Monday, February 9th, 2015


It’s All About You

Burning a person alive is not a new act in warfare or intimidation. Far from it. So how did the gruesome burning of a Jordanian pilot become a incident that outraged the world and possibly altered a war? It was on video. Seeing a video changes everything. The existence of video footage can determine what leads the news, what drives public opinion, and what gets lodged in our memories. It can also determine who becomes a celebrity, who gets elected, which products we purchase, and confirm again and again the dominance of the once overlooked house-cat. Whoever controls the video controls the story. And since about 2005, the person who's controlled the video has been you. You, the cat owner. You, the aspiring singer. You, the citizen journalist. And yes, you the terror group determined to intimidate and remain at the forefront of a global conversation. From The Guardian: How YouTube Changed the World.


Alabama Shakes

Courts have cleared the way for same-sex marriage licenses to be issued in Alabama. But many judges are resisting the call to issue those licenses following an order from the state's Chief Justice, Roy Moore.

+ You might recognize Moore's name. He was ousted during his first stint as chief justice after "refusing to move a Ten Commandments monument he had installed in a state building."


Hindsight is Never 20/20

During a formative camping trip, my friend Mordy and I woke up in the misty dawn to witness the frolicking of two river otters. Years later, a third friend told the story of that early morning sighting, only in his version, he was the one who saw the otters. These memory alternations and transferences are anything but rare. Did Brian Williams really misremember the events surrounding that helicopter ride in 2003? I don't know. (And if I ever cared, I don't remember doing so). But he certainly could have. Neuroscience is brimming with studies and examples of people's memories recreating events or roles in ways much more dramatic than in the Williams case. (Update: After proofreading this blurb, Mordy tells me that as kids, we never camped outdoors and that the otters were actually a couple stuffed animals his mom gave me after I wet their bed.)


Follow the Money

Sometimes when you the follow the money, it leads to a bank. "Royal families and convicted cocaine dealers, ambassadors and terror suspects, entertainers and elected officials, corporate executives and athletes." Those were among the many players who used the services of HSBC to help them hide the money.


Back in Blackberry

"BlackBerry was the coolest company to work for, because everyone carried one in their pockets. The company felt like nothing could stop it." In Fusion, Kevin Roose pays a visit to Waterloo, Ontario to tell a saga of life, death (and maybe rebirth) in Blackberry's hometown.


It’s Not About Ye

Sam Smith and Beck were the two biggest winners during last night Grammy Awards, even though Kanye West didn't agree with the choices and looked like he might grab the mic from a winner again this year.

+ The Hollywood Reporter has a list of videos of all the performances, ranked from worst to best. I don't agree with all the rankings. The way I saw it, there was Annie Lennox, and the rest of the show.

+ The most cutting edge moment of the night came during a commercial break. Target pooled together several consecutive spots to feature a live Imagine Dragons performance. Live commercials during live shows; brands are figuring out how to grab your attention.

+ The Grammy event of the weekend took place a night earlier when Bob Dylan was honored as the MusiCares person of the year. Here's a transcript of his speech.


You Can Call Him Al

"They say I want publicity? That's exactly what I want. I want publicity on the issues ... You think anybody has ever called in Al Sharpton to keep a secret?" WaPo on the public life and private doubts of Al Sharpton.


For Four Eyes Only

Warby Parker has topped FastCompany's list of the fifty most innovative companies on 2015. The rest of the top ten include, Apple, Alibaba, Google, Instagram, Color of Change, HBO, Virgin America, IndiGo, and Slack.


Skirting Justice

"From a legal point of view, which unfortunately today is my job to enforce, he didn't do anything wrong." A man in Portland admitted to snapping photos up the skirt of a 13 year-old girl at a Target. But the judge was unable to find him guilty of a crime. (We need some new laws.)


The Bottom of the News

From Quartz: Millions of Facebook users have no idea they're using the Internet. (Well, they sort of aren't...)

+ Just in time for Valentine's Day, three centuries of using classified ads for public spouse shaming.

+ And Netflix is in Cuba. (What took so long?)