Tuesday, March 31st, 2015


This is Your Brain on Money

"Money can buy better education, homes in areas further away from freeways; It can buy guitar lessons. It can buy after-school programs; it can buy better healthcare, better nutrition." So says Elizabeth Sowell, a developmental neuroscientist who suggests that money can also essentially buy a bigger brain. As the LA Times reports, "a family's socioeconomic status correlates with the surface area of children's brains, regardless of genetic ancestry, race and other factors." Can money really buy your kids a bigger brain? (My kids both said they'd prefer the cash.)


Panic Button

Here's a chilling scenario. You reach for the laundry detergent only to realize you're out of it. Going to a physical store seems too overwhelming. Opening an app on your smartphone just feels like too much work. You're trapped. You want to buy more detergent but all the available options just seem too onerous. Well, relax. As Josh Lowensohn reports in The Verge, Amazon has invented tiny plastic buttons that allow for instant product ordering. (The key is to alternate which finger you use to press the button so no individual digit becomes overly fatigued.,.)

+ And please, don't get any ideas about faster news delivery.


Greased Lightning

"Today's drop in crude-oil prices, which began in the summer of 2014, may be as disruptive as the quadrupling of oil prices that created the oil shock of 1974." For most of us, lower oil prices simply translate as better prices at the gas pump. But the value of oil has big consequences around the world. From Moisés Naím in The Atlantic: The Hidden Effects of Cheap Oil.


Beyonce, Etc

In a star-studded press conference, Jay Z announced the relaunch of Tidal, the streaming music service he recently bought. It has higher quality streams, it's partially owned by some of the biggest names in music, and it's about to compete in one of the Internet's most combative dance-offs The relaunch of Tidal presents the perfect moment to examine Beyonce, Jay Z, Your Headphones, Apple, Spotify, a little more Beyonce, the future of streaming music, and why product is more powerful than celebrity. Trust me, my post goes to eleven. (I invested lot a whole of money in startups and audio equipment to come to these conclusions.)


This Dog Needs to Be Fixed

"After much reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone." Facing pressure related to his recently signed Religious Freedom Law, Indiana Governor Mike Pence called on his state legislature to send him a fix this week. (Here's a quick fix: Press and hold the delete button.)


It’s How You Play the Game

"Today he found himself standing at the crossroads of chaos or potential greatness. He chose the latter." In Quartz, Olu Alake on the election concession by Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan that saved his country from chaos.


Fish Oil is the New Snake Oil

Like millions of Americans, I just popped my dally dose of fish oil. And like millions of Americans, I'm disappointed (but not surprised) to read this headline in the NYT: Fish Oil Claims Not Supported by Research. Oh, and red meat isn't the enemy. Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue (because we're probably about to learn that's actually good for you...)

+ In more palatable food news, McDonald's is testing the idea of serving breakfast all day.


Her Casting is So Metal

"Years from now, she will be recognized as having changed the face of comedy as much as any comedy filmmaker. All the best comedy people have come through her or from her." You may not have heard of Allison Jones, but you definitely know her casting director work. From Stephen Rodrick in The New Yorker: The Nerd Hunter, reshaping American comedy, one misfit at a time.

+ Trevor Noah is already getting heat over his past tweets. (Even though he is a comedian who just got hired to tell jokes.)


Hits From the Eighties

"Ain't no way that coke is anywhere but where I left it, he'd say. A million bucks in the ground, and all someone's gotta do is grow a big enough pair to go and get it." GQ's Daniel Riley asks: "If you knew where a million dollars' worth of blow was buried, would you go dig it up? Rodney Hyden would. We pick up the story at this critical juncture." Welcome to The Great Cocaine Treasure Hunt.


The Bottom of the News

They're called Versatile Onboard Traffic Embedded Roaming Sensors. You attach them to vehicles and they find where the potholes are. And where they're about to happen.

+ Wired: Glowing tampons help detect sewage leaks. That seems like it should be more valuable than a messaging app.

+ The drone that can herd sheep.

+ AdWeek: Watch a calligrapher perfectly draw famous logos from scratch with pen and ink.

+ Cablevision is going to make a one dollar offer for the Daily News. I won't even fix a typo unless I'm paid twice that much.

+ You can now play Pac-Man on Google Maps.