Friday, July 10th, 2015


Indecent Exposure

Let's start on a positive note. The various hackers on a ferocious quest to access your personal information will ultimately be foiled because, at some point, everything will have already been stolen. And that point might come sooner rather than later as the Office of Personnel Management now reports that a recent hack resulted in the exposure of "sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers of 21.5 million individuals." That admission led to today's resignation by OPM Director Katherine Archuleta. This news cycle follows a familiar pattern. 1. Big hack happens. 2. We learn it's worse than we thought. 3. Someone resigns. 4. OK, we're safe now.

+ It seems clear that we'll never be able to protect our data. The best we can do is make sure that each piece of our stolen data doesn't connect seamlessly to so much of our other data. (Unfortunately, I'm a Humanities major, so I'm not sure how we do that.) Slate's Lily Hay Newman on the Social Security Number's insecurities: "We use our SSNs for everything. Data breaches are showing why that's so terrible."


Flag the Dog

The official lowering of the Confederate Flag from South Carolina's statehouse grounds was widely celebrated this morning. All the good vibes related to the flag's one way trip to museum Palookaville almost overshadowed the fact that the flag debate was, in many ways, a distraction from the more pressing (but also much more taboo) topic associated with the Charleston mass shooting: Guns. That topic was thrust back into the spotlight as we learned that a breakdown in the background check system allowed Dylann Roof to buy his gun.


Weekend Reads

"At that moment, Jorge had before him sufficient evidence to suggest that his life was not what he thought it was." NYT Mag's Susan Dominus on two pairs of Colombian identical twins who were separated at birth after a hospital error. This is the story of how they found each other: The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá.

+ "The United States trumpets education as one of its shining successes of the war in Afghanistan." But a BuzzFeed investigation found that many of the schools touted as successes have never seen a single student. Ghost students. Ghost teachers. Ghost Schools.

+ Esquire: When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job.

+ Since he wrote a book on the Mafia, Roberto Saviano has been on the run. And now he's taken aim at a new target. The worldwide cocaine trade. From GQ: Why does the mob want to erase this writer?

+ And from Venessa Wong: Everything you don't know about the real Colonel Sanders.


The Doodle Abides

There's a reason that so many good ideas have started out as a drawing on a napkin. Doodling, scribbling and drawing can be beneficial, even if your skills are weak. The Atlantic's Steven Heller on the cognitive benefits of doodling.

+ Pacific Standard: Treating trauma with Tetris. (In my house, we treat screaming at Dad with Minecraft.)


For an Eye

"It's hard to imagine that anyone could make you feel sorry for Abu Zubaydah, but his C.I.A. interrogators demonstrated a combination of brutality and incompetence that actually manages to achieve this." The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins makes a compelling case that we should demand an answer to this question: How did Abu Zubaydah lose his eye?


Right Turn Clyde

"Nationally, a quarter of motor-vehicle crashes involving pedestrians occur during left turns." So NYC officials want Google Maps to encourage routes that involve right turns instead. (It will also help if both drivers and pedestrians looked up from their phones on occasion.)


You Can’t Handcuff a Brain

"If the prison has become the psychiatric hospital, the police officer has become the psychiatric nurse. This benefits no one involved." Buzzfeed's Sandra Allen with the trials of Teresa Sheehan. This is just one more story that illustrates our dramatic need for a national dialogue on the issue of mental heath.


Screen Grab

"I'm defeated by this. It's not changing, it's only getting worse, and it's not worth it anymore. I'm heartbroken. If something isn't done, I will think twice before I get back on a stage again." The scene where Patti LuPone grabs a phone from a texting audience member was not in the script. But sadly, it was a necessary improvisation.


So Metal

Looking for someone who had a pretty happy childhood and who grew up to be a well-adjusted adult? Just find a person who was into heavy metal in the 80s. "Social support is a crucial protective factor for troubled youth. Fans and musicians alike felt a kinship in the metal community, and a way to experience heightened emotions with like-minded people." (So that's what was going on in the mosh pit...)

+ I waited until adulthood to attend my first heavy metal festival. And I must admit, I was struck by how welcoming it seemed. I was struck by other elements as well, as I shared in the piece I wrote for McSweeney's: An open letter to the guy who puked next to me at the heavy metal festival.


Bottom of the News

OK, we've finally got some non-organic dirt on people who bring their own reusable bags to the grocery store. They buy more junk food than the rest of us.

+ Dear people who live in fancy tiny houses.

+ Syndicated via Kottke: The Art of the Opening Shot: The opening scenes from dozens of movies, including 2001, There Will Be Blood, Lost in Translation, Seven Samurai, and Star Wars.

+ What the hell have those jugheads done to Archie?