In the last decade and half, we’ve seen some great television. One can easily make arguments why one show or another is the greatest of this golden age of TV. But, for many, there’s no doubt that Tony Soprano is the era’s greatest character. James Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack in Italy at the age of 51, was incredible in the role. And the character he played — a detestable man we couldn’t help but love — paved the way for a slew of antiheroes on shows from The Wire to House of Cards. In the very first episode of The Sopranos, Tony tells his therapist that he’s worried the best is over. “I’ve been thinking it’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that, I know. But lately I’ve been getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.” The next eighty-five episodes of his show (and countless episodes of the shows that followed) confirmed that the best was yet to come. Here’s The New Yorker’s David Remnick with some thoughts on Gandolfini (along with several clips from his signature role).
+ Alan Sepinwall: “TV had always made compromises, always made sure that ‘flawed’ heroes were ultimately redeemable and lovable. Tony Soprano was not. And we loved him, often despite ourselves.”
+ From Edie Falco: “The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known.” From David Chase: “I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.’ There would be silence at the other end of the phone.” More from his colleagues here.
+ And a recently published piece from GQ: The Night Tony Soprano Disappeared.
You Are My Business
In 2010 Max Kelly (the former chief security officer at Facebook) left his company and joined another organization: The N.S.A. That move was a reminder that the government isn’t the only organization that uses big data to track your every move. A lot of big Internet companies are doing the same thing. As the NYT’s James Risen and Nick Wingfield explain: “The only difference is that the N.S.A. does it for intelligence, and Silicon Valley does it to make money.”
+ Walking down the street? Playing at the park with your kids? Well, if you live in one of a growing number cities (large and small), there’s a decent chance that you’re on camera. NPR on the business of surveillance cameras.
+ BloombergBusinessweek: Booz Allen, The World’s Most Profitable Spy Organization
The Future Will Be Filtered
In a much anticipated move, Facebook has launched video for Instagram. Users can now film, filter, and share 15 second video clips.
+ The Instagram offering will go head-to-head with Twitter’s Vine. And Vine has been growing like crazy. The more I read about the concern over privacy invasions, the more I see people excited about new ways to voluntarily share everything they do.
The Home Front
Here are some disturbing statistics from the World Heath Organization: “Thirty-five percent of women around the world have been raped or physically abused … About 80 percent of the time this violence occurs in the home, at the hands of a partner or spouse.”
Outside the Box
When most of the U.S. military personnel depart Afghanistan, they will leave some equipment behind. A lot of equipment. About $7 billion of equipment. Why? The stuff just isn’t worth the cost of shipping home. But don’t expect a Craigslist sale that includes some used and slightly dusty gear: “The military … has destroyed more than 170 million pounds of vehicles and other military equipment.”
“This is the story of how a tiny team took 90 days to pull off the impossible.” By the time Google announced that it would trash Google Reader, the folks at Digg were already masterminding their own version of the product. Wired’s Mat Honan on the ways one of the most inventive Internet companies is developing a new/old product: Inside Digg’s Race to Build the New Google Reader.
Every year in Indonesia, farmers clear large sections of forest by setting fires. The smoke gets thick. Really thick. And not just over Indonesia. Take a look at these wild images of the Singapore haze.
Pop Goes the Pill
People used to ask “What are you on?” to suggest that someone else was saying something that didn’t make sense. These days, the question should probably be taken literally. According to a Mayo Clinic report, seventy percent of Americans are on prescription drugs. From antibiotics to antidepressants, we are swallowing drugs by the handful (and you know that there will be a big business in drugs created to get us off drugs).
What’s in a Name?
I hear some of the hot vacation spots this summer will be the Land of the Thicket Clearers and the Land of the People with Dugout Canoes. Here’s a look at a cool map that provides the literal meanings of places.
+ Want to find out where the rich people live? Map the iPhone users in any city.
The Bottom of the News
I hate to report on yet another well-known person who turns out to be a fraud, but you should probably know that Cap’n Crunch is not really a Captain.
+ 8 Foods we eat in the U.S. that are banned in other countries.
+ Before he was a successful manager, Joe Torre was a great Major League catcher for many years. But his daughter just made the biggest catch in family history.