Monday, June 8th, 2015


Watch Your Six

"They have engaged in combat so intimate that they have emerged soaked in blood that was not their own. On clandestine raids in the dead of the night, their weapons of choice have ranged from customized carbines to primeval tomahawks." That might sound like a outtake from The History Channel, but it's the NYT's entirely modern and non-fiction look at the SEAL Team 6: A secret history of quiet killings and blurred lines. This is a great opportunity to find out more about an organization many people -- including some in Congress -- would rather know very little about.


Doctor J

"The J-shaped spine is what you see in Greek statues. It's what you see in young children. It's good design." But it's not what you see in the mirror (or, more likely, in the screen of the device with which you're taking a selfie.) Back pain is a scourge in places where this newsletter is being read. But that's not true in some indigenous cultures where people seem to be working a lot harder but having no pain. An acupuncturist, and spine guru to many tech companies, went to see why people who carry buckets of water on their heads and cradle firewood in their arms don't have pain ... and how we can emulate them.


Harsh Reality Show

"He had been arrested in the spring of 2010, at age sixteen, for a robbery he insisted he had not committed. Then he spent more than one thousand days on Rikers waiting for a trial that never happened." After that experience, Kalief Browder shared his story with The New Yorker and others and shed some light on the dark truths about solitary confinement in Rikers and other jails (and let's face it, he also shed some light on race in America). Over the weekend, he committed suicide.

+ And this year's most popular reality show (Police mistreating African Americans) looks like it will continue into the Summer. In the latest installment, a Pool party in Texas somehow led to an officer pulling out his gun. For some background, here's The Atlantic on McKinney, Texas, and the racial history of American swimming pools.

+ Prisoners or Patients? Welcome to Cook County Jail, where a third of those incarcerated suffer from psychological disorders.


Bird is the Word

According to a major study, watching Sesame Street "has delivered lasting educational benefits to millions of American children -- benefits as powerful as the ones children get from going to preschool." This is why I always urge young people to drop a few Big Bird references into their college essays.


The Eulogy

"We can live our lives in a way that takes nothing for granted. We can love deeply. We can help people who need help. We can teach our children what matters, and pass on empathy and compassion and selflessness. We can teach them to have broad shoulders." I posted President Obama's eulogy for Beau Biden because it's one of the most amazing and thoughtful remembrances I've ever seen. It seriously makes me want to be better.


Apple Turns Up the Volume

During yet another social media-dominating keynote, Apple kicked off its developer conference with looks at a new desktop operating system, iOS 9, a new news app, and a much-anticipated music app that enters a crowded field, but looks pretty damn good. Apple also introduced picture in picture on the iPad, which if I understand it correctly, means my kids will never pay attention to me again. Here's all the news from Apple's WWDC keynote.


This Old Big House

Apparently, inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora have access to power tools and old copies of Shawshank Redemption, because a couple of convicted murders made an extraordinary prison break. NCPR provides a step by step look at how they got out.

+ Oscar Pistorius will require no such ingenuity to get out of jail. He's up for release in August.


Fashion Weak

A new lawsuit from a former exec suggests that the top players at Zara are racist, anti-gay, antisemitic pigs. (I suppose their Holocaust-inspired children's shirt with a yellow star provided something of a clue.) But let's not give too much credit to the gutless wimp who brought the lawsuit -- only after hiding his Judaism for years and then suing after he got fired. Forget the catwalk. I'd like to see all these scumbags walk the plank.

+ Buzzfeed: Dudes are falling in love with Lululemon. More than one in seven dollars spent at Lululemon is for men's items. (What, you thought I was typing this in a tux?)


Funny Boned

Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld have very different comic sensibilities. But there's at least one thing they agree on. They don't like playing colleges. Why? Because the students there are too conservative and worried about offending someone. I really think there's reason to worry about the future of funny.


Bottom of the News

"What does it mean to make a website that does both of these things -- that makes extremely viral media, while ruthlessly satirizing the world of viral media?" It means you're visiting Clickhole.

+ Ever wonder who's inside of that Goofy costume when you're at Disney World? The company doesn't want you to know. The people inside the suits want the truth out there. According to one Teamsters official: "Suddenly the company wants to pretend there aren't people behind those costumes and the Constitution doesn't extend to the theme park."

+ Quartz asks a question we've all probably had: Do African countries need instant noodles to build their middle class?