December 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Talking ‘Bout My Gentrification

“Everybody says that, go to Wyoming, Montana, you can get a mansion. Move on, move on, always move on. And I say to myself, ‘Why should I have to move on?'” The tech boom has been very good for a lot of people in the Bay Area. But it has been devastating for many of those left behind as communities gentrify and the cost of living makes staying in the place where you grew up an impossible dream. The neighbors have a unicorn and you’re living out of your car. Except in Palo Alto where it’s now illegal to live in your car (maybe living in an Uber is still allowed). From Monica Potts in The New Republic: Dispossessed in the Land of Dreams.

+ Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, high-end homeowners are using LLCs to protect themselves financially; and sometimes to hide their identities. From the NYT: A Mansion, a Shell Company and Resentment in Bel Air.


Lead to Water

“Years later, when a child shows signs of a learning disability or behavioral issues, lead’s prior presence in the bloodstream suddenly becomes inescapable.” Officials in Flint, Michigan have declared a state of emergency because there’s so much lead in children’s blood. It all started when the city decided to draw drinking water from the Flint River. And now, the impacts could be felt for a generation.


School’s Out for Bummer

“Do not send your child to school. Please watch the news for further updates.” That was the message sent to the families of hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles kids who were informed that all city schools would be closed for the day after a “credible threat” of violence that came in via email. The threat came in from an IP address in Germany.

+ “New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the emailed threats were ‘so generic, so outlandish’ that they couldn’t be taken seriously.” NYC schools (along with other districts around the country) also received email threats but chose to keep schools open. This is either a story about our vulnerability to violence or a reminder of just how easy it is to terrorize the country’s second largest school district.


One Shot

Can one image dramatically change the tone of discourse on a contentious and complex topic? Thanks to social media and big data, we can now answer questions like that. And in the case of the refugee crisis, the answer is yes. A photo of a dead three year-old child on a beach was seen on more than “20 million screens around the world in just 12 hours.”

+ The power of images shared on social media makes this an oddly important story: 76 Viral Images From 2015 That Were Totally Fake.


Term Limits

So two people are running for higher office. The winner gets the power, the residence, the clout, the fame, the plane, the chef, the military, etc. The loser gets about three extra years of life. Here’s Vox on the downside of being president and the numbers behind the ultimate term limit.


The Glass is Half Full (With Poison)

“Oil prices soar after Islamic State destroys facilities across the Middle East. Angela Merkel is forced to resign, throwing the European Union into disarray. The dollar slumps as Russian and Iranian hackers team up to launch cyber-attacks on U.S banks.” Bloomberg imagines these scenarios and more in A Pessimist’s Guide to 2016. (Bloomberg just gets me…)


Bowe Knows Confinement

In a move that came as a surprise to many, the U.S. Army will try Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a court martial that could result in a life sentence. Bergdahl was captured and held captive by the Taliban for five years after walking off his base in Afghanistan. He is also the topic of the new season of the Serial podcast. You’re going to be hearing a lot about this case.


Will Tweet for Food

“Many famous social media stars are too visible to have ‘real’ jobs, but too broke not to.” From Fusion: Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame. Monetization is a bitch.


The Leader of the Whack Pack

Howard Stern just signed a new five year deal with Sirius. The service currently has more than 29 million subscribers.

+ If you haven’t listened to Stern since back in the day, you don’t know what you’re missing. His show is almost entirely different. And he is the greatest interviewer around. He can make any guest interesting. From WaPo: Is Howard Stern going soft or just getting sharper?


Bottom of the News

“The first record, from 1998, was for a part Sphynx, part Devon Rex named Granpa Rexs Allen who made it to age 34; the second, from 2005, is for a mixed tabby named Creme Puff who lived to age 38.” Jake Perry is a cat man. And he’s managed to get a lot of years out of his favorite pets. From AtlasObscura: How To Raise A 165-Year-Old Cat.

+ Can cow’s milk help you get a good night’s sleep? It might have a better chance if the cow was milked at night. (Why does that sound like the treatment for a late night show on Cinemax?)

+ From Left Shark through today, here are the top ten memes of 2015. And the top ten viral sports videos.

+ TV reviewer Tim Goodman has put out his list of the Best television of the year. There are 46 shows and many of them are awesome. So you’ve got your work cut out over the holidays.

+ 2016 will be the year when you get to take a swig of organic Gatorade. (I think I’ll hold out for the artisanal blend.)

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