Ending Minimum Drug Sentences
“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law enforcement reason. We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.” That’s what Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech in which he called for an end to some mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders which makes a lot of sense because we are filling our prisons with people who probably shouldn’t be there, certainly not for as long as many of them are, and besides, many of these laws are enforced unfairly since a white person in a nice neighborhood can walk down the street with a backpack of weed barely visible through fresh plumes of smoke without suffering any consequences (or so I’m told) while people in poor neighborhoods are caught in a hopeless cycle of incarceration for which society foots the enormous bill associated with jailing a large percentage of our population, so let’s hope Holder’s speech actually results in some concrete changes to the system and we can put an end to these run-on sentences.
+ In some countries, prisoners are given pot to create a more peaceful environment.
+ A federal judge has ruled that NYC’s Stop and Frisk program is unconstitutional and often results in “a demeaning and humiliating experience.” There have been nearly 5 million stops in the past decade or so.
Whitey Bulger Guilty
After more than 5 days of deliberation, a jury has found Whitey Bulger guilty of more than enough charges to result in a life sentence. For a look back on Bulger’s life and trial, check out Seth Stevenson’s series in Slate, beginning with Everything you need to know about one of the most colorful criminals in American history.
Booming Meth Business
Breaking Bad is approaching its series finale, but the Meth business is showing no signs of fading to black. According to MoJo, the meth industry is thriving in many areas because its aligned with the interests of big pharma. “Cops are waging two battles: one against meth cooks, the other against wealthy, politically connected drug manufacturers.”
The Town That Bans WiFi
“You can turn your phone on in Green Bank, W.Va., but you won’t get a trace of a signal. If you hit scan on your car’s radio, it’ll cycle through the dial endlessly, never pausing on a station.” You’ve entered a town where signals that connect radios, TVs, WiFi networks, and cellphones are strictly banned. And some residents see that as a good thing.
+ “My firm provides me with all of the latest communication tools (computer, telephone, Post-its) right at my desk.” From the WSJ: Confessions of a Cellphone Holdout.
+ No that’s not a cellphone in my pocket, I’m just happy to see that Apple will be debuting its new iPhone lineup on September 10th.
+ Wrackberry: The once-dominant Blackberry is looking for a buyer.
Some of the indie bookstores left standing have come up with a new model for staying in business. They are using sites like Indiegogo to ask people for donations. According to one bookstore owner: “Bookstores are sort of an endangered industry for lots of reasons. But it would have left a huge hole in our little community if we had gone away.”
+ Between them, Josh Bearman and Josh Davis have optioned 18 of their magazine articles for films. Now they are launching a new platform to help other nonfiction writers to do the same thing, and keep most of the money. (I’m still waiting for the day when I can option a tweet.) This is really a great period for long form writing. The Internet creates a hunger for deeper content, and gives us the tools to find and share the stuff we like.
+ Here’s a look back at the very first issues of 19 famous magazines.
AOL Firing Goes Viral
Two minutes into a conference call with Patch employees, AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong fired his creative director who was taking pictures at the time. The photos didn’t go viral, but the audio did.
The Future of Stomachaches
The opening paragraph of this NYT articles sums up the story: “Children with chronic stomach pains are at high risk for anxiety disorders in adolescence and young adulthood, a new study has found, suggesting that parents may wish to have their children evaluated at some point for anxiety.” Or suggesting that we might want to help kids develop the tools to deal with their stomachaches earlier. (Yours sincerely, a kid whose stomach occasionally hurt…)
Robot Bees Exist
Worried about the future of pollination given the shrinking population of bees? Enter the Robot Bee. Here’s a Time video looking at Harvard Researchers working on new bees.
Designing Children’s Menus
The waiter comes over with crayons and paper, and you’re happy that your kids will be distracted for at least a few minutes. But then you realize that the drawing paper is also a children’s menu and all your efforts to move beyond butter noodles will be fruitless (and vegetable-less). How did this happen? Not how you think. Here’s a brief history of the children’s menu.
+ The man who made the sippy cup.
The Bottom of the News
A U.S. judged has ruled that a baby must change his name to something other than Messiah because that name is “a title that has only been earned by one person.” Next, they should name the kid Heavyweight Champion of the World.
+ When Hollywood needs shiny instruments of death, this blacksmith delivers.
+ Whiffle Ball Hero: a tremendous catch goes viral.
+ How your brain becomes addicted to caffeine.
+ Usain Bolt and a bolt of lightning.