The Best Holiday Long Reads and Other Fascinating News on the Web

December 19, 2013

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  1. Happy Holidays

    Barring some unforeseen occurrence (such as a massive news story or the itch of my own news sharing addiction), this will be final edition of NextDraft until after the holidays. I hope you have a great holiday season. Thanks to your readership, a lot of great work by the folks who designed and built the site and app, my secret editors who delete the jokes that don’t work so you don’t have to, and the generous sponsorship from my friends at, this has been a great year for NextDraft. I don’t want you to be without reading material during the break, so I’ve put together a list of excellent long reads for your holiday enjoyment. I might add to this list over the next couple of days, so if there are great stories you remember from the year in NextDraft, let me know. See you in 2014.

  2. The Year of Living Publicly

    There’s no doubt that the invasion of our privacy was one of the key stories of the year. After years of sharing (and oversharing), we were reminded again and again that we’re being tracked by many different sources as we amble around the Internet. The government is watching. Online stores are watching. Marketing companies and advertisers are watching. Data brokers are watching. Basically, everyone is watching except your friends and followers. They’re sick of all your sharing. GigaOm’s David Meyer tracks the year that changed everything: An explosion in slow motion: How 2013 blew apart our notions of privacy. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: The last decade was about sharing. The next decade will be about protecting.

    + America’s fastest growing crime: The stealing of you.

  3. A Target on Your Back

    Online shopping and sharing weren’t the only seemingly risky activities this year. Target just reported (or at lease confirmed reports) that “criminals had stolen customer names, credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes for 40 million customers who had shopped at its stores.” Hackers reportedly gained access to the point of sales systems in the stores. Even when you’re offline, you’re online.

  4. Olympic Games Start Early

    In what could be an effort to soften his image ahead of the Olympics, Vladimir Putin looks ready to pardon political rival and former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, along with the members of Pussy Riot, Greenpeace activists, and as many as twenty thousand others.

  5. Restart the Machine

    “As a consumer I was blown away. I wanted one immediately. But as a Google engineer, I thought ‘We’re going to have to start over.'” It’s hard to believe now, but back when the iPhone first came out, Google engineers were busy building a mobile OS to compete with Microsoft. Then iPhone happened.

    + My indie syndication partner Jason Kottke plans to keep on blogging. But his latest piece makes the case that oldies like us may be the last of the traditional bloggers: “Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.” The blog is dead, long live the blog.

  6. The Man Who Made Porn Dirtier

    One assumes that Al Goldstein who died at the age of 77 would have gotten a kick out of both the headline and the money shot of this NYT obituary: Al Goldstein, Who Made Porn Dirtier, Dies at 77 — “Mr. Goldstein did not invent the dirty magazine, but he was the first to present it to a wide audience without the slightest pretense of classiness or subtlety.” As if the contents of the article were not enough, it also comes with this correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a movie Mr. Goldstein starred in. It is “Al Goldstein & Ron Jeremy Are Screwed,” not “Al Goldstein & Ron Jeremy Get Screwed.” Incredible.

  7. The Sporting Life

    They cheated. They doped. They committed crimes. They suffered life-altering injuries. And we kept right on watching. Grantland’s Brian Phillips on sports and the year of un-innocence: “It was not possible to pretend, even if you wanted to, that things were mostly fine.”

    + Let’s not end the sports year on a negative note. Meet Joique Bell. He used to be a security guard for the Detroit Lions. Now he’s their running back.

  8. From Snowden to Sharknado

    Between now and the end of the year, you will be inundated with looks back at the year in news. If you want a quick shortcut, just listen to this song that provides a quick refresher on year in news set to a Billy Joel song.

    + BloombergBusinessweek: 8 1/2 things that went right this year.

  9. To Your Health

    Please have several cocktails during this holiday season. And I’m only saying that because I want you to keep your immune system strong. The year-end health message has become clear. Multivitamins are not worth your money. But Jagermeister is.

    + If you have a bit too much, call the hangover taxi.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    It “is squat, black, and rubberized, loud as a leaf blower and powerful enough to pulverize a steer. Its 2-horsepower engine approaches the strength of a lawn mower. At 11 pounds, it’s as heavy as a cannonball … the angled blades, which travel at speeds up to 240 miles per hour, simply obliterate whatever is inside. The process creates enough friction to boil soup.” If you own one, then you already know what that describes. If not, welcome to The Cult of Vitamix.

    + Bill Gates, Secret Santa.

    + Are we approaching a bananapocalypse?

    + Celebrating the wanton violence of Home Alone 2.