Monday, March 7th, 2016


Domo Arigato Mister Roboto

We have computers to help us at work, robots to assist us on the assembly line, and a couple decades of billionaire-making software development to increase our efficiency. So productivity must be at an all-time high, right? Maybe not. According to Tyler Cowen in the NYT Upshot, "American middle class wages haven't been rising as rapidly as they once were, and a slowdown in productivity growth is probably an important cause." It's often helpful to try to answer these macro-economic questions from a personal perspective. And there's no doubt that my personal productivity has dramatically increased during the Internet era (as long as productivity is measured by GIF-sharing, participation in hilarious memes, and total number of weekly retweets.)


Debate Drinking Game

Things got a bit more heated during the Democratic exchange between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that took place on Sunday night in Flint. (What a perfect metaphor for the state of American politics. Flint needs water, and we sent them a debate.) From NPR: The 7th Democratic Debate In 100 Words (And 3 Videos).


Like, Love or All of the Above?

"It is a development that has flummoxed Western nations and frustrated Russia's motley band of oppositionists. Some of them say that Russians are too scared to speak their minds to pollsters. Others claim that the poll numbers are manipulated, although most Western polling firms arrive at similar figures." Even as Russians trend more negative on their country's overall direction, they remain (as far as we can tell) remarkably positive about their leader of fifteen years. Vladimir Putin has an 83 percent approval rating.


Ego Mania

"An entire field of study -- and significant portions of certain scientists' careers -- could be resting on a false premise. If something this well-established could fall apart, then what's next? That's not just worrying. It's terrifying." In Slate, Daniel Engber explains how the theory of ego depletion (the idea that we have a limited supply of willpower that decreases as we use it) could have just been totally debunked: Everything Is Crumbling. (Related: I had an ice cream sandwich for breakfast.)


The Scene Before the Crime

"Reading Marvin's story was like sifting through a pile of broken ceramic. I wanted to piece the splintered bits together, to reconstruct Marvin's human image from the fragments. But I felt, most of all, a sense of hopelessness. Marvin seemed shattered beyond repair." Should we give a convicted criminal some mercy because of the childhood he experienced? In The Marshall Project, Burke M. Butler tells the story of one such criminal and one such childhood. The First Time Texas Killed One of My Clients.


The Calm After the Storm

There were 312 homicides in Juarez last year. That's a remarkably quiet year for a city that experienced ten times as many killings in 2010. Buzzfeed's Karla Zabludovsky talks to reporters about what it was like covering that kind of violence, and why some of them admit to missing the adrenaline. Life After Death.


Gipper’s Wife and Santini’s Son

"More than a decade out of the world spotlight, hers was now a life consumed by a torturous, private struggle. Her husband's generous spirit -- once among the most commanding on Earth -- had been reduced by Alzheimer's to a passing flicker of semi-cognizance." Nancy Reagan died over the weekend. WaPo reflects on her toughest battle. The ‘long, long goodbye' to the man she loved

+ The Guardian: Nancy Reagan, a life in pictures.

+ We lost another key part of America's story over the weekend. From The Post and Courier: Pat Conroy, the Lowcountry's Prince of Tides, passes away. "I am Santini, the Great Santini."


Home Field Disadvantage

It's the biggest story of this era. So it somehow makes sense that, for the first time, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics will include athletes walking beneath no flag. From Vox: A team of refugees will compete in the Olympics.



"I just found it surprising that moments before the dry run now underway, this beacon of enlightenment, a man supposedly above the trivialities of ego and self-doubt, had asked Bree if the khakis he was wearing made him look fat." Michelle Goodman in Narratively: Confessions Of A Failed Self-Help Guru.


Bottom of the News

We're barely into Spring Training, and we already have the most memorable baseball photo of the season. Check out this amazing shot of a fan saving boy from being hit by a flying baseball bat. There are so many stories in this one picture.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: "An online repository of games has led to people uncovering inconsistencies in dozens of Timothy Parker's crossword puzzles that would not have been otherwise noticed." The Plagiarism of Crossword Puzzles.

+ The Iditarod needed snow to be brought in by train.

+ Fusion: We calculated the year dead people on Facebook could outnumber the living. (It'll take a hell of a lot longer than it does for most startups.)

+ Bruce Springsteen singing Thunder Road over the course of 41 years. Maybe we ain't that young anymore...