Back to Reality

Let's kick off the new year by introducing what promises to be the most-watched reality show of all time. It's called 2017. It features all your favorite stars, a cast of millions, and it will be broadcast nonstop on television and social media; and covered in-depth by news outlets (both real and fake). And best of all, you get to be part of the show too -- whether that means just sharing a tweet or a Facebook status update, or by somehow becoming a key character in the story and earning your eleven minutes of fame (no one gets fifteen minutes anymore). And as you've probably already guessed, 2017 will be produced by Mark Burnett. He brought you Survivor, he brought you The Apprentice, and now, by extension, he's bringing you 2017. Here's The Ringer's Kelsey McKinney on The Mythmaker: How Mark Burnett Created Reality TV -- and Donald Trump.

+ Who is dominating real reality TV these days? The answer might surprise you. "The escapist appeal of looking at other people's beautiful homes turned Home & Garden Television into the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN."


Eth Heads

The first day for the new House of Reps was all about ethics. House members "scrapped plans to weaken an independent ethics watchdog on the first day of the 115th Congress" following a ton of backlash from voters, the media, and even the President-elect (who questioned the proposal's timing, if not the overall goal). Don't be surprised to see this plan reintroduced at a later date. But for now, the decision to pull the proposal ensures that ethics in DC will maintain the high level we've all grown accustomed to...


Shooting Selfies

"The camera never leaves the man's unsmiling face as he walked through Taksim Square during the 44-second clip that was broadcast on state-run Anadolu television and other Turkish media." The gunman responsible for killing 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub is still at large and unidentified other than the release of an eerie video selfie taken just before or after the shooting rampage.


Mayday in Mayberry

"Back in the day, the worst thing people did was hide in a ditch and hurl field corn kernels at passing cars. 'It used to be so Mayberry.'" But then came the opioid crisis, other drugs, an increase crime, and ultimately, a precipitous decline in life expectancy. WaPo's Joel Achenbach on the perfect storm of bad trends that have left many small towns facing what sociologists call diseases of despair.


It’ll Come To You

Starting this week, two-thousand unemployed Finns will be part of a social experiment that promises to be watched across the world. Finland will become the first European government to pay its unemployed an unconditional monthly sum (basic income). "The income will replace their existing social benefits and will be paid even if they find work."

+ One of the reasons interest in basic income is so high is because automation is rapidly replacing workers. And it's not just blue collar workers. From Quartz: Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence.


Sweet and Lower

"A good long-term limit for most adults is no more than 50 grams (or about 12 teaspoons) of added sugars per day, and closer to 25 is healthier. A single 16-ounce bottle of Coke has 52 grams." In the NYT, David Leonhardt suggests you get your year started off right by trying to go a month without sugar. (This conflicts with my personal 2017 plan which includes a lot of comfort food and a determination to never change out of the sweatshirt I have on right now.)

+ Trying to keep sugar intake below recommended levels can be tough since so many of our products have a ton of added sugar. The NYT has an interactive menu planner. See how far you can make it into the day without exceeding recommended limits.


Shoe Wrack

"The United Farm Workers, in the mid-sixties, organized the famous grape boycott in order to get farmers to stop relying on underpaid, non-union workers. Greenpeace organized a boycott of Shell, in 1995, to stop the company from dumping an old oil platform at sea. And, in the nineties, Nike faced a boycott over its reliance on sweatshop labor." That was then, this is now. And these days, corporate boycotts can be quickly organized online and can be triggered by the mere perception that a company has political leanings that differ from yours. The New Yorker's James Surowiecki on The Trump-Era Corporate Boycott.

+ New Balance took a lot of heat when its CEO made positive remarks about the upcoming Trump administration. That's a new reason, but hardly a new target market. From The Atlantic: Sneakers Have Always Been Political Shoes.


Keenness For Milo

Milo Yiannopoulos has been booted off Twitter for spreading hate and being a poster-child (or in this case, a poster-poster) "for stunts such as announcing the creation of a scholarship fund for white men, [and] leading a racist online harassment campaign against the comedian Leslie Jones." Now, Simon & Schuster has signed him to a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar book deal. (Editor's Note: Boo.)


The Fake News Revolution

"The story was gruesome: American forces had discovered bags containing more than 700 'SCALPS from our unhappy Country-folks.' There were bags of boys', girls', soldiers and even infants' scalps, all allegedly taken by Indians in league with King George. There was also a note written to the tyrant king hoping he would receive these presents and 'be refreshed.'" That, it turns out, was fake news. The author: Benjamin Franklin. From Robert G. Parkinson in WaPo: Fake news? That's a very old story.


Bottom of the News

"All the hopes and dreams that quite recently seemed entirely attainable are now so wildly out of reach that they're laughable." Here's my quick look at Five New Realities for the New Year.

+ Quartz: "In a bid to restore some semblance of work-life balance, French companies with more than 50 employees are now required to guarantee workers the "right to disconnect" from technology when they leave the office at night."

+ Megyn Kelly is leaving Fox News and will be heading for NBC News.

+ Michigan banned the banning of plastic bags.

+ And Mariah Carey gave everyone the New Year's present they really wanted. A botched performance that fed our unquenchable desire to feed the Schadenfreude cycle.