Monday, March 28th, 2016


A Hired Gun

When I taught at a pretty rough high school in Brooklyn, one of my colleagues would regularly argue that we should incentivize students by paying them to stay out of trouble, do their homework, and perform well on tests. (He also once threw a chair out a fifth floor window to motivate our Mock Trial team.) At the time, the idea of paying kids to promote and reward achievement was considered outlandish. But today, a similar -- and even more extreme -- program, aimed at turning around violent offenders, is starting to spread from Richmond to other crime-ridden cities across the country. The program is as simple as it is controversial. First, identify the people most likely to commit violent crimes. Second, pay them not to commit those crimes and to dissuade other potential criminals. "In Richmond, the city has hired ex-convicts to mentor dozens of its most violent offenders and allows them to take unconventional steps if it means preventing the next homicide." From WaPo: When cities pay criminals not to kill.


Deal Breaker

"Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to ... That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way." So said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal as he vetoed the state's anti-gay rights "religious liberty" bill. Outside pressure from celebrities and corporations played a big part in gaining this veto. Maybe all politics is local, but the Internet makes everything local.


Suicide Squads

"Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mindset, which is a threat to our way of life." That was Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in response to a suicide bombing in a park on Easter killed at least 70 people.

+ And ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 people at a soccer stadium in Iraq.


Blackberry Quite Contrary

It all started because Hillary Clinton didn't want to part with her beloved Blackberry. That Blackberry "was digitally tethered to a private email server in the basement of her family home." WaPo's Robert O'Harrow Jr. takes it from there to explain how Clinton's email scandal took root. Since then, 147 FBI agents have worked on this case.

+ "I'm probably the best campaign politician you will ever interview. I'm like perfectly evolved. I'm like the Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator." Anthony Weiner was also quite adept at terminating his own campaigns. And in this podcast interview, he opens up about his below-the-waist selfies and the election efforts gone wrong.


Searching for Sundar

When you think of the titans of the tech industry, you think of folks like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Apple's Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and that guy who runs Google. Buzzfeed's Mat Honan takes some time to get to know Google CEO Sundar Pichai (as he walked across CES virtually unnoticed by convention attendees).


Side Effects Include Going Broke

"Martin Shkreli may be the public face of drug-price gouging, [but] Valeant was the real pioneer. A 2015 analysis looked at drugs whose price had risen between three hundred per cent and twelve hundred per cent in the previous two years; of the nineteen whose prices had risen fastest, half belonged to Valeant." However, those obscene price hikes weren't what sunk the company's stock by almost 90% (in fact, they probably had the opposite effect). The New Yorker's James Surowiecki on The Roll-Up Racket. If your stock price drops ninety percent in four hours, call 911 (or your broker).


Off My Case Goggle Face

"It's not something you hold in your hand -- it's something you put on your face. That's a daunting prospect: Not only are you blind to the world around you, but there's the whole I-look-nuts thing." Wired with the inside story of how Oculus cracked the impossible design of VR. But did they crack it enough to take VR mainstream?

+ "This feels like I've inserted my head into another world. Admittedly, it's a world where I'm wearing a big, black goggle-cap that keeps me from seeing as clearly as I'd like." Digg has collected some of the early reviews of the Oculus Rift?


Trash Talk

"It's always nice to meet new friends from around the world. In fact, we've had visitors from 58 countries.. Come on. I'll show you the bottles, cans and paper." Sure, we're famous for being the home of the tech revolution. But that hasn't dampened our old-school NorCal spirit. The NYT's Matt Richtel takes you behind the scenes of the Silicon Valley of Recycling. This does make one wonder about our focus. I can talk to my TV, and car's gonna be able to drive myself. But I still have to take out the garbage.


Code Warriors

"Somewhere inside all those boxes, you get the itch to blow it all up. Leave everything behind. Live in the motherf*ckin' moment. Like Kerouac did, or Cheryl Strayed, or those people in those Expedia ads." GQ's Drew Magary hits the road with some Millennial hobos. They're just like the old hobos, except they have WiFi, Indiegogo, and an app for that.


Bottom of the News

This is an election season where many journalists and voters are having a difficult time relating to the motivations of those who have views that differ wildly from their own. So it might be a good time to take Newshour's Do you live in a bubble quiz.

+ In addition to his humor, Garry Shandling was famous among fellow entertainers for hosting basketball pick-up games at his house. His friends got together for one last game in his honor.

+ Design is spreading. All the way to Motel 6. We'll leave the app-controlled light on for you.

+ We've got a Madagascar Vanilla shortage.

+ I know it's my job, but I can't adequately describe this opinion piece other than to say it's bad, but in an oddly enjoyable way. What I remember about Merrick Garland from junior high.