Friday, November 14th, 2014


Can I Call You Back?

We know that Omar Gonzalez easily made it over the White House fence, but I'm a little surprised he didn't trip over the giant metaphor that stood between him and the front door of what we thought was the world's most secure home. The LA Times shares one of the many Secret Service failures that allowed the intruder to make it inside: "A canine handler who could have stopped him sooner was on his cellphone taking a personal call without his radio earpiece in." Hopefully, he was talking to a prospective employer.


Killer Apps

One of the reasons that ISIS leaders have been hard to kill or capture is because they are getting better at using technology to dodge spies and keep communications covert. And some of those technologies are the same ones we use.

+ ISIS' ability to raise money has been unprecedented. Now they plan to start printing it.


Weekend Reads

"Apple today considers Google its No. 1 competitor. But tellingly, so do Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and a long list of lesser-known tech firms. 'I don't think we've seen a company like Google in technology,' says John Battelle. 'It's the whole package: the financial results, the reach in terms of what markets they touch, and the ambition.'" Fortune's Miguel Helft on Larry Page, the most ambitious CEO in the universe.

+ "I am thirteen and in a private discussion with my coach that was set up after nationals. Ripping pain, grunts that sound like the monster in a horror movie, blood, my hair pulled out lying on the ground, the smell of fear. It smells like fresh chlorine and metal." Outside's Rachel Sturtz on American competitive swimming's continuing legacy of sexual abuse.

+ "She is used to her cage. It's been her home since she was two years old. Jenny, who has been diagnosed with autism, lives in a state-run institution for disabled children in Lechaina, a small town in the south of Greece, along with more than 60 others, many of whom are locked in cells or cages." And we're not talking about ancient Greece. From BBC: The disabled children locked up in cages

+ "The world's largest restaurant company is losing market share, losing sales, and suffering one heck of a corporate identity crisis." Can McDonald's get its mojo back? Hey, if Chipotle can convince us that those are burritos, anything is possible.

+ "Humans take great pride in the fact that we dominate all other species with our sophisticated cognition. Yet while virtually all other species instinctively flee from smoke, we choose to suck it into our lungs." The rise and (not quite) fall of the nicotine fix.

+ Pricenomics has a fun piece on the invention of sliced bread. (I'm old enough to remember when bread was considered a positive.)


Binge Listening is the new Binge Watching

"I look forward to every Thursday in a way that I don't remember awaiting the release of an episode of anything recently. There's something very intimate about someone telling you a story that close to your ears." That's Jason Reitman echoing the thoughts of the many listeners who have turned Serial -- a new podcast from the producers of This American Life -- into the fastest growing podcast ever. Twenty years ago, we were all hooked on TV and radio. Twenty years of technology advances later, we're all hooked on TV and radio. Content is king.

+ For those who are already knee deep in the Serial serial, Vox has a complete guide to every person in the podcast.


Drill Baby, Drill

OK, so you landed on a comet 317 million miles away. Now whatchu got? The Philae has started to drill into the surface of the comet in a frantic effort to gather scientific data before its batteries run out.

+ From BBC: "One of the leading scientists on the Rosetta Project gave a string of TV interviews in a shirt emblazoned with half-dressed women. The angry reaction online spawned two hashtags, spoof images and has now led to a tearful apology as well." (The Internet is a tough room.)


Don’t Wanna Play No Head Games

Earlier this week, Malcolm Gladwel called football "a moral abomination." (Maybe he's right, but that comment still made me want to steal his lunch money). And while they may not use exactly the same words, at least nine former NFL players seem to share a similar opinion since they won't let their kids play.

+ I wouldn't let my son play football, but it was my favorite sport in high school. The story of football is complicated. To better understand it, you need to go to a 540-mile stretch of I-20 in Texas where ESPN's Wright Thompson reveals the state of America's most popular sport -- in all its joy, regret, and insanity: 9 Exits on America's Football Highway.

+ In the NYT, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver explains why betting on pro basketball games should be legalized. (What's the over/under on how long it takes for this to happen?)


Board to Death

"There's no one more cool and credible than the Paskowitzes." That remarkably unlikely string of words was how Tommy Hilfiger once described the family that dropped everything, got into an old camper, and went surfing. Eventually an excellent documentary was made about the clan that was "portrayed in early newspaper features as surfing's answer to the singing Von Trapp family." Doc Paskowitz, the patriarch and architect of the (at times) not so excellent adventure, has died at the age of 93. The LA Times looks back on the life of a dude who caught a wave and rode it all the way in.


Fail Much?

"What follows is -- depending on how you want to think about it -- either a gallery of technologies we lost or an invitation to consider alternate futures." From the NYT innovations issue: A brief history of failure.


Funny Money

The Onion has hired bankers and put itself up for sale. That means in one week, both The Onion and Funny or Die have announced that they are for sale. Now I don't know if this an Internet bubble or a whoopee cushion.


The Bottom of the News

"I scanned and sent some old Polaroids that I had of your mother in compromising positions. They were taken several years before you entered our life and forever changed it with your gentle smile and warm personality. Needless to say, you took the bait. Hook line and sinker! I love you." From Jake Bender in McSweeney's: I Just Catfished You, Son. Instant Classic.

+ Lifehacker: Taking notes may actually make you much more forgetful

+ A five year-old kid just became the youngest person to pass the test to become a Microsoft Certified Professional. (When he's six, his parents are gonna have him try to figure out how to use the Microsoft Phone.)

+ Hope for humanity: When it comes to breaking the Internet, the comet beat the Kardashian. (Though it appears that she has a much longer-lasting battery pack.)