Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


God View

This has been such a bad media week for Uber that I wouldn't be surprised if they hired Bill Cosby to handle press relations. News that one of the company's top executives floated the idea of digging up dirt on journalists who criticized the company caused an Internet uproar and the resurgence of the one word no one at Uber wanted to hear you scream: "Taxi." In the NYT Farhad Manjoo writes of a company that is moving so fast, it might miss a turn.

+ In USA Today, Michael Wolff wonders if this was just an off-handed remark made by someone who thought the conversation was off the record. (Pro Tip: Threats to journalists are never "off the record.") If it was just a random comment, then why did Uber employees warn another reporter that execs might snoop on her?

+ This is not Uber's first rodeo. Bloomberg's Emily Greenhouse wonders if Uber is too disruptive to fail. (I employed the same strategy in elementary school.)

+ In review, this is a story about tech companies, bro culture, the modern press, viral Internet stories, media, politics and big money. But mostly, it's a story about your privacy. Uber threatened to track journalists because they can track journalists using an internal tool they call God View.

+ Think you can beat the system by walking instead of taking a ride? Sorry, Fitbit data is now being used in the courtroom.


We Love a Good Mystery

The verdict is in: Americans are willing to pay more for organic food. The other verdict is also in. Americans aren't quite sure what organic means.

+ The health food trend shows no signs of abating. And it probably won't until we have what we really want: Exercise in a bottle. The makers of KitKat could be just the company to come up with it.


Acting (Way) Out

"She saw him as a sort of Robin Hood." BBC on the Dutch mother who rescued her daughter from the Islamic State in Syria. The number of Europeans and others traveling to join ISIS is both troubling and more than a bit shocking.


Time-Lapse Winter

For some in and around upstate New York, the entire winter seemed to show up at once. From The Buffalo News, the lake-effect is in full effect.

+ More snow is expected Wednesday. And some towns are already under close to 76 inches.

+ In other words, it's surfing weather?


You Had Me at Jello

"A defense of Cosby requires that one believe that several women have decided to publicly accuse one of the most powerful men in recent Hollywood history of a crime they have no hope of seeing prosecuted, and for which they are seeking no damages." The Atlantic's Ta-nehisi Coates does the math (15 women have now accused Bill Cosby) and some journalistic soul-searching: The Cosby Show.

+ Netflix has "postponed" a Cosby stand-up show scheduled for later this month. (Ya think?)

+ Cosby's old routine about wanting to drug women's drinks.

+ If life gives you Don Lemon ... oh forget it.


Up to the Brim with Firestone

"Firestone wanted Liberia for its rubber. Taylor wanted Firestone to help his rise to power. At a pivotal meeting in Liberia's jungles in July 1991, the company agreed to do business with the warlord." ProPublica and Frontline with the untold story of Firestone, Charles Taylor and the tragedy of Liberia.


World Toilet Day

Today is UN World Toilet Day. If you don't know why toilets need their own day, then you're lucky enough not to be among the 2.5 billion people around the world who lack access to proper sanitation.


The Thrilla in Barilla

In the last year, Barilla has expanded health benefits for transgender workers, given money to gay rights causes, and featured a lesbian couple on their website. And "on Wednesday it received a perfect score from a prominent gay rights group that rates companies on their gay-friendliness." A year ago, Barilla's CEO said he'd never feature a gay couple in an ad and if they didn't like it, they could eat something else. They didn't like it. And he's eating his words. (Now they just have to deal with the anti-gluten crowd...)


Stuff Happens

"We did various kinds of shaky-cam movement to give it a sense of urgency. We attached a vibrator to the lens or a power drill to the camera mount to make it all move like crazy." For my friend Mordy who is over the moon for this movie: An oral history of The Right Stuff.

+ What life in space is really like.


The Bottom of the News

Chris Hemsworth has been named this year's sexiest man, giving Slate the opportunity to serve up this headline: How the Sexiest Man Alive's Sausage Gets Made.

+ It turns out that selling like hotcakes isn't such a great thing.

+ Twitter now lets you search for any tweet in history. In other words, you're gonna have some serious explaining to do.