Tuesday, December 16th, 2014


Software and Hard Knocks

Mobile devices and software advances have helped to create a burgeoning on-demand economy that -- in some places -- makes it possible to live your life without leaving your house (and if you do decide to leave, it's easy to order a car). But that's only part of the story. In Quartz, Leo Mirani explains how he experienced the on-demand economy long before tech revolution: "These luxuries are not new. I took advantage of them long before Uber became a verb, before the world saw the first iPhone in 2007, even before the first submarine fibre-optic cable landed on our shores in 1997. In my hometown of Mumbai, we have had many of these conveniences for at least as long as we have had landlines -- and some even earlier than that. It did not take technology to spur the on-demand economy. It took masses of poor people."

+ "Economists long argued that, just as buggy-makers gave way to car factories, technology would create as many jobs as it destroyed. Now many are not so sure." From the NYT: As robots grow smarter, American workers struggle to keep up.


Maybe Putin Should Accept Bitcoin

"Russians are reportedly bum-rushing malls to swap cash for washing machines, TVs, or laptops -- anything that seems as if it might hold value better than paper money, whose worth is evaporating in real time." Businessweek explains why the Russian Ruble is collapsing.

+ Five reasons you should care about the falling ruble.

+ Apple has halted online sales in Russia due to ruble fluctuations.


School Massacre

Taliban terrorists carried out a brutal attack on a military run primary school in Northern Pakistan. At least 145 people were killed. Almost all of them were students. "According to the BBC World Service, the attack is believed to be an attempt to demoralize and humiliate the military. However, it may have the unintended effect of finally uniting the nation against the groups that have claimed tens of thousands of lives in Pakistan in the last 15 years."

+ BBC: How the Pakistan school massacre unfolded.


Pick, Not Choose

"She was tall for her age -- she would turn 12 in a month -- and thin. Her arms were sinewy and her fingernails were perpetually crusted with dirt. She hadn't been inside a classroom in at least three years." In the final installment of their excellent series on Mexico's farms, the LA Times covers the children who toil to harvest crops that make it to American tables


Make That Zero Million

Yesterday, I linked to a NY Mag story about a a Stuyvesant high school senior who made millions picking stocks. Today, I'm linking to the NY Observer story that explains how the boy genius "investor" made it all up. (On a positive note, Uber has now canceled surge pricing near Stuyvesant High.)


From Hack to Attack?

If you're a Seth Rogen fan, this time you're not just being paranoid. While the publicity around the Sony hack has created a tremendous amount of promotion for The Interview, things could change now that the Sony hackers have reportedly issued threats to anyone who attends the movie.

+ Meanwhile, Sony has been hit with a class action lawsuit by two former employees.


Looking at Leap

The plot thickens at Magic Leap, the augmented reality company that seems to have wowed everyone who's seen their technology (including those who recently invested a half-a-billion in the company). Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson has just been named the company's Chief Futurist. Now the tech start-up world is even attracting authors. If Google hires Dave Eggers, it's over...


Let’s Light This Candle

Tonight marks the first night of Hanukkah and my six year-old daughter said she wants Santa to bring her a present to celebrate. I've got a lot of explaining to do. Let's start with seven surprising things everyone should know about Hanukkah.

+ Slate's Ben Blatt does the math and finds that the game of Dreidel is way too slow.

+ Hanukkah is a minor holiday and most of its modern traditions (such as gift giving and trying to have a positive attitude for a few minutes) are borrowed from Christianity. But are we really ready for the Menorah Tree?


Skip It

"It's strange how a simple change in gait can bring on such crushing humiliation." Kevin Zawacki comes out in defense of skipping.


The Bottom of the News

"I'm hoping you'll have some of this out of your system by the time you come home for Christmas." Two pundits were debating on C-Span, and then, "Oh God, it's Mom."

+ Finally, a cup of coffee to help you get some sleep.

+ Let's get really Internetty for a second. Here the Buzzfeed list of the 50 most shared Facebooks posts of 2014.

+ Nature just took down its paywall and joined the open Internet. Looks like they've already got the hang of it. Here's their video of the top ten cutest animals of science.

+ Andrew Luck loves to trash talk. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.