Friday, February 20th, 2015


Getting Off

We're rarely surprised when a powerful person does something seriously wrong and then gets off with little or no punishment. This lack of surprise could be due to the fact that it's our fault. In Fortune, Stanford's Jeffrey Pfeffer explains why powerful people are rarely punished appropriately.

+ Those at the opposite end of the power spectrum are often punished disproportionately. Consider the case of Glenn Ford. He spent 30 years on death row at a Louisiana prison for a crime he didn't commit. What was his compensation for this unthinkable wrong? A $20 debit card.


Sim, Shalom

A company called Gemalto produces two billion SIM cards a year and sports the tagline: Security to be Free. They might need a new tagline. According to the latest Snowden data dump, "American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe." From The Intercept: The Great SIM Heist. It might be time to take advantage of your right to be silent.

+ Yes, your own phone can and will be used against you. And, as it turns out, the same is true for your computer. From Slate: "You Had One Job, Lenovo. And it didn't involve sneaking malicious adware onto your customers' computers."


Weekend Reads

"It's almost like stealing. You come to set. Half the time you don't do anything. We come in, eat breakfast, eat craft service all day and look forward to lunch. We just had yogurt parfaits. 'Cause we hadn't eaten in half an hour!" You'd think a story about Hollywood extras would focus on low pay and dreams deferred. This one is a little different. From LA Weekly's Hillel Aron: Some Hollywood extras suffer, but others are rolling in it.

+ "Richard Zuley oversaw a shocking military interrogation that has become a permanent stain on his country ... He used disturbingly similar tactics to extract confessions from minorities for years -- as a police officer in urban America." A two-part investigation from The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman: Bad lieutenant.

+ Bloomberg's David Gauvey Herbert: Armed with cheap Chinese imports, a Las Vegas entrepreneur takes on Big Casket.

+ "The best rodeo stories are tragedies. The cowboy of American legend is a sacrificial creature, destroying himself in pursuit of an old-fashioned brand of liberty, along with the occasional taste of glory. The fame is fleeting, the girl leaves, and the pain lingers. That's what George Strait and Garth Brooks say, anyway." California Sunday's Abe Streep goes on the road with the 20-year-old king of rodeo


Don’t Leave Home Without It

Photoshop just celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday (it's looking a little bloated for only being 25). And in those 25 years, it's dramatically changed the way we see reality and what we view as attractive. (I never leave the house without a few blur filters.)


Dark Matters

"The main lesson of our research is that your skin doesn't stop getting damaged when you get out of the sun." The bad things the sun does to your skin continue long after you've gone inside.

+ James Hamblin on the new U.S. dietary guidelines and the return of the egg. (Soon we'll learn that eggs are a silent killer that plague all except those with the extra protection afforded by excess gluten.)


It’s Good to Be the King

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has come up with a politically shrewd way to kick off his tenure on the throne. He's giving away money. Lots of it. And it's seems to be going over pretty well. "Some have treated themselves to new cellphones, handbags and trips abroad. They have paid off debts, given to charity and bought gold necklaces for their mothers. Some men have set aside money to marry a first, second or third wife. One was so pleased that he showered his infant son with crisp bills." (The way the drought is going out here in California, that method might soon be cheaper than taking a normal shower.)


Handle With Care

Javier CastaƱo works shining shoes outside a cafe in Malaga, Spain. He also happens to be the owner of some of Twitter's most desirable handles. But he's not your typical squatter. He's not out to make money. He's just holding onto the handles until he can get them to their rightful owners. WaPo's Caitlin Dewey introduces you to the Spanish shoeshine guy who secretly guards Twitter's greatest real estate.


But the Kid is Not My Son

Carnell Alexander is not the child's father. The mother now admits it. And the courts absolutely affirm that to be true. So why did a judge just order Alexander to pay thirty grand in back child support?


Book ‘Em

"The Leawood City Council said it had received a couple of complaints about Spencer Collins' Little Free Library. They dubbed it an 'illegal detached structure' and told the Collins they would face a fine if they did not remove the Little Free Library from their yard." Yes, people will complain about anything. The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf on the danger of being neighborly without a permit.

+ McSweeney's: Welcome To The Federal Department Of Outrage.


The Bottom of the News

Next month, Starbucks plans to stop selling audio CDs at the checkout counter. Great, now where am I gonna be able to get my music?

+ Slate's Fred Kaplan proudly outs himself as an audiophile: "I appreciate high-quality phono-cartridges. I recognize a good digital-to-analog converter. I care about the capacitors in my amplifier. I will not apologize for this."

+ Humans can only distinguish between about 30 shades of gray. (Most guys can't last through more than 13-14 anyway.)

+ What's the heaviest burrito in San Francisco. (This is oddly riveting.)

+ Kim Jong-un: A Haircut Odyssey.