Monday, December 14th, 2015


Search and Destroy

"People often have vicious thoughts. Sometimes they share them on Google. Do these thoughts matter?" Most of the time, probably not. But when researchers see a lot of people entering hateful and violent searches into Google, they often find a real world correlation. In the NYT, Evan Soltas and Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explain what they've found out about the rise of hate search: "Hate crimes may seem chaotic and unpredictable, a consequence of random neurons that happen to fire in the brains of a few angry young men. But we can explain some of the rise and fall of anti-Muslim hate crimes just based on what people are Googling about Muslims."

+ In Aeon, Sandra Newman examines the connection between mask-wearing and online behavior: "We go to work and wear a professional mask, then come home and adopt a parental mask. We even have specific personas that go with individual friends." (That's why I love my narcissist mask. It works in every setting.)


Inflame in the Membrane

"Anti-inflammatory supplements will lift your depression and ameliorate autism. Certain drugs will tamp down the silent inflammation that degrades your tissues, improving your health and extending your life. Everything, and everyone, is inflamed." The New Yorker's Jerome Groopman on inflammation and the debate over the latest cure-all craze.

+ A new study suggests a connection between maternal exposure to anti-depressants and autism.


Stick a Forecast In It

"The big, ambitious goal is immediately followed ... by a bigger, more ambitious goal." NPR takes a look at the world climate agreement, by the numbers -- and explains why, for many inhabitants of small islands, 1.5 degrees is the new 2 degrees. (Sidenote: It's rained pretty much nonstop in California since the climate deal was reached. These guys are good...)

+ WaPo: "Someone had changed a single word in the draft text -- from a 'should' to a 'shall' -- and suddenly the entire climate deal appeared at risk of faltering."

+ Wired: Meet Laurent Fabius, non-stop climate negotiations gangster.


Crossing the Blue Line

"Let me be really clear about what happened to me. From the moment I got my first pair of hockey skates at five years old, I got the living shit kicked out of me every single day. Every day after hockey, no matter how many goals I scored, he would hit me. The man was 6-foot-2, 250 lbs. It would start as soon as we got in the car, and sometimes right out in the parking lot." Retired hockey player Patrick O'Sullivan shares some disturbing tales from a childhood he thought was perfectly normal. And as he explains, he wrote this story for the people in the parking lot.


Serena Colada

"The numbers lie. Her tennis year was all internal discord and quelled revolts; Williams battled her body like never before. A cough and cold had her vomiting before and, for the first time, during a match: the Australian Open final, in January, which she won anyway. Bone bruises in both knees, the residue of 20 years of pounding, flared during the spring hardcourt swing and never subsided. Her focus frayed, her footwork suffering, she arrived at the French Open nursing a right elbow strain that would plague her unparalleled serve the rest of the year. The whole Serena Williams construct -- intimidation, power, will -- had gone oddly fragile." But even in that fragile state, she won and won and won. That's why Sports Illustrated named Serena Willams the sportsperson of the year.


Put Your Mouth Where You Money Is

"Why should unelected billionaires get to exercise their neo-missionary impulses across the globe?" The New Yorker's James Surowiecki (whose name I copy and paste every time) makes the case in defense of Philanthrocapitalism.

+ Big name CEOs are putting their money behind causes. But there's something more unusual going on. They are putting their words behind causes as well. Here's my take on tech CEOs and why taking a stand is the new standing desk: Get Up, Stand Up.


Plumb Crazy

A pickup truck used by Mark-1 Plumbing was sold to a Ford dealership in Houston. The next time the owner saw his pickup was when it was being used by extremists in Syria (who managed to fit an anti-aircraft gun in the truck bed). How did he know it was his truck? It still said Mark-1 Plumbing on the door. So now he's suing the Ford dealership. (And if you look closely, you'll see that the extremist behind the wheel is not wearing a seatbelt.)


Hover’s Quarrel

Wired on the two key problems with hoverboards: They don't actually hover. And they keep catching on fire. Let's find out why hoverboards keep exploding. (I'm just chalking it up to divine intervention.)

+ Have a drone that weighs more than half a pound? You'll need to register it with the FAA. (I was able to avoid buying a drone for my nine year-old son by telling him he could get an exploding hoverboard instead...)


Circular Thinking

In Quartz, Nicholas de Monchaux makes sense of the world around us: Apple and Star Wars together explain why much of the world around you looks the way it does: "This is the story of two big round things that loom large in our culture." (Something about this article made me feel better about the shape of my head.)


Bottom of the News

It's that time of year at the office. So FiveThirtyEight is here with the ultimate guide to winning your white elephant gift exchange using game theory.

+ InFocus with a list of hopeful images from 2015.

+ Some of the biggest brand fails of the year.

+ Why is the name Gary on the brink of extinction? (Baba Booey...)