February 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

I Know What You Did Next Summer

In the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting, St. Louis police are joining a host of departments across the country as they turn to software for solutions. Where is the next robbery likely to occur? Who is likely to commit the next violent crime? Officials are trying to replace their hunching with number crunching, and tech companies hawking predictive policing are promising to help. In the age of data, the move makes sense. But it will not come without controversy. “At a time when communities are crying out for justice. I never heard anyone in one of these communities say, ‘I think police need to use more computers!'” A collaboration of The Marshall Project and The Verge: Policing the Future.


It’ll Come to You

“The oceanic currents moving around is not an obstacle. It’s a solution. Why move through the oceans if the oceans can move through you?” Did a “a moppy-haired Dutch kid who looked like a boy band understudy” come up with a way to remove all the plastic from the ocean? A prototype of his idea is set to be tested soon.


Before and Hereafter

Syndicated from Kottke: Until recently, the Syrian city of Homs was the country’s third largest, with an estimated population of more than 800,000. As you can see from this drone footage, The Siege of Homs left much of the city destroyed and its population displaced. If you scroll down in this Guardian piece, there’s a photo showing what a Homs street looked like before and after the siege. (This footage is breathtaking. But imagine seeing the human cost.)

+ People displaced during WWII: 40 million. Now: 60 million.


Snakes on a Brain

Woodpeckers, bighorn sheep, and NFL players have something in common. They all take repeated blows to the head. But unlike their human counterparts, the birds and sheep don’t suffer brain injuries from their activity. Researchers think their trick is they adjust “the pressure and volume inside the skull so that their brains don’t slosh.” Can a new-fangled collar provided football players the same protection?

+ “He was robbed of the last fifteen years of life.” From the NYT: Ken Stabler Had Brain Disease C.T.E.


Nice Algorithm

“That ace going all-in against you in online poker? A bot. The dude hunting you down in Call of Duty? Bot. The strangers hitting you up for likes on Facebook? Yep, them too.” The Bots are everywhere on the web. So it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that they’ve infiltrated just about every dating service. (These days, many of us have more in common with bots than other humans, so who knows, it could be a match.)


Crime Story

Real life is offering new episodes of two crime series Americans were obsessed with last year. Adnan Syed (looking very different these days) from Serial was in court asking for a new trial. And Robert Durst has pleaded guilty to gun charges in Louisiana and has agreed to a seven year prison sentence (one that will likely be interrupted by a murder trial that could dramatically extend his stay).


Getting the Brand Back Together

“The story of how Uber came to replace the ubiquitous ‘U’ logo is about more than a corporate rebranding effort. It’s a coming-of-age tale.” If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into how companies (and the other companies that help them) think about design, logos, and branding, then this piece by Jessi Hempel is for you: The Inside Story of Uber’s Radical Rebranding.


Toys in the Bedroom

There was a time when the idea of bringing gadgets and gizmos into the bedroom might get you excited. But our generation has ruined all that. These days, the only toys we’re bringing into the bedroom are intended to help us get better sleep. Do they work? From The New Yorker: In Search of Forty Winks.

+ This is another classic case of trying to use technology to solve a problem that technology helped create. As I wrote in a post on this topic: We’ll always be just one more piece of technology away from the solution.


Heads or Fail?

“Everything else we’d trained for. But the toss is this singular moment. The inauguration of the premier event in sports. There’s a lot of anxiety.” Bloomberg’s Caleb Hannan with an investigation into the Super Bowl coin toss, and the dark secrets of the company that makes the coin.

+ A small company called Death Wish Coffee won a free 30 second Super Bowl commercial slot.

+ If you like nerding out on football, then the NYT’s Gregg Easterbrook has the Super Preview you’ve been waiting for.


Bottom of the News

American and United are bringing back the free inflight snacks. So I guess now we have to admit that we never liked or missed the snacks. We just love complaining about airlines.

+ Watch all of 2015’s weather in one time-lapse video. My kids are so screen-addicted, I bet I can get them to watch the whole thing.

+ A new analysis of consumer phone calls has determined that Oregon is the state with the fastest talkers?

+ How long would it take for a single person to fill up an entire swimming pool with their own saliva? Good question. XKCD has an answer.

+ Remember when people used to give you wedgies? Well, now wedgies are considered style. (I think I got enough of them in junior high to qualify for the cover of GQ.)

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