The Power of Google Maps and Other Fascinating News on the Web

December 11, 2013

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  1. Google’s Map to World Domination

    They come by land, air, and sea. They are everywhere. They are looking for everything. And the stakes are high. Google is leading the way in the race to map every last inch of the planet. Twenty-percent of all Google queries performed from the desktop already result in a little map being displayed. But that’s the only the beginning. “All of our stuff will know where it is — and that awareness will imbue the real world with some of the power of the virtual. Your house keys will tell you that they’re still on your desk at work. Your tools will remind you that they were lent to a friend. And your car will be able to drive itself on an errand to retrieve both your keys and your tools.” Thankfully, you’ll still need me to help you find a great article on the topic. And here one is from NYT Magazine’s Adam Fisher: Google’s road map to global domination.

  2. Popeularity Contest

    It was the change of tone heard ’round the world. Time has selected Pope Francis as this year’s person of the year. “What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all.”

    + The award is supposed to go to the person who had the most influence on the news. As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy argues, by that standard, Edward Snowden should have taken home the prize. Since his original leaks continue to lead to a gradual rollout of new stories, he may still win it next year.

    + Cocktails & Carnage:  The people behind person of the year.

  3. Going Backwards

    “It is hard not to feel let down by this judgment, which has taken India back several years in its commitment to protect basic rights” In a surprise ruling, India’s top court has upheld a law that criminalizes gay sex. Here are some of the responses collected by Buzzfeed.

  4. Personal History

    “He always came through the front after he parked his Ford under an old lady’s magnolia tree down the street, far enough away that the neighbors wouldn’t suspect anything.” In a very interesting piece in Texas Monthly, Jenny Kutner shares the details of a relationship she had with her eighth grade history teacher. “People called me a victim. They called him a villain. But it’s more complicated than that.”

  5. Still Mothering

    Lorrain Taylor lost both of her twin sons to gun violence in East Oakland. “The pain of that winter afternoon rarely ebbs, but in the 13 years since her sons’ deaths, Taylor has transformed her grief into a full-time mission to help others who have lost loved ones.” In the SF Chronicle, my friend Carolyn Jones shares the story of the woman people call when they need the ultimate support.

    + Life, death, and PTSD in Oakland: “There is basically a war going on in Oakland. It’s not that you leave the war. You always live inside the war. You’re not going back home.”

  6. Udder Nonsense?

    Big dairy companies are tugging hard to convince you that chocolate milk is the ultimate sports drink, especially when you drink it after you exercise. Are they right? Well, it could be better than the sports drink you currently guzzle.

    + All the countries that contribute to a single jar of Nutella.

  7. Behind the Selfie

    For better or worse, one of the most talked-about moments from the Mandela memorial was the selfie snapped by Obama and a pair of other global leaders. The image went viral and led to follow-up stories with a variety of weird angles. Roberto Schmidt took the photo of the now famous selfie and shares his own story: “I took these photos totally spontaneously, without thinking about what impact they might have. At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you.”

    + A far more interesting photo from that day: The magic moment when W showed Hillary his paintings on Air Force One. Taking selfies. Oversharing. Yeah, folks. They’re people.

    + Speaking of photos, here’s the final installment of the Year in Photos from InFocus.

    + And 18 GIFs that define (well, not really) the year in sports.

  8. You Are Sleeping Wrong

    “You throw out your arm and hit the snooze button, silencing the noise for at least a few moments. Just another couple of minutes, you think. Then maybe a few minutes more. It may seem like you’re giving yourself a few extra minutes to collect your thoughts. But what you’re actually doing is making the wake-up process more difficult and drawn out.” The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova on the science that suggests that snoozers are losers.

  9. Ninety Bottles of Beer on the Wall

    We’re drinking a lot less beer these days. And that’s especially true when it comes to beer that is sort of crappy. Here’s a look at nine beers Americans no longer drink.

    + MentalFloss Video: 26 interesting facts about beer.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    According to a recent study, teachers tend to give better grades to more attractive students. This actually makes sense as it prepares them for a lifetime of being treated better in every aspect of life.

    + You’re running around the office, constantly busy. Stop. You might be spreading secondhand stress.

    + The twistiest tongue twister ever.