Friday, April 8th, 2016


It Was a Dark and Stormy Byte

NextDraft is currently on a vacation schedule. Details in the bottom of the news.

"If the character doesn't delight you, then what is the point?" From driving directions to changing the channels to adjusting our thermostats, we are about to be spending a lot more time talking to bots, virtual assistants, and algorithm-powered advisors. And these virtual buddies are going to need some personality; which is all a long way of saying that there is a new career path for actors and writers -- at least until the machine can replace them too. From WaPo: The next hot job in Silicon Valley is for poets. (I knew my Humanities degree would eventually pay off.)


Global Expansion

"Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years." In a divided world, the one thing we all seem to have in common is an expanding belt size. From Bloomberg: The world is getting fatter and no one knows how to stop it. (For what it's worth, during my week in Tokyo, I've only seen a couple of overweight people, and one of them was me.)

+ "In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar -- and not fat -- was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world's top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?" From The Guardian: The sugar conspiracy.

+ And it's not just how much we eat. It's how much we waste. "If food waste were its own country ... it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases."

+ Wired: Your healthy lifestyle won't necessarily make you healthier.


Weekend Reads

"For 25 years one neighborhood has remained New York's most crime ridden, most polluted, most neglected, most hopeless -- cut off from Brooklyn's emergence as the hippest place on earth." From Digg and The Big Roundtable, a four part podcast and a longform read. What The Hell Happened In East New York?

+ "Until recently, vain actors were limited to makeup, flattering lighting, corsets, plastic surgery, Botox, crash diets, personal trainers, steroids, muscle suits, color grading, lenses and filters, body doubles, and spray-on abs. Now they also have software." From NY Mag: How Hollywood makes actors look they way they look: Plastic Surgery With a Mouse Click.

+ "America is being watched from above. Government surveillance planes routinely circle over most major cities -- but usually take the weekends off." From Buzzfeed: Spies in the Skies.

+ From The Guardian: Renting hell in New York City: how my hoarder landlady ruined my life.

+ "Hamilton is really two phenomena: an extraordinary piece of theater, created by the composer, rapper and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a commercial behemoth powered in part by scarcity." NYT Magazine: The C.E.O. of Hamilton Inc.


Child’s Play

Sometimes the media ignores or downplays violence in places where violence is a regular occurence. But even after many years of bloodshed and strife, a suicide bombing during a soccer game last month in Iraq stands out. "It was a children's soccer game. Of course he knew he was going to kill children."


Love Rules

"The pope seemed to say that the church must deal with the world it lives in, not the world it wants. He sometimes sounded less like a pontiff than a marriage counselor." In a lengthy and much-anticipated treatise on love and marriage, Pope Francis offers hope to divorced Catholics, says no to gay marriage. (We've got enough problems figuring out how to limit hate without judging the way people decide to love.)

+ WaPo: Key points of the new document.


The Empire Likes Back

1.6 billion people call it home. Indeed, it is "a great empire with a vast population, immense wealth, a charismatic leader, and mind-boggling reach and influence." And every time we're sure it's gonna shrink, it just gets bigger. The Economist checks in on a modern day empire, as its leader Mark Zuckerberg prepares to fight for dominance of the next era of computing.


Are You Yacht or Not?

The Panama Papers, while not shocking, have provided a reminder of how many people are trying to hide a whole lot of money from governments, competitors, spouses, and others. And for all of them, it would be a whole lot easier if their kids would stop posting yachts, jets and stacks of cash on Instagram.


These Kids Have No Drive

When I was in high school, my friends and I couldn't wait to get our driver's licenses the minute we turned 16. Among today's teens, there appears to be no such urgency. In fact, America has the fewest 16-year-old drivers since the 1960s. (This stat will change as soon as the rear-view mirror can take selfies.)


The Outside Job

"The kind of strategy that unfolded inside the line belonged to the game's past. The future of basketball, they believed, lay behind the line -- and Mr. Curry showed it was farther behind that line than even they imagined." The Warriors have a shot at winning more regular season basketball games than any team in NBA history. And they've already completely revolutionized basketball. This is both a story of a great shooter, and of an era in which even sports teams are finally starting to crunch the numbers and let data drive decisions.


Bottom of the News

Nellie Bowles on a venture capitalist and his "new service that sends girlfriends and wives a present every month for about $70." Oh yeah, if you're having problems with your relationship, just ask a tech bro. That'll fix things right up.

+ My friend Asha Dornfest has turned her excellent parenting blog into an even more excellent parenting book with 134 ingenious ideas for simplifying life with kids. Parent Hacks is so good that I may even have a few more kids. A few days after its release, it's already burning up the Amazon charts. Get your copy of Parent Hacks now.

+ Need advice? Want to talk? Just a little bored? Well, why not call someone in Sweden? Operators are standing by.

+ We have a new human mattress domino chain world record.

+ Reminder: I'm traveling in Japan through April 15. During this period, I will only send a couple editions a week. With that in mind, here's an amazing collection of photos of professional women's wrestling in Japan (which will also give you a decent sense of what it's been like spending a week with my kids in Tokyo). Plus, a commuter cat takes the Tokyo subway all by itself.