Monday, December 22nd, 2014


Guess Who’s Coming Home For Christmas

While the stress, anxiety, and passive-aggressive exchanges associated with getting together with the family remain constant, the make-up of those families has changed dramatically over the past few decades. In 1960, 73% of American kids under the age of 18 were living at home with two heterosexual parents in their first marriage. Today, less than half of all kids live in such a household. Pew on the shifts in the structure of the American family.

+ The rise of single motherhood in America over the last 50 years.

+ WaPo: Americans aren't getting married, and researchers think porn is part of the problem. (I'd put more blame on the Real Housewives franchise.)


Shooting Gallery

Over the weekend, the shooting of two NYC police officers in Brooklyn ripped open a chasm between many cops (and politicians) and Mayor Bill de Blasio. The New Yorker's Nicholas Thompson explains: "As with so many dramas of our day, social media did not bring out the best in observers. George Pataki blamed Bill de Blasio and Eric Holder. Others blamed Eric Garner, the officer responsible for Eric Garner's death, the grand jury responsible for that officer's freedom, or the protesters of that grand jury." Here's the way I see it. Black kids have not been treated fairly by the system. Cops should not be assassinated. And mentally ill murderers don't represent anyone.

+ New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton defended De Blasio during a televised interview.

+ Buzzfeed is tracking the latest developments, including Bill de Blasio's call for a moratorium on protests until after the funerals.


Rescue (Before) Dawn

"We've needed to go out with imperfect intelligence and imperfect conditions to have any chance of saving American lives. And that means there's that much more risk of failing." The LA Times on hostage killings and the new reality of rescue missions.

+ The Independent: The first Western journalist ever to be given access to the Islamic State has just returned -- and this is what he discovered.

+ Pakistan is set to execute 500 terror convicts in the coming weeks.

+ Photos: Hundreds of Pakistani Santas marched in defiance of the Taliban.


What if It’s Not?

Some experts are still arguing that there's very little evidence that North Korea was behind the Sony hack. (The belligerence of the acts and the threatening statements and almost certainly came either from a tyranical dictator or a teenager.)

+ Vox: North Korea's Internet appears to be under mass cyber attack.

+ Fortune: Why cyber warfare is so attractive to small nations.


So Beautiful

Right now, thousands of people are singing Joe Cocker songs at their desks. And none of them sound anywhere near as good as Joe Cocker. One of the greatest and most unique voices in music has been silenced. Joe Cocker has died at the age of 70. Here's his epic performance at Woodstock. And here are some more classic songs from Cocker.


Take a Flying Leap

"Buzz made a rap video, "Rocket Experience," with Snoop Dogg. He did the cha-cha and the fox-trot and was eliminated in the second round of season ten of Dancing with the Stars. He has appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw, The Price Is Right, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, Futurama, Top Chef, and many dozens of other shows and movies as himself. He has written eight books, mostly about his own exploits in space, including four memoirs, two science fiction books, and a children's book. He sells get your ass to mars T-shirts on his website." GQ's Jeanne Marie Laskas pays a visit to the second man ever to walk on the moon.


The Brown Out

Call it the miracle on 34th Street. And 35th Street. And 36th Street. The WSJ on UPS' attempts to beat last year's holiday snafus and handle the busiest moment of the year. One day. 34 million packages.


Big Four

The New Yorker with a list of the four charts that defined the world in 2014. The fact that even the The New Yorker is publishing them shows that charts themselves are what defined the world this year.

+ NPR: 7 Stories you should have paid more attention to in 2014. (You let me be the judge of that...)


Passing Out Cigars

CNN: "It might be the most bizarre of the closely guarded secrets from last week's historic agreement between the United States and Cuba: How did the leader of a Cuban spy ring serving life in a California federal prison manage to impregnate his wife 2,245 miles away in Havana?" (I know there's a Cuban missile crisis joke in here somewhere.)


The Bottom of the News

Just in time, Quartz is here with the complete guide to flying with kids. (Shorter version: Charge iPad. Get on plane.)

+ Slate: Pumping and dumping is pointless. Drinking while breast-feeding is fine. (This gives new meaning to "nursing a beer.")

+Rolling Stone: The oral history of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

+ 25 things you might not know about It's a Wonderful Life.