Tuesday, December 9th, 2014


This is a Test

On 9/11, we knew immediately that our resolve would be tested. And so would our determination to maintain an allegiance to the rule of law and an evolved perspective on human rights. Did we pass those tests? Part of the answer to that question comes with the release of today's much-anticipated Senate report on the CIA's torture tactics. The report has some disturbing details about the tactics used (secret prison "dungeons," widespread waterboarding, medically unnecessary rectal feeding and hydration intended to establish "total control over the detainee"), some serious questions about who was in charge (President Bush and Congress were apparently kept in the dark), and some hard truths about what we got in return for our trip down the river towards morality's heart of darkness (apparently, not much). Here's the NYT: Senate torture report condemns C.I.A. interrogation program. There will be a lot of political yelling over the next few days. Anyone who presents this as a simple issue should be dismissed as a fool or a liar. Was the torture horrible? Yes, it was. In the weeks and months following the attacks, would most of us have agreed to do anything to prevent another 9/11? Yes. Those are the ethical complexities presented by war. And the answers are much more obvious now than they were then. Today, the details of our actions have been pulled out of the the dungeons and into the light of day, and so we face another test. Can we have a reasoned debate?

+ Here's the whole 528-page report.

+ The Daily Beast: The most gruesome moments in the CIA torture report.

+ Teachers don't make much money. Unless they are teaching torture techniques. NBC News: CIA paid torture teachers more than $80 million.

+ The torture report by the numbers (The most disturbing one is 26. That's how many detainees were being "wrongfully" held by the CIA).


Over Forty

Protests have raged across Mexico following the disappearance of 43 students from the town of Iguala. But those disappearances were anything but rare. Just take a look at these incredible numbers.


Eyes on the Elusive Prize

We have protests about unfinished racial injustices in the streets. And a black president in the White House. This really is a remarkable moment in American history. Here's a very interesting interview of President Obama on BET in which he discusses race and police behavior; and essentially comes out in support of the current protests: "The value of peaceful protest is … it reminds the society that this is not yet done."


The Why Chromosome

"Women make up a tiny fraction, roughly 15%, of people working in technical roles in the tech industry. And amazingly, that percentage is dropping, not rising. Multiple studies have found that the proportion of women in the tech workforce peaked in about 1989 and has been steadily dropping ever since." From the LA Times: Why women are leaving the tech industry in droves.

+ The Atlantic: Toys are more divided by gender now than they were 50 years ago.


When the Ad is Rad

This was the year when advertisers stopped cramming TV ads into your video streams and started designing ads for the Internet. And you watched some of them for a really long time. Here's AdAge with YouTube's most popular ads of 2014.

+ While we're at it, here are the 22 most watched YouTube videos of all time.


What’s the Lede?

"As for the mass self-purge of editors and writers at The New Republic, it might be taken as part of the ongoing demise of old journalistic institutions in the face of new realities of technology and business. Or it might just be the story of one incompetent media mogul." (Or maybe it's both.) The New Yorker's George Packer on the real crisis in journalism.


It’s a Mad Mad World

Madison Bumgarner is Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. He is a deserving recipient and a pretty interesting dude. You may have heard some things about Madison. And as Tom Verducci reports, "It's all true. That he was so good so young that he started playing coach-pitch baseball at age four against seven-year-olds, and is so adept with either hand that he shoots a bow, bats, writes and ropes righthanded, but throws from the left side. That his father, Kevin, wouldn't let him throw a curveball until he had a driver's license. That before he dated Ali, he dated a girl named Madison Bumgarner ("No relation, I'm sure of it")." (I wouldn't want to date anyone with my exact name, but I have thought about making out with my avatar a couple times.)

+ The team scored a division winning touchdown. The refs called a penalty. Forget replay. This dispute over who moves on in the Oklahoma High School Football Playoffs will be decided by a judge.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: This is the craziest thing I've ever seen anyone do on skis: Cody Townsend skiing down a super steep face in a space between two rock walls no wider than a supermarket aisle. Powder Magazine called it "The Line of the Year".


Crazy Making

"Purple Rain came along at precisely the right moment -- not just for Prince, but for the culture." From The Verge: Let's go crazy: Inside the making of Purple Rain.


Photo Finish

We're now ready for InFocus' second installment of the year in photos, May through August.

+ From CNN: The year in pictures.


The Bottom of the News

A Korean Airlines exec has stepped down from some of her duties after she "ordered a flight to be turned around to the gate and a flight attendant off the plane because she was served nuts in a bag instead of on a plate." I wonder if this is why they call crazy people nuts.

+ Ranking the most annoying types of airline passengers.

+ New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein left a recent game early to have his ear reattached. Then he came back and scored a game-winning goal in overtime. In hockey, we can that a Van Goal.

+ Here's a little visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future. It was all laughs and romance as a couple of Mobile Mistletoe drones flew around a TGI Fridays. Until one them clipped a chunk off of a reporter's nose.

+ "If you've ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you're about to find out."