February 2nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

What A Long, Strange Trip

After suffering a freak brain hemorrhage, Eric Perry was feeling depressed, hopeless, and overwhelmed by a constant fear of death. Then he heard about people who were using hallucinogens to overcome similar feelings of fear and despair. So he decided to give it a shot. “You lie there, waiting for something bigger to happen. Because all this — the drugs, the group work, presumably the Mariah Carey as well — is supposed to cure you of your crippling fear of death … Why was I, a father of two young children, tripping in a house with a bunch of strangers? It’s a complicated question.” And it makes for an interesting story.

+ “For 40 minutes, he sat in a hospital room as an IV drip delivered ketamine through his system. Several more hours passed before it occurred to him that all his thoughts of suicide had evaporated.” Sara Solovitch on the one-time party drug hailed as a miracle for treating severe depression. I like reading stories like these two because they remind people in psychological or physical pain of something that is entirely obscured during the worst moments: You are not alone.

+ WaPo: What happens when you get stoned every single day for five years. (That could be a rhetorical question. It all depends on which five years we’re talking about.)


A Cooling Off Period

Yes, the nature of war is changing. And yes, terrorism and small insurgencies have introduced new threats and require modern military strategies. But the old, cold war isn’t quite over yet, as evidenced by President Obama’s plans “to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe.” From the NYT: U.S. Fortifying Europe’s East to Deter Putin.



Ted Cruz cruised to an unexpected victory (and Marco Rubio picked up momentum) in the Iowa GOP race, while Hillary appears to have edged out Bernie on the Dem side. Here’s a look at the winners and losers from the Iowa caucuses. And six things that explain how it happened.

+ Of course, the big story of the night was Ted Cruz beating The Donald. He did it with a mix of religion and data. But Trump managed to do something besides earn second place. He drove a large voter turnout and huge TV ratings.

+ At least three of the Iowa caucuses were decided by a coin flip. Such a solution would not have worked at this Jeb Bush caucus, because there was only one person there.

+ Before we move onto New Hampshire, one last — and pretty cool — look back at the Iowa race in pictures. (Politics is so much better with no sound.)


Leave Them Kids Alone

Why don’t child prodigies often become adult geniuses? “We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn’t suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted — as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee. What holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original.” In the NYT, Adam Grant argues that the first step in raising a creative child is to back off. (Full Disclosure: My parents backed off, and I’m writing a newsletter.)


Alphabetical Order

After Monday’s earnings report, Alphabet (Google’s Parent) overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company. Amazingly, Google has been able to do this while spending a ton of dough on its so-called moonshots. (If you consider their marketcap and the variety of products and moonshots they underwrite, you can argue Adwords is the top product ever.)

+ Gmail just became Google’s seventh billion-user product.

+ Will Magic Leap and its “Mixed Reality Lightfield” be the next mega tech company? VCs just added another $800 million to their bet.


Bucking the Bronco

With a miniseries and a documentary in the queue, The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin wonders whether there could ever be another OJ Simpson trial. He determines that the “technological dark age meant that the Simpson story was much harder to avoid than it would be today.” I see that. But I think Toobin is underestimating our drive to be talking about the same thing at the same time.


The Shadow Knows

You can have the El Niño climate models and satellite images. I’m sticking with Punxsutawney Phil. And he did not see his shadow. (Contrary to the human version of events, Phil did not come out to predict the weather. He did it to see what kind of action he was gonna get this Spring.)

+ Jennifer Rice Epstein heads to Woodstock where the Groundhog Day that celebrates the movie is even bigger than the one focused on the seasons.


Cheaters Sometimes Prosper

“We are the first to ask what happens to contestants and their behavior after a competition ends, and we found that competitions have long-lasting effects.” A study suggests that winning leads to cheating.


Hair Apparent

“My decision to grow my hair out was a direct consequence of a decision I made to try being a friendlier and less confrontational person in my late 30s and early 40s. That, and I wanted to make my friends who were going bald just a bit jealous.” From Road and Track: When I Quit Cutting My Hair, I Learned How Men Treat Women On American Roads.


Bottom of the News

When you put a character based on a real person into a videogame like NBA 2K16, you need to get the rights to use their likeness. But do you also need the rights to display their tattoos?

+ There are big wave surfing wipeouts. And then there’s this big wave surfing wipeout.

+ The science behind a good cup of coffee.

+ Eagles are being trained to capture drones.

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