Tuesday, July 21st, 2015


Highway Robbery

For those determined to get away with your car, the weapons of choice such as Slim Jims and handguns might soon be replaced laptops and smartphones. And as an added bonus, the car thieves of the future will not only get your vehicle, they'll also get you in it. In Wired Andy Greenberg describes what it was like when hackers remotely took over a Jeep ... with him in it. "The two hackers remotely toyed with the air-conditioning, radio, and windshield wipers, I mentally congratulated myself on my courage under pressure. That's when they cut the transmission." Here's a suggested playlist for your roadtrip into the future: On the Code Again, Plunder Road, Pink Caddyhack, Boot Up and Drive, Baby You Can Disk Drive My Car, and Get Out of My Dram, Get Into My Car.

+ MIT Tech Review: Cars may soon understand more of what you say. (Mine will quickly tire of me saying Baba Booey all the time.)

+ Check out the fake town for driverless cars.


Whatever I Say I Am

Alanna Whitney is autistic. But she doesn't talk about her diagnosis the way most people do. "It was kind of like a go-ahead to shed all of those things I could or couldn't do and embrace myself for who I am." As WaPo's Sandhya Somashekhar explains, Whitney is part of new group of adults who have banded together to start a movement. "These 'neurodiversity' activists contend that autism -- and other brain afflictions such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- ought to be treated not as a scourge to be eradicated but rather as a difference to be understood and accepted." As you might imagine, the reactions to the movement span the spectrum.


Everything is Awesome

Life expectancy is up. Starvation is down. Things are good. At least, that's this layman's reading of these 11 maps and charts collected by Vox: The world is getting better all the time. (On the other hand, Trump.)

+ The tide of awesomeness is not lifting all boats. From Newshour: More children are in poverty today than before the Great Recession. And this breathtaking stat from the NYT: Disasters, both natural and weather-related, displaced 19 million in 2014.


Cell Theory

Sandra Bland was pulled over for an illegal lane change. Three days later, she was found hanging in a Texas jail cell. Her death was initially called a suicide. But now Waller County prosectors say, it's "is being treated like a murder investigation."

+ Waller County has been described as "a place with a grim history of discrimination and tension -- 'racism from the cradle to the grave.'"


Shawshank Confession

"His explorations began this past winter and continued through the spring. They took him underground almost every night for hours until he finally stumbled on what would become, through trial and error and countless hours of grueling work, his subterranean route out." The NYT's William K. Rashbaum has a remarkably detailed look at the New York prison escape that riveted the nation. (And yes, parts of it were indeed inspired by Shawshank Redemption.)


Om Om Omg

This blurb is mindful. I feel comfortable making that claim because almost everything here in Northern California is being rebranded as mindful these days. And that leads us to NPR's question: Does Mindfulness Mean Anything? (The correct answer is to ignore the question.)

+ Scientists are studying the smartest way to take a vacation.


Saving Pennies and the Jet

The very well-backed and highly valued Amazon competitor, Jet, has finally opened its virtual doors. Can a former Amazon employee use the club savings model to give Amazon a run for its money?

+ Thirteen things you might not know about Costco.


Somewhere Out There

"This is the very, very worst version of the company. This is not the company I built." That was Gawker Editor Nick Denton the day after his top editors quit over management's decision to take down a piece on "a married, male, publishing executive who allegedly tried to hire a male escort."

+ Is Denton right? Slate asks the question another way: Was the deleted Gawker post any worse than its old stuff?

+ Redef has a good set of articles on the brewing controversy.

+ And here's NY Mag's Heather Havrilesky looking at the broader issues raised by the Ashley Madison hack: "This might be a good day for us to rethink our attitudes about the victims of hacking, whether it's Sony's Amy Pascal or the married dude next door, because the mob is coming for us, too. Do we really want to live in a world where no one is allowed to make mistakes?" (Do we really have a choice at this point?)


The Elephant in the Room

Ohio Governor John Kasich just became the latest contender to join the GOP race for the White House. It's a crowded field. So who will make the cut and be able to appear in the first debate? For those on the edge, it might come down to chance.

+ Since he leads the in polls, The Donald will definitely be in the debate. Trump's latest headline-grabbing move was to reveal Sen. Lindsey Graham's cellphone number during a live TV event. (I just want Trump to stay in the race long enough to pick himself as his running mate.)


Bottom of the News

"Some male players, however -- the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers -- made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers." Yes, as you might have guessed, men who harass women online are quite literally losers

+ I used to want to be in the movie business. Now I think I'd rather be in the trailer business.

+ "Tennis has Serena Williams. Golf has Jordan Spieth. Soccer has Lionel Messi.
Scrabble has Nigel Richards." And Nigel Richards just won the French Scrabble championship even though he doesn't speak French.

+ And take a look at JFK's plans for a new luxury terminal for pets.