Thursday, February 18th, 2016


This is Your Intervention

Note: I'm road-tripping on Friday, so NextDraft might not make it through the Sierra snow to your inbox.

"I'm here because at some point I handed my life over to a machine." Imagine this situation: Over the past few years, you've spent so much time playing online games that playing online games is the only thing that can really take your mind off how bad you feel about spending so much time playing online games. Maybe your thing isn't games -- maybe it's something else like email, chat, social media, or say, gathering online news stories. But it's probably not that hard to imagine your tech drug of choice evolving from a manageable habit to a full-blown addiction. If that happens, you might want to head to ReStart. From GQ's Ben Dolnick: Video-Game Rehab: It's Real, It's Awkward, and It Might Be Our Future.


Doogie Hacker, MD

A hacker recently took control of a Los Angeles hospital's computer system. Hospital administrators were told they had to pay a $17,000 ransom (in Bitcoin) to free their systems. And they did just that. Police are now investigating.


Party of One

"With our phones in our hands and our eyes on our phones, each of us is a reporter, each a photographer, unedited and ill judged, chatting, snapping, tweeting, and posting, yikking and yakking. At some point, does each of us become a party of one?" In The New Yorker, Jill Lepore takes an interesting look at how social media is tweaking this election and how it just might blow up our current iteration of the two party system. Is the new populism about the message or the medium?

+ And here's Clay Shirky explaining how social media has turned Republican & Democratic Parties into host bodies for 3rd party candidates.

+ And yes, that was three tech stories in a row to start today's edition. Because tech has invaded everything. Every publication should rename its tech section as the life section. (Related: How Trump wins Twitter.)


The Spray Area Gray Area

Organic fruits and veggies are usually more expensive. But are they really more healthy? A couple of massive studies suggest that the answer to that question is yes. Here's the evidence that it might be worth it to go organic.


Hitting the Bottle

"She now relies solely on TV dinners and Hot Pockets, eating the latter on paper plates and towels -- it's the easiest way to avoid the problem, and cost, of eating without using water." NatGeo's Tracie McMillan heads to Flint to find out what it's like to live with only bottled water.


You’re Mindful of It

"The benefits of mindfulness meditation, increasingly popular in recent years, are supposed to be many: reduced stress and risk for various diseases, improved well-being, a rewired brain. But the experimental bases to support these claims have been few." That's changed now that a new study showed that meditation can indeed change our brains and possibly improve our health. From the NYT: How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body. If you disagree with these findings, please do so mindfully.

+ What kind of exercise is most beneficial to your brain? Let's get some rodents training and find out.


Francis Boom Bah

"A person who only think about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." That seems like a pretty benign comment from the Pope. But this is election season, and the guy thinking about building walls is Donald Trump. So, yes, it's on.

+ The Pope also suggested that contraception could be a potentially acceptable way to deal with the Zika threat.


Surmise Like Us

"Just as the Jedi Council seems to be functioning on guesswork and mutual hypnosis more than actual expertise, the workings of the American Supreme Court too often seem, to an outsider who has not bought into this cult—say, a Canadian—more like the manufacture of after-the-fact rationales designed to give the appearance of footnoted legalism to what are, in truth, the same ideological passions that have the rest of the country in their grip." Adam Gopnik explains how, beneath the robes, Supreme Court justices are sort of like the rest of us. Lessons for the Supreme Court from the Jedi Council.


Chemical Bondage

Syndicated from Kottke: For an episode called The Fix, Radiolab explores what anti-addiction drugs are available and why they aren't more widely known and used to treat alcoholism and drug addiction. "Reporter Amy O'Leary was fed up with her ex-boyfriend's hard-drinking, when she discovered a French doctor's memoir titled The End of My Addiction. The fix that he proposed seemed too good to be true. But her phone call with the doctor left her, and us, even more intrigued. Could this malady -- so often seen as moral and spiritual -- really be beaten back with a pill?"


Bottom of the News

"I'm reminded all the time that the way things played out for me is exceptionally unlikely, and how crazy it is to have found a second family here through Tinder, of all places." Buzzfeed's Shannon Rosenberg went on Tinder to try to find someone to play soccer with (and that's not some weird euphemism). Did she also stumble upon the future of friendship? I Joined Tinder And All I Got Were These Stupid Best Friends.

+ Stories about animals in the news? Meh. Photos of animals in the news? Of course!

+ If you think Waze is an awesome app, then chances are you don't live on a side street.

+ This week I've been coming at you from the very cool Dark Horse Cafe in Truckee. Thanks to them for letting me smash their WiFi for a few days.