Monday, January 11th, 2016


Stardust Memories

In the NYT obituary, Jon Pareles writes: "Mr. Bowie wrote songs, above all, about being an outsider: an alien, a misfit, a sexual adventurer, a faraway astronaut." Maybe that's why there is such an outpouring of emotion at the news of David Bowie's death at the age of 69. Everyone feels like an outsider and Bowie made being an outsider feel more like being ahead of the curve. Today, there are people who are famous for nothing. David Bowie was famous for everything.

+ From Buzzfeed, here are 17 performances by Bowie, and a life in pictures.

+ Bowie was also early to the Internet. Quartz calls him a tech visionary, and there's this from a 1999 Rolling Stone article: "David Bowie has pulled another cyber-coup by becoming the first major-label artist to sell a complete album online in download form."

+ BBC: 69 facts about David Bowie.


He Shoots, He Scores

"The program scoured billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and the man's social media postings. It calculated his threat level as the highest of three color-coded scores: a bright red warning." WaPo's Justin Jouvenal takes you inside Fresno's real time crime center to get a glimpse into the way police assess your threat score.

+ "My concern about our technology today is that it's growing faster than our rights." From The Kernal: The high-tech cop of the future is here today.


The Falcon and the Blow Man

"It's a clandestine horror show for the single most technologically illiterate man left standing. At 55 years old, I've never learned to use a laptop. Do they still make laptops?" It's not that easy to read all the way to the actual interview, but Sean Penn does share some of the details of his secret visit with the most wanted man in the world: El Chapo Speaks.

+ The NYT on Penn's exclusive: "Questions have been raised about the ethics for the magazine in dealing with Mr. Guzmán, a criminal being sought on charges of drug trafficking and murder, and in allowing him to approve what would ultimately be published about him."

+ Some Mexican journalists view Penn's interview as an epic insult.

+ Don Winslow on Guzman's "escapes" and the arrest of El Chapo: "Mind you, this is a man who paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes over the course of his long career; he knows where the bodies are buried, information that American intelligence agencies would value."

+ I worry that we observe the El Chapo story as a movie. It's real. And American policies and people are implicated in his reign of terror. If you want to read more on the topic (including the plight of Mexican journalists), I recommend Winslow's novel: The Cartel. If you'd prefer to watch, check out the documentary Cartel Land.


Living Large on Just One Charge

GM had to be saved by a massive bailout a few years ago. And before that, they were better known for killing electric cars than for creating them. But times have changed. And Wired has the story of how GM beat Tesla to the first true mass-market electric car.


The Stand Up Martian

Your fellow crew members just took off using the only available transportation and now you're severely injured and completely alone on Mars. Ha ha ha ha. That might not seem like a funny set-up, but the Golden Globes saw fit to name The Martian the year's best comedy. The Revenant took home the top dramatic movie awards. In TV, the surprise winner was Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle (we'd never have all these awards for Mozart in the Jungle if Sean Penn hadn't found him.) The Atlantic on the 2016 Golden Globes: Messy, Drunken, Absurd. In the other words, the usual.

+ Here's a complete list of winners. And of course, the snubs and surprises.

+ The Daily Beast: The 12 Most Shocking Golden Globes Moments. Somehow, Mel Gibson ended up being the target of Ricky Gervais' most biting wrath. Gervais' line of the night was his last: "From myself and Mel Gibson, Shalom."


A Major Prick

Can a simple blood test detect cancer before any symtoms arise? That's the goal of a new company being created by Illumina. The company is called Grail, and it has some big name backers hoping to get these blood tests to your doctor's office within the next few years. MIT Tech Review on Illumina's bid to beat Cancer with DNA tests.


Heir Apparel

"Dov is a manufacturing and fashion maven. Any financier looking for a great opportunity would look to back him." Founder Dov Charney was squeezed out of American Apparel. Now he has some supporters willing to put up $300 million to buy the company and put Dov back in charge.

+ The Chris Hughes tenure as owner of The New Republic has not gone well. And now he's looking to unload the magazine.


Is Dorm the New Norm?

"All units are fully furnished, decorated, and set up with cable and Internet at move-in ... Every floor has a common area such as a yoga studio or a movie theater. And the building has a community manager who will help plan Sunday night suppers, game nights, karaoke, and fitness classes." FastCo on WeWork's move into the residential space: WeLive's first members are moving in. (This trend makes me want to dig a moat.)


Breaking Rad

"For a whole generation today, Tinder is inseparable from dating; and for many who know the company well, it's also synonymous with Rad. 'The app reflects the personality of Sean.'" (That's sort of how I view my connection with my remote control.) From California Sunday Magazine: After a year of tumult and scandal at Tinder, ousted founder Sean Rad is back in charge. Now can he -- and his company -- grow up?


Bottom of the News

"The reaction shot is one of the few places left where a telecast can offer real human drama -- live, unpredictable -- to its audiences." Megan Garber on the tao of the reaction shot.

+ The Playboy Mansion is for sale. Hef included. (Seriously, there's not enough Purell on the planet for me to move into this place...)

+ When the First Lady goes to Soul Cycle.

+ The train station that stays operational for a single passenger.