Correction Appended: August 16, 2013
Scheduling Note: Due to travel plans, NextDraft will be published sporadically next week.
The Brain on Extreme Sports
Nicholas Spitzer is a professor of neuroscience at the University of California. The Economist asked him what he does to protect his brain and this was his answer: Rock climbing, ice climbing, and going to the gym. What about reading and doing crossword puzzles? According to Spitzer, “It is good for improving your crossword skills but does it lead on to other kinds of advanced cognitive function? No. There is no translation of the crossword skills to other skill categories. That shouldn’t discourage anyone, they are a lot of fun, but a vigorous hike will do more for your cognitive function.”
The NSA Breaks Its Own Rules
The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman is out with the latest big story based on documents released by Edward Snowden. According to an internal audit, the NSA breaks its own privacy rules thousands of times per year.
+ But at least the organization is subject to rigorous judicial oversight, right? Definitely. As long as the government itself reports that it has improperly spied on Americans.
“Raised by two drug addicts with virtually unlimited wealth, Georgia and Patterson survived a gilded childhood that was also a horror story of Dickensian neglect and abuse. They were globe-trotting trust-fund babies who snorkeled in Fiji, owned a pet lion cub and considered it normal to bring loose diamonds to elementary school for show and tell. And yet they also spent their childhoods inhaling freebase fumes, locked in cellars and deadbolted into their bedrooms at night in the secluded Wyoming mountains and on their ancestral South Carolina plantation.” Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely on The Poorest Rich Kids in the World.
+ “Meeting in person is out of the question. I don’t meet in person even with my closest advisors.” Forbes’ Andy Greenberg introduces us to a guy called Dread Pirate. He’s the man behind a black market site called Silk Road, where people can get a whole lot of stuff they’re not allowed to have.
+ The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg on Newsweek’s Glory Days (and his too).
The Man Running Egypt
He grew up in Cairo. Some of his education took place in the United States. Posters of face are now becoming more ubiquitous in Egypt, where up until a month ago, few people knew anything about him. Newsweek’s Mike Giglio and Christopher Dickey shed some light on Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the quiet general who is running Egypt.
A study suggests that kids who consume a lot of soda tend to be more aggressive and violent. “Children who consumed at least four servings of soda per day were twice as likely than those who didn’t drink any soda to display aggressive violent behaviors – such as destroying other people’s belongings, starting physical fights and verbally attacking other children.” So now you know you need to give your own well-behaved children at least five servings of soda a day just to deal with all these other aggressive kids.
+ Once soda-guzzling kids are done beating each other up, they grow up to be sweet, vibrant grandfathers. Introducing Coke, part of your healthy lifestyle.
Area 51 Officially Exists
U-2 spy planes flying at 60,000 feet. That’s the most likely explanation for all those UFO sightings over Nevada. After decades, a newly classified CIA document puts Area 51 on the map, officially. I guess now we know that when ET phoned home, the NSA was listening.
The Trader Joe’s Pirate
Over the past two years, Mike Hallatt has spent more than $350,000 at Trader Joe’s. Now, Trader Joe’s has filed a lawsuit and wants to ban him from their stores. It turns out he was taking his purchases north of the border and reselling them (at a markup, of course) at Pirate Joe’s Market in Vancouver. Hallatt’s reaction to the suit? He removed the P from his store’s sign. It’s now called Irate Joe’s.
Philadelphia’s Budget Woes
Philadelphia kids are getting a crash course mathematics. Their district had to borrow $50 million just to ensure the doors of its public schools would be open on September 9. That’s about a fifth of what the Philadelphia School District pays each year just to service its debt.
Canned Beer Is More Popular
After years of speculation, we finally know why there are ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall. Because canned beer is better.
The Bottom of the News
If you use Instagram or any other photo-sharing tool, then you’ve seen a ton of sunset photos. Everyone takes them. Everyone shares them. And most of them suck. Slate’s Katy Waldman on the tragedy of the sunset photo. Over-sharers tend to behave as though the world revolved around them. Maybe they just think their taking selfies…
+ Did a computer glitch cause all the cell doors in a maximum security prison to swing open?
+ This is exactly why I don’t do windows.
A previous version of this post described Nicholas Spitzer as a professor at UC Berkeley. He is a professor at the University of California (specifically the San Diego campus).