September 10th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

It’s On Like Donkey Kong

Last year I linked to an article that explained how listening to videogame soundtracks could increase one’s productivity because they are designed to help you succeed and level-up. So I put the theory to test, and it worked. I was pumped, especially during my Call of Duty playlist. I eventually kicked the habit because of a noticeable increase in typos and an occasional, fleeting desire to smash my head through my office drywall. Should the gamification of life extend beyond background music? The New Yorker’s Nathan Heller takes a look at a new movement that seeks to turn life’s challenges into a game. Your coffee is a power-up. Your laundry is a challenge. And there is no way in hell that elderly lady with the tennis ball-heeled walker is getting to the last available subway seat ahead of you. It’s game on.


Candid Camera

“Sorry, race has nothing at all to do with this.” So said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton as he apologized to former tennis star James Blake who was aggressively tackled by police as he exited his Manhattan hotel. It will be difficult for any African American male to believe the incident was unrelated to race. Because of what we’ve seen on video over the past couple years, it’s difficult for the rest of us to believe it too. And that’s a really big deal. Here’s my piece on James Blake and the case for surveillance. Let’s Be Candid About Cameras.


Long Lost Relative

“The two amateur cavers had to feel their way along the cave’s winding passages, crawl on their stomachs through an opening less than 10 inches high, ascend a jagged wall, cross a narrow ledge dubbed the ‘Dragon’s Back,’ and make a 400-foot descent, sideways, through a vertical crack before finally arriving at the prize.” It was worth the effort as the researchers discovered the fossil fragments of previously unknown species of human relative now called Homo naledi. What shocked researchers the most was that the very primitive creatures seemed to have buried their dead. According to one researcher: “To see it in a small-brained hominid is completely surprising. None of us expected it.” (That pretty much sums up how I feel about the success of the Trump campaign.)

+ NatGeo: This face changes the human story. But how?

+ As the ice melts, ancient viruses are being uncovered.


Maid in America

“More than one-third of live-in workers reported being threatened, insulted, or verbally abused.” Beth Healy and Megan Woolhouse of The Boston Globe on domestic workers and a life of isolated servitude.


Travel Photos

Nothing seems to capture the plight of the migrants quite like photos. Alan Taylor of InFocus has collected an excellent set of images: A Migrant’s Journey: 1 Week, 30,000 People, 2,500 Miles.


Dropping the White Collar Dime

“Corporations can only commit crimes through flesh-and-blood people. It’s only fair that the people who are responsible for committing those crimes be held accountable.” The Justice Department has announced plans to focus less on corporations that break the rules and more on executives within those corporations who break the law.

+ For some reason, this reminds me of Charles Grodin in Midnight Run: “I’m a white collar criminal.”


Best Bars in Town

The Marshall Project’s Beth Schwartzapfel takes a look at a new place where you can get tips on jails and prisons, whether you’re there as a visitor or a resident: “I Reviewed Jail on Yelp Because I Couldn’t Afford a Therapist.”


Does Cait Rate?

Even with the incredible amount of news coverage and apparent viewer anticipation, Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show didn’t become the season’s biggest TV sensation. In fact, it wasn’t even the the most watched new reality show of the season. I’m convinced there’s either no correlation between the amount of press a show gets and its number of viewers, or the correlation is inverse.


Going to Extremes

“Jackman found the people who made the clip and they testified that it was all ‘tomato sauce and cocktail sausages.'” In The Guardian, Edward Docx tells the interesting story of Myles Jackman; a lawyer on a mission to change Britain’s obscenity laws. For him, it’s more than a job, it’s a moral calling.


Bottom of the News

A couple of Danish researchers decided to look at what strategies and models make for the most efficient wait in line. It turns out that first come first serve is the worst of the systems they studied. Even last come first serve is faster.

+ Bloomberg: How the High Times Bonghitters became the Yankees of New York media softball. (If there’s one thing journalists are good at, it’s tossing softballs.)

+ Why settle for the generic, mass produced stuff? Get yourself some artisanal firewood.

Copied to Clipboard