|Pat's Picks are the stories we've picked from the Story Stack as our top recommendations for the day.|
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Friday, 28 February 2014 9:32 AM
The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.
The term global warming may seem like a joke to many people in the U.S. this winter, but as the Chicago Tribune points out, the average global temperature in January was the fourth highest since record keeping began in the 1880s. While many of us were dealing with bitter cold, parts of South America and Africa were hit with record warmth. One climate scientist explains that global warming is a symptom of climate change but it’s not the symptom most of us see. She describes the symptom we see as “weather weirding.”
Researchers have long held that breast-fed babies have an academic edge over their formula-fed peers. But a new study from Brigham Young University says it’s not the breast milk that is behind that advantage. Mothers who breast feed were found to be more likely to read to their children and to respond to their emotional cues. Those techniques, the researchers say, can lead to a 2 to 3 month cognitive development boost by the time the child is 4 years old.
The Los Angeles Times has a front page story about the chauffeurs who get Hollywood’s elite to the Academy Awards. It’s a complicated effort as more than a thousand limos and SUVs must make their way through heavy security to get the stars to the show. So where do all those cars go during the show? The Hollywood Bowl, where one driver says they feed everyone; one burger, one fry, one soda.
Targeted ads are big business for Facebook. But what happens when ads reach people they’re not intended for? The Wall Street Journal says younger Facebook users are sometimes being exposed to ads that are not age appropriate. Facebook says it removes inappropriate ads when notified about them, but the Journal says that with more than a billion users and more than a million advertisers, policing Facebook is no easy task.
The San Francisco Chronicle says Tesla Motors is looking to power more than just cars. The upstart company wants to build batteries capable of powering homes or businesses. Tesla executives believe the company can become a leader in low-cost energy storage.
Basketball announcers love to talk about this - a player makes a few shots in a row so he’s got “a hot hand.” But is there really such a thing? The Wall Street Journal says most academics dismiss the idea as people mistakenly seeing patterns in randomness. But the Journal says new research finds the popular notion of a hot hand may have been right all along.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Thursday, 27 February 2014 9:51 AM
The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.
The Arizona Republic says some state lawmakers were surprised about the national firestorm surrounding Senate Bill 1062, vetoed Wednesday by Governor Jan Brewer. It would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian patrons on religious grounds. Last year, a nearly identical piece of legislation passed through the state legislature with little fanfare before it was vetoed by Brewer. Among the differences this year, a rapidly changing gay rights landscape and fewer distractions at the statehouse.
Sarah Jessica Parker attracted attention for the wrong reasons when she launched a shoe line with Nordstrom. She had distractingly visible spider veins in her strappy green shoes. A podiatrist offers some advice on how she could have minimized the blue lines when her feet were so prominently on display.
Food nutrition labels are getting their first makeover in 20 years, with a new emphasis on calories and sugar content. The Washington Post says the change is likely to have a dramatic effect on what products people choose to eat and drink. Major changes include the calorie count in a larger font and more realistic serving sizes.
Boeing is getting into the high-security smartphone business. The Wall Street Journal says the aerospace company has filed plans with the FCC for a secure smartphone aimed at defense and security customers. Boeing plans to keep many of the details about the phone secret, but it does say the phone is equipped with a self-destruct feature that will be activated if anyone tries to tamper with it.
The San Francisco Chronicle says Oakland Police are increasingly turning to Twitter and other social media tools to fight crime. The platforms allow the police to quickly push out descriptions of suspects wanted for crimes. One police captain says in the past, it would have been days or weeks before the department would broadcast that information to the public.
Don’t believe that guilty look. The dog who just ate your steak feels no shame. Behaviorists say the cowered head and droopy eyes your dog shows you when you scold him are really just a reaction to the tantrum you’re throwing. But these scientific findings haven’t put a damper on dog shaming memes such as dogshaming.com and shameyourpet.com.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Wednesday, 26 February 2014 9:17 AM
The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.
