Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


Group Therapy

Camponotus fellah (which you almost certainly know is a species of carpenter ant) have a lot of incentive to stick together. The worker ants that live and work alone enjoy only a tenth of the lifespan of their more social co-workers. While that stat is extreme, it's not necessarily unique. "Isolation can also enfeeble rats, mice, pigs, rabbits, squirrel monkeys, starlings, and parrots." And of course humans. What is it about being together that makes us -- and the ants -- more healthy? From The New Yorker's Emily Anthes: Marching One by One.


IQ Tipping Point?

A team of researchers in London analyzed six decades worth of IQ tests from 48 different countries. What did they find? Apparently, humans are getting more intelligent. For a counterpoint, see the Internet.


BiBI Guns For Iran Deal

Benjamin Netanyahu delivered is his controversial and much-anticipated speech to Congress today; and he hopes it was a dealbreaker. He argued that the deal being negotiated "doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb, it paves Iran's path to the bomb. So why would anyone make this deal?"

+ Jeffrey Goldberg: Netanyahu's real targets.

+ As Bibi spoke, John Kerry was meeting with his Iranian counterparts in Switzerland. That's just one reason Netanyahu's address to Congress was the most important speech of his life.

+ FiveThirtyEight: Most Americans and Israelis get along better than Obama and Netanyahu do. (Mazel tov, but that's a pretty low bar.)


Moonshot Shadow

Food pantries here often have difficulty keeping up with demand. And that's not a surprise in a place where as many as a third of kids is at risk of going hungry. Welcome to the other side of the Silicon Valley story; where people don't start up companies in garages, they live in them. From CNN: The Poor Kids of Silicon Valley.


False Profits

Things have been a bit tougher on for-profit universities since the government got more selective about which colleges qualified for student aid (and could then make millions while their woefully unprepared students spent their post "college" years taking a never-ending course called Debt 101). Some of the schools shut down. Others came up with a way to keep raking in good money. As the NYT's Patricia Cohen reports, they turned a tidy profit by going non-profit.

+ In 2009, self-help guru James Arthur Ray urged some of his followers to stay in an increasingly hot sweat lodge and "to surrender to death to survive it." Sadly, three of the people did not survive their surrender to death and Ray was sentenced to a couple years in prison. What does an ex-con self-help guru do when he gets out of the joint? As Bloomberg's Matt Stroud explains, he's making a comeback with a new self-help program based largely on his experiences behind bars.


Dear John

The general trend will come as no surprise, but sometimes a stat can really hammer things home. From Upshot: Fewer women run big companies than men named John. Check out the Glass Ceiling Index.


Keep Me Awake and Alive

"On average, I get about three or four hours, and I never feel tired." While we're constantly reminded that we need to be getting more sleep, there are some people for whom that advice is categorically false. NY Mag's Alexa Tsoulis-Reay talks to one such person about what it's like to need hardly any sleep.

+ (Somewhat) Related: A few cups of coffee a day can be good for your arteries. I wish I had Coffee's PR firm...


The Mod God

"So with well over half his life ahead of him, the man who created an entire universe, whose persona was synonymous with it and who received the wrath of his community for abandoning it, must now figure out exactly who he is. The results so far are unimpressive." Forbes' Ryan Mac visits with Markus Persson, the billionaire gamer god behind Minecraft. (This will be the first time my son reads one of the articles I link to...)


Jock Rap

"I was a jock my whole life. I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5 until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can't ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone." And with that, former pitcher Curt Schilling outed the idiots who posted offensive tweets about his daughter. (I can't believe I'm actually rooting for Curt Schilling...)


The Bottom of the News

You might fold your pizza. But your pizza will not fold. As many fast food joints succumb to the pressure to get healthier, pizza (and its lobbyists) are standing firm. "There's no sandwich lobby, no burrito trade association. The macaroni-and-cheese people have yet to get their act together ... Pizza is special."

+ I'll see your two escaped Llamas and raise you one baby weasel riding a woodpecker.

+ InFocus takes us to a Japanese island where there are significantly more feline residents than people.

+ Live from Shanghai, It's Saturday Night.

+ Police in New Hampshire are issuing tickets for good behavior. And yes, it comes with fries.