Tuesday, February 17th, 2015


Text Me if I Forget to Breathe

Relax, become aware of your breath and, if you encounter distractions, quietly escort them from your mind, without judgment. Either that, or put down the damn cellphone. In the age of graphical charts, here's one I'd like to see: The correlation between the rise of mobile devices and the popularity of meditation. Both are everywhere these days. Mindfulness is as popular as gluten is unpopular. And meditation classes are being taken by everyone; "college students, parents and prisoners; soldiers, the overweight and the lovelorn; the Seattle Seahawks, public school kids and members of Congress; Oprah, Chopra and Arianna." From the LA Times: Meditation booms as people seek a way to slow down.

+ Slate: "Meditation says to focus on the present. But life may be more meaningful if you don't." (That's a relief because I have about 114 tabs open right now.)


Action Bar

President Obama's executive actions on immigration "would offer a legal reprieve to the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have resided in the country for at least five years. This would remove the constant threat of deportation." Those actions are were placed on hold as a federal judge in Texas blocked them while a broader legal case moves forward.


Stop Making Sense

Many of the recent moves by ISIS don't seem to make much military sense. The organization is baiting additional countries from Jordan to Egypt into joining the coalition against them. But as Graeme Wood explains in his Atlantic piece, What ISIS Really Wants, "much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse." Wood begins his article with a question few Western leaders have been able to answer: What is the Islamic State?

+ Peter Bergen in CNN: "For many of us the idea that the end of times will come with a battle between 'Rome' and Islam at the obscure Syrian town of Dabiq is as absurd as the belief that the Mayans had that their human sacrifices could influence future events. But for ISIS, the Dabiq prophecy is deadly serious.



Think of it as the movie Office Space remade as a horror film. A couple years ago, an ATM in Kiev started spitting out cash at various times throughout the day. While the actions seemed random, they were anything but. It all started with some emailed malware called Carbanak. The malware learned the behavior of bank officers and then it went to work, "not only turning on various cash machines, but also transferring millions of dollars from banks in Russia, Japan, Switzerland, the United States and the Netherlands into dummy accounts set up in other countries." The hack was so effective and widespread that no one is sure exactly how much money was stolen. But it was in the hundreds of millions.


City of Hope

"The dissolution of the American dream isn't just a feeling; it is an empirical observation." Derek Thompson has done a great job tracking that dissolution across many of America's booming cities. But he's also found some exceptions to the new rule, including a city that mixes affordability, opportunity, and wealth like no other. Welcome to the miracle of Minneapolis. (And these days, compared to some East coast cities, the winters there are relatively mild...)


This is 40

Saturday Night Live is like the email of television. It's had its ups and downs, but its managed to stay relevant across several eras of remarkable change when it seemed flat out impossible to do that. Forty years. A remarkable feat. From The New Yorker's Sarah Larson: Saturday Night Live Celebrates Itself.

+ Bill Simmons in Grantland: The Giddy, Brilliant (and, OK, Somewhat Bloated) SNL 40.

+ AdAge: Real ad execs choose the best SNL fake ads.

+ FiveThirtyEight: Who really had the best movie career after SNL.


Ive League

For most Americans, Presidents' Day was a secular holiday. But for thousands of extreme Apple fans, the release of a longform piece on Sir Jonathan Ive made the day a full fledged religious experience. Ian Parker on how an industrial designer became Apple's greatest product.


Chipotle Belly

Chipotle is at the forefront of a dining revolution where the food is fast, but a lot more healthy than it used to be. But how healthy is it? The NYT UpShot takes a close look at how many calories people really eat at Chipotle. (After watching a guy at a mall Chipotle try to roll a burrito, I generally lose my appetite anyway...)

+ Let's shorten the American Heart Association's dietary guidelines to three core items: Fiber, fiber, fiber. (Those are the same three items discussed at any gathering of men over 50.)


Sir Cumference

There are some people you can't turn off. Whether it's radio or television, whether you love him or hate him, Charles Barkley is one of those people. ESPN's Jesse Washington on the people, the place and the privilege that made Charles Barkley a role model.


The Bottom of the News

"Would you like to understand how the 'new' Harper Lee novel, Go Set a Watchman, came to be billed as a long-lost, blockbuster sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird ... when, by all the known facts, it's an uneven first draft of the famous novel that was never considered for publication?" WaPo's Neely Tucker: To Shill a Mockingbird.

+ Mars One has selected its one hundred finalists, all competing for a one way ticket to Mars.

+ Consider this a PSA for folks on the East coast: In Bitter Cold, Entertaining Children With Games, Films and Dumplings.

+ And Hilary Sargent got a great shot of the snow that shows Boston is a corn maze. It's so obvious at this point. Admit you deflated the balls. God will stop the snow.