It’s a great day for baseball fans, no doubt. And many take the day off or skip out of work early. But should it be a federal holiday? The Washington Post says there’s a movement afoot to have Congress declare baseball’s opening day as a federal holiday. Mind you, we can’t even get Congress to declare Election Day a holiday. If I’m going to get an extra holiday, why would I want a random day in spring and not a nice long weekend in August?
Get ready for another gold rush. The San Francisco Chronicle has the story of a couple who dug up $10 million worth of gold coins in their own backyard. The perfectly preserved $20 coins dated back to the 1890s. The couple is keeping their identity (and location) secret so as not to attract treasure hunters. The coins will soon go up for auction.
New York Times Dining columnist Frank Bruni asks a great question about tastes. Are there foods we don’t like the taste of, or do we just not like the taste of them yet? Just as a child’s tastes broaden with age, so to do ours, Bruni argues. So while he may have sworn off oysters as a young man, he says now at age 49, he could eat them all day.
Do you remember what you got on your SATs? If you’re looking for a job, you may want to track down your scores. The Wall Street Journal says plenty of companies ask prospective employees what their SAT scores were, even if the candidate has been out of high school for decades. A low score doesn’t kill your chances of getting a job, but some firms do have target scores, especially on the math section.
It’s one of the worst parts of office life for many, the conference call. The Wall Street Journal says conference calls are rife with abuses, from the interrupter to the person who zones out to the one who forgets to hit mute as they take care of their kids. The Journal has some tips from experts on improving conference calls, from setting a firm agenda to encouraging all participants to speak up by asking questions and listening more.
A special commission has determined that having the Olympics in Boston is feasible, but the city would face challenges finding space for an 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium and a 100-acre athlete village. The Boston Globe obtained a copy of the report that finds Boston should set up a non-profit group to continue to explore the possibility of putting together a bid for the 2024 games.
The Dallas Morning News has a feature on the road to recovery faced by police officers shot in the line of duty. Many that return to the force struggle with their new roles as they are usually confined to desk duty. Those who do return to the street find moments of doubt, especially during high-pressure situations.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 8:48 AM
The Boston Globe details a new Harvard University study that finds riding commuter trains with people of different ethnic backgrounds can change people’s attitudes about immigration. Researchers found prolonged contact with people of different ethnic backgrounds initially led to stronger anti-immigrant attitudes. After a little more than a week, those anti-immigrant feelings began to soften. Researchers say the commuter train was an ideal testing ground since it offered a chance to run their experiment in a real-world setting.
Walt Disney World got a head start raising ticket prices this year. A one-day pass to the Magic Kingdom is now $99. That’s up 5 percent from last year - and up 60 percent from 2005. The Orlando Sentinel suspects Disney may be raising prices ahead of the opening of the new Harry Potter-themed land at Universal Orlando. Increasing prices now could allow Disney to raise them again before the summer rush.
The Chicago Tribune calls Harold Ramis the most successful comedy writer-director the city has ever produced, and perhaps the greatest of all time. The man behind Caddyshack, Animal House, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and many more died of a rare autoimmune disease at the age of 69. Reporter Mark Caro says Ramis’ combination of smart and gut-bustingly funny films inspired many of today’s best comedy directors.
The Wall Street Journal says most people don’t think about their sense of balance until they fall. Although most people don’t have balance issues until their 50s, doctors say doing some exercises in your 30s and 40s can keep you steadier as you get older. One issue many people face is that as they age and their balance worsens, they become more sedentary because they fear falling. That compounds the problem of their poor balance.
The Washington Post breaks down the physiological differences that affect the performance of male and female athletes. Men have a greater percentage of lean muscle which leads to more power, giving a man the advantage in sprinting, jumping and lifting sports. Women have more flexibility, leading to better performance in sports such as gymnastics and figure skating.
