Tuesday, February 10th, 2015


Pants Optional

"On any given day, a Swedish man -- call him Viggo -- might be reclining on a sofa underneath a Danish lamp shaped like an artichoke. He is an artist, and he has a pension. He is wearing boldly colored pants." But is Viggo really as content as he seems? Are his neighbors in Denmark really the happiest people in the world? The New Yorker's Nathan Heller examines those questions and more and finds that "bliss of this kind is startling from a group of countries that are frozen half the year, subsist substantially on preserved fish, and charge among the highest tax rates in the modern world. One can be forgiven for wondering whether there's something fishy about the so-called Nordic Miracle itself." (Perhaps re-writing that opening description with one's own country in mind can offer some clarity: On any given day, an American man -- call him Dude -- might be reclining on a Funyun-crumbed couch next to a portable refrigerator shaped liked a football helmet. He hates art. He lives off credit cards. And given that he has no plans on moving anytime soon, pants are entirely optional.)


Your Eggs Are Done

Walter Willett of Harvard's School of Public Health may have summed up the entire history of nutritional guidelines with this one phrase about an upcoming report on cholesterol. "There's been a shift of thinking." The feds are about to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol in your diet. (It's only a matter of time before we start seeing headlines about the damaging impact of our carb deficiency.)



"We are heartbroken to share that we've received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life." The parents of Kayla Mueller, an American woman abducted by ISIS, have confirmed that she is dead. The family also released a letter sent from Kayla.

+ "Syrians are dying by the thousands and they're fighting just to talk about the rights we have. For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal." CNN looks at how Mueller ended up being taken hostage.


The Front

They "were on the ground ahead of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to military sources, and their work has helped nail pirates, free hostages and respond to humanitarian disasters." Tony Dokoupil of NBC News reports on one of the most valued and heavily recruited segments of the military. The Weathermen.


Butterfly Effect

"There are only about 500 million of us left, after the convulsive transformations caused by climate change severely diminished the planet's carrying capacity, which is the maximum population size that the environment can sustain. Most of us now live in what the British scientist James Lovelock has called ‘lifeboats' at the far reaches of the northern hemisphere, in places that were once Canada, China, Russia and the Scandinavian countries." In Aeon, Linda Marsa pays a visit to scorched earth, 2200 AD.

+ WaPo: The monarch massacre: Nearly a billion butterflies have vanished.

+ The Future Rise of Extinction Tourism.


Lithium Icon

"Without it, we would not have smartphones, tablets or laptops, including the device you are reading at this very moment. There would be no Apple. No Samsung. No Tesla." Quartz shares the story of the man who brought us the lithium-ion battery at the age of 57 and has an idea for a new one at 92.

+ The invention of the cardboard box.


Oklahoma, OK?

Syndicated from Kottke: The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased dramatically over the past years. There are now more measurable quakes in OK than California or Alaska. Why? Fracking.


Corpse Bride

"If Whitey wanted you to like him, he wouldn't stop until you liked him. Never has a sociopath been so concerned about what others think of him." From the Boston Globe's Kevin Cullen: Whitey Bulger still milking his crowd.

+ "He feels he will never die. Therefore, he feels it's a stupid idea to begin with." It turns out that Charles Manson's fiancée wanted to marry him for his corpse. (Happy Valentine's Day.)


Saving the World

"There were only twelve parties in total -- that is four per year over three years." That's former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn testifying in his prostitution trial and explaining that he didn't have time for more orgies because he was busy "saving the world from catastrophe." The New Yorker's Amy Davidson on Strauss-Kahn's strange sex-party math.

+ After reading that article, I decided to listen to Eurythmics - I Saved The World Today, for no other reason than I wanted to take my mind off the fact that I've never been in an orgy and I suck at math.


The Bottom of the News

Tablet Magazine is testing an unusual solution for toxic Internet comments. Users have to pay in order to leave a comment. (It would be a better business model if they let us pay to avoid them.)

Want to increase the chances that your startup will be a success? Give it a really short name.

+ The closer Republican and Democratic senators sit, the more they disagree.

+ WSJ: The debate over running while high. (Good idea, or great idea?)

+ And just confirming, Measles parties are generally frowned upon.