Can I Get a Picture With You?
As a six year-old, Sarah M. recognized Robert Hays at an arcade and asked if he’d mind posing for a picture with her. A decade and 6,000 uploaded photos with celebrities later, the teen known as Stalker Sarah “is easily the most famous fan in the world.” You might not like our increasingly celebrity-obsessed culture or be worried about an oversharing generation that seems determined to end privacy as we know it. But those trends are showing no signs of slowing down. If that’s the way things are headed, I supposed you might as well be the best. Among those in her cohort, the moniker Stalker Sarah is probably not even considered pejorative. And at least by chasing celebrities, she’s getting out of the house and getting some exercise once in awhile.
+ While emblematic of some troubling cultural trends, trying to get pictures with celebrities certainly seems benign when compared with the rise of cyberbullying among teens. In Italy, a 14 year-old victim of extreme cyberbullying updated her Facebook status just before jumping to her death. “Forgive me if I’m not strong. I cannot take it any longer.” Now Italian prosecutors are investigating whether to sue Facebook for not removing the offending posts.
Going Away From Extremes
According to this piece in The Economist, the world has a chance to take a billion people out of extreme poverty over the next couple decades. And experts are looking at the last decade for evidence that it’s possible.
“A bank robbery was a lot like the war: The worse things got, the easier it was somehow to cope. The tension that had been building all morning had now been released.” Buzzfeed’s Scott Johnson on how a war hero became a serial bank robber.
+ It turns out that writing an article that’s critical of Ringling Bros-Barnum & Bailey can be more dangerous than being shot out of a cannon. In Salon, Jeff Stein shares the disturbing story of The Greatest Vendetta on Earth.
4. The Awakening
Slate’s William Saletan on the drugs being deployed in the war on sleep. “There’s a military arms race to build soldiers who fight without fatigue.” I guess I’ll have to keep counting sheep until someone launches a war on sleeplessness.
+ Efforts to keep soldiers awake and alert are nothing new. Crystal Meth first became popular when it was used by Germans as a way to keep pilots and soldiers alert in battle during World War II.
5. Waiter, There’s a Knaidel in My Soup
Thirteen year-old Arvind Mahankali won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word knaidel (a Yiddish word that describes a kind of dumpling one would find in a bowl soup). You can check out Mahankali’s victorious spell (and 11 other tricky words from this year’s Bee) if you’re not too much of a Smellfungus to enjoy it.
+ Speaking of Knaidels, Katz’s Deli in NYC just turned 125. Here are some photos looking back at the iconic deli from the early days through the most memorable scene from When Harry Met Sally.
+ In addition to the spelling bee, there was another recent word win that deserves just as much attention. Don’t miss the impossible guess that won Wheel of Fortune’s already impossible million. My parents and I watched this show every night during my formative years. Trust me. Nothing can build family bonds more than a communal contempt for contestants who purchase unnecessary vowels.
6. What’s Up Bra?
Let’s face it. It’s almost impossible to find a bra that fits perfectly. Jockey is trying to address that problem with a new line of bras that come in 55 different sizes.
+ If that much choice seems a bit overwhelming, you can always adopt the personal attire strategy deployed by Donald and Nancy Featherstone. Nancy makes the clothes and she’s worn the same outfit as her husband for 35 years.
7. Taking the Lonely Out of Lone Star
Over the last year, five of the ten fastest growing cities in America were in one state: Texas. Here are ten reasons why so many people are moving there.
8. Following the Oregon Trail
A farmer in Oregon found some genetically modified wheat in his fields. He tried to kill it, but it wouldn’t die. In other news, genetically modified wheat isn’t supposed to exist.
9. Be Afraid
“My childhood was pretty ordinary, except from a very early age I wanted to be scared.” Stephen King shared some thoughts on writing, being afraid, and god, during an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.
10. The Bottom of the News
Red Bull got a ton of views when they sponsored Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space. The event became the number four branded video of all time (can you imagine jumping from space and not cracking the top three?). Now, Red Bull is back with a video of Valery Rozov jumping off Everest. That one is good, but it’s unlikely to enter the top ten, all of which are included at the end of this article.
+ Remember that sound your old modem used to make? Well, for a lot of people, it’s still quite familiar. Ten million American adults still use a dial-up modem to get online. Here are 12 obsolete technologies that refuse to die.
+ How many times has Will Smith’s family saved the world?