Tuesday, February 24th, 2015


Down the Drain

In a world deeply divided, there are few things that bring us together. One of those things is a need for water. That need is growing dramatically at a time when supply is draining away in places from Karachi to California. Michael Specter in The New Yorker: A Thirsty, Violent World: "There are ways to replace oil, gas, and coal, though we won't do that unless economic necessity demands it. But there isn't a tidy and synthetic invention to replace water."


Loop D’├ętat

"It's almost like they throw a black bag over your head and make you disappear for a day or two." No access to lawyers. Interrogations about terrorist connections. Beatings. None of that sounds all that surprising when it comes to some of the military detention centers overseas. But in this case, we're talking about Chicago. From The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman: The Disappeared.

+ The NYPD is using a scene from Road House to teach cops how to be nicer. In the words of Patrick Swayze as Dalton: "If somebody gets in your face and calls you a c--ksucker, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you, and you'll both be nice. I want you to remember that it's a job. It's nothing personal." Sounds like good advice. Of course, Dalton also said, "Pain doesn't hurt."


Counter Revolution

A counter-offensive by the Kurds in northeast Syria caused some ISIS fighters to retreat. But as they did, they kidnapped as many as 90 Christians. "We are witnessing the end of the Christian presence in the east."


We Know What You’ve Got

The Internet is our first stop when we're faced with almost any ailment. And when you type in your symptoms, you are being followed. "WebMD is basically calling up everybody in town and telling them that's what you're looking at." From Vice: These companies are tracking you. Given my particularly gnarly list of personal symptoms, both real and imagined, these companies might have more fun following me when I visit adult sites.

+ From Matter: There's this company selling photos of your kid. And it's all perfectly legal.


Binge Selling

"That's one of the reasons I decided to do this campaign: to raise awareness that binge eating is a real medical condition." That's Monica Seles explaining the reason why she visited several talk shows this month. But as the NYT's Katie Thomas explains, that's not the only reason. Her tour was sponsored by the maker of a binge-eating drug. If you want to sell a drug, first you have to sell the condition and the notion that pills are are its best solution.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: The results of a major new trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that for children who are at risk of developing a peanut allergy, eating peanuts greatly reduces the chance of an allergy. This is pretty huge news.


Punt, Pass and Beg

"I want to talk about my speed." That request came from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton when he poked his head into the cubicle of Donny Moore. If you're in the NFL and you want your performance to be excellent, Moore is the man to talk to. He's the guy behind the Madden ratings, and he decides everthing from how fast you run to how well you tackle. From FiveThirtyEight: The secret process that turns NFL players into digital gods. (Thankfully, I operate in an industry where one can achieve that status with a few decent Tweets.)


No Rest for the Theory

An Oscar presented to the actor who played him was just the latest honor presented to a man who has no shortage of amazing achievements. But Stephen Hawking's most amazing -- and mysterious -- achievement could be the fact that he's alive. From WaPo: How Stephen Hawking, diagnosed with ALS decades ago, is still alive.


Buzz Kill

According to a new study, Marijuana may be even safer than we previously thought. In fact, it could be the least risky recreational drug. What's the riskiest? According to researchers, "alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine."

+ Alaska is the latest state to legalize marijuana (giving editors across the universe the chance to use the headline: Baked Alaska). Here's a detailed look at what you can and can't do today in Alaska.

+ Medical marijuana may soon get a Kosher stamp of approval.


Head in the Clouds

"That's the thing about MH370 theory-making: It's hard to come up with a plausible motive for an act that has no apparent beneficiaries." After months of studying the problem and appearing on cable news panels, Jeff Wise is left to wonder: How crazy am I to think I actually know where that Malaysia Airlines plane is? (Probably no more crazy than the rest of this incredibly crazy, and now largely forgotten, story.)


The Bottom of the News

This one is presented without comment: "According to the Associated Press, Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri asked a doctor testifying before the House State Affairs Committee whether a woman could have a remote gynecological exam by swallowing a tiny camera. Dr. Julie Madsen told him no, that's not possible, because items that are swallowed do not end up in the vagina."

+ From Reuters: Whips, chains and capitalism: What Fifty Shades of Grey is really about.

+ Outside: "Ben Lecomte will step into the Pacific Ocean in Japan and, over the next five months, attempt to become the first swimmer to cover the 5,500 miles to California." Damn, this guy must really like California.

+ As it reaches its final episode, here's an oral history of the creation and evolution of Parks And Recreation.

+ Christina Aguilera singing This Little Piggy as Britney Spears. (Seriously, Internet, what more could you want?)