Thursday, February 19th, 2015


Going to Extremism

American politicians and pundits aren't the only ones struggling to understand why so many young Muslims are leaving their homes to join ISIS. So are many of their parents. In the NYT, Mona El-Naggar takes us along the path traveled by one teen turned extremist. And it's not necessarily the path you've imagined: From a Private School in Cairo to ISIS Killing Fields in Syria.


System Error

"I sometimes drive near the prison where he's held, and I think, 'Gosh he shouldn't be there. Certainly not as long as I had to send him there ... That wasn't the right thing to do. The system forced me to do it.'" That's retired federal judge Paul Cassell reflecting on the 55-year sentence he once handed out to a guy who sold marijuana.

+ George Toca was sentenced to life in prison when he was 17. He recently made a deal which resulted in his immediate parole. That was good news for him. But it was bad news for hundreds of other prisoners. From Bloomberg's Matt Stroud: Prisoners sentenced to life as kids just lost their best chance for freedom.


The Writing on the Walmart

Walmart just announced plans to give raises to entry level workers, and provide a more clear path towards advancement. It's good news for employees, and good PR for Walmart. But as the Upshot's Neil Irwin explains, the move may have a lot to do with economic forces (and that could mean other companies will soon follow).



"I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people -- even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands." Oliver Sacks on learning he has terminal cancer.

+ BoingBoing shares a great shot of Sacks on his motorcycle in 1961.


Feeling Good is Good Enough

"Despite his injuries, Turner began giving first aid and pulled other soldiers to safety. As he worked, he was shot twice -- one bullet breaking a bone in his arm. Yet Turner would say later that he felt almost no pain." NPR on the connections between emotions and pain. This is interesting stuff. But don't use it as an excuse not to sympathize with someone who's suffering. If pain is all in your head, it's because everything else is there too.


I Unretouch Myself

First Cindy Crawford. Now Beyonce. Leaked "unretouched" photos of alarmingly attractive people are all the rage these days. The Daily Beast's Tim Teeman wonders if it's a sign that fashion is getting real. I happen to be reporting from "real" and trust me, there's still a long way to go.


Blow Pop

"What I worry about is that someone is going to see wrongdoing, and then see what's happened to people like me, and decide it's not worth it." In Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi chronicles the recent life history of Michael Winston, the guy who blew the whistle on Countrywide. "If you think you've had a tough year, wait until you hear his story."


Best Supporting Math

"Would you believe me if I told you there was a better way to win your Oscar pool: math?" From the Boston Globe, a Harvard man predicts the Oscars. (I'm guessing there are other uses for his algorithms that would put more equity in his pocket.)

+ FIveThirtyEight's election-style Oscar predictions.


The Icing on the Lake

It will come as no surprise to folks in the eastern half of the U.S. that it's been cold. Well, there are two words in the latest forecast that will make for a poor ice-breaker: Polar Vortex.

+ If nothing else, the record-setting cold snap makes for some incredible photos.

+ In Boston, "there is a lot of snow. There is a lot of misery. Someone must be to blame. But who?" Sounds like we need a chart.


The Bottom of the News

"For the next week, I will subsist almost entirely on a diet of state-controlled Russian television, piped in from three Apple laptops onto three 55-inch Samsung monitors in a room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan." Gary Shteyngart on what he learned from watching a week of Russian TV.

+ Outtakes from Haruki Murakami's advice column.

+ MoJo Quiz: North Korean Slogan or TED Talk Sound Bite?

+ A St. Louis band is trying to crowd-fund enough money to have its own drummer killed. (That's so metal.)