Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015


The Sound Machine

NextDraft will not be published on Wednesday. It's the Jewish Day of Atonement, so as you might imagine, my schedule is fully booked.

If you've got a pop song hook stuck in your head and you're looking for someone to blame, you've come to the right place. And it's not who you think it is. Although the singer of a pop song is often referred to as an artist, those who actually created the songs often toil in obscurity (and a pile of cash and Cristal champagne corks that is roughly waist high). Forget the days of the singer-songwriter and the gritty session musicians and say hello to automated music, synthetic sounds, and the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts. As The Atlantic's Nathaniel Rich explains, "Almost no pop celebrities write their own hits. Too much is on the line for that, and being a global celebrity is a full-time job. It would be like Will Smith writing the next Independence Day."

+ Even before Apple Music launched, streaming music had already surpassed physical sales. And downloads will the be the next victim.


A Case Never Dismissed

"David, who was twenty-five, had been living in Israel and was not scheduled to fly home until later that week, so Ken absorbed the details about the crash with the detached sympathy that one accords a stranger's tragedy. That evening, the airline called. David had changed his plans in order to come home early and surprise his family." From that day on, Ken Dornstein has been trying to solve the case of the Lockerbie bombing. From The New Yorker's Patrick Radden Keefe: The Avenger.


Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

As the BBC reports, "EU interior ministers have approved a controversial plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across the continent over the next two years." But can the complex plan really work when the member country vote was only a majority and not unanimous?


His Holiness

Daniel Thompson died earlier this month in Rancho Mirage. You may not know his name, but you definitely know his work. About five decades ago, Thompson invented the machine that first allowed bagels to be mass produced. That achievement alone equates to a life well lived, but the former math teacher also "created the first wheeled, folding Ping-Pong table, a fixture of American basements from the mid-20th century onward."


Francis-boom-bah: Touch Down

"Will Pope Francis' visit in D.C. draw the same number of fans as the Drake concert on the National Mall this weekend? Will those lining up for his benediction outnumber the people who turned out for runway absolution during New York Fashion Week? Is the pope a bigger deal than the Super Bowl? Are you ready for some Francis?" CityLab's Kriston Capps on the Pope's visit as mega-event.

+ From The New Yorker's Robin Wright: How the Pope Flies: ... and how he rolls. (After seeing the way the Pope travels, my Rabbi has asked to be bumped up to Economy Plus.)


This One Goes to 11 Million

There are a whopping 11 million million Volkswagen vehicles driving around with the software used to fool emissions testing equipment. The EPA has already ordered the company to recall hundreds of thousands of VW and Audi cars that could beat the test, but that emit up to 40 times the pollution allowed under U.S. standards.


The Gateway Drug is Prescribed

"When Roberto Hernández, a Puerto Rican, was in the final stages of preparation of a big push by Gangs to Grace, a church ministry on the west side, to save Latino gang members from lives of violent crime, he explained that white girls from the suburbs go to neighbourhoods even he wouldn't set foot in to buy heroin." The Economist on the Midwest's heroin problem and its broad impact: A hydra-headed scourge. Consider this stat: "Three-quarters of heroin addicts used to take prescription drugs and switched to heroin."
NPR: To curb pain without opioids, Oregon looks to alternative treatments.

+ OK, Lion-killing dentist, we've found your Internet human punching-bag replacement. Meet Martin Shkreli, the guy who bought a drug company and then raised the price of a single tablet of one medication from about 14 bucks to about $750.


Peanut Gutter

No one had ever received a 28 year sentence for a food related crime. But that was before a court heard the details of the case against Stewart Parnell, a former peanut executive who was sentenced for his role in a salmonella outbreak. (The prosecutors wanted life.)


Mr. Smith Goes to Prison

"I was ordered into a bathroom without a stall. A heavier man said: ‘Strip.' So I did. He said, ‘Turn around.' So I turned around. He said, ‘Let me see your prison wallet.' I said, ‘What?'" WaPo's Ben Terris with the interesting tale of Jeff Smith. He was supposed to be in Congress by now. Instead he's an ex-con -- with a story to tell. (Meeting with campaign donors probably isn't all that much different from the scene described above.)


Bottom of the News

Tomorrow is the Jewish Day of Atonement. So today is the ideal time for me to serve up another edition of Just Admit It: That Clock is The Bomb (this will feel good, I promise).

+ Wherever you go, your personal cloud of microbes goes with you. And you can't wash it off.

+ Don Pellmann recently set five track and field world records. Which is pretty cool considering the fact that Don Pellmann is 100.