How Coffee Stifles Creativity

The most fascinating news from around the web on June 18, 2013

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  1. You Might Want to Try Decaf…

    “Sparks shoot all the way up to the brain … ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages.” That’s how Balzac described the effects of drinking coffee (and it’s tough to question his expertise on the topic as he famously downed the equivalent of 50 cups a day). We know caffeine can make us more energetic and increase our ability to concentrate. But does it also prevent the “wandering, unfocussed mind” that leads to creativity? From the New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova: How Caffeine Can Cramp Creativity.

    + Starbucks is set to post calorie counts to its menus starting next Tuesday. That gives you until the end of the day Monday to enjoy a venti Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème in blissful ignorance.

  2. But Now I’m Found

    How would an NSA official find a terrorist hidden in gigabytes of data? FP’s J.M. Berger takes us through the possible steps in his article: Evil in a Haystack. “There are indeed privacy issues at play here, but they aren’t necessarily the obvious ones.”

    + The NSA says dozens of plots have been foiled thanks to its surveillance program.

    + From the creator of The Wire, David Simon: “Is it just me or does the entire news media — as well as all the agitators and self-righteous bloviators on both sides of the aisle — not understand even the rudiments of electronic intercepts and the manner in which law enforcement actually uses such intercepts? It would seem so.”

  3. Give it The Old College Try?

    The old college try might not be good enough if you were born poor. The latest numbers indicate that, in America, “rich kids without a college degree are 2.5 times more likely to end up rich than poor kids who do graduate from college.”

  4. Busing in Brazil

    A nine cent hike in bus fares has triggered huge street protests in several Brazilian cities. In what seems to be a common trend, the military and police reaction to what was a relatively small protest led to hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets. In Focus has a collection of photographs that help explain the public outrage.

  5. Get Higher Baby

    How high can we build skyscrapers? Today, the height is partly limited by the weight of the cables used to lift elevators. A new carbon fiber cable could erase some of those limitations and lead to buildings that are a whole lot taller. The Economist on the other mile-high club.

    + A Saudi billionaire prince is shopping the idea of a mile-high tower. Those kids who like press every floor button on an elevator panel are about to have a whole lot more bargaining power.

  6. Back in Southie

    “There’s one thing that’s undeniable: The man is goddamned colorful.” The Whitey Bulger trial is underway in South Boston. Slate’s Seth Stevenson has a multipart series that provides background on Bulger and tracks the trial’s progress.

    + In this video piece, NYT reporters who covered Bulger’s rise in crime explain how he became one of the most notorious gangsters in American history.

  7. Everybody’s a Critic

    There are plenty of places you can go to find out, on average, what professional critics think of a movie. But people in the movie business are more interested in what you think. And for decades, CinemaScore has been sending out pollsters with clipboards to find out how well a movie is likely to do at the box office.

    + The movie 42 is the most recent flick to score an A+ from theatergoers. Here’s a look at ten of our most loved and hated movies.

    + In the age of streaming distractions, movie trailers have to do even more to grab our attention. Here’s Wired on the gripping, mind-blowing, blood chilling art of the trailer.

  8. Better Than Cable!

    Cable television. Internet service providers. Those are the only two industries that consistently piss us off more than airlines. Here’s a look at the latest customer satisfaction ratings, from Jet Blue all the way down United.

    + On Medium, Jason Paur explains that you’re too cheap to fly faster. Maybe we just want to delay the moment when we have to land and once again deal with our connectivity providers.

    + If you’re sick of air travel but want to get somewhere quick, you could always consider the Jet Bicycle.

  9. Homeward Bound

    Living abroad and learning a foreign language might be a little more difficult during the Facebook era. A recent study found that seeing pictures from home can make it harder to speak a foreign language.

    + A women from Tasmania got into a car crash. When she woke up, she had a French accent.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    We know cats dominate the Internet. But what kind of animals do Americans love the most? We love dogs, fear snakes, and one in five pet owners “prefer to spend time with their pets over most human beings.” Here’s more from the animals and pets poll.

    + Think you know the rules of baseball? Not even players, managers, or umpires know some of the weirder rules that have come into play this season. From ESPN, here’s a ten question quiz to test your knowledge.

    + Breaking: High-heeled shoes are bad for your feet.

    + On July 14 in India, the world’s last telegram will be sent (which makes this the perfect place to Stop).