March 13th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

A Flush to Judgement

“The dank clusters, graying and impenetrable, gain mass like demon snowballs as they travel. Pumps clog. Gears falter. Then, there is the final blow…” If you’re the parent of an infant, a fiber-obsessed man over forty, a woman removing her eye makeup, or just about anyone else, you’re implicated in Matt Flegenheimer’s NYT piece on the scourge of the supposedly flushable wipe. Oregon, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Alaska, California … from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine; officials in all of these places have spent millions dealing with the damage created by the increasingly popular wipes. For you, out of sight means out of mind, but for people like the Charleston Sanitary Board’s Tim Haapala, the nightmare is just beginning: “I agree that they’re flushable, A golf ball is flushable, but it’s not a good idea.”


I’m Not Worthy

“I loved Spock.” With those three words, President Obama reflected the feelings of millions who just found out that Leonard Nimoy had died. But who decides when a death is worth presidential notice?

+ WaPo: The politics of releasing a White House statement when influential people die, explained in charts.

+ While you might aspire to be a person who’s mentioned by the president when you die, the truth is, you probably have a better chance of getting the president to read your mean tweet about him on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.


Weekend Reads

“People are the fastest out the door in Shanghai (56 minutes) and the slowest in Mumbai (2 hours, 24 minutes), where they’re also the kings of the snooze (58% hit the button at least once). New Yorkers and Stockholmers are the most likely to work in their bathrooms (16%).” Fortunes’s Beth Kowitt explains how knowing details like these helped Ikea take over the world.

+ NYT Mag’s interactive look at the heart-stopping climbs of Alex Honnold.

+ “Not to get too existential about it, but it’s kind of like the history of the game. Who thought to question it? Who thought to read the rules? Of course, none of us did.” Longreads talks to Mary Pilon about the twisted history of Monopoly.

+ Shannon Mattern with an interesting look back at the history of the urban dashboard, and what they might be leaving out.

+ And if you missed it earlier in the week, Wired’s Cliff Kuang takes us on a fascinating tour of the future of smart watches by way of Disney’s magical wristband.


Organic Chemistry

“Steve only yelled at me four or five times during the 13 years I knew him, and this was one of them.” A new book reveals the time Tim Cook tried to give part of his liver to Steve Jobs.


The Blame Game

Gregory Lynn McQueen ran his unit’s sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood. At least until he turned part of that unit into a prostitution ring.


Winter is Not Coming

For many of you on the east coast, this has been a brutal winter with all the snow. For those of us out here in California, it’s been sunny and mild, even hot sometimes. In other words, it’s an been an even more brutal winter. From the LA Times: California has about one year of water left.

+ Some people are making the best of their winter. Check out the wakeskater who caught some air on Cape Cods ice slabs.


Trading Corpses

“Valderrama was initially surprised that he could feel so much peace lying in corpse pose.” In Quartz, Lila MacLellan explains how Colombia is converting former death squad members into yoga teachers. (At least that’s a small step in the right direction.)


Pope Dreams

“I have the feeling that my Pontificate will be brief: four or five years; I do not know, even two or three. Two have already passed. It is a somewhat vague sensation.” Pope Francis predicts his tenure will be short. He also said he really wishes he could go out “without being recognized, and go to a pizzeria for a pizza.”


The Sure Thing

If you had Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and an Oscar winning director, It would be almost impossible to make a movie that didn’t do pretty well at the box office. So how did Serena end up going straight to video? One of the key factors required for this unlikely outcome is that the movie had to be bad, but not too bad. (Related: The Cobbler.)


The Bottom of the News

“I’m dreading it. No hope of solving any equations that day, what with the pie-eating contests, the bickering over the merits of pi versus tau (pi times two), and the throwdowns over who can recite more digits of pi. Just stay off the streets at 9:26:53, when the time will approximate pi to ten places: 3.141592653.” The New Yorker’s Steven Strogatz on why Pi matters. (As a Humanties major, I’ve always been more of a fan of 867-5309.)

+ Related: “The bride asked the groom to add 15 and six. When he replied 17, she called off the marriage.”

+ If you’re into tech and Apple and stuff like that, you might find this to be the funniest thing of all time.

+ And finally, for those into media (or just weird news), there were some serious battles out on the interwebs today.

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