Tuesday, March 1st, 2016


Batman v Super Tuesday

This is an election season that has destroyed the track records of many pundits and prognosticators. (It's also been nearly impossible for The Onion to push parody beyond reality.) But there might be one place you can count on to predict Super Tuesday and other voting results: Google. It turns out there is a remarkable correlation between our searches and our votes. What's less clear is why that correlation exists. The NYT Upshot's Justin Wolfers takes a crack at cracking the code: "Who among us hasn't searched for reviews of a car, a stereo or a phone on the day of buying it? And if we do this when we're shopping, who's to say that people don't do the same on Election Day?" -- Or maybe the search/vote connection proves another adage. There's no such thing as bad publicity.

+ NPR provides a quick overview on what you need to know about Super Tuesday. FiveThirtyEight has detailed guides to the Republican election and the Democratic race.

+ And the WSJ looks at recent history to determine how soon the nominations will be clinched. (Or in layperson's terms: When will this be over?)


Crash and Spurn

Last month, one of Google's autonomous cars caused its first accident. It was a minor incident in which the self-driving Lexus SUV sideswiped a bus while moving at only about two miles per hour. According to Google: "We clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision. That said, our test driver believed the bus was going to slow or stop to allow us to merge into the traffic, and that there would be sufficient space to do that." So the autonomous car was responsible for the accident, but it won't quite take full responsibility. Software is getting more human every day.

+ Autonomous cars are coming. And they will be safer. But The Atlantic's Adrienne LaFrance asks a question that has less to do with science and more to do with people and politics: Can Google's Driverless Car Project Survive a Fatal Accident?


Home Off the Range

"The food was terrible, so disgusting that not even animals should be fed it. They made us sleep in these cold, empty buildings and when someone said they were sick, they just ignored us. You could feel it everywhere that Germans looked down at us like we were bums." The LA Times provides a glimpse at a new twist in the refugee story. A small but increasing number of them are heading back home.


Contractors Killing It

"Hikmatullah Shadman, an Afghan trucking-company owner, earned more than a hundred and sixty million dollars while contracting for the United States military." The New Yorker on how U.S. military spending made some people incredibly rich.

+ Inc on government contractors and what it's like to run a company in the most dangerous places on Earth.

+ Here's the kind of Middle East money story we spend too little time covering. A company known as Amazon of the Middle East "has raised $275 million in one of the biggest funding rounds for a company in the region." Economic growth, jobs, and hope will beat airstrikes every time. For more on the growing Middle East start-up scene, check out Chris Schroeder's excellent book: Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East.


Courting Corps

Since the death of Antonin Scalia, there's been a lot of talk about how the court could shift when it comes to cultural issues. But the more certain shift could be in the way his absence (and ultimate replacement) changes things when it comes to big business. This has been one of the most corporate friendly courts in decades.


Vacation Photos

Scott Kelly has turned over command of the International Space Station and will return to Earth for the first time in nearly a year. That's quite a trip. Luckily, he took pictures. (When Kelly gets back to his planet and sees the current election-related headlines, I wouldn't be surprised if he immediately blasted off again.)


I’ll Second That Emoji

"The new set of emojis were not developed for the sole purpose of aiding authorities, but they will be a welcome development to police and intelligence analysts alike." Reveal's Ali Winston explains how Facebook's new emojis are a gift to advertisers and law enforcement.


Vexed by Text

"You can't think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don't get why you aren't." From NY Mag: A teenager sent her depressed boyfriend hundreds of messages encouraging him to commit suicide. Does that make her his killer?


The End is Fry

All we do is eat fast food and stare at screens. But we haven't figured out a way to seamlessly combine the two. Until now. McDonald's Is now making happy meal boxes that turn into virtual reality headsets. As Adweek's David Gianatasio explains: "It's kind of like Google Cardboard -- with fries."


Bottom of the News

"We're looking for a talented, driven, career-oriented individual who's willing to give up on their dreams for the betterment of this hip, multinational tech corporation. If you're looking to smile on the outside while dying a slow, grueling death on the inside -- this is the job for you." McSweeney's Joe Eichner writes a job description: Seeking Failed Artists For Associate Position. (Let me just add, newsletter-writing experience a plus...)

+ Scientists may have discovered the gene that causes hair to turn gray. A lot of hipsters and celebrities would pay top dollar for that information these days...