Wednesday, June 1st, 2016


Why Do You Even Care?

Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment you became interested in a story. Other times, that moment is obvious, like it was last September when a young victim of the refugee crisis was captured in a brutal photograph that was shared throughout the world. In Aeon, Avan Judd Stallard explains what it was about that one boy and that one picture that made people finally give a damn: "The easy answer is that Alan looked like one of their own children. The hard answer is our genes, which code for inexorable biological routines triggered by self-interest. The truth is somewhere in-between: the interplay between culture and genes that saddles humans with a psychology fixated on in-groups (people we consider to be like us or part of our community) and out-groups (people we consider to be different to us or not part of our community)."


Germ Warfare

"Being in day care as an infant increased a child's risk of having acute gastroenteritis in the first year of life, but it also had a protective effect after that." Are we better off being exposed to more germs and even a few illnesses early in life? Some studies suggest that, even as we seem to be on quest to be cleaner and more germ-free than ever, we're better off getting a little dirty. From the NYT: Day Care Infections May Mean Fewer Sick Days Later.


Terror’s Perfect Storm

It's impossible to understand the lure of terror groups without considering the role of sex. When people grow up in extremely repressed societies, the promise of sex is a powerful recruiting tool. "Thus in Iraq, ISIS has a record of enslaving women and girls deemed 'non-believers,' then handing them over to the not-so-tender ministrations of men with years of pent-up frustrations. In Nigeria, Boko Haram has made the kidnapping of young women, like the girls taken from Chibok school two years ago, almost a trademark of its movement." The Daily Beast on how terror is often fueled by rape and the associated Jihadist drug of choice.


Get Out of Your Head

"It's human connection. When you find someone who has been able to overcome something that you're struggling with, it's really powerful." Maybe the best thing about the social internet is that it has enabled people who once suffered in lonely silence to realize that they are far from alone. From WaPo, Unwell and unashamed: The stigma of mental illness is under attack by sufferers, who are coming out publicly and defiantly.


Blame Canada?

"Boisvert said that when he was a child, his best friend was a Canadian who lived across Canusa Street. 'So, hell, we were back and forth across that road 100 times a day. We didn't think about it. Border? What border? And now this s--- that's going on.'" It's less visible than the one Trump has proposed between Mexico and the U.S. But the border to the north is hardening as well.


You’ve Been Played

Political races and sports are covered in the exact same way in America. You get predictions about what a competitor needs to do to win, a brief spurt of action, postgame analysis, and a bunch of repetitive talkshows during which former players provide often obvious insights — which consumers continue to rehash around the social media watercooler. Seriously, is Chris Matthews any different from any SportsCenter anchor? If anything, he's more sports than they are. His show is called Hardball. Even the MLB Network's shows aren't called Hardball. And as I explain in my latest post, this constant coverage of politics as a sport is the key reason why Yes, the Media is to Blame for Trump. But So Are You


The I of the Storm

When a massive and dangerous storm approaches, roadways departing the epicenter can become scenes of major traffic jams. But in recent years, we've seen traffic jams heading towards the storms as well. Slate's Eric Holthaus on mobile tech, social media, and tornado season's crowded roads: Storm Chasers, Stay Home. (And I thought sending out a daily news roundup was an extreme and desperate attempt at going viral...)


Like Hyperloop for Bullets

"In conventional guns, a bullet begins losing acceleration moments after the gunpowder ignites. The railgun projectile gains more speed as it travels the length of a 32-foot barrel, exiting the muzzle at 4,500 miles an hour, or more than a mile a second ... ''This is going to change the way we fight." From WSJ: A First Look at America's Supergun.


Armed, But Still Dangerous

"Beyond stoked to finish 3rd... as the wildcard! LOVED competing & looking forward to more adventures." Bethany Hamilton, the one-armed shark attack survivor, beat several of the world's best surfers (and the odds) in Fiji. This link is for my seven year-old daughter. After we watched Soul Surfer, the movie about Hamilton losing her arm and somehow returning to the top of the surfing charts, I asked my daughter what she thought the main lesson of the story was. She paused and said, "Don't surf."

+ Since this is her section, I'm guessing my daughter could also benefit from this FastCo article: This Is The Secret To Keeping Secrets.


Bottom of the News

I'm pretty sure I have this affliction described by the NYT: Computer Vision Syndrome Affects Millions. So maybe I have to get myself a pair of these prototype glasses that completely block your vision every time you look at a screen. (Most of us only have our good judgement blocked...)

+ Scientists discover interesting things, but they often have a really hard time designing a decent deck to explain their findings. So this makes perfect sense: A match-making service pairs neuroscientists with designers to explain scientific breakthroughs.

+ This is the 911 call you really don't want your six year-old to make: "Um, daddy went past a red light ... He was in a brand-new car, my mummy's car."

+ "I wanted a coffee. Not a science experiment. I prefer to drink my beverages out of crockery and not beakers." The hipster coffee that has Australians hot and frothing.