February 12th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Teenage Chasteland

They smoke less than we did. They don’t get pregnant as much. They don’t binge drink as often. They watch less TV, don’t fight as much, and don’t do nearly as much meth. Maybe they’re too distracted by their phones. Maybe they are a more advanced breed. Maybe they’re spending all their time building a billion dollar startup. Or maybe they’re just sort of boring. Whatever it is, these are slow times at Ridgemont High, and today’s teenagers aren’t nearly as bad as you were.


Strife Expectancy

“The deal marks the first attempt to bring about any kind of truce since a U.N.-backed cease-fire in 2012 collapsed hours after it went into effect.” World leaders have come to an agreement on a cessation of fighting in Syria. But, to say the least, Syrians are skeptical.

+ The nation’s wealth has been wiped out, much of the country has been destroyed, more than half its population has been displaced, and according to one group, the death toll is approaching a half a million. “Life expectancy has dropped from 70 in 2010 to 55.4 in 2015.”


Weekend Reads

“Each day, without fail, he would walk in with a smile on his face and a ‘bread sandwich’ tucked into his bag.” Why do some people thrive under challenging circumstances? It’s a complicated but interesting question. From The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova: How People Learn to Become Resilient.

+ “For decades the Man of Steel has failed to find his groove, thanks to a continual misunderstanding of his strengths.” From The Atlantic’s Asher Elbein: The Trouble with Superman.

+ “Paul Reubens wanted to show me his favorite Walgreens.” NYT Magazine: Pee-wee’s Big Comeback.

+ Popular Mechanics: How the Humble Index Card Foresaw the Internet.


Oil Changers

“On Monday, Chesapeake Energy, once the highest flier of the U.S. oil boom, had to deny publicly that it was preparing to file for bankruptcy; some 60 oil companies have already done so, and the research firm IHS estimates that as many as 150 companies could follow suit.” FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman’s explains why Saudi Arabia might finally be winning its war against the U.S. oil industry.

+ Or will this ultimately be a war without a winner? From Bloomberg: The oil industry got together and agreed things may never get better. (That’s the kind of sentiment that some people view as a buying opportunity.)


Comparing Apples and Oranges

“The experts told me we can just as easily grow food in the United States that’s as delicious as — or more delicious than — the food you eat in Europe. It’s just that most of the time, we choose not to.” In Vox, Julia Belluz goes on a quest to find out why fruits and vegetables taste better in Europe. (Doritos taste way better here.)

+ The silly state laws and personal preferences that result in thousands of gallons of milk being poured down the drain.

+ SFist: I tried that $15 cup of coffee and i’m just going to say it might be worth it.


For The Spaced Out Among Us

You certainly understand the critical elements of the discovery of gravitational waves and what it means for Einstein’s legacy and the future of physics. And I sure as hell understand it. But on the off chance you come across someone whose understanding of these matters is not quite as absolute, here’s Brian Greene to explain things. And here’s an excellent video and comic strip that explains gravitational waves and a bunch of other stuff about the universe.

+ Aeon: In a white dome on a bare mountain, six of us are road-testing life in a Martian colony.


Always on Time

It’s a different time in different places. To add to the complexity, individual governments can basically change the time in their countries without any rhyme or reason. (North Korea recently created its own time zone by turning back the clocks a half an hour.) What if we made things more simple? What if it was the same time everywhere? From WaPo: The radical plan to destroy time zones.


Trunk Show

He left “behind a trail of startled residents, damaged structures, trampled cars, and smashed motorbikes.” Lucky for them, no one was injured. And lucky for us, there are some incredible photos of what it looks like when a wild elephant runs loose in your city.


That Ain’t Working

We’ve all enjoyed watching Star Wars and Rocky. So if my math is right, the next stop on the American nostalgia tour should be MTV News. Can it be revived in an era where the new kids are ruling the app world? We’re about to find out.


Bottom of the News

“Nevertheless, the idea of using the screen of my phone to push around a photorealistic clitoral hood, labia majora and minora, and (as warranted) clitoris while the OMGYes voice coos words of encouragement is, well, weird.” Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Silicon Valley wants to disrupt orgasms — with science! (Between social media and online games, I think Silicon Valley has already disrupted enough orgasms…)

+ Hey, whatever happened to waterbeds?

+ A classic from The Onion: 20,000 tons of pubic hair trimmed in preparation for valentine’s day.

+ McSweeney’s: My child’s imaginary friend is a podcast.

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