Thursday, February 12th, 2015


You Know You Love It

In the NYT Magazine, Jon Ronson recounts how one stupid tweet blew up Justine Sacco's life. Sacco's tweet was pretty stupid. But at the time, she had fewer than 200 followers. How did a bad joke in an essentially empty room come to dominate the Twitterverse? To answer that question, you need to read the key line of the piece: "The furor over Sacco's tweet had become not just an ideological crusade against her perceived bigotry but also a form of idle entertainment." This is true, except not necessarily in that order. It was almost all about fun and entertainment. If we really examine what's looking back at us from the other end of the selfie stick, we'd admit that we love destroying people and piling on during their worst moments. Social media has turned Schadenfreude into a bloodsport.

+ Facebook is now giving you the the chance to name a legacy contact. That's the person who will have access to control certain elements of your account after you die. I don't know if I want to burden anyone with that amount of deleting.


Run the Presses

"In a previous era, after the last page was sent to the printer, an editor would ring a bell, walk toward the door, and holler 'Good night!' to mostly no one, because there was no one left to yell at." But the times have changed. The news cycle never stops even in the presses do. For a great look at the intersection of old media and new, check out this Popular Mechanics article on how The New York Times works.


Is He Putin Us On?

"This was not the best night of my life, but the morning in my opinion was good." That was Vladimir Putin after 15 hours of talks with European leaders led to a (fragile) Ukraine cease-fire deal.

+ Slate: The Best -- and (Likely) Worst -- case scenarios for Ukraine's new peace deal.


Don’t Throw Away the Key

There's been a decline in crime in America. On the surface, it may seem like that drop is due to the fact that we've locked up so many people. But a new report suggests otherwise. From The Atlantic: The many causes of America's decline in crime.

+ FiveThirtyEight: "Pick a stat, any stat. They all tell you the same thing: America is really good at putting people behind bars." (There are some mind-boggling numbers and charts in this piece.)

+ The Marshall Project: 10 (not entirely crazy) theories explaining the great crime decline.


Jets and Sharks

Jet dot com has an interesting Costco-like pricing model for products. The company also has an experienced team. And the start-up market is going nuts. But even with all that, it's saying something when an ecommerce company is valued at $600 million before it launches.

+ Bloomberg's Brad Stone: Amazon bought this man's company. Now he's coming for them.


Up in Smoke

For years they've been telling you that smoking is terrible for your health. They tried to convince you that it caused diseases that would kill you. Well, here's the truth. Smoking is even worse than we thought.


High Anxiety

No one likes feeling anxious. But what if that "anxiety reflects something admirable about you: a sensitivity to the complexity of moral life." In Aeon, Charlie Kurth argues that worry is an important part of being a moral person. (Now I'm worried my anxiety is missing some key elements...)

+ "The problem was not that I simply chose not to be 'normal,' that I allowed my fears, baseless as they may have been, to conquer and dictate so much of my life. The problem was my brain." Tracy Clayton in Buzzfeed: When taking anxiety medication is a revolutionary act.


Inside Out

If you live in the Boston area, you're probably either physically experiencing the incredible snow dump, or experiencing it via one or more screens like the rest of us. The New Yorker's Ian Crouch on big snow in the Internet age. "When it's snowing outside, of course, it's also snowing on the Internet ... Watching the weather has become a full-time, multi-platform pursuit."


Urban Decay

What do "blacks, Jews, Native Americans, liberals, conservatives, and eating-disorder awareness groups" all have in common? They've all been offended by at least one of Urban Outfitters' many big controversies. (To me, their most controversial move is selling vinyl records along with cheap turntables that are nowhere near good enough to draw on any of the benefits of owning vinyl. Although the Holocaust evoking shirt is also right up there...)


The Bottom of the News

"Dan Carey remembers the tears on his wife's face when they discussed his outrageous plan. He wanted to land his name in the history books. She wanted to know: 'You would leave me?'" From WaPo: Would you leave your family behind to be the first human to set foot on Mars?

+ Remember when a Korean Air exec went nuts because her nuts were served in a bag and not on a plate? Well, she just got sentenced to a year in prison.

+ Forget the coming of 4K resolution. Sit back, and check out this 10K timelapse video (preferably on a large screen).

+ Here are this year's World Press Photo 2014 winners.

+ How would it make you feel if someone kicked a robot that's a lot like a dog? Take a look and find out. (My cats can't get enough of this video.)