January 12th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Designated Survivor

Aside from the pundits, prognosticators, and those determined to feverishly live-Tweet the event, people don’t generally hang on every word of the State of the Union address. The president and his speech writers are well aware of this; that’s why the visuals have always been so important. The event is as much about who is in the room as the words that are spoken. But it’s also about who’s not in the room. Especially when it comes to designated survivor — the one member of the president’s cabinet who skips the event in case they’re required to assume the presidency if an attack on the Capitol “wiped out the other members of the presidential line of succession.” For about an hour, the designated survivor is one of the most important people in the world. As one former cabinet member explains, if all goes well, that power is fleeting. “Here I was just a few minutes earlier, almost the most powerful person in the country, and now I couldn’t even get a cab. There’s a great lesson there in the impermanence of power.”

+ Boston Globe: Who’s been invited to the State of the Union tonight?

+ Newsweek: Eighteen VIPs who will be guests at the speech.

+ Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to approve gay marriage licenses, will also be in attendance. Although no one seems to know who invited her.


The Powerball Bubble

As prospective winners race to buy Powerball tickets, the jackpot has surged to $1.5 billion. And jackpots like this “are no stroke of luck. Last fall, lottery officials changed the odds of matching the Powerball numbers.”

+ Wired: The fascinating math behind why you won’t win Powerball. This is one of the few lottery articles that doesn’t compare your odds of winning with the odds of being struck by lightning. I’d like to win the lottery at the exact moment I was struck by lightning, just to silence the naysayers.


Suicide Blast in Turkey

Ten people were killed (most of them German tourists) when a suicide bomber “believed linked to the Islamic State in Syria set off a powerful blast Tuesday in one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist districts.”


Rotten to the Corleone

Yes, it was strange to learn that Sean Penn had secured the first international “interview” with El Chapo. But as WaPo’s Ann Hornaday reports, “The episode continues a well-established tradition of symbiotic codependence and mutual regard between Hollywood and organized crime.” And we love to watch the movies, so we’re part of that symbiosis. Godfather issues are the new daddy issues.

+ “The notion that the world’s most wanted criminal might have been ensnared by his own vanity in this manner would be surreal enough, if we were talking about any other criminal.” The New Yorker on the tragic farce of El Chapo.

+ Hemet Cam video of the Mexican Marines’ raid.


Following the Needle’s Thread

“The facts are shocking, even to a seasoned veteran of addiction like myself: The mother found dead; the father extracted from the bathroom, a gun in his pocket, and a needle still in his arm, fatefully revived with naloxone.” From The Daily Beast’s Tracey Helton: When Your Parents Are Heroin Addicts.

+ “Over the past year, the Boston Globe spent time with an East Boston heroin addict as she struggled through recovery and the prospect of losing her children to the state. Nearly every key moment was witnessed by a Globe reporter or photographer. Brave, broken, loving, at a loss, this is Raquel and her story.”


Watching the Detectors

“They shed their jackets, gloves and belts, shivering as they wait to pass through a metal detector and send their backpacks through an x-ray machine.” It sounds like a scene from an airport. Unless you’re a student at one of NYC’s 200 schools that require kids to pass through metal detectors on the way to class.


Oil of Oy Vey

I drink your milkshake. Because a barrel of milkshake is now worth more than a barrel of oil. For the first time in more than a decade, the cost of a barrel of crude oil has dropped below the thirty-dollar mark. That’s a 70% drop since June of 2014. And as is the case with many other market disturbances, there is a China connection.

+ Hackers aren’t the only threat to our power grid. In fact, some experts think the more pressing issue is squirrels.


Roll Bus

Alabama is a officially a dynasty as Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide took home their fourth national championship in the past seven years. To achieve that, they had to overcome the play of a very good Clemson team with quarterback who, even in losing, was the game’s biggest star. SB Nation has a wrap-up of college football’s championship game.

+ The Guardian: Lane Kiffin left behind by team bus after Alabama’s title victory.

+ Remember how the concussion issue and various scandals were going to put a dent in our insatiable appetite for NFL football? Well, that didn’t happen.

+ Schools are stockpiling new a product that promises to reduce the longterm impact of concussions: Chocolate Milk.


Revenge is Best Served Trolled

“Scott Breitenstein has been called an ‘internet terrorist,’ ‘the worst man on the internet,’ and worse. His work has left behind an Everest-size pile of broken relationships, destroyed reputations, and ruined lives.” So Fusion’s Kevin Roose decided to pay him a visit: At Home with a Revenge P*rn Mogul.


Bottom of the News

Apple is set to introduce a new iOS feature called NightShift that will automatically adjust your settings at sundown. The goal is to reduce the amount of blue light that you’re exposed to as bedtime approaches. Turning the device off also seems to work. But we’re still testing…

+ Vice talked to a witch who casts viruses out of computers with magic.

+ Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about condiment sauce packets.

+ It turns out that there aren’t too many buyers interested in the Pennsylvania “house used as the home of psychotic killer Buffalo Bill in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs.” (In San Francisco, you could get millions for the place, even if Buffalo Bill was still living out back.)

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