Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016


No Rest For the Leery

Everyone looks forward to an occasional slow day at the office. But if you work for Snopes ("a hugely popular fact-checking site which debunks urban legends, old wives' tales, fake news, shoddy journalism and political spin") there are no slow days anymore. The Internet is too big, the lies and fake stories are too plentiful, and the pace at which falsehoods spread is too rapid. As Snopes founder David Mikkelson explains: "There are more and more people piling on to the internet and the number of entities pumping out material keeps growing. I'm not sure I'd call it a post-truth age but ... there's been an opening of the sluice-gate and everything is pouring through. The bilge keeps coming faster than you can pump." At this point, Snopes would probably be better off just identifying the few Internet stories that are true.


Maybe I Wasn’t Born Too Soon

According to the latest research, millennials aren't having nearly as much sex as we jealous, old people think they are. In fact, "they're more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive in their early 20s as the previous generation was." WaPo examines what's behind the trend: "Some experts are concerned that the drop-off reflects the difficulty some young people are having in forming deep romantic connections. They cite possible negative reasons for putting off sex, including pressure to succeed, social lives increasingly conducted on-screen, unrealistic expectations of physical perfection encouraged by dating apps and wariness over date rape." I had no success in the pre-Internet era. There's no way I'd have the game to compete with Pokémon Go.

+ The Awl's Alex Balk suggests it's all about maintaining a state of extended adolescence: "Why wouldn't you try to remain a child for as long as you can? If you have to give up sex, so what? You can always watch it on your phone, and this way you don't need to get gross stuff on the towel that you never learned how to properly wash because your mom did your laundry for you until you were well into your twenties." (On the other hand, this is the generation that invented the idea of getting trophies just for participating...)

+ NPR: Researchers describe a new hypothesis about why the female orgasm exists.

+ The New Yorker: The Married Kama Sutra.


Chill Baby, Chill

In the wake of Donald Trump's public spat with the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq, President Obama described the GOP nominee "unfit to serve as president," and called on Republicans to do more than just object to Trump's comments: "There has to come a point at which you say enough." If you missed it, I made a similar argument in a post titled No.

+ Politically, one of the big issues here is how military families react to the public exchange between the Khans and Trump. They represent a massive voting block; one that Trump needs.

+ No one can argue Trump is your typical politician. They usually kiss babies. Trump kicked a crying one out of his rally. If this were fiction, it would be the most enjoyable story ever.

+ "Here's the thing: If he wanted to, President Obama could deny either or both of them the now-traditional briefings. The process doesn't work the way you might think." From Philip Bump: Clinton and Trump will soon receive classified briefings. Here's how that works.


Rewrites and Wrongs

"This is a remarkable technology, with many great uses. But if you are going to do anything as fateful as rewriting the germ line, you'd better be able to tell me there is a strong reason to do it. And you'd better be able to say that society made a choice to do this -- that unless there's broad agreement, it is not going to happen." Michael Specter in NatGeo: How the DNA Revolution Is Changing Us.


Five Ring Circus

"When their crammed dinghy broke down between Turkey and Greece, she and her sister, also a swimmer, jumped into the water and helped guide the boat to safety." And next week, she'll be swimming in the Olympics.

+ Russia has set a new Olympic record: Most athletes barred from the games for doping. In Vice, Patrick Hruby makes the case for ending the war on doping: The Drugs Won.


String Theory Debunked

"It's the question that many people sitting in a dentist chair dread. Have you been flossing?" Well, dread no more. It turns out there aren't really any longterm studies that show flossing does you much good. (There will probably be follow up articles extolling the virtues of flossing. But rest assured, I won't share them here.)


If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries What Am I Doing in the Shvitz?

I don't usually cover weather, but here's your forecast: "The world is careening towards an environment never experienced before by humans, with the temperature of the air and oceans breaking records, sea levels reaching historic highs and carbon dioxide surpassing a key milestone." In other words, climate change is playing out before us.

+ In Alaska, melting permafrost is buckling critical stretches of highway. And in western Siberia, warmer temperatures (and a thawed reindeer corpse) have led to an anthrax breakout.


I Wouldn’t Tap That

Soon, bottled water will outsell soda for the first time. That's partly because of sliding sales of soda. And partly because fewer people trust what they're getting from their tap.

+ For many, canned waters are the new bottled waters. And that's mostly due to the mysterious rise of LaCroix. Thrillist takes a crack at ranking all twenty flavors.

+ A photographic snapshot of our times: Portraits of Brooklynites Flocking to Massive La Croix Wall in New Whole Foods.


Refuse You Can’t Refuse

We tend to glorify the mafia in fiction. But the reality looks and smells a lot more like a steaming pile of garbage. That's a reality that residents of Rome know all too well.


Bottom of the News

"Men who love them say they're comfortable and practical for summer. Detractors​ say they've been out of style for years, deriding them as bulky, uncool and just flat-out ugly." The WSJ on the scourge of cargo shorts.

+ Consumerist: Here are this year's 9 most calorie-filled chain restaurant meals.

+ Will Americans watch a TV show that just features people knitting? We're about to find out as Netflix brings Slow TV to the states.