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NextDraft: Lazlo’s Hierarchy

The Day’s Most Fascinating News.

(This is an edition of NextDraft. It’s a pretty good one, so I thought I’d post it to Medium. Get it via app or newsletter here.)

Laszlo Polgár planned to have extremely smart kids long before he met the woman who would eventually become his wife and the mother of his three daughters. He had studied the lives of geniuses and decided that he’d create some of his own. As Paul Voosen writes, “The girls were not an experiment in any proper form. Laszlo knew that. There was no control. But soon enough, their story outgrew their lives. They became prime examples in a psychological debate that has existed for a century: Does success depend more on the accidents of genetics or the decisions of upbringing? Nature or nurture?” From The Chronicle of Higher Education, Bringing Up Genius. (I’m not sure what to do first; get mad at my parents or apologize to my kids.)

“The leak of information threatened their personal financial futures, and the destruction of property threatened their livelihoods.” A year after the infamous hack, Slate’s Amanda Hess talks to people who were there about what it was like to be a rank-and-file Sony employee as the unprecedented cyberattack tore the company apart. “Here is the most surprising thing I learned in reporting this story: Most Sony employees I spoke with said they didn’t search the leaked documents.” I wish the same could be said for journalists.

“The first crucifixion came early that spring — a horrific event to recall even now. Everyone at the table remembered the shock of it. Then came more: two people, shot in the head by ISIS executioners, crucified, and left for days for all to witness in the city’s main traffic roundabout.” David Remnick on the citizen-reporters who risk it all to tell the truth about ISIS and Raqqa.

+ NYT: ISIS women and enforcers in Syria recount collaboration, anguish and escape.

+ Schools and the metro were closed again in Brussels as authorities worry about the threat of a major attack there. And somehow, the city-wide lockdown led to cat photos being shared on social media.

Suffocating smoke, torrential rains, imminent famine, cholera, typhoid. In places like California, we’re eagerly awaiting the drought-busting wallop of El Niño. But in most of the world, El Niño is viewed as more of a threat than a savior. From the LA Times: El Niño may trigger floods, famine and sickness in much of the world.

Nineteen percent. According to the latest numbers from Pew, that’s how many Americans “say they can trust the government always or most of the time.” And a majority of people believe that “ordinary Americans” could do a better job of managing the nation’s problems. (I’d be satisfied if ordinary Americans would let people get out of the elevator before they started walking into it.) Lots of interesting stuff in the Pew report: Beyond Distrust.

Pfizer and Allergan have agreed to join forces and create the world’s largest drug maker. The deal is being structured as a reverse merger; the smaller company (headquartered in Dublin) is acquiring the bigger one. The net result: Lower taxes. If your outrage over this practice lasts for more than four hours, call your accountant.

“I agree with you, Woodrow Wilson was a racist … The right way to approach Wilson is to acknowledge what is good about him and what is terrible about him.” WaPo’s Christine Emba on the fight over one of Princeton’s most famous graduates.

+ The University of Ottawa may have just lowered the bar for what should be deemed offensive. The school suspended a yoga class because “there were some cultural sensitivity issues and people were offended.” One second you’re doing the plank, the next second you’re walking it.

The American Music Awards were a mixed bag of performances. Celine Dion provided the night’s most memorable moment when she performed Edith Piaf’s Hymne a L’Amour. While performing their new single, Coldplay shared the stage with a bunch of people dressed as gorillas (remember that for young people, Coldplay is old school), Justin Bieber once again lost the trust of parents everywhere as he took an electronic device into a pool of water, Alanis Morissette sang a duet of her biggest hit with Demi Lovato (at long last, that’s actually ironic!), and Penatonix hummed the Star Wars theme along with a full orchestra (in the words of Yoda, “Overhyping this movie you are. If good it is, see it they will.”). Since ratings were way down this year, here’s a look at what you missed. And here’s WaPo’s picks for the best and worst moments (many of them are interchangeable).

Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Adele. Because Adele is everywhere and everything. You can’t escape her power. Consider this: Adele branded the word Hello. The singer performed on this week’s SNL, but not before the cast celebrated her power with an excellent sketch that explains how Adele can fix all of your awkward Thanksgiving conversations. What’s most amazing about this is that they are doing a parody of a song that is only a week old, and every person on the planet gets the references. Give in to the force.

“We could hear the water splashing in the background and turns out he has his kids and the turkey in the tub all at the same time. And he wanted to know if that would be an acceptable way to thaw his turkey.” Talking turkey in the Butterball Hotline.

+ Here’s what side dishes are popular in different parts of America.

+ Why do you always get sick over the holidays?

(This is an edition of NextDraft. Get it via app or newsletter here.)

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I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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