Sound it Out
A CNN study on the large academic achievement gap between college athletes and their peers at major universities found many students that could only read at an eighth grade level, and others who reportedly needed help sounding out multisyllabic words. One learning specialist describes fake classes and the more subtle cheating that often takes place: “Isn’t it all cheating if I’m sitting at a table with a kid who can’t read or write at college level and pulling a paper out of them? Is this really legitimate? No.”
Let the Games Begin
The 2016 presidential election is already in full swing. A new book by former Defense Secretary Bob Gates serves up a critique of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and saves some of his harshest criticism for Joe Biden: “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Maybe that’s just his way of saying the Veep is consistent.
+ “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” That email message (yes, people are still using email to send data they don’t want others to see) is part of a growing scandal facing Chris Christie in New Jersey as it looks like his aides (at least) were involved in an effort to create a massive traffic jam to punish a mayor who didn’t back Christie’s re-election. The lesson here is clear. If you’re going to punish an electoral rival, have the decency to make a phone call.
What Rhymes With Evidence?
“You really have to listen to the songs because they’re talking about ongoing violence.” In NYC, police officers are using the lyrics and images from rap videos to solve gang-related crimes. And you thought you overshared…
+ According to a new study, nearly fifty percent of American black men have been arrested by the age of 23.
It’s Better With Butter
As we’ve cut down on its trans fat-laden alternatives, Americans have returned to the warm, melty embrace of butter in a big way. Butter consumption is at a 40-year high and we consume 5.6 pounds of butter per capita (that’s roughly the amount my five year-old can fit onto one slice of toast). That’s nowhere near our per capita consumption back in the 1930s when it was up around 18 pounds.
+ Related: We’re running out of Velveeta.
The New New Things
While many of us are focused on the latest gadgets debuting at CES, there are others who are in less of a hurry to upgrade. Consider that 58% of Americans still own a VCR. Of course, most probably just haven’t gotten around to throwing them away.
+ The Wire: Can you tell the difference between an actual CES product and a thing we made up?
+ Wearable computing finally lives up to the hype: Vibrating underpants.
Monaco or Bust
Some people care about cultural institutions, an educated and interesting population, housing and transportation options, and the number of Starbucks per block. But maybe we should start judging our cities by the one metric that really matters: Life expectancy.
The open office design is all the rage these days. But The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova shares several studies that suggest the layout could be bad for productivity. It also makes it a lot harder to find a wall to bang your head against.
+ Prospective Amazon employees must get through discussions with several layers of so-call “bar raisers” to make sure they are the right person for the job. Apparently the system is not impermeable. Amazon currently employs more than 100,000 people.
+ Zappos is doing away with bosses, managers, and the corporate hierarchy.
Baseball Hall of Fame
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas are the latest major leaguers to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (Craig Biggio missed by two votes). But the bigger (or at least more controversial) story is those who were once again left off the list, including Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemons.
In Ohio, police pulled a guy over for speeding, and then found four guns and 48 bombs in his car. This is why, as a general rule, when someone wants to merge, I let them.
The Bottom of the News
You can pay to send a message to celebrities on Facebook. So the folks at The Kernal paid to send along a cat photo just to see what would happen. (Spoiler alert: Save your money.)
+ Mental Floss: 30 things turing 30 in 2014. (I already have a couple typos that old.)
+ Dennis Rodman sings happy birthday to Kim Jong Un.
+ Is The Wolf of Wall Street really the sweariest movie of all time? Probably. (And that’s not even counting the expletives yelled by those in the audience.)
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