Monday, April 20th, 2015


Monk-y Business

When to wake up. How much to exercise. Who to emulate. What to eat. Sooner or later, just about every human behavior is molded and manipulated into a piece of advice on how to succeed in business. So don't be distracted by the fact that corporate America has fully bought into mindfulness. It's hardly a surprise (especially since your CEO is probably wearing yoga pants to work). And it's nothing new. Here's The New Yorker's Michelle Goldberg on the long marriage of mindfulness and money. (For the record, I'm not meditating, I'm vesting.)

+ Yes, exercise is good for your health. But mellow pastimes can also be beneficial.

+ Here are some photos of the largest Buddhist settlement in the world, "where 40,000 monks and nuns are segregated and televisions are banned... but iPhones are allowed."


Spider Plan

About 15% of American adults report that they suffer from chronic pain. Researchers are racing to find a new class of less-addictive painkillers. And spider venom might hold some important clues.


Epic Crisis

"What is happening now is of epic proportions. If Europe, if the global community continues to turn a blind eye . . . we will all be judged in the same way that history has judged Europe when it turned a blind eye to the genocide of this century and last century." So said the prime minister of Malta as hundreds of migrants are presumed dead in another disaster in the Mediterranean Sea.

+ Why Libya is a springboard for migrant exodus.


Sleeping Booty

"We don't know how these things work, and there's no evidence that the effect will predictable or repeatable from person to person." Are natural sleep aids a dream or a nightmare? Wired's Michael Calore searched for an answer: I used myself as a guinea pig for 8 alternative sleep aids.

+ The FDA could finally be ready to put homeopathic drugs to the test.


The B Team?

"Suddenly, Putin proposed a bold new idea: make Steven Seagal an honorary consul of Russia in California and Arizona." Buzzfeed on how Steven Seagal became the Kremlin's unlikeliest envoy.

+ Kim Jong Un apparently scaled North Korea's tallest mountain in leather shoes and an overcoat.


You Kids Get Off My Tony Orlando and Dawn

"If the MP3 could reproduce Tupac at one-eleventh the bandwidth, and if Tupac could then be distributed, free, on the Internet, what the hell was the point of a compact disk?" The New Yorker's Stephen Witt looks back at the dawn of music piracy and the man who broke the music business.

+ These kids today will never really appreciate how hard we had to work to steal music during the Internet's early days. That all changed when world got a lot more wired. And many of those wires are running along the ocean floor. According to one expert, "the majority of the disruptions of our undersea network come from people dropping an anchor off their boat and hitting the cable, or a fisherman dragging a net on the bottom of the sea floor."


Slack Addiction

"It used to be that the mark of a 'fun' office was a foosball table crammed into the break room. But Slack makes the workspace itself feel like a game." It's a chat program with an excellent UI that came along at just the right time. It distracts you from your work and it also keeps you at work all the time. Slate's Amanda Hess on how a simple program with a big valuation is changing office culture.


This is 4-20

I am a graduate of San Rafael High School. I bring that up because it's April 20, and my school was the joint where they invented 4/20. "Back in 1971, a group of kids at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California, got in the habit of meeting at 4:20 to smoke after school." (These were the days before Bay Area high school students met after school to acquire each other's billion dollar startups.)

+ MoJo: A map of where pot is legal and semi-legal -- and the next places it could go legit. (If we're gonna talk pot legalization, let's be honest. For those in a certain socio-economic group, it's been legal all along.)

+ Bloomberg: For These 55 Marijuana Companies, Every Day is 4/20.

+ HBO has picked up the web series High Maintenance. Definitely check out the past episodes of the series (both the shorts and the on-demand episodes are worth your time). Being high is not a prerequisite.


La Vida Vivian

"She owned an elegant home, a fleet of automobiles and wardrobes bursting with furs, shoes and haute couture; divorced two husbands and outlived three more; battled alcoholism; attempted suicide; moved to Malta to escape the tabloids; was deported from Malta after punching a policeman in a fit of pique, which made the tabloids ... descended into bankruptcy and subsisted on a modest state pension; had a career as a timorous stripper; was featured on the cover of a Smiths single, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now; became a Jehovah's Witness; was disciplined at her nursing home for rambunctious behavior; and had remarkably few regrets." The NYT with an epic obituary of Vivian Nicholson.


The Bottom of the News

"If Oprah can leave and the world still spins, I honestly think it will survive me." Jon Stewart in The Guardian: Why I Quit The Daily Show.

+ NYT: Why the founders of Genius turned to couples therapy. (And here's my theory on how the first session probably went.)

+ Gizmodo: People riding bikes (without the bikes).

+ And OMG, did you guys see the latest Star Wars trailer?