Tuesday, January 20th, 2015


Mind the Gap

You probably already know what President Obama will say during his State of the Union address tonight, but you'll listen to it anyway and then vociferously take a side in an unproductive argument between two participants with pre-defined and intractable positions. It's basically like every other relationship that's lasted more than six years. At its core, this SOTU will be about addressing the wealth gap with new taxes on the rich, and tax breaks for the middle class -- a plan that has little chance of passing through Congress. As The New Yorker's John Cassidy explains, it's all about a 2016 politcal bidding war.

+ WSJ: "The richest 80 people in the world alone now possess more combined riches than do the poorest half of the world's population." From FiveThirtyEight: Meet the 80 people who are as rich as half the world. (I know this isn't the point, but I sort of feel bad for number 81.)

+ The first State of the Union address was only 1089 words long.

+ This interactive look at the language of the State of the Union address provides insight about what was important at different moments in U.S. history.

+ Vox with the State of the Union as it should be delivered, in 33 maps and charts.


Hawaiian Punch the Clock

"I really appreciate long uninterrupted periods of work time in order to dive deep into a particular problem, and having a destination where you're far away from usual distractions made this possible." That sounds good, I suppose. But do we really want to turn our tropical vacation spots into co-working spaces? The NYT's Tanya Mohn reports from a desk in paradise.


More ISIS Threats

"To the prime minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,000 and 500 kilometers from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade." ISIS is threatening to behead two Japanese hostages.

+ In Yemen, rebels have reportedly occupied the presidential palace in an ongoing coup attempt. Buzzfeed is following the developments.


Guantanamo Stay

"In 1961, Ramon Baudin got wind that Fidel Castro's security forces were looking for him. He hid in a bus headed to this U.S. military base, sneaked past a police checkpoint, then pleaded with the American sentry: 'Hey, buddy, I'm running away. Open the gate.'" That was more than fifty years ago, and Ramon Baudin is still behind that gate. The WSJ's Michael Phillips with the story of a group of Cuban refugees who fled to the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay a half century ago -- and never left.


Do You Wave Your Rights?

According to a report from USA Today, at least 50 law enforcement agencies have been employing radars that use "radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving." (And it can also see that gesture you just made.)

+ Mattathias Schwartz looks at the NSA's collection of phone records and its connection to actually catching terrorists before they act. "In each of these cases, the authorities were not wanting for data. What they failed to do was appreciate the significance of the data they already had."


Different Hoax for Different Folks

Facebook is planning to manage your newsfeed so you see fewer scams and bogus stories. (I wonder if that includes all the jerks pretending they're having healthy relationships and joyful experiences.)


Money Walks

"You are not some beautiful snowflake. I insure your appearance in court for the good people of the proud state of New York. That means that, for me, you are walking money. I own your body." Courtesy of Buzzfeed's Nicolas Medina Mora, Meet The Bail Bond Queen


Autocorrect Your Life

The NYT's Tara Parker-Pope on the research that suggests that "the power of writing -- and then rewriting -- your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness." Oh yeah, Karl Ove Knausgaard seems like he's a barrel of laughs.


Down Under the Influence

The SFGate shares the story of Australia's Adam Koessler who augmented his 2 year-old daughter's chemotherapy treatments "by putting cannabis oil mixed with coconut in her food. (This form of medical-grade cannabis doesn't contain any of the elements that lead recreational users to get high.)" And now he's been arrested. (Cruel and stupid laws have no border.)


The Bottom of the News

Last week the Internet was abuzz with reactions to Mandy Len Catron's sociological look at love in the NYT: To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This. The New Yorker's Susanna Wolff responds with her own questionnaire-based guide: To Fall Out of Love, Do This. "What would constitute a 'perfect' day for you? Why do we always just go home and watch Netflix instead of doing any of that stuff?"

+ Speaking of guides, here's one that explains how to escape from a moving car. And assuming that goes well, you might be curious about what would really happen if you put a person in a microwave.

+ The Onion on what's being done with all those unsold Google Glass units.

+ You're gonna need a bigger paddle board.