Friday, June 19th, 2015


Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

How could they? It's a fair question and one that comes up at times like these. We want to understand why people hurt each other. Are the violent actors merely psychopaths who can't be viewed through the same prism as the rest of us? Some of them are, but not enough to really answer the question. Are we all inherently evil and just waiting for a time, place, or situation to free our natural inclinations? Or do we simply use violence as a means to an end? In Aeon, Tage Rai argues that to understand the motivations behind wanton violence, "we have to risk a kind of understanding that threatens our own values, our own way of life. We have to gaze into an abyss." I'm not sure the answers here (or anywhere) are entirely satisfying, but it's definitely an interesting abyss.


The Napper

"I jumped into the experiment and told a few good friends to keep a close eye on me; if anything seemed awry I would stop." In order to complete his doctorate, Akshat Rathi needed to figure out how to function while staying awake a lot longer than normal. So he tried to cheat sleep for a year. And he succeeded.


Weekend Reads

"The training can be pretty miserable. You're thinking, why are they doing this to me? But when I went to Haiti, it all made sense. If you can put up with the training, a deployment is just another day at the office." California Sunday Magazine's Vince Beiser follows California's Task Force Two as they follow disasters around the world. Meet the the Seal Team Six of disaster aid.

+ "Last winter two bodies were found in Norway and the Netherlands. They were wearing identical wetsuits. The police in three countries were involved in the case, but never managed to identify them. This is the story of who they were." Anders Fjellberg on The Wetsuitman.

+ I'd be seven years old, and he'd hand me a peach to try. I'd be like, 'Nah, it's not good enough.' The old guy running the stand would be like, 'Who the f#ck's this kid?'" In Narratively, Jaclyn Einis tracks the father-son feud that built an empire of food (or at least the Bay Area's best grocery store.)

+ "This is a story about the most magical, mystical sport on earth, and the East Detroit lifer who improbably became its king. Also, it's about an art heist." From ESPN Mag's Chris Koentges: Believe in Feather Bowling.


Flag Waiving

Atop the South Carolina statehouse, both the national and state flags flew at half mast yesterday. But not the Confederate Flag. The symbolic reasons loom large. The literal reason was uncovered by a reporter. "The flag is part of a Confederate War Memorial, and is not on a pulley system, so it cannot be lowered, only removed." That actually sounds like an ideal solution.

+ "That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it." In The Atlantic, Ta-nehisi Coates argues we should take down the Confederate Flag.

+ When Supreme Court justices wrote their opinions in a case related to the Texas DMV's decision to reject license plates proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, they never imagined "that a white racist who posed in front of a car with a Confederate license plate would assassinate nine people in a historic Charleston, South Carolina, church, mere hours before the opinion would be read aloud." From Slate's Dahlia Lithwick: Reality Strikes the Supreme Court


We’ve Seen This Episode Before

"No small part of our outrage and grief ... is the way the Charleston murders are part of a larger picture of American life, in which black men and women, going about their day-to-day lives, have so little confidence in their own safety." The New Yorker's David Remnick on Charleston and the Age of Obama

+ WaPo: 6 times President Obama has reacted to mass shootings.

+ In confessing to police, Dylann Roof explained that he "almost didn't go through with it because everyone was so nice to him."

+ Charleston and the night Jon Stewart didn't feel like telling any jokes.

+ And FiveThirtyEight with recent memory's most obvious headline: The Massacre In Charleston Is Unlikely To Lead To Gun Control Legislation.


Of A Different Stripe

OK, I know. That's a lot of heavy news for a Friday. So let's change things up (and remind ourselves that not everyone is terrible) with this fantastic look at what happened when a boy's lost stuffed tiger went on an airport adventure.


Presage in a Bottle

Within the next year, bottled water will likely overtake soda as America's top commercial drink. So now seems like the right moment for Buzzfeed to take us on a deep dive into the world's most prestigious water-tasting competition. (After these years of drought in California, when my kids see a bottle of water, they assume it's bath time.)

+ At a restaurant in LACMA's courtyard, a small restaurant has a water sommelier and a 40 page water menu. It's the perfect place to learn about the chemistry and psychology (and idiocy) of turning water into wine.


The Lies of Brian

As his apology tour continues, Brian Williams described his transgressions as "my ego getting the better of me." NBC execs have decided to keep him on staff, but because he lied, he'll be moved over to MSNBC. If he lies again, they'll move him to Fox.


I Can Fix It

There's just not as much to fix anymore. At least that's one convenient excuse to use as the Boston Globe wonders: Is the era of the handyman dad coming to an end? (I always knew I was ahead of my time.) One day, my kids will come home from college with a seemingly unsaveable run-on sentence, or a horrifically broken pun, and then they'll see that daddy can occasionally add value. Until then, Daddy will call Taskrabbit.


Bottom of the News

"You love them. You might not ever eat them -- you might be a vegetarian or a vegan, or not consume birds for whatever reason, or not want to deal with the carbs, or not think it's okay for adult humans with serious opinions about fracking to dip a toe into the children's menu -- but that's a choice about ingesting them. It's not you not loving them. Because you do. You love chicken tenders. Everybody does." Helen Rosner makes a very compelling case on behalf of chicken tenders.

+ Electronic dance music is absolutely massive. But it's emerged in an era when people don't pay for music very often. Don't have your dance moves down yet? This 83 year-old shows there is still time.

+ And Cersei's Game of Thrones walk of shame body double speaks out at last. (I've gained so much weight since high school, I've become my own body double.)