April 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

It’s On

ESPN Reporter Britt McHenry has become famous for behavior that’s probably not all that uncommon: She directed an offensive rant towards an attendant at a parking lot for towed cars. What makes the big difference here is what always seems to make the big difference these days. The rant was caught on video. The video went viral. And McHenry was immediately suspended from ESPN. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber argues that McHenry is getting what she deserves and this incident is an example of the upside of a surveillance society: “It is, overall, a reminder that technology is making it harder to differentiate between the people we perform and the people we are.” It’s also a reminder that there are now two sets of rules (and judgments) in society; one for those incidents not caught on video and one for those that are. As more of life’s moments fall into the latter category, we might want to take a long, hard look into our selfie sticks and also consider the downsides of a surveillance society.

+ The Daily Beast: Hey, Let’s Shame the ESPN Anchor Now. “And so, too, am I shaming the shaming shamers? It’s a Russian nesting doll of shame, an infinite feedback loop of finger-wagging.”


You’re Soaking In It

GoPro’s Nick Woodman is set to become America’s highest paid executive. Maybe that makes Tim Cook seem like a steal.

+ The NYT’s Farhad Manjoo asks Stewart Butterfield if his startup Slack is really worth $2.8 billion: “I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. This is the best time to raise money ever. It might be the best time for any kind of business in any industry to raise money for all of history, like since the time of the ancient Egyptians.” (And back then, the biggest startup turned out to be a pyramid scheme.)

+ Upshot’s Neil Irwin: “Americans’ desire to soak the rich has diminished even as the rich have more wealth available that could, theoretically, be soaked.”


Weekend Reads

“Since late 2011, Feyer has finished over 95 percent of the New York Times puzzles in less than six minutes. He polishes off 88 percent of the Saturday puzzles — the hardest of the week — in less than five minutes.” From Oliver Roeder in FiveThirtyEight: A Million Little Boxes.

+ “Long before the drug investigation and the events that followed, Bob Sam Castleman was infamous in Pocahontas and beyond for a bizarre incident years earlier involving a copperhead snake.” Will Stephenson in Arkansas Times: A Killing in Pocahontas.

+ Rolling Stone’s Stephen Rodrick: Being Ringo.

+ Kirsten Weir in Nautilus: Can you die from a broken heart?

+ NatGeo has an interactive piece on a city that is rising from ruins: Taking Back Detroit.


It’s All Leak to Me

Wikileaks has published all the data stolen in the Sony hacks and made it available via a searchable database. Julian Assange issued a statement claiming that the data is newsworthy in part because “this archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation.” (The publishing of this stolen material shows the inner workings of Wikileaks. But you won’t see much outrage in the press about this move, since so many publications raced to publish excerpts of the data in the hours and days following the hack.)


Sporty Spice

In Quartz Warren Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov argue that it’s time to redefine old age. I write in BBEdit, I check POP mail, and I still use my phone for making calls. I’d say that qualifies me as old.

+ If you want to stay young and edgy, lose the jeans and put on a pair of sweats or yoga pants. Sportswear is now living up to its name.



“As I am sure you understand and appreciate, Columbia is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression.” That’s how Columbia responded to a request (signed by ten physicians) that Dr. Oz be removed from the school’s faculty.

+ Vox: The Making of Dr. Oz: How an award-winning doctor turned away from science and embraced fame.


Blue Blogs

“It’s very disturbing stuff. Outrageous stuff. We see it. It’s a problem.” That’s how an NYPD spokesman reacted to racist and otherwise offensive statements found on a blog that collects posts from former and current New York City officers. It’s bad for the department. It’s bad for other cops. But as ProPublica reports, there’s not much they can do about it.

+ James B. Comey: Why I require FBI agents to visit the Holocaust Museum.


Socially Acceptable

While existing publications are trying to figure out how to effectively interact with social media, some new upstarts have deployed a different strategy. They are launching and hosting their publications directly on social media. This is a very interesting piece from NYT Mag’s Jenna Wortham: Instagram’s TMZ.


Enter Sandman

“Prerecorded messages from family members are part of an apparently unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale aimed at helping victims of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness that can often cause them agitation and fear.” This program looks promising. And the people behind it got the idea from an Adam Sandler movie.


The Bottom of the News

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop reading oral histories. The AV Club has one on the making of Airplane: Surely you can’t be serious?

+ His neighbors in Marin wouldn’t let George Lucas expand his studio on Skywalker Ranch. So he’s striking back by building affordable housing on the property. That’s some Jedi politics.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Roger Pasquier hunts for coins on NYC sidewalks and keeps track of how much he finds. He discovered an odd consequence of everyone having a smartphone: people don’t pick up change on the sidewalk anymore.

+ Ben & Jerry’s is making beer. And Starbucks is introducing a S’mores Frappuccino.

+ “I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.” Taking a look at Leonardo da Vinci’s resume.

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