Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015


Sepptic Shock

As the FIFA scandal worked its way up the chain to its top lieutenant, "Sepp Blatter, the once-unassailable overlord of the world's most popular sport, unexpectedly announced his intention to resign." Within moments of the announcement, the news went viral as Internet zombies took to social media to chime in on Blatter's demise. The week in sports went something like this: 1) What's FIFA? 2) Who's Sepp Blatter? 3) Yeah, that son of a bitch finally got what he deserved. 4) Wait, what's FIFA? Why would Americans, many of whom know nothing about soccer, be so frenzied about the flop of FIFA's top striker? Because this is less about the world's beautiful game, and more about the Internet's top sport: Schadenfreude.

+ Here's Grantland's Charles P. Pierce on what he calls the sports crime of the century: "This isn't the Black Sox. This isn't tennis players throwing matches or basketball players shaving points. This isn't one owner fudging his taxes, or one team being connected to a drug cartel. It is incorrect to refer to FIFA as being 'fraught' with corruption or 'riddled' with crime. FIFA is itself a corrupt act. FIFA is itself the crime." (On a positive note, maybe the Patriots will hire Sepp Blatter as their new equipment manager.)


Sky Maul

Look up in the sky. Is it a bird? Now, it's "scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology -- all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government." AP on the FBI's secret air force.


Troll HQ

"The Columbian Chemicals hoax was not some simple prank by a bored sadist. It was a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention." In the NYT Magazine, Adrian Chen reports on the hoaxes that often target American communities from a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia. Meet the trolls who work at The Agency.


Dystopian Diss

"His 1968 book, The Population Bomb, sold in the millions with a jeremiad that humankind stood on the brink of apocalypse because there were simply too many of us. Dr. Ehrlich's opening statement was the verbal equivalent of a punch to the gut: 'The battle to feed all of humanity is over.'" In the NYT Retro Report, Clyde Haberman looks back at the unrealized horrors of the population explosion and wonders what went wrong. (I mean right.)

+ NPR: There are 200 million fewer hungry people than 25 years ago.


TSA Holes

The acting head of the TSA has been reassigned following a report that "federal undercover investigators were able to penetrate security checkpoints at U.S. airports carrying illegal weapons or simulated bombs 95 percent of the time."

+ A computer glitch grounded every United flight this morning. The glitch added to a chaotic morning for airlines as bomb threats were made against at least five airliners.


There Will Be a Test

"Students who score well on the test are celebrated as heroes in their home towns, feted with banquets, and written up in Chinese media. Acing the gaokao is out of the question: Since 1977, when offering it was resumed, no one has gotten a perfect score." Bloomberg provides some background on (and a few questions from) the grueling nine-hour test that's all that matters when applying to universities in China.


Green Daze

Europe is trying to be greener. And that's led to more U.S. trees being cut down to provide pellets to be used as fuel in European power plants. But here's the rub. According to one of the 100 scientists to sign a letter sent to the EPA: "From the point of view of what's coming out of the smokestack, wood is worse than coal."


All Is Not Well

"No one really knows how many of the shallow home wells have gone dry here: They thought it was 100 until they counted 500, 600, 800… that now pump only sand. In a community that prides itself on self-reliance, how do you live off the land when the land turns on you?" In Longreads, Susie Cagle reports from California in a time of life after water.


Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Boltcutters

For many years, couples unable to think of a remotely unique way to express their love during European vacations have been leaving locks on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris. As the number of locks approached one million, the bridge was in danger of collapsing. So in came the workers with their bolt cutters. And now tourists are attaching padlocks to another nearby bridge. (Maybe I'm too nostalgic for old Paris, but whatever happened to drinking a few bottles of wine and having hotel sex in front of webcam?)


Bottom of the News

"Maverick is kind of a jerk. Iceman is totally right about him. In fact, Iceman is right about almost everything." Tim Carmody shares his take on classic movie antagonists who were actually pretty much right all along.

+ "An invasive fish species that can crawl across dry land, live up to six days out of water and suffocate its predators threatens to reach the Australian mainland."

+ Plants can hear themselves being eaten.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: This goal by Lionel Messi in the Copa del Rey final over the weekend is just out of this world.