April 18th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Artists have always protested against the system. But now corporations are joining in.

In his 1975 song Jungleland, Bruce Springsteen laments, “the poets down here don’t write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be.” I was reminded of that line when Springsteen canceled his North Carolina concert to protest the state’s recently passed bathroom law. In this case, the poet wrote. While it’s not unusual for musicians and other artists to use their public podiums for protest, it’s less common for corporations to do the same. At least, that used to be the case. But recently, many top CEOs are using their corporate muscle to influence social and political decisions across the country. When you wondered who would stand up for individual and equal rights in America, it’s unlikely that you thought of the The Boss and The Man. Here’s The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki with more on these unlikely alliances.


Hey Media, Watch Your Six

The media often reports about our increasingly negative view of Congress. Well, it turns out our view of media is remarkably similar. A recent poll found that “just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public’s view of other institutions.” While political leanings and a general distrust of organizations play a role, there’s one key factor that those polled seemed concerned about: accuracy.

+ For a great look at the interaction of media and society, check out the excellent 30 for 30 documentary on the Duke Lacrosse team scandal: Fantastic Lies.


Five Ring Circus

A president with a ten percent approval rating, mass protests in the streets, economic instability, and a Congressional vote for impeachment. The Atlantic gives you the lowdown on Brazil’s wild political scene, all taking place with the Olympics only a few months away.


Prosper and Live Long

“Globally, the inequality in life expectancy is shrinking. Unfortunately, this effect, which the demographer Nicholas Eberstadt has aptly described as a ‘survival revolution,’ does not apply to our country.” In the end, there’s really only one stat that matters. And in America, that stat differs wildly depending on your income and location. It’s a social and political risk. It’s a moral disaster. From Michael Specter: Life-Expectancy Inequality Grows in America.



What piece of software will have the biggest impact on the future? With more than a hundred million registered users, it’s not impossible to argue that the answer to that question is: Minecraft. Nothing can explain its influence quite as well as watching a fourth-grader building their world. But, in case one isn’t around at the moment, NYT Mag’s Clive Thompson does a great job of explaining The Minecraft Generation.

+ My syndication partner Jason Kottke with a bunch of great educational-ish iPad apps for kids.


Can’t Match Chicken Scratch

“The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.” NPR on the studies that suggest you should put the laptop away if you want to take notes that you’ll actually absorb and remember. (I’ve always preferred giving notes to taking them.)


Smoke Em If You Tot Em

With all the hassles of moving their products in the U.S., the cigarette companies have put a lot of resources into selling them overseas. And that strategy is working, especially in places like Indonesia where smoking is huge among teens, and pretty big among little kids too. A photo series from MoJo: The Marlboro Boys.


Faking Away

Another sporting competition has been ruined by allegations of doping. Only this time, the competition is virtual and includes anyone who uses the popular Strava cycling app. The “fitness tracking service bestows a virtual crown to the fastest riders completing specific routes — and it alerts them whenever someone has bested their times.” And that brings us to the odd case of Thorfinn Sassquatch.

+ When blood doping isn’t doing the trick, some cyclists are turning to hidden motors. (Please don’t tell me the end of Breaking Away was a fix…)


You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Chart

“The record is an outlier that defies most comparisons, but here is one: It is the equivalent of hitting 103 home runs in a Major League Baseball season.” The NYT Upshot on the impossibility of putting Steph Curry’s shooting into context. (As MG Siegler tweeted: Curry’s record is “an iPhone in an age of Blackberry…”)

+ Those three point shots are also good news for some kids in Africa.

+ For a look back at the origins of basketball, the ban on dunking, and how the 3-pointer came to be, enjoy this podcast episode from the excellent 99% Invisible: The Yin and Yang of Basketball.


Bottom of the News

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard looked like international kidnapping victims as they recorded a bizarre PSA in order to get off the hook for illegally bringing their dogs into Australia. Hey Australia, no one messes with our highly attractive celebrities like this. It’s on!!!

+ “Using a Dyson hand dryer is like setting off a viral bomb in a bathroom.” Everything you do to avoid germs ends up being worse for you.

+ Apple recovered a lot of valuable materials from recycled iProducts last year; including $40 million in gold. (And we’re not talking about rose-gold…)

+ And here’s a headline that will shock anyone who grew up in California: It’s been legal to pick California golden poppies this whole time. Related: Everything you’ve ever learned is a lie.

Copied to Clipboard