Tuesday, January 5th, 2016


Point Blank

"The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now but they can't hold America hostage. We do not have to accept that carnage is the price of freedom." During a lengthy and sometimes emotional talk, President Obama announced plans to go around Congress with executive actions aimed at closing background-check loopholes and adding restrictions to many businesses that sell weapons online and at gun shows. The moves are relatively modest, but they might make gun control a more prominent issue in the 2016 election.

+ Vox has the details of Obama's proposals.

+ "Consistently, at least 70 percent of Americans said they favor background checks. Often, far more do. In October, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 92 percent of Americans -- including 87 percent of Republicans -- favor background checks for all gun buyers." As FiveThirtyEight points out, the idea of expanding background checks is not a contentious topic among the voting public.


The Price You Pay

The politics of guns is one issue. The business of guns is another. And, if history is any indicator, today was another good day for the gun business. When there's a shooting or a public call for new restrictions, guns sales go up.

+ Issues connected to personal protection and concerns over gun controls have shot Smith and Wesson to all-time highs.


Devils and Dust

Kuwait has recalled its ambassador from Iran as Saudi Arabia's rift with Iran continues to divide the region. Here's The New Yorker's Robin Wright on the showdown between Islam's rival powers. "The rule of thumb in the Middle East is that diplomacy often -- too often -- makes progress only to be overtaken by unforeseen violence on the ground. It's happening again."


Murder Incorporated

Americans have always had a pretty significant appetite for true crime shows. But, in the past, those shows have usually fallen into the category of guilty pleasures. Between The Jinx on HBO, Serial on NPR, and the Making of a Murderer on Netflix, the genre has gone decidedly high-brow. Is being convicted of murder the last sure-fire way to go viral?

+ One of the amazing parts of this trend is that the true crime series are often followed by real-life movement in the cases. As Making a Murderer has drawn raves from audiences, the prosecutor in the case wants you to know you're not getting the whole story.


Living Proof

In an era when true-crime is all the rage, few criminal cases will be more closely followed than Bill Cosby's. And as Jeffrey Toobin explains, the outcome of Cosby's latest case could hinge on a type of testimony known as prior bad acts. Cosby has a resume filled with them. But are they admissible?

+ The Washingtonian: The Devastating Story of Washington's Peeping-Tom Rabbi. (If your rabbi suggests that you take a practice dunk in the mikvah, be concerned.)


Growin’ Up

Given that I'm its source, it should be obvious that this is a rhetorical question: When does one become an adult? The Atlantic's Julie Beck attempts to answer that question in an era when the line between childhood and adulthood is blurrier than ever. Maybe that's a hint of when adulthood is official. At this point in my life, all lines are blurry.


The Rising

Jennings School District outside of St. Louis was one of the worst performing districts in its state. But Superintendent Tiffany Anderson has managed to turn things around in just a few years. What was her secret? She basically addressed the kids' hierarchy of needs, starting with food and shelter.


For You

"We'd love for the game to impact people and for it to be commercially successful. But there's a piece of me that says, maybe it's just for us." Wired's Jason Tanz with the story of a father, a dying son, and the quest to make the most profound videogame ever.


Born to Run (On)

Twitter is reportedly building a feature that will enable people to post tweets that are longer than 140 characters. A lot longer. Are we about to enter the era of the 10,000 word tweet? (The last thing Twitter needs is more characters...)

+ Facebook purposely made some of its Android apps crash for hours at a time in order to test the loyalty/addiction of its users. (I do something similar with typos.)


Bottom of the News

You might have steered clear of the Bitcoin game before, but can you resist putting a few bitcoins into a Mike Tyson branded digital wallet? (My big bet on Bitcoin is that never really taking the time to understand it will pay off in the future.)

+ WaPo: My Tinder date with Pharma bro Martin Shkreli. Details of dates made on social apps shared in the mainstream media. Welcome to the new definition of indecent exposure.

+ Babypod is a vaginal speaker intended to play music and other sounds to spur fetal development. (I guess it's not all about the bass.)