The Denver Post says state troopers are getting more training on how to spot drivers impaired by marijuana. Troopers say stoned drivers can be harder to spot than drunk drivers. One instructor says some topics still need to be studied, like the nature of different strains of marijuana and the effects of different drug combinations.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Monday, 24 February 2014 8:12 AM
In a sign of the times, the Moviefone line, 777-FILM will soon go silent. The New York Times says the company is shutting down the once-popular phone line and shifting resources to its App. At its peak in the mid-1990s, Moviefone received more than 3 million calls a week. It was so popular, it was even lampooned on an episode of Seinfeld. VIDEO
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel says hundreds of sharks and other tagged fish are gathering data on temperatures and salinity in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Researchers hope this data could one day help improve hurricane forecasts since a storm’s strength depends largely on how much warm water it will come across. Scientists realized the fish stay in water that’s about 79 degrees, the minimum temperature required for tropical systems to develop. That could give forecasters an early warning that a system is in the making.
The Wall Street Journal says now that the Olympics are over, there is a question of what to do with all the ski lifts built for the games. More than 50 chair lifts and gondolas were built for the games, 20 more than in all of Vail, Colorado. Sochi was unique in that it wasn’t already a ski resort with all the infrastructure in place. In contrast, Vancouver didn’t build a single lift for the 2010 games.
USA Today’s Robert Bianco says NBC nailed its Olympic coverage by offering live coverage during the day for those who wanted to see it all and the usual, tape-delayed coverage in prime time for those who wanted only the highlights. He says NBC should make a few tweaks to improve for the next Olympics, including keeping Bob Costas healthy and moving skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir to prime time.
The New York Daily News says Alec Baldwin is once again threatening to leave New York. In a New York Magazine cover story, the “30 Rock” star says the paparazzi have made it impossible to raise a family in the city. Baldwin says he now craves the privacy of Los Angeles. He also railed against MSNBC, which dropped his talk show after he allegedly used an anti-gay slur on a photographer.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Friday, 21 February 2014 9:47 AM
The New York Daily News says David Letterman is trying to book his now former rival, Jay Leno, to appear on “The Late Show.” Letterman wants a ratings boost as he tries to keep up with Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show.” A source tells the Daily News, Leno and Letterman recently had a 20-minute chat to smooth over any hard feelings from when Leno inherited “The Tonight Show” from Johnny Carson.
Should you ever come across an Olympic curler - don’t ask if they’re good at sweeping the floor. The New York Times asks Olympians about some of the inane questions they face. Bobsled drivers would like you to know that they, in fact, are driving the sled and yes, they have seen Cool Runnings.
After a disappointing showing by U.S. speedskaters at the Winter Olympics, speculation grew that the new Under Armour suits they were wearing was to blame. But in USA Today, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank says the suit was the scapegoat. He says he’s so confident in his company, he’s announcing plans to sponsor the U.S. speedskating team through 2022.
Every big murder case has a few amateur sleuths, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Dave Sale is different. The rock musician’s obsession with a 1990 murder case has actually granted him with access to court documents, and his knowledge of the details has lent him an air of authority in the case. After he suggested a key piece of evidence was planted, a judge and an appeals court eventually agreed, tossing the evidence from the case.
If you’re a Trekkie, a farmer or maybe just someone who doesn’t tolerate gluten, there’s a dating site for you. The Kansas City Star says there are now hundreds of dating websites that narrow your field significantly. Reporter Rick Montgomery says niche dating sites can be practical, pointing out that a job like goat farming could be a deal breaker for many people, so why bother casting a wide net.
When characters from the movie Frozen were sent to Disneyland and Disney World, they were only supposed to stay long enough to promote the November 10th opening of the film. But they’ve since become such a huge attraction, Disney has extended their stays indefinitely. The Orange County Register says kids regularly wait 2 hours for a chance to meet Elsa, twice as long as the average wait for other princesses. One mother pointed out, the wait is longer than the movie.
If you’ve seen “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” you may want to see it again. The New York Times says the film is being rereleased with 763 new, raunchier jokes. Director Adam McKay says the editing process is so quick these days, he realized he could replace nearly all the jokes in the original film with bits that had been left behind in the editing process.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Thursday, 20 February 2014 9:25 AM
The Cincinnati Enquirer says researchers are looking into whether boosting the volume of blood in the brain may help avoid concussions. More blood means the brain more completely fills the skull, reducing the area the brain has to bounce around in the event of a blow to the head. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital are testing a device to boost the amount of blood in the brain to what you’d find in someone who was been lying down for 8 hours.
