December 1st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Divorcing Yoda

From cat toys to non-dairy creamers, just about every item that could possibly be branded by Star Wars has been. People are excited about the new movie. Maybe even a little too excited. Even Yoda is like, “Overhyping this movie you are. If good it is, see it they will.” If the fevered anticipation for the movie makes us feel a little conflicted, imagine how George Lucas feels. Yes, he made the decision to sell his company and yes, $4 billion is a lot of money in any galaxy. But still, this has to be a weird moment for him. And it will be even weirder when he actually sees the movie. He compared it to going to one of his kid’s weddings after a divorce: “I gotta go to the wedding. My ex will be there, my new wife will be there, but I’m going to have to take a very deep breath and be a good person and sit through it and just enjoy the moment, because it is what it is and it’s a conscious decision that I made.” Interestingly, Lucas has also made the decision to pretty much avoid the Internet for the last fifteen years. From WaPo: To feel the true force of Star Wars, he had to learn to let it go.


Putting a Finger in Van Dyke

“He has become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction.” Chicago’s top cop was just fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel amid the public outcry related to video of officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald.

+ Does such a firing resolve (or even address) the bigger issues surrounding Chicago’s police department? As Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us: “So grand is the scale of Chicago’s police brutality that the city has, over the past 10 years, paid out a half-billion dollars in settlement money to victims.”

+ MoJo: 10 things you should know about the killing of Laquan McDonald.


Core Cutting

“Tens of thousands of U.S. personnel are operating in the broader Middle East region, and more are on the way.” So said Defense Secretary Ash Carter as he announced that additional special forces are being deployed to Iraq to defeat ISIS “at its core.”

+ “They connect via online services — especially Twitter — and in everyday life. Their ages range from 15 to 47, and their roles range from cheering attacks to plotting violence. And curbing their growth is a dynamic challenge without a simple solution.” From NPR: What ISIS looks like in America.


The Hole in Your Pocket

Americans used to go shopping. Now we shop on the go. We spent more than $3 billion on Cyber Monday. And 26% of that was spent via a mobile device. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Just give us your damn money Tuesday. Forget it, we hacked all your data anyway Wednesday.


Tick Tock Tick (Cough) Tock

“Fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are the main drivers of global warming. The CO2 they give off makes up more than 75 percent of annual climate pollution.” For a good and disturbing look at the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere, take a look at the Bloomberg Carbon Clock.

+ For a more straight-forward view of the issue, take a look at Beijing.


We Built This City

“In 1969, per capita income in the St. Louis metro area was 83 percent as high as in the New York metro area; it would rise to 90 percent by the 1970s.” As you are probably aware, things have changed. A lot. The Atlantic’s Phillip Longman with an interesting look at why the economic fates of America’s cities diverged.


Something Unusual

“Indeed, he now rivals James Dean, Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein in image appropriated bric-a-brac.” The NYT on the peculiar ascent of Bill Murray to secular saint. It needs no explanation. He is the little acorn that becomes the oak.


The N is Nigh

Education officials in New York are facing a tough word problem: “If the percentage of students passing the Algebra I exam falls to 63 percent from 72 percent, and the passing grade is scheduled to increase by 14 points in coming years, should the test be made easier?”

+ You be the judge. Here are some sample questions.


Bird is the Word

“Dr. Chu said she wasn’t aware of any birds that respond to these porcine incursions by catapulting themselves around.” An ornithologist fact checks Angry Birds.

+ And a stanza by stanza critique of Kobe Bryant’s poem. (I personally prefer Steph Curry’s poetry.)


Bottom of the News

It’s the show that, somehow, continues to live up to its name. From Nautilus: Why Is Survivor Still on Television?

+ Ever wonder why prunes do what they do? We might not have an answer.

+ The dude who plays the mountain on Game of Thrones can really toss a keg.

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