Tuesday, November 11th, 2014


Yuan Singular Sensation

America may have lost its edge in a few areas such as manufacturing and education, but we thought we were untouchable when it came to dropping insane amounts of cash on marketing department-hatched Internet shopping pseudo-holidays. Well, we just got crushed. During its Single's Day sensation, Alibaba sold $9.3 billion worth of merchandise. "That's way more than everything people bought on their computers during the five-day U.S. Thanksgiving holiday last year that included both Black Friday and Cyber Monday." From AdAge: Five takeaways from Alibaba's record-busting shopping fest.

+ "For Alibaba's staff, long hours fueled by Red Bull and Starbucks -- there is one on the Alibaba campus, which is also home to a gym, a library, and a post office -- have become the norm over the past few weeks. About 11,000 staff have been involved in the holiday's execution." Quartz takes you inside Alibaba's war room on the world's biggest online shopping day.


London Sprawling

"It has been called the hardest test, of any kind, in the world. Its rigors have been likened to those required to earn a degree in law or medicine. It is without question a unique intellectual, psychological and physical ordeal, demanding unnumbered thousands of hours of immersive study." The NYT's Judy Rosen provides a study guide to The Knowledge: the test to become a London Cabby. Between Uber and GPS, the world's hardest test might soon be relegated to history class.


The Great Shawl of China

There was a moment at a performance tied to the APEC meetings in Beijing when Vladamir Putin reached over and wrapped a shawl around the shoulders of the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping (Yeah, surprise, Vlad is that guy). The response from Chinese officials was chillier than the weather. The moment "was soon scrubbed clean from the Chinese Internet, reflecting the intense control authorities exert over any material about top leaders while also pointing to cultural differences over what's considered acceptable behavior in public."

+ There were no official meetings between Presidents Obama and Putin at the APEC Summit, but according to a National Security Council spokesperson, "On three occasions throughout the day, for a total of approximately 15-20 minutes, President Obama had an opportunity to speak with President Putin."

+ I wonder if they discussed the fact that Russia just announced plans to build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran.


War’s Door

"I mean you know it something bad if they come to your door … I didn't want to go to that door." From NPR on Veterans Day: "Thousands of Americans have been through the same experience as the McHone family -- but it's rare to hear it told in such a raw and honest way."

+ InFocus with a collection of photos from England's tribute to soldiers lost a century ago in WWI: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. And here are 11 photos from WWI.

+ For some, Veterans Day is a time to honor our troops ... with a bloomin' onion from Outback.


Tough Landing

From the WSJ: "In what promises to be a nail-biting event worthy of a Hollywood script, rocket scientists Wednesday will attempt the challenging task of trying to land a probe on the surface of a comet." (My goal for Wednesday is to organize my inbox.)


Glass Half Full of It

"While the rest of us were still scratching our way out of the intern pit, he was becoming a franchise, turning out bizarre and amazing stories week after week." Sixteen years after his fake stories nearly brought down the magazine, The New Republic's Hanna Rosin pays a visit to her former best friend, Stephen Glass.

+ A Longform collection of journalistic hoaxes, pranks and lies.

+ "For almost 60 years, he has been offering up a cash reward to anyone who could demonstrate scientific evidence of paranormal activity, and no one had ever received a single penny." From the NYT Magazine: The Unbelievable Skepticism of the Amazing Randi. (16 years ago, TNR could have really used this guy as an editor.)


Rocked City

"In my business, you're sort of the undertaker who walks up to the front door. I'm rarely welcomed with open arms." The Detroit Free Press goes deep with the inside story of the urban bankruptcy and how Detroit was reborn.


Congress … Run!

"I try not to take it personally, but the truth is people are responding as if I'd reached for them and said, 'Hi, I'm Matt Miller and I have a highly contagious disease -- do you mind if I approach more closely?'" But it was worse. He was running for Congress. From Politico Magazine: Mr. Miller Doesn't Go to Washington.


Textual Healing

"What I discovered, mainly, is that sexting -- like anything else done on our phones -- was mostly just meant to be fun, for fun, grown folks doing what grown folks do." Journalist (and major Emoji fan) Jenna Wortham describes what love (and sex) really looks like in the 21st century: Everybody Sexts.


The Bottom of the News

Food giant Unilever is suing the makers of Just Mayo, because according to the official definition, their product isn't actually mayo at all (and they've got the clear ventricles to prove it.)

+ According to some essays just released by The Mormon Church, Joseph Smith had as many as 40 wives. (I bet his jeweler could tell some stories...)

+ The man who sees art in Cheetos.

+ "Sorry I murdered everyone at your party, but as an introvert, I prefer one-on-one interactions to group gatherings."