Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015


WhatSup With That?

Stores with endless shelves of supposedly effective herbal supplements could soon be ginsenging a different tune. It will come as no surprise to most health practitioners that many of the supplements sold at your local pharmacy aren't likely to do you much good. But it might surprise even the most skeptical observer to learn that the ingredients on the labels often bear little or no resemblance to what's actually in the bottle. Supplements are like snake oil that contains no snake and no oil. According to the NYT, the New York state attorney general's office is going after several large retailers for selling deliberately misleading products. The move comes after tests on top-selling herbal supplements found "that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels." These companies target you when you're feeling your worst, and it's about time they were punished for making promises that almost always turn out to be a complete load of ginkgo biloba (which after this investigation, we know is often "little more than powdered radish, houseplants and wheat -- despite a claim on the label that the product was wheat and gluten-free.")


You Pulling My Udder?

Faced with lagging soda sales, Coca Cola is getting into other beverage categories. The latest is a premium milk product called Fairlife, that is extra-filtered and contains boosted levels of protein and calcium. Among other challenges, you'll have to be convinced to buy milk from Coke, and overcome jokes like this one from Steven Colbert: "It's like they got Frankenstein to lactate."


Slaughter as a Goal

The Islamic State's reality show of horrors took another twisted turn as the group released a video of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive.

+ George Packer in The New Yorker: "The Islamic State doesn't leave thousands of corpses in its wake as a means to an end. Slaughter is its goal -- slaughter in the name of higher purification."

+ Coalition-supported airstrikes are killing ISIS fighters. But not as fast as ISIS is recruiting new members. From the House Intelligence Committee's Adam Schiff: "Unless we do something to stop the flow of foreign fighters, this conflict has the potential to go on indefinitely."

+ BBC: UN alarmed by ISIS logo on food aid


Troll Survivor

"I went off script: I stopped obsessing over what he wanted and just did what felt best to me that day. I wrote about it publicly, online. I made myself vulnerable. I didn't hide the fact it hurt." In The Guardian, Lindy West explains what happened when she confronted her cruelest troll. (West also shared this story on a recent episode of This American Life.)

+ Kevin Bollaert was convicted for his role in maintaining a revenge porn site. The site featured more than 10,000 photos and often linked them to the victims' social media accounts. Bollaert also tried to make money from the victims via a site called Change My Reputation. The courtroom debate on whether Bollaert should be confined while awaiting sentencing provided further insights: The prosecutor argued that "this is an individual who has no moral compass," while the defense explained that Bollaert is not a flight risk because he lives "with his parents and works at a fast-food restaurant."


Shack Shaken

"They come in with a problem that Best Buy can't solve. They're on their last straw." That's how one employee describes some of the few customers who still come into Radio Shack. From Bloomberg: RadioShack's Slow-Motion Collapse. (You can see it in fast motion if you upgrade to a better set of Rabbit Ears.)

+ The end of Radio Shack will mean a lot of empty retail spots. And Amazon wants some of them.


Arresting Development

Argentinians were already trying to make sense of the mysterious death of Alberto Nisman; a prosecutor who was looking into connections between his government and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Center (possibly ordered by Iranian officials). Now, a search of Nisman's garbage has turned up the draft of an arrest warrant for Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.


Rolling in Dough

"So you have six years of pretty expensive schooling here, and it's going to be burritos and tacos? Are you serious?" Yes, Steve Ellis was serious. And, don't worry, he was able to pay off the expensive schooling. Here's the definitive oral history of Chipotle.

+ WaPo: The Chipotle effect: Why America is obsessed with fast casual food.


Mockingbird Takes Flight

"After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication." Harper Lee is finally ready to publish a second novel. It's essentially a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published 55 years ago. The LA Times takes a look at where Lee as been since then. (I figured she'd be writing an HBO series by now...)

+ Milan Kundera is set to publish his first novel in English in more than a decade.


Jay Z Shade of Winter

Jay Z is just about to close on his $56 million purchase of a Swedish streaming music service. (And this is a guy who had 99 problems before trying to run a startup). Music blogger Bob Lefsetz is not a fan of the deal and sees some bad signs for the music business.

+ Meanwhile, Beyonce just unveiled a vegan delivery service. (This is the best news animals have had in a long time.)


The Bottom of the News

From educational advancement to their careers, they seem to be just a little bit behind their counterparts. From the Harvard Gazette: A lefty's lament.

+ Lucky Peach: A Beginner's Field Guide to Dim Sum

+ Who would have an office inspired by Downton Abbey, but not want to talk about it? A politician.

+ Wired attempts to determine why cats love boxes so much. (Hint: They can fit in them, and you can't.)