Monday, March 2nd, 2015


Thumb Drive Invasion

"They see the leisure, the freedom. They realize that this isn't the enemy; it's what they want for themselves. It cancels out everything they've been told. And when that happens, it starts a revolution in their mind." That's Kang Chol-hwan in how he hopes to ultimately overthrow the North Korean government. Kang's weapon of choice: Thousands of thumb drives loaded with American entertainment from episodes of Desperate Housewives to bootlegged copies of Judd Apatow Movies. Can access to this kind of content really lead to a revolution? Wired's Andy Greenberg takes a very interesting look at the plot to free North Korea with smuggled episodes of Friends. (Maybe they should send over episodes of Two and a Half Men to prove that pretty much anyone in a free society can get a job in showbiz.)



Another police shooting was caught on video when LAPD officers killed a homeless man on skid row. The video (briefly posted to Facebook) appears to show the man reaching for an officer's gun. There is also a second video taken by a security camera. And this incident could be the first controversial encounter to be recorded by the body cameras now worn by Los Angeles cops.

+ WaPo: "The stop was routine police work, except for one fact: Youlen is not a Manassas officer. The citation came courtesy of the private force he created that, until recently, he called the 'Manassas Junction Police Department.' He is a force of one." Justin Jouvenal on the increasing number of those who count themselves among the ranks of America's private police force.


It’s All About the Benjamin

"My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both." So said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of his controversial speech to Congress. (And Kanye meant no disrespect to Beck.)

+ "I don't want him to treat Congress as a campaign stop, which is what he's doing. I don't want him to be played for a sucker by allowing one American political party to turn Israel into a weapon against the other American political party. And I don't want him to turn the president of the United States into an open adversary." Jeffrey Goldberg: All of your nuclear-deal questions, answered.


Mob Rule

"Her hijab, or headscarf, was lifted to reveal two plastic bottles strapped to either side of her waist. The crowd descended on the girl, clubbing her to death before placing a tire doused in gasoline on her body and lighting her on fire." A Nigerian mob killed a teen girl they thought was a bomber with ties to Boko Haram. But it appears the victim may have been just an ordinary teenager.

+ Some reflections from the person who taught the anger management class attended by Jihadi John


Opposing Force

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was one of the organizers of an anti-Putin protest scheduled for Sunday. Instead, "it became a march of mourning" for as many as 50,000 people stunned by the killing of Nemtsov the night before.

+ The Daily Beast: The Boris Nemtsov murder conspiracy theories.

+ Quartz: This year, Russians will spend half their money on food alone.


The Five Grand Canyon

How intense was the boom and bust cycle that buried the original dot com bubble investors and entrepreneurs under a mountain-high pile of exploded company tchotchkes, shredded stock option agreements, and abandoned Kozmo messenger bags? Consider this: At the peak of the fun, the Nasdaq composite hit 5,000 for the first time. Today, it just made it back. It took 15 years. (That's about how long I've been waiting for my Webvan delivery.)

+ Highlights from the Forbes 2015 billionaires list. Gates is still on top, Michael Jordan made the list, and there are 1,826 billionaires.


Without a Trace

"The chances are very, very slim. A lot of zeroes in that percentage. But there's no proof that it crashed, which means it might have landed. We don't know." A year after it vanished, GQ's Sean Flynn takes a look back at the confounding disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the clear trail of failure that turned a disaster into something so much worse.


Joy Stick

"He doesn't blame gaming for kick-starting his depression. No, that would be when his mom and stepdad decided to start hitting him. 'It's ironic that people look at this link between kids and video games and decide the games are what's causing them to act a certain way. For me, video games were a way to escape the things that were causing my depression.'" As video games and virtual reality become more advanced, people will try to use them for everything from improving memory to reducing pain. From The Kernel: Battling depression through video games.


Shoot-Out at the K-Cup Corral

"I don't have one. They're kind of expensive to use. Plus it's not like drip coffee is tough to make." That's the guy who invented the K-Cup explaining why he doesn't use them. And that's just one amazing part of James Hamblin's look at coffee, the environment, and the healthiest way to keep everyone caffeinated.


The Bottom of the News

According to a recent study, taking frequent hot saunas could lead to an extended lifespan. (That's just one more thing for the old guys in the steam room to complain about.)

+ Duranord (108) and Jeanne (105) Veillard just celebrated their birthdays together. They also recently celebrated their 82nd wedding anniversary. (That's infinity in human years.)

+ Are the Yankees going to run out of numbers?

+ You've heard of switch-hitters. Meet the switch-pitcher.