Wednesday, June 17th, 2015


Why Are We Here?

"Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself." That was Nietzsche in 1887. But it could have just as easily been Louis C.K. (We "don't want to be alone for a second because it's so hard") or some other modern day philosopher explaining why we're unable -- or unwilling -- to focus. In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman suggests a new theory of distraction. Lately, I've noticed that I'll go to a site like Facebook to do something, but when I get there, I completely forget what I was there to do. The distraction is distracting me from itself. (I'm pretty sure that qualifies me as a power user.)

+ "Making concessions for people with shorter attention spans, a desire to multitask and, yes, a need to check their phones all the time." How the 49ers are changing how they operate to cater to the iPhone generation.

+ The staircase with three lanes: Walk. Run. Text.


Digging Up Dirt

"The situation is quite critical." That's Jay Famiglietti, a senior scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on the depletion of the Earth's largest underground aquifers and the fact that world might be running out of water.

+ Vox: Here's where we're running out of ground water.

+ We're running out of helium too.


Trailer Clash

The LA Times pays a visit to the air-conditioned trailers in the Nevada desert where American pilots wage modern war by way of hundreds of drone flights a day. Col. James R. Cluff, commander of program, explains: "Every single day this base is at war. These kids are not playing video games out of their mothers' basements." No, but if you are playing video games in your parents' basement, then Uncle Sam wants you. The Air Force needs more drone pilots.


Warriors Come Out to Play

The Warriors overcame the Cavs and won their first NBA title in decades (and the Bay Area brought home its first professional sports title since the Giants won those three World Series trophies). And Andre Iguodala became the first player to be named MVP without even starting in every game. Grantland provides a guide to the elite and unlikely cast of characters who defined the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors. (The best part about the Finals being over is that Riley Curry will finally get to bed at a decent hour.)

+ "We just witnessed a team that could legitimately be compared to Jordan's Bulls, with hardly any hyperbole necessary." FiveThirtyEight on the year of the Warriors.

+ Even though he lost, these were in many ways, LeBron's finals.

+ And from the NYT Magazine: Stephen Curry's Mouth Guard: An Investigation. (I can't believe Invisalign hasn't taken advantage of this marketing opportunity.)


Contractor Killer

"The defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation. The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation." California's labor commission rules that Uber drivers are employees, not contractors. That could be a really big deal for Uber, and every other company participating in the on-demand economic ecosystem. (Uber could easily solve this problem by acquiring California.)


Fall Into the Gap

"It was a sleeveless style in a washed-out gray-green palm print with a full skirt hemmed toddler-length above the knee, but made for an adult woman, with the kind of inverted pleating that flatters no one." The Gap is closing 175 stores, and the LA Times' Booth Moore argues that one of the ugliest dresses ever provides a clue to what went wrong.

+ Slate: The Gap needs a miracle. It just might be named Old Navy. (I'm no fashion expert, but that could be the most depressing headline of the day.)

+ Quartz: Watch Uniqlo sneak up on Gap as the world's go-to source for everyday basics.


Message in a Throttle

The FCC has fined AT&T $100 million for throttling the speeds of unlimited data plan customers without making those customers aware of the practice. (If you're one of those affected, trust me, you'll want to wait for this story to load...)


Daddy’s Issue

"When he realized it was his two sons in the car, and not the guy who had responded to his personal ad, he hit the gas and his tires screeched as he took off in the opposite direction." Aussa Lorens in Narratively: Why I answered my dad's gay sex ad.


Canna Whoopass

"The crime rate on the small Hebridean island of Canna, Scotland, skyrocketed overnight this week ... The crimes -- which included the theft of six woolly hats -- are believed to be the first on Canna since a wooden plate was stolen in the 1960s." And as a result, the honor system that kept the Canna Community Shop open all night is now, sadly, over.


Bottom of the News

"Age had caught up with him. His hind legs were weak. The quality of his sperm was poor. And ... the odds dimmed that he would mate successfully." From WaPo: How has the fate of an entire subspecies of rhinoceros been left to one elderly male?

+ "No matter the personal variables, however, people reported feeling more energetic, more happy and less stressed after watching a video of a cat." Caitlin Dewey on the fascinating, feel-good psychology of Internet cat videos. And related: These are the animals that are most likely to kill you this summer.

+ Fusion: Zookeepers are posting pictures of themselves ‘Prattkeeping,' inspired by Jurassic World.