Friday, August 12th, 2016


He Needs His Head Examined

"The concerned scientist leaned in close, shot a glance toward Honnold, and said, 'That kid's amygdala isn't firing.'" How can some people regularly take risks that are almost too scary for the rest of us to experience, even on video from the safety of our living rooms? To try to answer that question, researchers studied free climber Alex Honnold. "On the hardest parts of some climbing routes, his fingers will have no more contact with the rock than most people have with the touchscreens of their phones, while his toes press down on edges as thin as sticks of gum." From J.B. Mackinnon in Nautilus: The Strange Brain of the World's Greatest Solo Climber.


A Working Prototype

The most effective solutions are often the most simple ones. Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry was driving around his city when he saw a homeless guy holding a sign that read "Want a Job. Anything Helps." So he gave him a job, and an effective program was launched. "Instead of asking them, many of whom feel dispirited, to go out looking for work, the city could bring the work to them."


Weekend Whats

What to Binge: Everyone seems to be watching Stranger Things on Netflix, and you should be too. I'm only a couple episodes in, but I'm hooked. Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine are both in the series that is fantastically Eighties in every way (except its pacing, which has been updated for our digital age attention spans).

What to Movie: If the Eighties seems too modern for you -- and you've been watching some of the Olympic cycling events -- this could be the perfect time to re-experience the excellence of Breaking Away. The 1979 flick totally holds up in every way.

What to Hear: The critics panned Suicide Squad. The fans still went to see it. For something less controversial, give a listen to the soundtrack.

What to Read: Since we're listening to politicians debate the topic, it can't hurt to actually know something about it. The NYT Magazine dedicated an entire issue to Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Fell Apart.


Death Be Not Allowed

"If [calorie restriction] gets him far enough to benefit from these marvels then a few decades of deprivation might translate into additional centuries of life. He might even reach what Dave Gobel, boss of the Methuselah Foundation, an aging-research charity, calls longevity escape velocity, the point where life expectancy increases by more than a year every year. This, he thinks, is the way to immortality." The Economist: The fight to cheat death is heating up.

+ Bloomberg: More old than young: a demographic shock sweeps the globe.


Five Ring Circus

"The Olympics are typically a time for the world to come together despite religious or political differences." Sadly, Egypt's Islam El Shehaby who lost a judo competition to Israel's Or Sasson didn't get the memo.

+ "Simone is competing for the U.S., and we're not taking any credit away from that. But the fact that she has dual citizenship, I don't see why we cannot celebrate her second country also." NYT: Simone Biles Soars, Lifting Another Country With Her.

+ Who is Leonidas of Rhodes? (Michael Phelps just broke his 2,168 year-old record. In your face, Leonidas!) Plus, 14 facts about Phelps.

+ Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win a swimming event for the US. And that moment made for a pretty great photo op.

+ Fiji has a population of 900,000. And a gold medal.

+ Another great collection of photos from InFocus.


Allergy La Carte

"Peanut oral immunotherapy involves eating small, gradually increasing amounts of peanut protein daily." Researchers successfully treated young children with peanut allergies by exposing them to a very little bit of peanuts at a time.


Sarc of a Diver

"THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?" That was Donald's Trump's tweeted (all-caps, his) defense of his claims (repeated four times in one speech, and confirmed several times on a radio show the next day) that President Obama founded ISIS. As I wrote yesterday, if you're cool with that, IT'S ON YOU (all-caps, mine).

+ The New Yorker: Why Trump's Crazy Talk About Obama And ISIS Matters.

+ Hillary Clinton released her 2015 tax returns.


Farewell Party

"At the end of the weekend, her friends kissed her goodbye, gathered for a photo and left. Davis was wheeled out to a bed on a hillside, where she took a combination of drugs prescribed by her doctor." The Guardian on a terminally ill artist who chose assisted dying after gathering friends for a party to say goodbye.


We Can Make Him Better Than He Was

Watching the Olympics affords us the opportunity to watch the extreme limits of human athletic perfomances. At least until genetic engineering kicks in. Then we'll realize we're nowhere near the limits. (My grandchildren will be able to open a billion tabs.)


Bottom of the News

"Farmers scramble to load manure into bins during the manure relay event." If you get bored of the action in Rio, you can always check out the Farmer Olympics in Vermont. (There's almost certainly a grower/shower joke here somewhere.)

+ Gizmodo: How fish sticks became the food of the future that nobody asked for.

+ And just in time for the weekend: How to bend people to your will.