Friday, February 13th, 2015


The Intersection

We've rightfully used up plenty of this digital space remarking on the ways the Internet enables people to tear each other down. But it's worth noting those times when social media can pull us together. Such a moment occurred last night when news spread that NYT media journalist David Carr had collapsed and died. My Twitter stream was almost immediately overrun by tributes and remembrances. Carr existed at the intersection of old and new journalism, of lofty media analysis and gritty reporting, of good and bad living, of sin and redemption. In other words, he was human. And he touched the lives and many journalists, including his colleague A.O. Scott: "He understood better than anyone how hard the job can be, how lonely, how confusing, how riddled with the temptations of cynicism and compromise. And yet he could make it look so easy, and like the most fun you could ever hope to have."

+ It turns out the one guy who could really sum up what David Carr meant to folks in media is David Carr. From the NYT: The Quotable David Carr.

+ "If I said I was a fat thug who beat up women and sold bad coke, would you like my story? What if instead I wrote that I was a recovered addict who obtained sole custody of my twin girls, got us off welfare and raised them by myself, even though I had a little touch of cancer? Now we're talking." From Carr's me and my girls.

+ Nick Bilton: The two best pieces of advice David Carr ever gave me.

+ If you want a good example of why so many of his colleagues loved David Carr, watch this clip of him interviewing the crew from Vice.


Mother Nature Gets Medieval

"Even at the middle-of-the-road scenario, we see enough warming and drying to push us past the worst droughts experienced in the region since the medieval era." NatGeo on the latest forecast for the oncoming megadrought.


Weekend Reads

"For a start, the scene was more metaphorical than geographical. Nearly everyone who was there was, at one time or another, stoned; nobody remembers everything the same way." From Vanity Fair: An Oral History of Laurel Canyon.

+ "With a pimp for a father and a mother who turned tricks for drugs and food for her family, Tyson was groomed from birth for the red light district of sports, a place where sex and violence are never very far apart, or very far under the surface." In SB Nation, Brin-Jonathan Butler: 25 years after Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglas, why do we still have sympathy for the devil?

+ Rolling Stone: Saturday Night Live: All 141 Cast Members Ranked.

+ Brooke Jarvis in California Sunday Magazine: When Hugo Lucitante was a boy, his tribe sent him away to learn about the outside world so that, one day, he might return and save their village. Can he live up to their hopes?


The Non-Smoking Gun

"All of that just adds to the picture of an interconnected terrorist network with the ability to share resources, personnel, expertise, and tradecraft in a way that serves as a multiplier to their own capabilities, and that's a disturbing trend." The Daily Beast's Tim Mak on the ways Boko Haram and ISIS are teaming up.

+ BBC on how Nigeria's militants have become so strong. Here's a key section: "How does Boko Haram recruit fighters? Increasingly through conscription -- villagers are forced to join en masse or risk being slaughtered." That's one of the key complexities when it comes to fighting terrorists. Often, airstrikes are hitting conscripts who have already been victimized.

+ LA Times: Islamic State: Smoking will kill you, one way or another.


Card Sharks

In 2012, some gamblers playing mini-baccarat at the Golden Nugget casino noticed that the cards hadn't been shuffled. So they started betting bigger, and before it was over, they'd won $1.5 million. Now a judge has ordered them to give it back. I'm beginning to think that casino gambling is a poor investment.

+ ESPN: Inside the ball-busting, nerve-inducing Tuesday money matches on the PGA Tour. (And you thought Sundays were the high pressure days on the golf tour.)


Snow Days

Everyone loves taking a snow day off. Even murderers. New York City just set a record. No murders for ten days.

+ "In other words, if a South Carolina inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped, he could still wind up with fewer Level 1 offenses than an inmate who updated Facebook every day for two weeks." From the EFF: Hundreds of South Carolina inmates sent to solitary confinement over Facebook.


Musk Never Sleeps

Not satisfied with powering cars, Tesla is set to begin work on a battery that will power your house.

+ Mattel and Google are teaming up to revamp the Viewmaster.

+ President Obama was in Palo Alto to sign an executive order "that urges companies to share cybersecurity-threat information with one another and the federal government." Using a selfie stick. Doing interviews with web publications. Speaking in Palo Alto. Isn't it obvious? Obama is about to launch a startup.



According to a psychologist at the University of Chicago, your brain may want a bottle of soda more if the bottle is easy to pick up. (I think I'll stick with the trough.)


Love Roundup

It's Valentine's weekend, so let's get up to speed on love stories in the news. From WaPo: How love brought Oregon's governor to the brink of resignation. (And then over it...)

+ "In the search for her husband and his mistress, and in her long court battle with them, Zhang embarked on a journey that led her to establish what could be China's only women's detective agency, working on behalf of wronged wives."

+ Warm skin. Moderate pressure. Moving at one inch per second. Neurobiologists explain how to caress.

+ Jezebel: A chat with Malcolm Brenner, a man famous for having sex with a dolphin.

+ "Lori, it's excruciatingly embarrassing for me being here — to contemplate what people who knew me would think has been agonizing." From The Marshall Project: Love in Solitary. (I could have used the same title for my college memoirs.)

+ Mental Floss: The history of the conversation heart.


The Bottom of the News

Is Friday the 13th really unlucky? According to Vox, the research says no. (Ever get the feeling that we do too much research?) So why are we still making buildings without a 13th floor?

+ "Python is a bit of a tricky meat. So we're using smoked eel instead." It's not easy being the chef at a Game of Thrones feast.

+ Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was asked if he believes in evolution. He decided to "punt on that one."

+ The Breakfast Club is returning to theaters. The movie just turned 30 years old. (They should do a modern remake and just show the five teens staring at their phones for eight hours.)