Friday, May 27th, 2016


Between The Rock and a Hard Place

Would it surprise you if WWE's Vince McMahon moderated the general election debates? Given the tone of this year's highly unusual contest, it would sort of make sense to get all the key combatants into the ring where they could go after each other in a highly-scripted fight. Why? Because politics has become like professional wrestling. As Jeremy Gordon explains in the NYT Magazine, pretty much everything has become big time wrestling: "With each passing year, more and more facets of popular culture become something like wrestling: a stage-managed 'reality' in which scripted stories bleed freely into real events, with the blurry line between truth and untruth seeming to heighten, not lessen, the audience's addiction to the melodrama." The one key difference is that in pro wrestling, the outcome is predetermined, while in American politics, we like to hold on to the possibility of being surprised on the downside.

+ Does the analogy seem like too much of a stretch? Then I offer for your consideration this piece of video evidence.


We Don’t Need Another Hiroshima

"Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well." So said President Obama as he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima. As you'll see in the article, the visit also included the hug heard 'round the world. (I wonder if Obama's line about nuclear tech can be applied to the tech we're all using right now as well.)


Weekend Reads

"For most of medical history, itch and pain were considered variants of the same sensation -- itch being just a mild form of pain. What Bautista and others have shown is that while the two share many cellular receptors and molecules, itch has its own biological infrastructure." Bryan Gardiner in California Sunday Magazine: Decoding the science of why we scratch.

+ Reveal: America's atomic vets: "We were used as guinea pigs – every one of us."

+ Mitch Moxley in Atavist: How a Chinese billionaire's dream of making an underwater fantasy blockbuster turned into a legendary movie fiasco: Sunk.

+ "Heath, despite himself, was delighted by the naturalness of Thwaites's gait. He agreed to work on some prosthetic goat limbs and suggested some stretching exercises." The New Yorker's Josh Rothman on the man who decided to become a goat.

+ Submarine fibre, brains in jars, and coaxial cables. Just in case you were wondering, Ars Technica explains how the Internet works.


The Bank of North Korea

There has been a recent series of high-tech bank heists, and security investigators have linked them to a hacker group in North Korea, where money is scarce, but apparently, hackers are talented.

+ WaPo: The secret life of Kim Jong Un's aunt, who has lived in the U.S. since 1998.


Will Anyone Give a Rats Ass?

Does cell phone radiation cause brain tumors? That question has been at the heart of a long and largely misinformed debate. An in-progress study has provided some interesting results. Yes, it looks like "male rats exposed to constant, heavy doses of certain types of cellphone radiation develop brain and heart tumors." But only males. And the ones with the tumors lived longer than the ones without them. (That's more than enough evidence to get me out of my next conference call.)

+ WaPo: The superbug that doctors have been dreading just reached the U.S.


Gawker Stalker

"With this diabolical decade-long scheme for revenge, you are redefining yourself as a comic-book villain." Gawker's Nick Denton pens an open letter to his nemesis Peter Thiel. You dislike both sides in the Thiel/Gawker battle. That's why it makes it the perfect case for a debate about free speech and privacy. (I still think my open letter to them both was better.)

+ And this just in: "Pierre Omidyar, an eBay co-founder, is leading the charge to support Gawker in its appeal of a $140 million judgment awarded to Hulk Hogan."

+ Reveal: Billionaires versus the press.


No Vacancy

"U.S. dynamism is in the dumps: Americans are less likely to switch jobs, move to another state, or create new companies than they were 30 years ago (or 100 years ago). What's going on?" The always interesting Derek Thompson takes a crack at answering that question, and debunks a few of the answers that seem most obvious.

+ CityLab: San Francisco's Increasing Dominance Over U.S. Innovation. Aside from the occasional pause, we're always having a gold rush. But don't come out here. We're full.


Practice What You Breach

87-year-old Patty Ris's got a piece of hamburger stuck in her airway while eating at the Deupree Retirement House in Cincinnati. Luckily, someone close by knew the Heimlich maneuver and was able to perform it in time. That someone just happened to be 96 year-old Dr. Henry Heimlich. It was the first time he's actually performed the move he created.


Friends Like These

"The basic idea is that people are likely to have fewer friends than their friends do, on average." Wonkblog explains that there's a mathematical reason you're less popular than your friends. (No offense, but there's probably a pretty good Humanities-based reason as well.)


Bottom of the News

"I remember the day my first child was born. I held his tiny body in my arms and immediately knew there could be no love as powerful as this. It was amazing. Almost as amazing as I feel right now having the most popular post on Medium."

+ A guy pulled his kid's tooth out using a helicopter.

+ A teen put a pair of glasses on the floor at SF MOMA, and people almost immediately began to see it as art. Which made them part of his art. And now, they are all part of mine. Suckers.

+ Finally, some wearable tech that serves a purpose. Introducing the zipper that tells you when it's down.