‘Just Sticks and Bricks’: Oklahoma Tornado’s Aftermath

The most fascinating news from around the Web on May 21, 2013

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  1. Torn Again

    “Just sticks and bricks.” That’s how Governor Mary Fallin described entire neighborhoods that were flattened by the fierce tornado that blew through Moore, Oklahoma. At certain points the tornado was two miles wide and twenty miles long. Dozens of people were killed and rescuers continue to search for survivors.

    + InFocus has a collection of photos of the aftermath of a twister with winds that hit at least two hundred mph.

    + The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal provides an excellent overview of tornadoes and puts this one in context. (This article also includes a timelapse video of yesterday’s tornado.)

    + Amazingly, this was the fourth major tornado to hit Moore in the last thirteen years.

    + In one uplifting piece of video, a tornado survivor finds her missing dog in the rubble during a TV interview.

  2. Did Apple Cook the Books

    A Congressional investigation into Apple’s tax-paying habits found that the company “successfully sought the holy grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars while claiming to be tax resident nowhere.”

    + Quartz lists the seven craziest findings in Apple‘s tax avoidance practices.

    + Apple CEO Timothy Cook appeared before a Congressional panel and denied any accusations that the company did anything illegal. “We not only comply with the laws, we comply with the spirit of the laws.” Apple is just one of the companies being investigated (and makes the biggest news in part because of its size). “Some of the largest U.S.-based companies — including those in technology, energy and pharmaceutical industries — expanded their untaxed offshore stockpiles by $183 billion in the past year.”

  3. Just Say Genome

    “First Jackie learned her brother Alex was her uncle. Then things got a little weird.” Slate’s Daniel Engber provides some examples of the perils of personal genomics in his piece, Who’s Your Daddy? I’m pretty sure if either of my parents weren’t really my parents they would have unsubscribed by now.

  4. Print Me a Pizza

    With a grant from NASA, Anjan Contractor is working on a 3D printer that can turn powder in food. “Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life. The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years.” While the initial plan is targeted at longterm space travel, the bigger goal is to be able to create personalized meals from powders and oils purchased from the grocery store. According to Contractor: “I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently. So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”

  5. Tune In, Drop Out, Start Coding

    Making millions in technology without a college degree is so old school. Tumblr founder David Karp left high school at the age of fourteen and it seemed to work out pretty well. Should wunderkinds be allowed to drop out of high school? I’d probably let one of my kids drop out if they offered me the right equity package. But even Karp says it could be a bad idea: “That is not a path that I would haphazardly recommend to kids out there. I was in a very unique position of knowing exactly what I wanted to do at a time when computer science education certainly wasn’t that good in high school in New York City.”

    + Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper) was there with Karp when Tumblr first got started. He reflected on the experience in a blog post: The One-Person Product.

  6. AirBNBusted

    According to the latest ruling by a New York judge, Airbnb is illegal in NYC because residents are violating “the illegal hotel law, which prevents residents from renting out their property for less than 29 days.” A complaint has to be filed (which is rare) for someone to get fined for renting out their place, but the ruling highlights the many battles being waged between traditional businesses and start-ups looking to shake things up.

  7. Who Gives a Shirt?

    NPR looks at the global afterlife of your donated clothes. About eighty percent of donated clothing is recycled and “thirty percent of the materials are made into wiping cloths that are used in commercial and industrial use.” As an Internet professional, about thirty percent of the clothes I wear look like they should be wiping cloths.

  8. In The Still of the Day

    An increasing number of schools are getting young students to practice mindfulness and meditation. In some districts where meditation is a regular part of the day, schools have seen improved test scores and a decrease in suspensions and expulsions.

  9. And Jared is the Famous One?

    Syndicated from KottkeUnknown mathematician hits a home run: Yitang Zhang, an unknown mathematician who worked at Subway while trying to find an academic position earlier in his career, has written a paper that makes significant progress towards understanding the twin prime conjecture, “one of mathematics’ oldest problems.”

  10. The Bottom of the News

    A recent piece of viral marketing by Dove used an interesting experiment to show that “you are more beautiful than you think.” Unfortunately, according to Scientific American, the research doesn’t actually back that up. “Most of us think that we are better than we actually are — not just physically, but in every way.”

    + The ICEE came first. And then came the Slurpee. Here’s the backstory on America’s favorite frozen drink.

    + Some of the best commencement speeches of 2013.

    + A blind gunslinger hits more than eighty percent of his targets. In other news, there’s a blind gunslinger.