Thursday, January 29th, 2015


I’m Gonna Totally :-( You Up

The next time you glance at a poster featuring the FBI's most wanted, don't be surprised to see a few emojis on the list. Consider the case of Osiris Aristy, a Brooklyn teen who was arrested following a series of threatening Facebook posts. As Buzzfeed's Nicolás Medina Mora explains, those "terroristic threats" were not verbal or even textual: "The teen's references to law enforcement officers appear to be limited to cartoon representations of police and firearms. All of which raises a question that almost sounds silly, but is actually very serious: Can emojis be legally interpreted as terroristic threats?" (I'm guessing that doing time for posting emojis is not going to give this guy a lot of street cred in the joint.)

+ NYT: At the Silk Road trial, lawyers fight to include evidence they call vital: Emoji.


Too Lax About Vax?

Administrators at Palm Desert High School in California have banned 66 students who never got measles vaccinations.

+ "I think some parents see it as a personal choice, like homeschooling. But when you choose not to vaccinate, you're putting other children at risk." From WaPo: Why this baby's mom is so angry at the anti-vaxxers.

+ "I respect people's choices about what to do with their kids, but if someone's kid gets sick and gets my kid sick, too, that's a problem." A Marin County father has demanded that his district keep unvaccinated kids out of school.

+ Vox: How an Amish missionary caused 2014's massive measles outbreak.


Recruitment Centers

"Prison destroys men. There are people who are easy targets to spot and make into killers." Michael Birnbaum on the Paris prisons that have become hotbeds of radical Islam. "A leaked French government report once described Osama bin Laden posters hanging on inmates' walls."

+ "The French must be killed. I am with the terrorists. The Muslims did well, and the journalists got what they deserved." Those are the kinds of comments that will, at the very least, get you detained and questioned in France ... even if you're eight years old.


Hello Kitty Scratch Fever

The Spectator's Peter Hoskin tries to figure out why so many of the big childhood crazes of the past three decades had their beginnings in Japan. (Transformers, Power Rangers, Pok├ęmon.) Part of Japan's secret may have to do with the fact that many of their kid brands are not just for kids. "Japan likes to entertain adults too. One of the strangest things about the country's culture, which only a qualified anthropologist could explain, is how it ignores puberty."

+ Related: A ball pit for adults just opened in London.

+ Japan also has the highest ratio of vending machines to landmass in the entire world.


Control Alt Forgive

"Surely, he thought, an expert on forgiveness could find a way to make peace with even the most heinous perpetrator. He decided he was going to try to forgive the killer." The Atlantic's Olga Khazan on The Forgiveness Boost: "Making amends with those who trespass against us yields a number of physical and mental benefits."


Being There

"To serve sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played." That's ESPN's motto. And it's one that is becoming increasingly difficult to live up to. David Pierce of The Verge takes you inside the studio where ESPN is betting billions on the future of sports.

+ If you want to own the "sports" viewership market, then you can no longer ignore the incredible rise of video games as spectator sports. Twitch currently reaches 100 million viewers a month.

+ If viewing sports (or video games) is something that sounds horrible, you might appreciate the reverse autohop feature being enabled for Dish Network customers this weekend. You can fast forward over the football part of the Super Bowl, and just watch the commercials.


Ma and Pop Warner

Long after we've moved on from DeflateGate and this year's Super Bowl, the NFL will still face its most challenging problem: Fewer parents (including some NFL veterans) will let their kids play football these days. To overcome that, the league is trying to huddle with mothers.

+ And things in that huddle are about to get even more complicated. The NYT reports on the latest football/brain study, which "found that those who began playing tackle football when they were younger than 12 years old had a higher risk of developing memory and thinking problems later in life."


Blinded By Science

On one hand, most Americans hold science in high esteem. On the other hand, many of those same people completely disagree with opinions that are widely held by those who actually know something. We appreciate science. We just don't believe the scientists.

+ We do, however, believe web comments.


In Fact It’s a Gas

"People have been having fun with nitrous oxide -- even in the name of science -- virtually since its discovery more than 240 years ago. In fact, it's only been the last 100 years or so that nitrous oxide has been more often used for 'legit' purposes." BoingBoing's Lisa Rodriguez on the surprising history of hippy crack. (Sucking it doesn't suck.)

+ Vox: The 3 deadliest drugs in America are all totally legal.


The Bottom of the News

At a new office park in Sweden, you don't have to worry about having a card to enter the building or use the copy machine; as long as you have a small RFID chip implanted beneath your skin. Real life is making The Circle by Dave Eggers look like a handbook for luddites.

+ Syndicated via Kottke: Clive Thompson writes about the newest innovation in junk mail marketing: handwriting robots. That's right, robots can write letters in longhand with real ballpoint pens and you can't really tell unless you know what to look for.

+ Looking at Ryan Gosling memes increases men's feminist feelings.

+ With some special effects help, Novak Djokovic plays tennis against an M1 Abrams tank at the Australian Open.