Monday, January 5th, 2015


Mission Position

"Someone splattered paint on the front of their building. Then the couple found 'Evict the Yuppies!' scrawled on the sidewalk outside the entrance. At nearby corners, protesters were rallying against tech company buses." Many urban centers are experiencing a kind of hyper-gentrification that rapidly transforms neighborhoods and puts housing prices far out of the reach of even those who have good jobs. Some argue the good times are rolling over the historic flavor of communities and leaving a trail of evictions and homogenized entitlement in their wake. The Mission District has become San Francisco's ground zero in the growing battle between bearded, vinyl spinning, designer coffee-drinking, Google Bus-powered, ironic T-shirt wearing Yuppie hipsters and a vocal group of longtime locals who are yelling, "No mas." In a story that will seem familiar to anyone living in a burgeoning tech region, Joe Garofoli and Carolyn Said of the SF Chronicle ask: To whom does San Francisco's oldest neighborhood belong? (It's only a matter of time before a startup comes up with a big data crunching app to try to answer that question.)

+ "We're locals. We're not an unknown corporate entity owned by unnamed people in faraway places." The NY Times with an updated picture of life on the waterfront: A Chocolate Factory in Brooklyn.

+ "The locals say they don't like the tech folks pouring into town to work at places like Google. They're insular. They're driving up housing prices." And they're talking about Boulder.


They’re Back

In a now-familiar scene, hundreds of NYC police officers turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio. The New Yorker's David Remnick looks to James Baldwin for context: The Fire This Time.

+ Reuters "interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling."

+ Meanwhile, police have drastically cut their issuing of tickets and summonses.



"Too much complacency regarding our military, and too weak a tragic imagination about the consequences if the next engagement goes wrong, have been part of Americans' willingness to wade into conflict after conflict, blithely assuming we would win." In The Atlantic, James Fallows takes a look at what he calls The Tragedy of the American Military. One aspect of that tragedy: Not many of us are paying attention. From one Marine who served in Iraq: "Did we have the sense that America cared how we were doing? We did not."

+ "We operated in a very chaotic environment, dealing with some of the most dangerous things in life -- fire, oil, and gas, in addition to airstrikes." From Buzzfeed: Meet the oil engineer ISIS wanted to hire.


Hit the Track

It's increasingly likely that you'll be using technology to track the progress of your New Year's fitness resolutions. But along with fitness tracking comes companies that have access to the most mundane details about our bodies. The bigger issue here is that we are using technology to fix problems that technology has partly caused. I gained weight because I sit in front of a computer, so I'll get a FitBit. I can't sleep because I bring my iPad to bed, so I'll get some sleep tracking technology. What I really need is to have my head examined. (Luckily, there's an fMri for that.)


A Piece of the Rock

"If they get it completed, it will be the hardest completed rock climb in the world." Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell enter the ninth day of their attempt to scale Yosemite's El Capitan.


How You Live

Stuart Scott was one of ESPN's most popular and most talented anchors. During his prime, he entertained, and when cancer struck, he inspired. Scott passed away over the weekend. That makes this an appropriate time to watch his powerful ESPY's speech: "When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live ... When you get too tired to fight, then lay down, and rest, and let somebody else fight for you."

+ Rich Eisen fills a whole highlight package with Stuart Scott catchphrases.


Come Together

"Participants must pierce multiple parts of their bodies with needles and skewers and attach hooks to their backs, with which they then drag a cart for more than four hours. After that, they climb the mountain." The New Yorker's Maria Konnikova on the studies that support the idea that "painful rites seem to be a way of engineering the kind of affinity that arises naturally among people who have suffered similar traumatic experiences." (Still, why don't we start by just meeting for coffee...)


Barless in West Virginia

"The residents of Green Bank, West Virginia, can't use cell phones, wi-fi, or other kinds of modern technology due to a high-tech government telescope. Recently, this ban has made the town a magnet for technophobes, and the locals aren't thrilled to have them." The Washingtonian takes you to the town without WiFi. ("I'm gonna drive you straight to Green Bank" is the new "I'm gonna turn this car right around.")

+ Nilay Patel welcomes you to the revenge of '90s Internet. Facebook is the new AOL.

+ Mat Honan: Never Buy a Phone Again. (Don't worry, tablets are still OK.)


Grab Some Pine, Meat

"'How do you make it so meat-like?' I asked. 'It is meat,' he replied enigmatically." A late night exchange at a cheap bar? Nope. A visit to a company that claims it's finally possible to make meat out of plants.


The Bottom of the News

California Sunday Magazine heads to the far reaches of Whittier, Alaska, "a town of about 200 people, almost all of whom live in a 14-story former Army barracks built in 1956.

+ "Re: the "sky"… not really feeling the color here. Would like something that pops more. Please send additional options." McSweeney's most viewed story of 2014: Client Feedback On The Creation Of The Earth.

+ There are so many craft beers that brewers are running out of names.

+ And in case you missed it, I went through all of the NextDraft number 1 stories of last year and picked out the ones that were especially fascinating, touched on topics that will be at the forefront in 2015, or just had some decent lines: The Most Fascinating News of 2014.