June 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Seal Team 0101010

Some of the smartest people in tech are choosing to work for an unlikely startup. First, the organization has a lot of legacy baggage. Second, the pay is bad and there’s no equity. And third, while it’s still a relatively new player in its marketplace, its IPO took place about 240 years ago. One by one, some of tech’s most talented are packing up their laptops and heading to Washington, DC to remake government. Their experiences will probably be a lot like being invited to your grandparents’ house for tech support: It’s a just cause, but it might not end well. FastCompany’s Jon Gertner takes you inside Obama’s stealth startup. “He doesn’t care what it takes — he will personally call their bosses, their spouses, their kids to convince them. The crowd laughs. But he gravely responds: I am completely serious.”

+ According to The Atlantic, China’s hacking of federal data is much worse than it first seemed. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. If America ever reinstates the draft, it will be for coders.



According to the CDC, the average American woman weighs 166 pounds. Or exactly what the average American man weighed in the 1960s.

+ Upshot on the studies that show diet is more critical than exercise if we hope to reverse current trends.

+ Your new, healthier lifestyle has resulted in one interesting metric: Donut sales, up. And finally, a reason why Pop-tarts without frosting have more calories than those with frosting.


The Mickey Mouse Snub

“When Walt Disney World opened in an Orlando swamp in 1971, with its penny arcade and marching-band parade down Main Street U.S.A., admission for an adult cost $3.50, about as much then as three gallons of milk.” That was 41 admission price hikes ago. From WaPo: How theme parks like Disney World left the middle class behind. (Professional sports have been on a similar trajectory.)



Some wealthy Californians (who apparently made their money without a single course in media training) are arguing that we’re not equal when it comes to water, and that the penalties they’re facing for overuse run too deep. According to one Rancho Santa Fe resident: “I think we’re being overly penalized, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinized by the world.” (Then by all means, talk to a few reporters…)

+ Nautilus: Humanity’s most problematic attempts to get all the water.

+ Think the climate is affecting our behavior? Polar bears are now eating dolphins.


What Gives?

“Perhaps the most piercing lesson from effective altruism is that one can make an astonishing difference in the world with a pinch of logic and dash of math.” The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson examines the act of giving and goes in search of the best charitable cause in the world.

+ D.A. Wallach on compassionate capitalism: When Mother Teresa drives a Ferrari.


Citizen Spokane

A few days after her parents told the media she was white, Rachel Dolezal stepped down as Spokane NAACP President. Coincidentally, my parents recently told media outlets I wasn’t really Jewish. (I was just trying to be more funny.)


Ma and Order

In a story that serves as a sad metaphor for much of the violence that plagues kids in urban America, Boston police easily identified the two teen killers of a teen victim. “The challenge was how to safely bring in the very young suspects — one of them just 14 — and to arrest them without risking harm to the boys or to officers or triggering further violence in an already fraught neighborhood. So police turned to the boys’ mothers, and their mothers turned them in.”


Twist and Shout

As NY Mag’s Dan P. Lee explains, “Never before has mankind’s obsession with the smile been so easily actionable.” And we’re taking action in a big way. Consider this stat: “The number of North American teenagers in orthodontic treatment has nearly doubled, so that 80 percent are currently in an orthodontist’s care.” Why is America obsessed with perfecting its teeth?


You’ve Got LeBron

“It’s unfathomable to go across the country from Cleveland to San Francisco — at the very least a five-hour flight — and then play 50 minutes in a game the next day. You don’t see that in any other sport. The travel stress alone can be debilitating … And then you add to the fact that basically it’s a one-man team at this point, and the mental and physical burden — it’s just overwhelming.” A group of leading sports scientists got together to discuss a variety of issues. But what they ended up talking about was LeBron James’ unfathomable workload. (Even if the Warriors win the NBA finals — and I sincerely hope they do — James should be named the series MVP.)


Bottom of the News

“I beelined down there. He was surrounded by bodyguards. I started walking toward him. All the bodyguards pushed me off. I just want to say hi to Marty. I think my initial reaction was, ‘Get your hands off me,’ acting like a tough guy, which I’m not. He said that’s when he knew.” 25 years later, Goodfellas cast members reminisce. (Nobody in the history of movies has made a beeline like Ray Liotta.)

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Chris Ware’s cover for this week’s issue of the New Yorker featuring a Minecraft playdate is spot on.

+ We finally have a visual for what human self-actualization looks like as a crowdsurfing lead singer catches and drinks a beer thrown from a fan. And as a bonus, we also have a pretty good idea of what raccoon self-actualization looks like.

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