Thursday, May 19th, 2016


It Was a Very Good Year

There's an old joke where someone tells a guy that his bad habits could cut 5 years from his life, to which the guy responds, "Yeah, but which 5 years?" It turns out that over the past several decades, humans have seen a lifespan increase in total years, and in active years. "Imagine, now, that the trend of the last century continues another hundred years: Our 50-year-old great-grandchildren may have an average of 50 years left to live, the same span as a 30-year-old today can expect. It is not implausible that they will be similarly spry and untouched by disability." In Nautilus, David Steinsaltz wonders: Will 90 Become The New 60? (I'd be satisfied if I could figure out the point of SnapChat.)


Ante Biotics

One key threat to our longevity streak is the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs. We over-prescribe antibiotics, we load them into our livestock, and we haven't created any major new classes of antibiotics in 30 years. According to a new study, we could be headed for a disaster.

+ The Atlantic: The plan to avert our post-antibiotic apocalypse.


Downed Jetliner

"The possibility of a terror attack is higher than a malfunction, but again, I don't want to hypothesize." So said Egypt's civil aviation minister following the destruction of EgyptAir Flight MS804, which was said to swerve several times before plunging into the Mediterranean during a trip from Paris to Cairo.

+ 66 people were on the flight. Here's the latest from BBC.

+ Reuters: Three air marshals were aboard the crashed jet.

+ Egyptair's troubled recent history.


Charitable Taking

"Having just made Daraprim much more costly, Turing was now offering to make it more affordable. But this is not a feel-good story. It's a story about why expensive drugs keep getting more expensive, and how U.S. taxpayers support a billion-dollar system in which charitable giving is, in effect, a very profitable form of investing for drug companies -- one that may also be tax-deductible." It's charity. But it's profitable charity. From Bloomberg: How Big Pharma Uses Charity Programs to Cover for Drug Price Hikes.


The Elephant Near the Boom

"Secret society. Safe haven. Fellowship. Therapy session. Whenever I talked to Friends of Abe members, I heard this kind of language again and again, and there's no question the group is all of these things. It's also a place for members to find work, swap ideas for a project, even meet a romantic partner." California Sunday Magazine's Andy Kroll reports on a club that's both influential and very exclusive (even by Hollywood standards): Friends of Abe is the Conservatives Anonymous of the entertainment industry.

+ He's broken nearly every rule of politics, so it shouldn't surprise us that Donald Trump is breaking yet another. His businesses are booming during his presidential run. Most presidential candidates only make money after their terms in office. Trump could make a profit even if he doesn't win.


Reporting Until the End

"What makes a story a Morley story is his original voice. And by that I mean not just the timbre, but [also] the quality of the storytelling, his writing." A few days after announcing his retirement, Morley Safer died at the age of 84.


Your Mind is in the Gutter

"The latest research shows that the digestive tract and the central nervous system maintain a complex two-way line of communication via the gut-brain axis." (And let's not forget the brain-gut-internet comment section axis). Continuing its Gut Week, FIveThirtyEight reports on how your gut affects your mood.

+ Aeon: Why do so many scientists talk about our mental life as if we were computers? (Maybe they're hoping there's still time for a reboot...)


This Is Not OK

"No person shall perform or induce an abortion upon a pregnant woman, unless that person is a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of Oklahoma." A bill that just passed in Oklahoma deletes the second part of that that sentence from the state's law books. If that bill becomes law, performing abortions in the state will be a felony.


The Night Shift

"The only work he could find was as a night custodian at a local college. It was about a 50 percent pay cut, the work wasn't stimulating, but the benefits were good. He decided he would take advantage of every free benefit the school offered so it would feel like he was making more money." NPR on the 54-year-old custodian who just graduated from the college he cleaned at night.

+ Is paying students a good way to raise test scores?


Bottom of the News

When I was in college, my friends and I would fast for 24 hours before meeting for dinner at the Sizzler all you can eat salad bar. We got our money's worth, and then some. So I can relate to Oobah Butler's piece in Vice: I Pushed 'All You Can Eat' Restaurants to Their Absolute Limits.

+ There's been a national movement to get the Washington Redskins to change their name. But a new WaPo poll found that 9 in 10 Native Americans aren't offended by Redskins name

+ Ringtones are even better when played as classical piano pieces. (Or, no one puts Berklee pianist Tony Ann on vibrate.)