January 21st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Bubbling Crude

Then one day he was shooting at some food, And up through the ground came a bubbling crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea. As the story goes, after striking oil, old Jed Clampett loaded up his truck and moved to Beverly (Hills, that is). In 2016, striking oil might not earn Jed a new mansion in Beverly Hills (or even a duplex with tandem parking in the Valley). Supply is wildly outstripping demand and the price of oil has dropped to its lowest point in more than a decade. That’s good news, right? Well, not necessarily. Cheap oil is endangering banks, raising fears of global instability, and is being partly blamed for the stock market slump. From The Economist: Who’s afraid of cheap oil? (Bottom line: Jed would be better off coding a photo sharing app.)

+ The NYT provides a simple way to understand the cost of falling oil prices in Canada: The 8-Dollar Cauliflower.

+ How cheap gas complicates long-term urban planning.


The First Inch Is the Deepest

You may have heard that an epic blizzard is headed for the East Coast, and Washington, DC could soon be buried under 30 inches of snow. So it’s probably not a great sign that a single inch of snow just turned the nation’s capital into a giant parking lot. (No, seriously. The mayor had to issue a public apology. After an inch…)


Probably Cause

“He fled Russia to Britain in 2000 and was granted asylum, and became a vocal critic of Putin, claiming at one point that the Russian president was a pedophile.” In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned to death. And a British judge just released a report indicating that Vladimir Putin ‘probably approved‘ the murder of the former Russian spy. Idea: Serial Season Three — Putin.


The Water Blotter

There’s a lot of talk about our crumbling opinions of elected officials. But as John Counts explains, it’s been taken to a whole different level in Michigan: “Flint water has poisoned more than just its children. It’s poisoned the citizenry’s faith in government, which is supposed to provide safe drinking water, one of life’s most basic essentials.”


Bacon, Not Stirred

If you want to understand the potential scope of the sociopolitical impact of Europe’s new immigration challenges, look no further than a Danish town where officials voted to require that pork be served in the lunches given to kids in Kindergarten and day care centers.


Young Man, Are You Listening to Me?

Here’s The Economist on Millennials: “In some respects the young have never had it so good. They are richer and likely to live longer than any previous generation. On their smartphones they can find all the information in the world. If they are female or gay, in most countries they enjoy freedoms that their predecessors could barely have imagined. They are also brainier than any previous generation. Average scores on intelligence tests have been rising for decades in many countries, thanks to better nutrition and mass education.” Yet they are twice as likely as their elders to be unemployed. Are we holding them back?


No Parking on the Dance Floor

“The average automobile spends 95 percent of its time sitting in place. People buy cars because they need to move around, but the amount of time they actually do move around is tiny.” Ride-sharing and automous cars could change all that. MoJo’s Clive Thompson on the future of urban space and the end of parking.


Bordered To Death

“This is a historic thing that’s happening here. In 50 years, there hasn’t been this level of labor discontent. We could be seeing the beginning of a larger movement that spreads to other parts of Mexico and challenges the whole system that has been created for these multinationals.” The Atlantic take you to Juarez, where labor unrest is spreading through the factories, where people say they deserve more than $6 a day.


The Colorlessness of Money

What are your odds of becoming a millionaire? Bloomberg crunches the numbers to provide an answer to that question. It turns out that it really helps to be white.


Bottom of the News

They “are one of the only, if not the only, major consumer products whose main purpose is precisely the one the manufacturer explicitly warns against.” WaPo on the strange life of Q-tips, the most bizarre thing people buy.

+ Meet the couple with 100 grandkids and counting.

+ You’ll Spend 3.5 Days of Your Life Untangling Headphones.

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