Tuesday, January 13th, 2015


Spell Endowed

"They aren't studying more. When they graduate they are less literate. There's no indication that the increase of grades nationwide is related to any increase in performance or achievement ... Leaders are obsessed with national reputation and the size of their endowment and not very concerned about the quality of education." So says Stuart Rojstaczer, a former science professor who has made it his mission to track grade inflation in higher education. Bottom line: Performance is about the same, but grades are a whole lot higher.

+ In 2013, 540,535 students passed the GED. In 2014, only 86,500 did. You don't have to take high school math to know something must have changed. From The Daily Beast: Even an Ivy League grad can't pass the new GED.


The Cover Story

The editors of Charlie Hebdo published the most anticipated magazine cover in recent memory, a drawing of Muhammad shedding a tear and holding a sign that reads Je suis Charlie.

+ Staffers at the magazine, including Renald 'Luz' Luzier, who drew the cover image (and survived, in part, because he came to work late on the day of the shooting) held a press conference to discuss the issue: "I am still Charlie. I am a cop. I am Jewish. I am Muslim. And I am also atheist. These terrorists want hatred between people, and they also want hatred against the people they think they defend."

+ Buzzfeed: Here's who is and isn't publishing the new Charlie Hebdo cover image.

+ The Guardian: "A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious edict forbidding the building of snowmen, describing them as anti-Islamic." (And the edict had nothing to do with Frozen...) And an ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper edited the female leaders out the Charlie Hebdo march. (It turns out no one has a monopoly on crazy.)


The Shadow Doesn’t Know

"A poll was published not long ago in which seventy-four per cent of French Jews said that they have considered leaving the country." The New Yorker's David Remnick on the shadow of anti-semitism in France.

+ "The Kalashnikovs, the identity cards the [killers] supposedly left behind, it was all staged. It was a conspiracy designed by the Jews to make Muslims look bad. We'd rather just stay where we are." In a suburb a few miles from the Parisian march for unity, there are many who blame the Jews for Charlie.


These Boots are Made for Blocking

Cory Doctorow on attempts to crack down on encrypted messaging services in England: "David Cameron says there should be no 'means of communication' which 'we cannot read' -- and no doubt many in his party will agree with him, politically. But if they understood the technology, they would be shocked to their boots."


The War on Gluten

Leave it to the food industry to continually innovate new ways to enable you to cut out certain ingredients without giving up any of the junk food that eats your soul as you eat it. Yes, Pizza Hut is selling gluten-free pizza, which can be washed down with a bottle of gluten-free Coors.

+ NPR on Minifasting: How Occasionally Skipping Meals May Boost Health. I would try this, but unfortunately I'm abstinence intolerant.

+ In other news, too many of you are taking a daily dose of aspirin, you're supposed to be guzzling copious amounts of bone-broth, and those bottles made out of BPA-free plastic disrupt brain-cell growth and are tied to hyperactivity.


The Gateway Thug

"As Mackenzie stood trial, his health deteriorated. The baggy sweatpants he wore masked huge cancerous tumors covering his rear and right leg, a symptom of the angiosarcoma he was diagnosed with in 2011. He was rushed to an emergency room in the middle of his trial for a blood transfusion." Benton Mackenzie died of cancer at the age of 49. Many of his final days were spent in an Iowa courtroom where he was convicted of growing and possessing medical marijuana. There's no shortage of stupidity when it comes to our drug laws. But witholding products that can provide relief to the dying -- while pharmaceutical companies are free to push chemicals that are much more powerful and dangerous -- is particularly cruel. Lobbyist money is the ultimate gateway drug.


There is No Handbook

"There's no handbook on how to survive your young wife's psychiatric crisis. The person you love is no longer there." Mark Lukach in Pacific Standard: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward.


The Moose Did Very Well

The competition to sign creative talent has many new players. And Amazon just signed Woody Allen to write and direct his first TV series. (And you thought it was hard teaching your parents how to work the VCR...)


Strike That, Reverse It

In The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead visits a theme-park chain where children pretend to be adults. (So basically, it's the exact opposite of the Internet.)


The Bottom of the News

"Now the Internet's changed everything. People can get all the information they want instantaneously, and that has killed innovation in ramen."

+ Facebook data apparently knows you better than your own mother. And you never call.

+ A Delta flight took off with just two passengers. (It would have been ironic if one of them wanted to talk the whole flight.)

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Every David Bowie hairstyle from 1964 to 2014