The Day WhatsApp Went Down and Other Fascinating News on the Web

February 28, 2014

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  1. You’re Hip (but now you’re not)

    You’ve got the beard, the stylish glasses, the skinny jeans, the vintage t-shirt, and the latest tablet, covered with stickers, slid neatly into a faux-messenger bag. But to a teenager, you just look like another old dude. It’s tough to stay hip. That’s true for people. And that’s true for tech services. That’s one of the reasons why Facebook had to shell out $19 billion on a messaging app. And it’s also a reason why that purchase provides no guarantee that they’ll seem cool to the fickle millions looking for the new, new thing. The New Yorker’s Joshua Hunt provides a look at some amazing stats from the day Whatsapp went down for a few hours: “In the day after WhatsApp’s server outage, its biggest competitors, Telegram and Line, gained five million and two million new users, respectively.”

    + “For Linio, think Amazon for Mexicans. For Zalora, think Zappos for Malaysians. For Easy Taxi, think Uber for Nigerians.” Forget innovation. You want to succeed in tech? Just copy someone else.

  2. Formerly Known as Former

    Ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych isn’t quite ready to put the word former in front of his president title. Buzzfeed takes a look at the Yanukovych press conference. “Come to your senses and stop this lawlessness.”

    + BloombergBusinessweek: Why Ukraine matters to so many other nations.

  3. Weekend Reads

    “The general idea, quite simply, is to don the most protective armor you can, tool up with something menacing, and bludgeon the sh*t out of your opponents. A modern-day Knight Club that demands stamina and might just do you harm, but promises cathartic release and glory.” Tim Chester provides a glimpse into the the violent, geeky world of international medieval combat.

    + “He’s 12 years old and in the sixth grade. He’s 4 feet 9, weighs barely more than 90 pounds, and wears midshin, multicolored socks and size 6 Nikes.” And he’s one of the most marketed basketball players in the country.

    + PBS Newshour: Why would someone eat 50 hot dogs?

  4. It’s (Still) Gotta Be the Shoes

    “In the 1980s, Air Jordan sneakers were so sought after that there were reports of teenagers being mugged for them in cities across America.” And they’re still huge.

    + LA Times: Michael Jordan earned more in 2013 than nearly any active athlete.

  5. Hollywood Reads

    I predict that this weekend’s Academy Awards will belong to a deserving Matthew McConaughey (who has made an incredible comeback from his days as a rich, famous, wildly attractive person.) Before his name is read, the Oscar envelope will have taken an interesting (and secretive) journey. And here are some details about how the Oscar statue is made.

    + LA Weekly: Who killed the Romantic Comedy? (Just in case you want to thank them…)

    + NYT: The Last, Disposable Action Hero. “Almost any actor, even some of Hollywood’s most scrawny, can be physically transformed for the part if he’s willing to put in the hard work. The studios know this, which is why any inexpensive unknown can be chosen.”

    + Do a billion people really watch the Oscars? Here’s the answer for my 100 million readers.

    + A reunion of the kids from Slumdog Millionaire.

    + Digg: The biggest losers in Oscar history and other things you didn’t know.

    + All 85 Best Picture Oscar winners, ranked.

  6. Religion’s Rebound?

    Before each Oklahoma City Thunder game, there “is a stadiumwide prayer of invocation that on most nights briefly turns a raucous sports event into something resembling a megachurch gathering.” (Except on those nights when a rabbi shows up.) From the NYT: Praying for the home team in Oklahoma City. Professional sports leagues have always done a great job at co-branding themselves with country and God.

    + “The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.” Yes, Paramount was strong-armed into making it clear that their Noah story is not the, um, real Noah story.

  7. Crack

    “I expect to smoke a lot less crack in 2014 than I did in 2013, but I’d be setting myself up for failure if I made abstinence a goal.” Slate’s Shane Schleger on fifteen years of smoking crack.

    + A call to arms on a Vermont heroin epidemic.

    + Newsweek: “What they are doing, consuming drugs, sometimes it doesn’t harm them as much, but those drugs carry many consequences. Maybe along the way they leave behind innocent deaths, maybe incarcerations. The road is full of injustice for, maybe, a brief moment of fun.” Private Morales doesn’t want to die for your sins.

  8. Class is in Session

    “In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?’

  9. Fighting Over Directions

    In California, you’re not allowed to use your cell phone while you’re driving. Unless you’re using it to look at a map.

    + Volvo wants your parked car to accept deliveries for you. (Good, because that walk from my couch to my front door was making the shopping experience a little too labor intensive.)

  10. The Bottom of the News

    Meet me at a small shack in a condo complex in Hawaii. We’re going to dine at America’s top rated restaurant. According to Yelp.

    + Syndicated from Kottke: Nice short video tour of the U.S. Naval Observatory with Dr. Demetrios Matsakis, Chief Scientist for USNO’s Time Services. Where does time come from?

    + The highest paid interns in Silicon Valley.

    + Photos: The Murmurations of Starlings.

    + And since it’s the weekend, here’s a guide to the fastest way to get drunk.