Friday, August 28th, 2015


Like Totally

This Internet thing is definitely going to take off. Consider the passing of a truly remarkable milestone. On a single day, more than a billion people used Facebook. Yes, one in seven people on Earth used Facebook on Monday (and that photo you thought was so awesome got 4 Likes). This marks an incredible moment for social media's most dominant brand -- and maybe for the evolution of human behavior. But the fact that we have a site that can take that kind of user load is also the systems administration feat of a generation. To put Facebook's technical achievement into perspective, imagine your grandmother calling you for tech support. Now imagine a billion of her.


Another Hack in the Armor

In an unsurprising move, Noel Biderman, the CEO of Ashley Madison's parent company (and by today's standards, you'd have to consider it a "free range" parent) has stepped down. You might see this as just one more splash of Schadenfreude gasoline thrown on a smoldering site and a group of users that deserved to suffer a good burn. But don't kid yourself. There's a much bigger part of this story. Hackers can destroy a company and access your personal information and get away with it. We've seen examples of it before. And, after this, we'll see a lot more in the future.


Weekend Reads

Netflix just debuted its much-anticipated series on Pablo Escobar. This fictionalized account should be popular. And so are the real life visits to the tourist attractions that are part of what GQ's Jesse Katz calls Pablo-land: Pablo Escobar Will Never Die.

+ "I lived adventure through Harry. He had enough of it for ten people." WaPo's Michael E. Miller on the incredible life and haunting death of world traveler Harry Devert.

+ "Ron Capps served in Rwanda, Darfur, Kosovo, Eastern Congo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. When he got back, writing was the only thing that could truly bring him home again." Believer's Kristina Shevory: A Common Language.

+ Zach Baron in GQ: Daniel Wolfe Is Killing Himself Live on Facebook.


Just Say No Results

The latest data related to the effectiveness of drug sentencing could easily be titled More of the Same. Penalty increases and billions spent on jail time have not reduced drug use or recidivism.


Might Want to Try That Again

A group of researchers tried to replicate psychology studies published in high-profile journals, and fewer than "half of the replication studies reproduced the original results." I'm guessing the replication problem could be replicated across a lot of areas of study.


The Bike Lane

Along the border between Norway and Russia, it is illegal either to cross on foot or to transport someone without proper papers. More than 100 Syrian refugees found a loophole in that law, and they crossed into Norway on bicycles.


Paid to Serve

Marketers are spending a ton of money with ESPN to pay for some eyeballs during Serena Williams' quest for the Tennis grand slam. But, considering her complete dominance of her sport, Serena finds it pretty tough to win endorsements.


The Smudging on the Wall

"The ballpoint's universal success has changed how most people experience ink." While most of us blame laptops and iPads, Josh Giesbrecht makes the argument that the ballpoint pen is actually what killed cursive.


I Think That’s the Record

"He rode his unicycle up and down a runway at the Coldwater Airport for a little under an hour, and one by one, he solved Rubik's cubes. Eighty of them, to be exact." The Atlantic's Cari Romm tries to understand the appeal of being the best at an arbitrary contest. I've got 341 browser tabs open. Who am I to judge?


Bottom of the News

"It's a phrase that means, roughly, 'hooking up.' But it's a lot more complicated than that." In Fusion, Kevin Roose explains how Netflix and chill became a viral sex catchphrase. Interesting. Among older people, turning on Netflix for the night is largely viewed as a sign of acceptance that you're not gonna get any.

+ "They were reaching millions and millions of people in their living rooms, for hours and hours on end -- these Japanese composers probably reached more people with their music than anyone at any other time in history." Classic videogame soundtracks, now available on vinyl.

+ Thirty years later, a look back at John Cusack's Better Off Dead.