Pew Findings on Christmas Culture and Other Fascinating News on the Web

December 18, 2013

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  1. The Ghost of Christmas Past

    How will this Christmas compare to those you experienced during your childhood? That question is at the core of the latest research from Pew which tells us a lot about the holiday season, and a lot about American religious trends. Younger adults tend to see Christmas as a mostly cultural holiday, while older Americans still see the day as mostly religious. Really young Americans see it as a time to get and use new gadgets.

    + Nick Confalone won’t have any trouble remembering how he spent his childhood Christmas mornings. His dad videotaped his kids coming downstairs for Christmas for the last 25 years. Now I wish I had videotaped me and my other Jewish friends at the same Chinese restaurant every Christmas day for about a decade.

  2. Spark it Up

    If the Olympic torch relay is any indicator, things could be rough at the Sochi Games. According to some, the flame has already gone out more than forty times, and least once, it had to be relit using a disposable lighter. And really, that’s only the beginning of the problematic relay in which one person accidentally set himself on fire and another person died. And things won’t get any easier. The NYT describes the course: “At about 40,000 miles, the route is the longest in Olympic history, winding through the North Pole, beneath the water in Lake Baikal and into space. Fourteen thousand people are taking part, the most ever, and they are traveling, variously, on foot, by plane, by train, by car, by snowmobile, by icebreaker, by jet pack, by zip wire, by sleigh, by horse and by camel.”

    + NPR: Gays In U.S. Olympic Delegation will send message to Russia. It’s interesting to note who’s going to the Games. And who isn’t (including both Obama and Biden).

  3. From Tickets to Crickets

    Somewhere out there a couple people have each won a really big chunk of winnings from a Mega Millions lottery. Now comes the big question: Will they turn in their tickets? Believe it or not, a huge number of winning lottery tickets never get turned in at all. Last year, more than a half a billion dollars went unclaimed. What a business.

  4. Press Alt Walt

    Walt Mossberg: “This is my last column for The Wall Street Journal, after 22 years of reviewing consumer technology products here. So I thought I’d talk about the dozen personal-technology products I reviewed that were most influential over the past two decades.” The big item that seems to be missing from the list is Tivo. While we’re quickly moving to an on-demand world, I still think the DVR was one of the epic tech introductions of the past few decades. We could suddenly watch what we want when we wanted to watch it. And the rest is television (and cultural) history.

  5. The Terrible (Twenty) Twos

    “Thank God toddlers don’t carry weapons.” Researchers on several continents share a basic belief that “dangerous criminals don’t turn violent. They just stay that way.” David Dobbs on the terrible twos who stay terrible.

  6. The Needy Self

    Here’s a line from Ford’s recently published trend report: “In a world of hyper-self-expression, chronic public journaling and other forms of digital expression, consumers are creating a public self that may need validation even more than their authentic self.” (It’s a great line, but let’s not forgot which needy self just brought it to your attention.) The WSJ’s Tom Gara uses the new Apple ad and a few good lines from Louis C.K. to show that Ford just might be onto something.

  7. There’s an App(le) for That

    This week we learned that multivitamins probably don’t do much to protect our health. But here’s something new/old you can try: Eat an apple a day. Oxford researchers say that simple change could save thousands of lives a year.

    + The Week’s Peter Weber on how the vitamin industrial complex swindled America.

  8. More Best Ofs

    The end-of-year best-of lists are starting to pour in at a feverish pace. But let’s pause for just a second and take a look at what could be the most interesting and important of these lists. From The Wrap: The Year in James Franco: Everything He Did in 2013 That You Didn’t.

    + The Atlantic: The best movies of 2013. And from Wired: Our favorite movies of 2013.

    + The top scientific discoveries of 2013.

    + You need some holiday reading material? Check out BloombergBusinessweek’s 2013 Jealousy List: The 41 best stories (and one book) we didn’t write.

    + MoJo: The five biggest meat stories of 2013.

  9. Strike That

    This was another year of breaking news errors from a media trying to keep up with Twitter. You can see some of the results of this trend in Poynter’s entertaining look at the best and worst media errors and corrections of the year.

    + Related: How the media will cover the apocalypse.

    + Matt Haughey: Even if it’s fake, it’s real. When it comes to weird Internet stories, does it really matter if it’s a hoax?

  10. The Bottom of the News

    The EPA’s highest paid employee told his bosses that he had been given a gig as a spy for the CIA. His real goal: To get out of work (and apparently, to get a rush.) Following a judge’s sentence, he’s going to get at least 32 months off from work.

    + The Netflix documentary on Mitt Romney‘s run looks pretty good. The trailer includes a look at Romney at the moment he realized he’d lost the presidency.

    + Soon, you’ll be able to live tweet the broadcast of a television series about the origin of Twitter.

    + Catching up with the guy who invented the Karaoke machine (and later, a cockroach killing machine).

    + This coach is pretty disappointed with his team’s performance.