June 29th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Greek Salad Days Tossed

Socrates once wrote, “He is richest who is content with the least.” Even the great Greek philosopher would be feeling a little too rich today in Greece where citizens, greeted by news that the nation’s banks would be closed for the week, lined up at ATMs and employed the Socratic method with the repetition of the question: “Where the hell’s my money?” And if you’ve taken a look at your stock portfolio, there’s a decent chance you’ve asked your broker the same question. Here’s an overview of the Greek economic crisis from NYT Upshot, and the latest updates from BBC.

+ This global economy stuff is all Greek to me. If you’re feeling the same, you might appreciate Quartz’s guide to everything you need to know about this unfolding Greek tragedy, Mashable’s list of the five things you need to know about the meltdown, and Felix Salmon’s helpful explainer.

+ “He simply wants to stress to you, and perhaps even himself, that he occupies the high ground. In doing so, he happens to increase the likelihood that he will wind up in the back of an ambulance.” Michael Lewis explains the Greek financial crisis by comparing it to a Berkeley pedestrian.


A Lethal Interjection

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court upheld “a procedure used by states to carry out executions by lethal injection” (including the type that led to several botched executions last year). Following a current trend among justices, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was especially forceful in her dissent: “Under the Court’s new rule, it would not matter whether the State intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake.”

+ In another 5-4 decision, the court ruled against the EPA’s power plant mercury limits.


Butcher’s Tailored Message

“The butchers of Islamic State are following an age-old military tactic, one that would have been recognized by Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun: terrify the enemy.” The Guardian’s executive editor argues that, after Tunisia, Kuwait and France we should not be afraid to call evil by its name.

+ “The conversations between a young woman in rural Washington State and a British man with ties to radical Islam may provide clues about how ISIS recruits new members around the world.” From the NYT: ISIS and the Lonely Young American.


Mind Blown

“There’s another lesson about the rise in support for gay marriage that seems less likely to be heeded. It’s that society’s collective moral judgment is highly imperfect and subject to revision.” Nate Silver on gay marriage: Change doesn’t usually come this fast.

+ It can take a while for America to shift on an issue, but when it does, the pace of that shift can be remarkable. Check out Bloomberg’s updated interactive look at how fast America changes its mind.

+ From Norman Lear to Elton John, Variety gets many perspectives on Hollywood, marriage equality and the Supreme Court.


The Plot Thins

The prison break reminded some of Shawshank Redemption, but with his accomplice dead, David Sweat tried to pull a Cool Hand Luke and use pepper to throw off the bloodhounds. In the end, this story had a plot twist neither escapee wanted. One dead, one captured.


You Be Chillin

The tech industry created the distractions that, by design, rip away your will to chill. Those who work in the tech industry are victims of their own success and are as anxious as anyone to free their minds. As The New Yorker’s Lizzie Widdicombe explains, “all of this has led to a strange but perhaps inevitable oxymoron: digital therapy. A new class of app has emerged on iPhone screens, promising to relieve the mental afflictions — stress, distraction — that have been exacerbated by its neighbors.” (Thankfully, I’ve employed a virtual assistant who meditates on my behalf.)

+ This is actually a familiar modus operandi among techies. We love to solve the problems created by tech by adding more tech. I’ve written about the Internet’s placebo effect: The Answer is a Click Away.

+ Want to relax? Forget technology. Try coloring books.


Gas Backwards

“The idea that gasoline cars might cause less environmental harm than electric vehicles seems impossibly backwards. But consider the following thought experiment before you dismiss it out of hand.” CityLab finds some places where electric vehicles actually cause more pollution than gas cars.


Don, Meet Juan

Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans severed his ties with Univision, and now NBCUniversal is cutting some of its business ties with the candidate.


Dream About to Come True

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my wife Gina has spends a lot of time working with women and children who live in a Bay Area safe-house for victims of domestic abuse. It’s a great program with wonderful success stories. I couldn’t be prouder of my wife and the other folks who donate so much of their time and money in support of people who need and deserve it. At Gina’s urging, the organization set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for childcare so the mothers can have time to continue their education or restart their careers. With your help, we’re almost there. It’s the last day of the campaign. If you have a minute and few bucks, I’d really appreciate your support.


Bottom of the News

“Fifteen years ago, Tina Engler started writing books about sex. She was rejected by every publisher she submitted to. They all echoed the same refrain: women don’t want to read about sex.” Then something changed. E-readers came along and suddenly, no one could judge you by the cover of the book you were reading.

+ Are you prepared to set your clocks for tomorrow’s leap second?

+ The NYT explains ghosting, the ultimate silent treatment.

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