February 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Shall We Play a Game?

According to Mark Zuckerberg, “what people care about is interacting with another person.” In this case, he doesn’t mean interacting in those silly antiquated ways — say, two people in the same physical space at the same time. Zuckerberg is referring to the key factor (along with faster connection speeds) that he believes will drive widespread adoption of virtual reality. It’s not just about the wow factor people describe when they experience VR. It’s about something bigger. It’s about virtual ping pong. From Wired’s Cade Metz: Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Big Bet That Facebook Can Make VR Social.

+ Facebook’s VR presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona led to this amazing and amazingly captionable photo.

+ If you want to geek out a little more, check out Chris Dixon’s essay: What’s next in computing?

+ “Our transformation into device people has happened with unprecedented suddenness.” Jacob Weisberg in the NYRB: We are hopelessly hooked.


The Sound of No Hands Clapping

“It may go down as one of the least successful campaign spending binges in history.” It’s difficult to overstate the seismic shift represented by the Donald Trump ascendance and the Jeb Bush crater. The situation is even more surprising when you consider the amount of money spent by the Bush campaign. From the NYT: How Jeb Bush spent $130 million running for president with nothing to show for it.

+ “It is a human story about the struggles of one of the most successful former governors in America in his bid to become president, like his father and brother, set against the backdrop of one of the strangest political cycles the country has seen in years.” WaPo on the fall of the House of Bush.

+ Seth Stevenson in Slate: “It sure felt like a last stand. Not just for Jeb Bush’s campaign, but maybe for Jeb Bush’s basic dignity as a human being … Even, one might argue, for the quaint notion of civility in public life.”


Heavy Breathing

FBI Director James Comey has chimed in the battle over the locked iPhone owned by the San Bernardino shooter: “I hope folks will take a deep breath and stop saying the world is ending, but instead use that breath to talk to each other. We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it.” Tim Cook continues to argue that “the case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation.”

+ According to Reuters, some San Bernardino victims are set to oppose Apple on iPhone encryption. And they aren’t the only ones lining up on that side of the debate. According to a Pew survey, there’s more support for the Justice Department than for Apple.


La Esposa

“He is like any other man — of course he is not violent, not rude. I have never heard him say a bad word. I have never seen him get excited or be upset at anyone.” Emma Coronel Aispuro (better known as El Chapo’s third wife and the mother of two of his nineteen children) talks publicly about her husband for the first time.


Sin Like Flint

In one Texas town, residents recently found that the water coming out of their pipes was black. But they couldn’t complain to their local public officials because almost all of them had already been arrested.

+ BBC: “More than 10 million people in India’s capital, Delhi, are without water after protesters sabotaged a key canal which supplies much of the city.”


See Spotlight Run

Spotlight (one of the key contenders in the Oscar race) is an excellent movie that tells the story of an endangered species in American life: a well-funded, local, investigative reporting team. My friends at Reveal go behind the scenes to provide the backstory on how Boston Globe reporters broke the story of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, and provide a look into the latest developments in what is, sadly, an ongoing story.


Cute Force

“I expected people to question whether I had the physical ability to do the job … What I didn’t expect was the question I heard more than any other: ‘Aren’t you scared?'” Caroline Paul in the NYT: Why do we teach girls that it’s cute to be scared? (This is not an issue in my family where we gently suggest to my 7 year-old daughter that her dictatorship remain benevolent.)

+ NY Mag: “We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood as a norm, not an aberration, and the creation of an entirely new population: adult women who are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry.” Rebecca Traister on America’s most powerful voter: The Single
American Woman


XM Marks the Spot

“If I ask myself two questions every day, the first one is, ‘What do I got to do to make sure people pay us $15?’ The second one: ‘What do I need to do to make sure that my position with the auto companies remains strong?'” We hear a lot about the battle between players like Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify. But the NYT’s Ben Sisario reminds of another service that is a lot more like old school radio, and still has 30 million paying subscribers. SiriusXM fights to dominate the dashboard. (BabaBooey.)


Cash Tag

In the past couple of days, you may have seen a viral hashtag campaign to Free Kesha. At issue is a judge’s refusal to allow the pop star to be released from a contract with a producer she claims sexually assaulted her. Many big time musicians have voiced support for Kesha, and Taylor Swift just donated $250K to help with her lawsuit.


Bottom of the News

“I then asked my wife for permission to spend five hundred and sixty dollars for a flight that I already had a free ticket for. She told me I was insane. But I wasn’t insane. I knew others similarly afflicted. I had Global Services Maintenance Anxiety Disorder.” The New Yorker’s Gary Sernovitz on The Madness of Airline Elite Status.

+ BBC: These are the amazing things you can do in Japan on Cat Day. (It’s sort of like the Internet, every day.)

+ The Daytona 500 was close. Really close.

+ Why do people spend thousands of dollars to buy celebrities’ hair? (I’m pretty sure it has something to do with idiocy.)

+ Canadians have been banned from playing Jeopardy! (Luckily, WTF is always in the form a question…)

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