December 21st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

In Good We Trust

Shootings. Natural disasters. Terrorism. Disease. Melting Ice. Rising oceans. War. Famine. Martin Shkreli getting the Wu-Tang album. To any frequent consumer of the news, the past year followed a pretty grim storyline. But The Atlantic’s Charles Kenny explains why, “by many measures, humanity is in better shape than it’s ever been.” 2015: The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being.

+ The Quartz Chart of the Year shows the consistently falling percentage of people living in absolute poverty around the world.

+ And the editors at Slate found one inspiring, funny, or touching story for each day of the 2015: The Year of Good Things. (Reminder: The sharing of these links should not be seen as an endorsement of optimism.)


Be A Superhero

Here’s another piece of good news. My friends (and NextDraft’s sponsors) over at Betabrand have created a limited edition NextDraft Internet Superhero T-Shirt. But there’s a catch. They are only making about a hundred of these beauties. So you better order yours today.


Super Power’s Power

“About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations networks that keep the lights on.” One of the biggest concerns in Washington is that some extremely talented hackers could gain access to a power grid and essentially shut down a huge section of the country. The AP reports on the attempts that have been made and the times hackers have gotten close to punching our lights out.


Pre Pre Pre Pre Med

“The same educational policies that are pushing academic goals down to ever earlier levels seem to be contributing to — while at the same time obscuring — the fact that young children are gaining fewer skills, not more.” Is there a chance that pushing kids harder in preschool can backfire? Erika Christakis makes the case that the new preschool is crushing kids. (I don’t want to give parenting advice. But during my kids’ preschool years, I really urged their private SAT tutor to incorporate a few minutes of fun and free play each afternoon.)


Fifa Fo Fumble

“I am not ashamed … I am sorry that I am a punching ball.” Sepp Blatter was defiant upon learning that he and his heir apparent had both been banned from Fifa for eight years.

+ The Guardian: How the Machiavellian master of Fifa power politics fell.


Fetty WaPo

“I didn’t know anything about the newspaper business. But I did know something about the Internet.” That was Jeff Bezos explaining why he decided to purchase the Washington Post. And it turns out his knowledge of the Internet is paying off. Over the past couple months, WaPo has attracted more unique visitors that the NYT. I think the NYT paywall is probably a factor here. A ton of news traffic comes by way of sharing. And many people are more hesitant to share content that is behind a paywall. That said, WaPo has done a great job transitioning over the past year.

+ TNR: Amazon dominated nearly everything this year.


Photo Finish

This really was a year of incredible news and some unforgettable images. Take a look back with with the NYT’s year in pictures.

+ And Vox takes a look back at 2015, in four minutes. (I’m gonna hold out for their look at these four minutes in two minutes.)


Force Majeure

As Disney execs awaken to the box office numbers, it sure looks like they made the movie deal of the decade when they scored the Star Wars empire for a cool $4 billion. But the guy who sold it to them may have made the movie deal of the century. From Deadline Hollywood: An Architect Of Hollywood’s Greatest Deal Recalls How George Lucas Won Sequel Rights.


The Bar Method

Vanity Fair catches you up with the latest on the story of the celebrity hipster chocolatiers who were really just melting down regular, old commercial chocolate. Yes, the bearded claims of an artisanal “bean to bar” experience that gained the admiration of some top tasters was chock full of it.


Bottom of the News

Host Steve Harvey nearly blew up the Internet over the weekend when he named Colombian contestant Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo as this year’s Miss Universe. He had to return to the stage — as Arevalo’s crown was removed — and report that he meant to say Miss Philippines. In fairness to Harvey, it’s a giant universe and he successfully narrowed it down to two people.

+ “The government in the Netherlands has clarified that it is legal for driving instructors to offer lessons in return for sex, as long as the students are over the age of 18. However, it is illegal to offer sex in return for lessons.”

+ Syndicated from Kottke: The winners of the 2015 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

+ SNL: Meet Your Second Wife.

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