February 16th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

What’s In The Box?

You sit on a couch and order all your wants and needs, some of which arrive within a day, while others are delivered within an hour. Almost all of it comes in a box. And after you’ve opened that box, you often have to open another one to get to the item you actually ordered. Ironically, no single object better defines an era that celebrates thinking outside the box than the box itself. From the NYT’s Matt Richtel: Convenience Built on a Mountain of Cardboard.


Harvey Gallbanger

They’ve got reporters. They’ve got informers. They have an operation that “resembles an intelligence agency as much as a news organization, and it has turned its domain, Los Angeles, into a city of stool pigeons.” And they break stories that, for better or worse, are big. The New Yorker’s Nicholas Schmidle examines how Harvey Levin’sTMZ gets the digital dirt. It would be so interesting if TMZ would turn its news gathering machine towards hard news and investigative journalism. Imagine TMZ in Flint.


World of Warcraft

From WaPo: “Russian warplanes are bombing from the sky. Iraqi and Lebanese militias aided by Iranian advisers are advancing on the ground. An assortment of Syrian rebels backed by the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are fighting to hold them back. Kurdish forces allied both to Washington and Moscow are taking advantage of the chaos to extend Kurdish territories. The Islamic State has snatched a couple of small villages, while all the focus was on the other groups.” It sounds complicated because it is. Syrians live in the center of a global proxy war that includes super-powers and small terrorist groups. A mini world war rages in the fields of Aleppo.



Antonin Scalia’s death was a reminder of just how critical the Supreme Court’s (often extremely close) decisions are when it comes to very big issues in American life. So it’s not surprising that the his passing was met almost immediately by political fighting. From Buzzfeed, here’s everything you need to know about what happens now with the Supreme Court. (Being a Supreme Court justice and writing a newsletter are two of the few jobs that allow you to wear a robe to work.)

+ NPR: 5 ways Scalia’s death complicates the 2016 election.

+ “Reading an Antonin Scalia opinion with which you agreed was like uncorking champagne.” (And reading one with which you disagreed was like opening up a can of whoop-ass.) From The Atlantic: The remarkable life of Antonin Scalia.


Butterfly Effect

We’ll get to the broader story of the Grammys in a second. But first, let’s focus on the twenty minutes that really mattered. First, TV viewers were given a glimpse of what all the Hamilton fuss is about. And then Kendrick Lamar gave a remarkable live performance. From NPR: For 20 minutes, the Grammys transcended the awards-show blahs.

+ You can watch Kendrick Lamar’s performance here.

+ Here’s a complete list of winners. Probably the biggest snub was that Lamar did not win album of the year for To Pimp A Butterfly. (It’s not that big of a surprise; To Pimp a Caterpillar was also robbed…)

+ The shock of the night was Adele’s pitchy performance that was accompanied by a really weird (and painful) sound. So what happened? A mic fell into the piano during the performance. That’s not the mic-drop we were hoping for.

+ “How VIP do we gotta get?” Speaking of TMZ scoops, how about the time Paul McCartney was denied entrance to a club?


Seeing Triple

“Unlike in adoption, there’s no legally required screening of intended parents. A pregnant woman who offers to give her baby up for adoption can reconsider her decision; in California, a pregnant surrogate cannot.” Slate’s Michelle Goldberg on how a complicated legal battle over triplets raises difficult questions about the ethics of the surrogacy industry and the meaning of parenthood.


The Neural Food Network

“Our sensory and motor appreciation of what we have in our mouth is created by the brain. We can’t have gastronomy without it.” Maria Konnikova introduces you to the new world of neurogastronomy and the quest to convince your brain that healthy food is delicious. (I’d rather convince my stomach that milkshakes are kale.)


Beneath the Burka

“These contradictions create unbearable tensions. Desire has no outlet, no outcome; the couple is no longer a space of intimacy, but a concern of the whole group. The sexual misery that results can descend into absurdity and hysteria.” Kamel Daoud in the NYT: The Sexual Misery of the Arab World.


Scare Tactics

“Consciously or unconsciously, contemporary filmmakers not only tap into increased knowledge about the brain offered by neuroscientific experiments, but their films also stimulate the neural senses of emotions without the detour of narrative.” Patricia Pisters explains why today’s horror movies are so much more scary.


Bottom of the News

“The maiden voyage, too, will differ from the original Southampton to New York route. The Titanic II will travel from Jiangsu to Dubai.” Quartz on the really weird decision to build a replica of the Titanic called the Titanic II. (I think I’ll skip riding on this ship and instead just observe it from above while flying in the Hindenburg II.)

+ What exactly is in the Parmesan cheese you’re sprinkling on your pasta?

+ The big anti-Beyonce protest took place over the weekend. All two of her haters showed up.

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