Wednesday, January 7th, 2015


Je Suis Charlie

Security forces in France are on the hunt for masked gunmen following a massacre at a French satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo. At least twelve people were killed (including the weekly's editor and several cartoonists who were gathered for a staff meeting) by gunmen yelling "Allahu Akbar." The magazine is known for its extremely irreverent cartoons and has been the victim of threats and attacks in the past. Charlie Hebdo might not be everyone's idea of the perfect example of the importance of freedom of speech. And that's exactly why it is.

+ Following a 2011 bombing of its offices, Charlie Hebdo's cover drawing featured a Muslim man kissing a cartoonist with the caption "Love: Stronger than hate." From Amy Davidson in The New Yorker: "The cartoon was a properly irreverent combination -- an affirmation of the most universal truth, a commitment to the magazine's own very particular identity. To be brave, one needn't ever be saccharine. The magazine and its artists, editors, and staff believed in all of that and lived those values, in a way that few of us are ever asked to."

+ Bloomberg: Paris killers got wrong address before ‘decapitating' magazine.

+ The Guardian is tracking the latest Charlie Hebdo attack news.


Standing Up

Stephane Charbonnier, the editor who was murdered today, said this in 2012: "I have no kids, no wife, no car, no credit. This may be a bit pompous what I'm saying, but I prefer to die standing up than live on my knees."

+ "We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt." Christopher Hitchens on a related controversy in 2006: The case for mocking religion.

+ Buzzfeed: Some outlets are censoring Charlie Hebdo's satirical cartoons after attack.

+ Vox: 12 powerful political cartoons responding to the attack.


Bubbling Crude

From Harvard econ professor Kenneth Rogoff: "Oil prices are the big story for 2015. They are a once-in-a-generation shock and will have huge reverberations." Bloomberg on how $50 oil changes almost everything.

+ Wired: Mapping a fracking boom in North Dakota


And the Horse You Rode In On

"We were shocked. We were like, heroin? We'd never seen it before." GQ's Sean Flynn takes you to the small and relatively remote town of Laramie, Wyoming: Five years ago, it had no heroin problem whatsoever. Now there's a bustling trade. How does this happen? Welcome to Mainline Street.

+ About six Americans will die from alcohol poisoning today. And most of them will be middle-aged white males.


A Better Door Than a Windshield

"I was a few hours outside of Los Angeles, tooling down I-5 at the wheel of a sleek Audi A7 on a gorgeous day when a little girl in an SUV smiled and waved. I waved back. With both hands." Wired's Alex Davies rode 500 miles in a self-driving car and saw the future. And it was delightfully dull. (And when things get dull, we look at our devices. Hence, self-driving cars.)

+ Today we have distracted driving. In the future we'll have self-driving cars. In the meantime, we're gonna really push the envelope on the distraction thing. At CES, car and tech companies are showing off tools that project "a buffet of colorful information on that once-sacred place of clarity, the car windshield."

+ NYT: Ban on cellphones in New York City schools to be lifted. (Apparently kids were disrupting class trying to text on rotary phones.)


Water Bill

"The water tasted as good as any I've had out of a bottle. And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It's that safe." Watch Bill Gates drink water that was human excrement five minutes earlier. (All those years using Windows can build up a tolerance...)


Spinning Plates

Here's a manufacturing issue few predicted would be in the news in 2015: Can the old machinery used to produce vinyl records keep up with the newly increased demand? (I just completed my midlife crisis, so demand will decrease at least a bit...)


Dire Streits

As if things weren't already getting lonely enough for places like Katz's Delicatessen and Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, Streit's Matzo Factory is set to leave NYC's Lower East Side right after Passover.


Love and Plastering

"Crossing guards are the most likely to be widowed. Plasterers are most likely to be married and living apart from their spouse, just ahead of people in the military. What kind of life will you live as a motion picture projectionist? You will be single." From Businessweek: Don't take these jobs if you want to get married.

+ Buzzfeed: "The plan was for him to be lowered into his girlfriend's garden as he sang to her, and for him to then pop the question. Alas. The crane fell over and smashed through neighboring roofs." Buzzfeed's Chloe Angyal: The paradoxical rise of the viral marriage proposal.


The Bottom of the News

"If you need someone to tell you not to retweet praise, you're a monster." NY Mag's on some of the subtle and not-so subtle rules of social media. I agree with the quote above, but just to be sure, you should probably put me to the test.

+ Haruki Murakami's advice column.

+ 30 things turning 30 in 2015.