After a miserable winter for air travelers, researchers are renewing efforts to figure out ways to economically heat runways or develop pavement that resists freezing. The Wall Street Journal says it’s an idea that’s been around since the 1970s. Airports can’t use salt because it corrodes the planes and snow clearing operations take too much time.
The San Jose Mercury News says Facebook’s $19 billion deal to acquire mobile-messaging service WhatsApp sets a record for Silicon Valley. The deal took just 10 days to complete. While the price tag seems astronomical, the Mercury News points out WhatsApp already has double the user base of Twitter.
The Los Angeles Times says homeowners are once again borrowing against their homes, despite the costly lessons of the housing market collapse. Bank of America saw its home equity business surge 75% nationwide last year compared with 2012. The difference this time around is applicants who are getting approved have high credit scores, ample savings and equity in their homes.
In the New York Times, Steven Kurutz examines several new devices that he says are aiming to glamorize home security. Canary and Piper offer an array of features, including video, audio, temperature and motion sensing - all accessible through your smart phone. One of the creators of Piper says it gives homeowners and apartment dwellers peace of mind. But one expert says the devices could undermine trust in family relationships.
USA Today has a profile of Pharrell Williams. He’s coming off a huge year with his hits like Blurred Lines and Get Lucky. His song Happy from Despicable Me 2 is up for an Oscar. USA Today calls him the music industry’s “most impressive multi-hyphenate: rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, drummer, fashion designer, philanthropist. And hat enthusiast.” He says he’s happy to be part of a movement of music that is pushing feel-good themes.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Friday, 14 February 2014 9:11 AM
With the addition this year of team figure skating and a luge relay, New York Times columnist Christopher Clarey asks if we have too many sports in the Winter Olympics. He says it doesn’t appear the games are done growing either. Most of the new sports are different takes on old sports, like mixed biathlon, where you don’t need a new venue and you only need the approval of the International Olympic Committee’s board to gain acceptance.
With American speedskaters struggling in Sochi, the Wall Street Journal says team officials have identified a possible culprit: New, high-tech racing suits manufactured by Under Armour. Vents on the back of the suit designed to allow heat to escape are also allowing air in, creating drag. Under Armour says the suits were wind tunnel tested and designed by Lockheed Martin engineers.
Ladies, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get any flowers today. The massive snowstorm that slammed the East Coast has made a mess of the Valentine’s Day flower delivery schedule. Florists are having trouble making deliveries. And some distributors haven’t even been able to get flowers to the florists. The Washington Post suggests we call it Valentine’s Weekend.
Researchers at UC Berkeley say they’ve uncovered the keys to a long marriage. While it’s no surprise that couples who are better at resolving conflicts stay together, researchers also found that certain genetic markings may predict marital success. The San Francisco Chronicle says the study found that people with a certain gene variant experienced greater highs and lows in marriage than those without the variant.
The Dallas Morning News says local sports anchor Dale Hansen is surprised at all the attention he’s received since his on-air segment in support of Michael Sam, the University of Missouri player who came out as gay prior to the NFL draft. Hansen has been asked to appear on several national television shows. He’s received more than one thousand emails - and more than a dozen phone messages, and he says no one leaves those anymore. VIDEO
Progressive Insurance is testing a device that tracks a policy holder’s location. Drivers who stay close to home or avoid travel during the times of day when there are more accidents would be eligible for discounts. The company says it’s aware of privacy issues and it won’t share information unless ordered by a court.
The Detroit Free Press says the Great Lakes are 88% covered by ice. That’s close to the record of 95% set in 1979. The ice cover has some interesting effects, like eliminating lake-effect snow, making it sunnier in parts of Michigan and limiting evaporation. It could also delay the spring warm up which would keep certain crops dormant longer, helping farmers avoid a damaging spring frost.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Thursday, 13 February 2014 7:36 AM
The Winter Games in Sochi are becoming known for their balmy temperatures. The Wall Street Journal puts it in perspective with a chart comparing the temperatures in Sochi to the temperatures during recent Winter Olympics. While the outdoor events are held outside of Sochi at elevation where it’s colder, athletes have still complained about the conditions.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has a profile of Carl Fantauzzo, a 40-year-old liquor store owner who hopes to become an American Ninja Warrior. After five seasons of the NBC competition show, no one has completed the entire course to earn the title. Fantauzzo has turned his home into a training center, with iron pipes to swing on, platforms to jump on and rock climbing holds over the basement staircase.
