Here are some of best outtakes of the week from NextDraft, a daily, free and awesome look at the day’s most fascinating news.
- Let’s start with what promises to be a wedge issue. In WaPo, Tamar Haspal — who calls lettuce “a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table” — makes an impassioned argument that salad is wildly overrated. “It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate.” Can we really save the planet by skipping the salad? (I find it’s a lot easier to eat less salad when I drink the dressing straight from the bottle.)
- Amazon has garnered an enormous share of the book market, and their “activities tend to reduce book prices, which is considered good for consumers.” But hundreds of writers (including Philip Roth and V. S. Naipaul) are trying to convince the Department of Justice that — regardless of the lower prices — Amazon’s monopoly is hurting consumers. From The New Yorker’sVauhini Vara: Is Amazon creating a cultural monopoly?
- According to a recent survey, a third of Americans have never interacted with their neighbors. (One assumes the other two-thirds are on Ashley Madison.)
- ESPN’s Wright Thompson with an excellent piece on New Orleans in the shadow of Katrina: Beyond the Breach. “With the air conditioner off for filming, the only noise in Steve Gleason’s home is the breathing machine that keeps him alive. That’s as good a place as any to start a Katrina story, with the wires and plugs and tubes strapped to the back of his wheelchair, a life-support apparatus doing the heavy lifting for one of the most fervently alive people the city has ever known.” And… “When we look at the first 15 years of the 21st century, the most defining moment in black America’s relationship to its country isn’t Election Day 2008; it’s Hurricane Katrina. The events of the storm and its aftermath sparked a profound shift among black Americans toward racial pessimism that persists to today.” Jamelle Bouie in Slate: Where Black Lives Matter really began.
- “Bruce Springsteen’s phenomenal breakthrough in 1975 can only be understood against a backdrop of profound dislocation and urgent activism, particularly in the working-class communities that absorbed so many of the decade’s economic and cultural shocks.” On the 40th anniversary of the album, Joshua Zeitz takes an interesting look back at Born to Run and the decline of the American dream.
- If you were one of the many sufferers of math anxiety, are you destined to pass that same anxiety on to your kids? Only if you help them with their homework. I’m a Humanities major. We just pass on our anxieties about life.
- Starting Monday, the LAPD’s long awaited body cameras will be put into use. As Police Commissioner Robert Saltzman explained, “This is a big deal.” An equally big deal will be the ensuing battle over who gets to see the footage and when.
- Recently, a guy in my office building walked into a full elevator with his cellphone and continued his loud conversation throughout a multi-floor ride. So I punched him in the face, grabbed his phone, and threw it to the floor as my fellow riders cheered with a vigor not seen since the days of the gladiator pits. OK, the second part of that anecdote is a slight exaggeration and merely represents what I wanted to do. But even at this relatively early moment in our device-usage evolution, such reactions (real or imagined) to phone use have been rendered meaningless. The truth about phone etiquette is that there is none. And we’re all each other’s enablers. According to the latest Pew survey, while just about everyone is bothered by the cellphone overuse they perceive in others, “89% of cellphone owners say they used their phone during the most recent social gathering they attended.” Here are the interesting numbers related to our views on phone etiquette. (If you’re on your phone right now, read at your own risk.)
- “What are we doing to our students if we encourage them to develop extra-thin skin just before they leave the cocoon of adult protection?” In The Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt on the rise of college students who want to be protected from words and ideas: The Coddling of the American Mind.
- “A venture capitalist billionaire threw a $16,500-per-head party at the festival, his camp a hyper-exclusive affair replete with wristbands and models flown in to keep the guests company.” Keith A. Spencer explains why the rich love Burning Man. (If the Nasdaq doesn’t bounce back in the next few days, Burning Man is going to look a lot more like actual camping.)
- “I don’t know whether this was a deliberate strategy on Trump’s behalf. But if so, it’s pretty brilliant. Trump is perhaps the world’s greatest troll, someone who is amazingly skilled at disrupting the conversation by any means necessary.” Nate Silver on Donald Trump who seems to have mastered the era’s most valued skill: Drawing attention to oneself (hereafter known as Trumping).
- Jared Keller in Pacific Standard: Is it ethical to watch a murder caught on tape? A bigger question might be whether it’s ethical for the vast majority of Americans to maintain a field of vision entirely scrubbed of any hint of what the issue of gun violence actually looks like.
- “It’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.” Annalee Newitz took a close look at the Ashley Madison database and found something that might not seem all that surprising. There are almost no real women. So yes. Your wife just left you for cheating with an avatar.
- Usain Bolt continued his sprinting dominance by taking home his fourth consecutive world championship gold in the 200m. But this is the age of the Internet, so the much bigger news came when a cameraman on a Segway knocked Bolt to the ground. (Sadly, the Segway later tested postive for banned substances.) And… Kenyan Julius Yego took home the gold medal in Javelin. Which is pretty impressive, especially considering that he learned how to throw one on YouTube.
- This Internet thing is definitely going to take off. Consider the passing of a truly remarkable milestone. On a single day, more than a billion people used Facebook. Yes, one in seven people on Earth used Facebook on Monday (and that photo you thought was so awesome got 4 Likes). This marks an incredible moment for social media’s most dominant brand — and maybe for the evolution of human behavior. But the fact that we have a site that can take that kind of user load is also the systems administration feat of a generation. To put Facebook’s technical achievement into perspective, imagine your grandmother calling you for tech support. Now imagine a billion of her.In an unsurprising move, Noel Biderman, the CEO of Ashley Madison’s parent company (and by today’s standards, you’d have to consider it a “free range” parent) has stepped down. You might see this as just one more splash of Schadenfreude gasoline thrown on a smoldering site and a group of users that deserved to suffer a good burn. But don’t kid yourself. There’s a much bigger part of this story. Hackers can destroy a company and access your personal information and get away with it. We’ve seen examples of it before. And, after this, we’ll see a lot more in the future.
- “It’s a phrase that means, roughly, ‘hooking up.’ But it’s a lot more complicated than that.” In Fusion, Kevin Roose explains how Netflix and chill became a viral sex catchphrase. Interesting. Among older people, turning on Netflix for the night is largely viewed as a sign of acceptance that you’re not gonna get any.
- Netflix just debuted its much-anticipated series on Pablo Escobar. This fictionalized account should be popular. And so are the real life visits to the tourist attractions that are part of what GQ’s Jesse Katz calls Pablo-land: Pablo Escobar Will Never Die.
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