April 26th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Millennials don't believe in capitalism, jails don't reduce crime, and Beyonce's headphones.

“For those who grew up during the Cold War, capitalism meant freedom from the Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes. For those who grew up more recently, capitalism has meant a financial crisis from which the global economy still hasn’t completely recovered.” Or as a Harvard senior who helped conduct a recent survey said, “The word ‘capitalism’ doesn’t mean what it used to.” The results of that survey found that 51% of millennials do not support capitalism. About 42% support it, giving that a group a 9% edge over those who indicated that they support socialism. (I wonder if this is just part of a plot to get us to raise their allowance.)


Solving for Crazy

How does a society reduce crime? It’s not an easy question to answer. But at least we can rule out a few things, including mass incarceration which is both ineffective and really expensive. Could raising the minimum wage help? How about more cops on the street? A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers looks at the data and suggests some strategies for success.

+ Alex Tabarrok: “The United States spends much more per-capita on prison guards than does the rest of the world. Given our prison population, that isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that on a per-capita basis we spend 35% less on police than the world average. That’s crazy.” (I checked his math and “crazy” is indeed the correct answer.)


Vex Mex

“From their small, rural college in Ayotzinapa, in mountainous Guerrero state just south of Mexico City, the students had gone on a spree of commandeering buses in the city of Iguala in hopes of reaching a demonstration, much as they had done many times before.” What was different this time was that police opened fire on the buses, killing several people. Later, 43 of the students went missing. That was back in 2014, but we don’t seem much closer to having an answer about what happened. And a new report suggests that the Mexican government “put up roadblocks on the path to answering those questions, raising the chilling possibility that the mystery of the students’ disappearance will never be solved.”


Hack Truck

Google, Ford, Volvo, Lyft and Uber have formed a lobbying group to pressure politicians to speed up and pave the way for the era of the self-driving car — which they argue will result in less congestion and fewer accidents. While self-driving cars seem almost inevitable, self-driving trucks will be running down the road trying the loosen their load a lot sooner. And that is going to have a massive impact on the economy.


An Easy Pill to Swallow

Type-2 diabetes, a rapidly spreading condition “in which the body doesn’t produce or process insulin properly, has been considered chronic and incurable, a condition that only gets worse with age.” But new trials suggest that the condition can sometimes be eliminated with dietary changes.

+ Vox provides some background on that stranger you’re bringing to bed every night: What is melatonin and can it help me sleep?


Magna Cum Lousy

You’re smart. You’re successful. You have the tools and freedom to make choices that will maximize your level of life satisfaction. So what gives? From The Atlantic’s Joe Pinsker: Why so many smart people aren’t happy. (I’m guessing it has to do with three key factors: The world is terrible, life is meaningless, and the end is nigh.)

+ In other news, nothing you perceive as reality is real.


Incident Replay

Twenty-six years ago, a bunch of drunk hooligans tried to force their way into soccer match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest; the nearly mad crowd trampled and squashed fellow attendees. In the end, 96 people were killed. At least that’s been the story for nearly three decades. But a legal inquiry gave that narrative the boot. The Guardian’s David Conn on the Hillsborough disaster: deadly mistakes and lies that lasted decades.

+ BBC: Fans unlawfully killed, jury concludes.


The Blue Economy

“In 1970, L.A. and San Francisco were virtually similar in terms of their incomes, wages, productivity, and living standards. Yet, by 2010, there was nearly a one-third difference in their income levels.” A new book attempts to look at what happened. How did LA fall so far behind? (It’s obviously a combination of the emergence of the Internet industry and the fact that the Dodgers suck.)



Every detail of Beyoncé’s Lemonade has been analyzed. GQ even uncovered the fact that you can buy the headphones Bey was wearing — and they come with three free months of Tidal.

+ The Onion gets the idea: Beyoncé Quickly Releases New Song About How Buying Tidal Subscription Most Empowering Thing A Woman Can Do.

+ Anyone who thinks my inclusion of these stories hints at any negative feelings towards Beyoncé hasn’t been reading this newsletter (or my diary) very carefully. As Miles Raymer explains, “when the dust settles … we’ll still be looking at a showcase of some of the most formidable musical prowess on the planet.”


Bottom of the News

Here’s a quick update on the way we live now: A German city has embedded traffic lights into the sidewalk so people will know when they can safely cross the street without having to look up from their phones. In California, being an Internet addict might soon get you out of serving jury duty (are there still 12 non-sufferers in the state?). And according to the NYT, Snapchat and others are fighting for your right to take selfies in the voting booth.

+ Paying for your kid’s prom comes later. First you have to front them some money for the promposal. (I still remember the days when we hoped our first love wouldn’t go viral.)

+ “If Leicester hangs on to win the Premiership, my team will have pulled off the most outrageous surprise in modern team sports. The second is that Leicester will have done so by applying scientific management to the least scientific of activities.” John Micklethwait on his favorite team, 5000 to 1 odds, and one of the most unexpected outcomes in recent sports history.

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