happy endings in government, and this story was no exception.


Don’t Feed the People

"For the second time in four days, 90-year-old activist Arnold Abbott was cited by police for a violating a new city ordinance designed to stop him and others from feeding the homeless in public spaces." In other words ... Florida.



In the age of animated GIFs and viral images, is it possible to re-invent the magazine cover in a way that can really grab your attention? Yup. From Gizmodo, How Businessweek is reinventing the magazine cover.


The Bottom of the News

It's not just Movember. It's the hipsters, the neckbeards, and that work from home look you've been sporting. Take a look in the mirror and you'll understand how your beard is killing the shaving industry.

+ Four days in a Hello Kitty convention tattoo parlor.

+ Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap? In New Zealand, AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has been charged with hiring a hit-man. From the band's website: "Phil's absence will not affect the release of our new album Rock or Bust and upcoming tour next year." Phew...

+ A new reality show "promises to show filmmaker Paul Rosolie being swallowed alive by a giant snake, after covering himself in pig's blood while wearing a custom-built suit." (Been there, done that.)