Wednesday, February 11th, 2015


Dear Jon

Television viewers got a much-anticipated Dear Jon letter from The Daily Show's Jon Stewart last night. His departure from the show will be the end of an era for a telecast that heralded the beginning of one. As WaPo's Ryan McCarthy points out, "He was the first true star of the Internet journalism era."

+ Sarah Larson in The New Yorker: "Humor is a form of relief. That relief restores us, and becomes a form of strength. Stewart's work on the show has been so central, so essential, that it's hard to imagine American political and comedic culture without it." It's also worth noting that when we refer to Stewart, we're really referring to a team of writers and producers who have been remarkably productive over nearly 17 years.

+ In other much-anticipated media news, NBC dropped the hammer on Brian Williams with a six-month suspension and some tough talk from NBC Universal's Stephen Burke: "His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate." (I wish Brian Williams told the truth and Jon Stewart was lying.)


Hate Crime

"It was execution style, a bullet in every head. This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt." The father of one of the victims of a triple homicide in Chapel Hill explains why the killing of three Muslims was clearly a hate crime.

+ The altercation was sparked by a parking dispute.


Pouring In From All Sides

President Obama sent a letter to Congress formally requesting approval for a three year military campaign that "could include limited ground operations by American forces to hunt down enemy leaders or rescue American personnel."

+ AP: "Foreign fighters are streaming into Syria and Iraq in unprecedented numbers to join the Islamic State or other extremist groups, including at least 3,400 from Western nations among 20,000 from around the world."

+ Middle East conflicts could be one of the drivers behind the largest mass migration since WWII. Hundreds of migrants are believed to have died when their inflatable boats overturned on the way to Italy.


Kicking the Tired

People who suffer from chronic fatigue must get tired of others telling them that it's all in their head. Now, researchers have given the ailment a new name and a clear set of symptoms.


Ground Troops

"Nobody knew what would come of online maps, or how they would become such a crucial aspect of daily lives in the Internet-connected world." ReCode's Liz Gannes takes a very interesting look back at ten years of Google Maps; the company's second largest property after its search engine.

+ While Google is leading the ground war, Apple is trying to soak up the sun. The company has agreed to acquire enough solar power to supply "all of Apple's California stores, offices, headquarters and a data center." From Tim Cook: "We know that climate change is real. Our view is that the time for talk has passed, and the time for action is now."


Outside the Box

An investigation into Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West has stripped the Little League team of its national championship. It turns out that team officials drew players from neighboring little league districts to build a superteam. "The real troubling part of this is that we feel horribly for the kids who are involved with this. Certainly, no one should cast any blame, any aspersions on the children who participated on this team."

+ Lean In: The year Ron Hunt got hit by 50 pitches.


It’s Crazy at the Top

"He is unmarried and his old acquaintances say that he is incapable of consumating the sexual act in a normal fashion." From MoJo: The CIA's secret psychological profiles of dictators and world leaders are amazing. (These guys have a lot of personality overlap with web commenters.)


Hasidic Ruse

"Religious fundamentalists want to have a monopoly on truth, a monopoly on morality, but the internet undermines those facades." But the personal facades often remain intact. Aeon's Batya Ungar-Sargon on the double life of Hasidic atheists.


Sex Trafficking

This is a story that seems to sum up modern life in the Bay Area. The cost of living is so high that some sex workers are moonlighting as Uber drivers. I wonder if one can request a driver who knows how to operate a manual shift.


The Bottom of the News

The French National Film Board has split with most of the world by giving Fifty Shades of Grey a rating that suggests it's suitable for teens. (At least I won't be the only one in the theater rolling my eyes.)

+ The guy who created Sriracha never trademarked the name. Anyone can use the name.

+ Jon Stewart wasn't the only late night TV news last night. Chris Elliot made what is likely his last visit with Letterman. The two of them are the best combo in late night TV history.

+ Scientists now know why popcorn pops. And mathematicians say they know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

+ Esquire: I Paid for an invisible girlfriend. Things took a weird turn.