Friday, February 6th, 2015


It Is … Alive

"I want them to think of it the same way you'd look at a rain forest, and be almost in awe and wonder." That's how geneticist Christopher E. Mason presented a new study that mapped the DNA found in NYC subways. As an introverted germaphobe, I think I'm more likely to stand clear of the closing doors (like 3,000 miles clear). Researchers discovered hundreds of species of bacteria, a touch of bubonic plague, and that "half of the DNA found on the system's surfaces did not match any known organism and just 0.2 percent matched the human genome." Uhhh, "Taxi."


A Real Wage Turner

"I guess I'm the one who's, like, destroying the book industry." The New Yorker's Vauhini Vara heads to San Francisco's Mission District to ask a question on the minds of many observers around the country: Will a higher minimum wage close a beloved bookstore? Something tells me that, in the heart of the tech economy, there might be a few other factors at work.


Weekend Reads

"For a lot of captains of industry and the celebrities, it was a chance for them to go and be a normal person at the party like anybody else. But bringing in servants is where it's become a bit of a problem. It's pushing buttons related to class war in San Francisco." Felix Gillette in Bloomberg: The Billionaires at Burning Man.

+ "He hurled a book across the room and told her he could do better. Mom suggested he do so. According to her, the tipping point for Dad's full commitment to porn, five years later, was my orthodontic needs." NYT Mag's Chris Offutt: My Dad, the Pornographer.

+ "He's like Tiger Woods in his prime. You don't like the person, but you like the golfer." ESPN's Mike Fish on Billy Walters, the world's most successful sports bettor: A Life on the Line.

+ "I had given the wrong answer. I had lost $225,000 in about 10 seconds. My time on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? had come to an end." In Slate, Justin Peters explains how failing colossally on a game show changed his life for the better.

+ Vanity Fair's Mark Seal with a look at Sony's hacking saga, as it happened.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Jessamyn West writes about the nuts and bolts of dealing with the death of her techie dad, including wresting control from the hidden computer controlling his house and digitally impersonating him to use his apps and cancel cable.

+ John Herrman in The Awl: The Next Internet is TV. (Phew, I thought he was gonna say it'd be a book...)


Our War

She "went to Syria to help suffering children. Then she was abducted by monsters." ISIS claims that a recent Jordanian airstrike killed its last remaining American hostage.

+ "This is absolutely Jordan's war, it is every Muslim's war... We can't win this war alone but it is absolutely our war." That was Jordan's Queen Rania who was joined by thousands in a rally in support of a military response to ISIS.

+ WaPo: As a curfew is lifted, Baghdad is at long last partying again. A nighttime curfew has been in place in Baghdad since 2003.


Pop Warning

"It would establish remarkable precedent that would change youth football, because I don't think anyone would insure you if strict liability applied." The parents of a twenty-five year-old who committed suicide have sued Pop Warner, claiming the league "failed to warn players about, and protect them from, the dangers of head trauma."

+ Debra Pyka and Jeffrey Chernach in Vox: We lost our son to football and brain disease. This is our story.


No Valley for Old Men

It "sold the world's first mass-marketed fully assembled personal computer, with a Bill Gates-created operating system, in 1977. It also sold the computer industry's first laptop in 1983 and its first mobile phone in 1984." Buzzfeed's Sapna Maheshwari on Radio Shack, and the end of an era.

+ Wired: How Radio Shack helped build Silicon Valley. Something that seems like the coolest thing today will be tomorrow's Radio Shack. Mark my words. (Or better yet, record them onto an 8-track tape.)


Better Take the Long View

In Shanghai, 86 percent of high school students suffer from nearsightedness. And no one is exactly sure why. But here's an interesting clue: The problem is linked to higher incomes, education, and urbanization. (I don't see any way that all this screen time isn't hurting our vision. After staring at this laptop all day, I don't see much at all...)


The Old Harvard Try

"Undergraduates come to college to learn from us. We're not here to have sexual or romantic relationships with them." And with that in mind, Harvard just banned sexual relationships between professors and students.

+ This year, Harvard set a record for its highest number of applicants. Either more of you are unrealistic, or the university's social media strategy is working. (Maybe they'll send rejections via Snapchat.)


Is This Thing On?

At three in the morning, you might be asleep. But a lot of the electronic devices in your house are wide awake. And many of your plugged in housemates are communicating wirelessly or operating in standby mode, and using up a ton of electricity.


The Bottom of the News

"While some Wikipedia editors focus on adding content or vetting its accuracy, and others work to streamline the site's grammar and style, generally few, if any, adopt Giraffedata's approach to editing: an unrelenting, multi-year project to fix exactly one grammatical error." Meet the ultimate WikiGnome.

+ Left Shark was too wonderful for it not to ultimately lead to a lawsuit.

+ Who was Gen. Tso, and why does he have his own chicken? And while we're in this section of the menu, what exactly is duck sauce?

+ High There is a new dating app billed as a Tinder for cannabis fans. (I swiped for half an hour hoping to see a suggestive photo of Funyuns.)