Wednesday, August 26th, 2015


Read at Your Own Risk

Yesterday, a guy in my office building walked into a full elevator with his cellphone and continued his loud conversation throughout a multi-floor ride. So I punched him in the face, grabbed his phone, and threw it to the floor as my fellow riders cheered with a vigor not seen since the days of the gladiator pits. OK, the second part of that anecdote is a slight exaggeration and merely represents what I wanted to do. But even at this relatively early moment in our device-usage evolution, such reactions (real or imagined) to phone use have been rendered meaningless. The truth about phone etiquette is that there is none. And we're all each other's enablers. According to the latest Pew survey, while just about everyone is bothered by the cellphone overuse they perceive in others, "89% of cellphone owners say they used their phone during the most recent social gathering they attended." Here are the interesting numbers related to our views on phone etiquette. (If you're on your phone right now, read at your own risk.)

+ Are selfies to blame for increased lice outbreaks in teams? Let's try to answer that question without putting our heads together.


LA Premieres New Cop Show

Starting Monday, the LAPD's long awaited body cameras will be put into use. As Police Commissioner Robert Saltzman explained, "This is a big deal." An equally big deal will be the ensuing battle over who gets to see the footage and when.


Poisoning the Unwell

"Rose sold everything to Access Funding -- 420 monthly lead checks between 2017 and 2052. They amounted to a total of nearly $574,000 and had a present value of roughly $338,000. In return, Access Funding paid her less than $63,000." First they get lead poisoning in part because they live in poor communities. Then the predators come to make sure they are victimized once again. WaPo's Terrence McCoy on how companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks


High Education

"What are we doing to our students if we encourage them to develop extra-thin skin just before they leave the cocoon of adult protection?" In The Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt on the rise of college students who want to be protected from words and ideas: The Coddling of the American Mind.

+ Several incoming Duke freshmen refused to read an assigned book because it compromised their "personal Christian moral beliefs." (Well, we certainly wouldn't want to let an educational experience compromise one's beliefs.)


The Camera Fell

"We heard screaming and then we heard nothing. The camera fell." A gunman in Virginia shot and killed a reporter and her cameraman during a live broadcast. Vester Lee Flanagan posted videos of the shootings to social media before killing himself.


Burning Man(sion)

"A venture capitalist billionaire threw a $16,500-per-head party at the festival, his camp a hyper-exclusive affair replete with wristbands and models flown in to keep the guests company." Keith A. Spencer explains why the rich love Burning Man. (If the Nasdaq doesn't bounce back in the next few days, Burning Man is going to look a lot more like actual camping.)


The High Wireless Act

"When I was young, we had to buffer." Those are the kinds of phrases I come up with to try to explain to my kids that broadband access wasn't always so great. But to really give them an idea of what it was like, I take them on a plane, where, as Bloomberg reports, Gogo's infuriatingly expensive, slow internet still owns the skies. (It's somehow awesome that we all regularly complain about slow Internet access at 36,000 feet.)



"Her joy is palpable. It brings me to my feet, and I grin right back at her, as if I've won something, too. Perhaps I have." In NYT Mag, Claudia Rankine takes a shot at explaining the meaning of Serena Williams. (Her current dominance is one of the most under-appreciated achievements in sport.)


The Human Blowhorn

"I don't know whether this was a deliberate strategy on Trump's behalf. But if so, it's pretty brilliant. Trump is perhaps the world's greatest troll, someone who is amazingly skilled at disrupting the conversation by any means necessary." Nate Silver on Donald Trump who seems to have mastered the era's most valued skill: Drawing attention to oneself (hereafter known as Trumping).


Bottom of the News

"Did I mention how much I love my daughter, who is with me 20 hours a day and who co-sleeps with me and who is my whole life?" Rebecca Schuman makes a pretty reasonable case to explain why she uses social media to share photos of herself flipping off her sleeping infant. (I've found that the older a kid gets, the more they appreciate getting the bird from a parent.)

+ Burger King wanted McDonald's to join them in a charitable campaign in which the companies would combine efforts to create the McWhopper. It was a weird idea. The response was worse.

+ Syndicated via Kottke: One man invented both the Aerobie Flying Disc and the AeroPress coffee maker. In this short video documentary by David Friedman, inventor Alan Adler tells the story of how those products came to be.