November 25th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Welcome to 2050

“Next year, the world’s advanced economies will reach a critical milestone. For the first time since 1950, their combined working-age population will decline, according to United Nations projections, and by 2050 it will shrink 5%.” In other words, it turns out that the big problem in the world isn’t that there are too many people, but rather that there are too few (Thanksgiving dinners excepted). The WSJ’s Greg Ip provides an interactive look at how demographics rule the global economy.

+ The above piece is part of an interesting WSJ series that looks at how we will live, age, and work in 2050: Our Demographic Destiny. (I predict that the biggest selling album of that year will be Adele’s 60.)


Traffic School

On one hand, the message is that more people are less interested in driving cars these days. On the other hand, you’re stuck in traffic that seems worse than ever. Sadly, the other hand is the reality. We’re driving more than ever. Here’s Vox on why driving is making a huge comeback. (For many people, driving is the only chance they have to unwind and check their text messages.)


Street Sixteen

“The young man was stopped by the first bullet. The other shots were an execution.” The video of Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald sixteen times has finally been released.

+ “Without that whistleblower — and without that video — it’s highly unlikely that Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke would be facing first-degree murder charges today.” The Chicago Reporter on how the city tried to cover up a police shooting.

+ Brandon Smith: I filed suit for the Laquan McDonald police video. Its mundanity shocked me.


Origin Sin

“All of the Sept. 11 attackers entered the United States using tourist, business or student visas. Since then, most of the attackers in the United States claiming or appearing to be motivated by extremist Islam were born in this country or were naturalized citizens. None were refugees.” In case the topic comes up at Thanksgiving dinner, here’s the NYT with the origins of Jihadist-inspired attackers in the U.S.

+ Vice talks to members of the Eagles of Death Metal about the Bataclan attack.

+ As tensions following Turkey’s downing of a Russian plane continue to simmer, the surviving pilot says the plane never entered Turkish airspace and that he was never given any warning.


I’m Not Cait

“I remember once I was at a bar and a dude was laughing at me and getting in my face. And I was like, ‘I’m taking my shoes off, and then I’m going to start fighting. And if I do that, I’m gonna hurt you real bad. And it’s gonna be a dude in a dress hurting you real bad, and your friends are over there watching.” GQ talks to Kristin Beck (formerly Chris Beck): A Navy SEAL in Transition.


When a Stranger Swats

“They were completely lost on the idea of a stranger harassing us over the Internet. It’s a feeling like you’re drowning, and the person doesn’t understand what water is.” Internet trolls plus heavily armed police squads have combined to make some people’s lives a living hell. NYT Mag’s James Fagone: The Serial Swatter.


Loss Leaders

Big time college sports often seem to diverge wildly from the core goals of a university. But they bring in big money for schools, so it’s worth it in the end, right? Well, that’s only right for a handful of schools. For most universities, even winning sports programs operate at a loss. From The Chronicle of Higher Ed and HuffPo: The $10 billion divide between elite sports programs and all the rest.


Malo Lava

“At the opening of the 2015 football season, there were more than 200 American Samoans on rosters of Division I college football teams. Twenty-eight were slated to play in the NFL. If you begin to count other Polynesians — Pacific Islanders from Hawaii, Tonga, Easter Island, and New Zealand — the impact is even greater: Five of the first 66 players selected in the NFL’s 2015 draft were Polynesian.” In California Sunday Magazine, Mike Sager on how a tiny island produces so many professional football players: The Samoan Pipeline. (My kids are half Samoan and half Jewish. So they hit people really hard and then feel guilty about it later.)


A Wing Without a Prayer

As in years past, President Obama pardoned a turkey today. But before you celebrate how lucky that bird is, you should know that even for pardoned turkeys, the future is bleak.

+ Want to celebrate Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims? Then you should know that they feasted at a moment in history before pumpkin pie had been invented.

+ Sweet Potato vs Yam. What’s the difference? (And why eat either when normal mashed potatoes are available?)

+ How Turducken went from food of kings to poultry of the populace. (I imagine this course of history followed along roughly the same timeline as the release of the Cheech and Chong movies.)


Bottom of the News

“Etiquette and beauty standards dictated that the mouth be kept small — resulting in an instruction to say prunes (rather than cheese) when a photograph was being taken.” From the MIT Tech Review: Data mining reveals how smiling evolved during a century of yearbook photos.

+ How did Black Friday get its name?

+ Syndicated via Kottke: Fourteen-year-old Lucas Etter solved a randomly scrambled Rubik’s Cube in just 4.9 seconds the other day.

+ Great photo of an ancient Chinese Ginkgo Tree that dropped a lot of leaves.

+ And to celebrate the Warriors record-setting 16-0 start, here’s a look at the artistry of Steph Curry. (For Warriors fans, the image from this story makes an excellent desktop pattern.)

+ And finally, one thing I’m grateful for this (and every) Thanksgiving are the investigative reporters who inform and entertain us; and often risk their lives sharing stories that change the lives of others. No one does it better than my friends at Reveal (The Center for Investigative Reporting). Phil Bronstein and I record our What Hurts podcast at the Reveal Studios (aside from that, everything they put out is top notch). Join me in supporting their Kickstarter to help their remarkable new radio show go weekly.

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