The Boston Globe says gun buybacks, a staple of urban crime fighting, may not be all that successful. Experts say there’s no evidence that they reduce crime. And they rarely net the guns most likely to be used in crimes. Some experts suggest the programs are mostly about public relations.
The New York Times’ Bob Tedeschi says LED bulbs have come a long way in a short time. Now that incandescent bulbs are no longer being made, LED bulbs are improving rapidly. Tedeschi says if you haven’t made the switch, your patience (or laziness) will be rewarded by bulbs that are cheaper and emit much more pleasing light than early LED offerings.
The New York Times says a new trend is emerging on the red carpet. Stars are opting for a more natural look when it comes to showing off their breasts. Instead of the traditional cleavage look, women are choosing plunging necklines that show off the sides of the breasts. Plastic surgeons say they’re noticing the trend too - as more women ask for a more natural, teardrop shape.
A new app is getting a lot of attention for promising to take your prose and give it the Ernest Hemingway treatment. San Francisco Chronicle business reporter Caleb Garling tried out Hemingway App. It’s designed to flag adverbs, unclear sentences and use of the passive voice. He says for those purposes, it will likely help writers. But Garling says part of the beauty of Hemingway is his tone and cadence. The app has a long way to go before being able to replicate those attributes. For the record, this entry got a score of 8 out of 10.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Wednesday, 12 February 2014 8:13 AM
It’s a tradition that seems to go back generations. At the first hint of snow, we rush out to the grocery store. What do we buy? Bread and milk. Kelly Kazek of the Birmingham News explores several theories as to why these are our go-to items. One theory is that bread and milk are symbolic - as old as life itself. One psychologist suspects buying perishable items before a storm is our way of exhibiting control over an uncontrollable situation. VIDEO
I’m not sure how he finds time for all this, but the Wall Street Journal says Ryan Seacrest is launching his own clothing line. And while Seacrest is not the first celebrity to put his name on a clothing line, there is something unique about his. It features a color matching system to help guys match their shirts, ties and pants. Macy’s is rolling it out in 150 stores in time for the fall.
Virgin America is offering passengers a way to connect with each other “on the fly.” The San Francisco Chronicle says the airline is rolling out a dedicated LinkedIn Network that will allow passengers to interact with other passengers during the flight. Virgin already has introduced seat-to-seat texting and a “flirting” feature that allows you to send drinks to another passenger.
The 1929 Ford Tri Motor known as the Tin Goose was the first commercial passenger airliner, and the first plane to be made of metal. And if you’re in Miami, you can actually take a ride in it. The Miami Herald says the 15 minute flights will help pay for the plane’s upkeep. Rides cost $70 in advance and $75 at the gate.
New York Times dining columnist Jennifer Steinhauer explores the highly personal nature of the chili recipe. She calls chili tastes the political party of culinary offerings - “highly personal, often inflexible and loaded with preconceptions.” If you’re looking for a contest-winning chili, you’ll need to use beef. The CEO of the International Chili Society says they’ve never had a winner in 47 years of cook-offs that used any other meat.
If you’re hoping to have a nice, romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, the Las Vegas Review-Journal says there are plenty of menu items you’ll want to avoid. Steer clear of any finger foods, especially messy ones like ribs. Avoid spinach or any greens that can get stuck in your teeth. And don’t mess with seafood that requires you to crack a shell. Pass up anything that can make you bloated or gassy afterward.
Yuengling, the 185-year-old Pennsylvania brewery, is once again producing ice cream. The New York Daily News says the company began making ice cream during prohibition. It’s back after a 30-year absence. There aren’t any beer flavors, though the black and tan flavor is a nod to the company’s brewing heritage.
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