Monday, February 23rd, 2015



Michael Keaton was willing to give it "220, 221, whatever it takes" and ultimately that was enough for Birdman to become one of the lowest-grossing movies ever to take home the top trophy at the Academy Awards (which, this year, was watched by fewer of you than usual). Here's a list of all the winners.

+ Vox has a list of the speeches and some of the best moments. On and around my couch, the night's top speech award went to Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons, who advised us all to call our parents: "Don't text. Don't email. Call them on the phone. Tell them you love them, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you." Right after his speech, I called my parents. They told me to call back after the Oscars.

+ Neil Patrick Harris gave a decent but uneven performance as host (maybe I'm just jealous because even my own family finds NPH more likable than me), and the musical performances were generally excellent. Somehow, many people (including entertainment reporters) missed a few years' worth of perfomances that made it clear Lady Gaga's standing ovation-earning segment should come as no surprise.

+ John Travolta overshadowed his own gaffe from last year's show by being, by far, the weirdest thing about the evening. It was difficult not to cover one's eyes and yell, BarbariNO.

+ Julianne Moore's Best Actress speech had some people wondering: Do Oscar winners really live longer?

+ No mention of Joan Rivers? Even the Everything is Awesome song thinks that sucks.

+ And finally, a video of a Lego Oscar being built in 3 seconds.


Yes, We Mind the Gap

Patricia Arquette had twelve years to consider an acceptance speech, and she ended up calling for "wage equality once and for all." Why? Probably because when it comes to pay disparity, Hollywood's track record looks a lot like ours.

+ LA Times: Women are leaving the tech industry in droves.



InFocus takes a photographic look at the shaky ceasefire in Ukraine. An agreement to stop the fighting was signed earlier this month, but the situation still looks an awful lot like war.


One Ring to Bind Them

"There are many more peace-mongers than warmongers." Following a series of attacks against Jews, "more than 1,000 people formed a 'ring of peace' Saturday outside Oslo's main synagogue at the initiative of a group of young Muslims."

+ Nothing is simple when it comes to matters of religion and violence. From The Independent: The man who organized a Muslim 'human shield' to protect a synagogue blamed Jews for 9/11


The People’s Court

"It's not clear that lighting a match and dropping it in the public sphere is going to be a reliable way to bring closure." That's Harvard professor Jonathan Zittrain on the fact that lurid details from lawsuits are drawing an increasingly large online crowd. (It's like reality TV, but real.)

+ Are you headed to prison in New York? You may be offered the chance to view an orientation video on how to identify, and avoid, sexual predators behind bars.


No Thanks

"To some recent vets -- by no stretch all of them -- the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters." Matt Richtel in the NYT: Please don't thank me for my service.


Pill Pushers

"From 1999 to 2010, the sale of prescription painkillers to pharmacies and doctors' offices quadrupled. In the exact same time span, the number of overdose deaths from prescription painkillers also quadrupled, rising to almost 17,000." It's probably not a very unusual story of how a harmful drug got shoved from the drawing board all the way down your throat; and that's precisely why it's worth knowing how the American opiate epidemic was started by one pharmaceutical company.


Cat and Dogs

"And this is where I feel I have been better served by my vet than many patients are by their doctors: we have had, for the last two years, a continuous conversation about Dottie's end-of-life plan." Elizabeth Lopatto in The Verge: Everything I know about a good death I learned from my cat.

+ Amy Selwyn in Medium: Helping my dog die.


The Avatar Pits

"It's a way of allowing you to step outside of your own body and experience what it's like to be someone else for a short time." And it's coming soon. And your brain could be perfectly wired for it. From The New Yorker: This is Your Avatar Speaking. (Or maybe it isn't...)


The Bottom of the News

Eighty percent of parents admit they have a favorite child. And the rest of them might as well admit it too. "It turns out that what matters most is not whether there is a favorite -- it's whether the kid thinks there is." (Mom, no need to respond. I mean, it's not like you're reading one of my sisters' newsletters right now.)

+ Don't just drink coffee. Drink more coffee.

+ The NFL scouting combine is televised exclusively for the most ardent pro football nerds. But occasionally, a moment from the proceedings will break into popular culture. Like when someone broad jumps more than twelve feet.