Today’s Custom News Hour: 11/5/15

Environment

Persian Gulf May Become Too Hot For Humans via CBS News

What you need to know: Regardless of whether you agree with the idea well-founded scientific consensus that humans have influenced climate change, it’s undeniable that global warming is happening. Proof: the Persian Gulf, home to desert countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar, is quickly becoming inhospitable even to people who’ve adapted over years to accommodate the extreme heat.

Why does this matter: There aren’t many places on Earth that are completely off-limits, outside of polar regions, African Sahara, and the Australian Outback. Expanding hot zones will put more pressure on other regions, both environmentally and politically, and will heighten the resource crunch that a booming population with dwindling arable land is likely to face. If nothing else, the prospect of a mass migration of Muslims should galvanize conservatives to invest more in sustainable solutions, as the brown wave seems the only future they fear (despite the fact that constant immigration has underpinned American society for…ever).

Greenland is Melting Away via New York Times

What you need to know: Holy new media, Batman! The New York Times’ interactive pieces, as this August 22 piece on Palestinian shantytowns illustrates, truly takes journalism into the modern day. This article is a deep dive (no pun intended) into the process of collecting scientific data to measure rising sea levels, and is complete with looping video, reactive zooming, and unique storytelling narratives. Though I can’t say I fully understand the science behind the story, it’s still enjoyable to learn about the trials and tribulations of remote field research and the complications that arise from accepting governmental grants.

Politics

What Began as a Get Together for Bernie Fans Has Become a Three-Week Dance Party Called Bernie Man” via The Stranger

What you need to know: “Local promoter/real estate broker Cody Morrison didn’t set out to create a massive series of political dance parties. A few weeks ago, he just thought he’d throw a little get-together where friends listen to records and chip in a few bucks to that yelling candidate with the fizzy hair. Cody started pulling together the event, friends RSVPed, then a few more people caught wind of it, and within a few days there were thousands of people interested in attending.”

Why is this important: Aside from the hilarious name, the concept of creating cultural experiences around politics is critical for engaging young, disinterested voters. I had a particularly exciting induction into campaign politics, since 2008 turned out to be a universal watershed moment. However, the stark difference from past campaigns motivated me to write my thesis, “Why Youth Don’t Vote,” which has now made me acutely aware of the ways media and culture disenfranchise young people.

The article doesn’t note that the event is occurring in Seattle, where Black Lives Matter protesters famously interrupted a Bernie rally to encourage him to address systemic racial inequality. His reply, publishing a thoughtful multi-pronged approach on his website, showed his commitment to taking citizens’ issues seriously, but was received with a mixed reception. Some said that his quick turnaround showed an effective call-and-response attitude emblematic of a true representative, and others said that it’s concerning that he didn’t already have such a platform. I’m still voting for him, but I’m curious as to see what happens during the rallies.

Business

#distrosnack via 500 Startups

What you need to know: #distrosnack is a short digest of growth-related articles and tips, curated by the 500 Startups team. As I’m learning, newsletters are surprisingly one of the most effective ways to parse the deluge of industry news. For example, in one recent #distrosnack, 500 partner Tristan Pollack summarizes the four key lessons e-commerce companies can learn from viral marketplaces like Silk Road, the notorious dark web hub for illicit activity. While my company is B2B (business to business), not B2C (business to consumer), there are always insights to be gleaned by evaluating existing functions through new perspectives.

Culture

Hip-Hop and the 1977 New York City Blackout via Columbia Journalism

What you need to know: The author posits that the 1977 NYC Blackout played a pivotal role in cultivating the East Coast hip-hop scene by expanding access of turntables and other electronics to aspiring DJs (through albeit questionable means). While a direct correlation can’t be confirmed, the notion that hip-hop as an art form gained traction from looting is both an ironic and deeply meaningful idea.

Notorious RGB via Tumblr

What you need to know: An entire Tumblr exists to exalt the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and now the authors have taken the next logical step and released a book. Although it’s hard to track back to the original posts prior to the book release, I recommend pursuing the Tumblr anyway as an opportunity to unearth an enormous amount of material about this inspirational and powerful woman.

“Marty Was Always My Best Friend”: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Love Story via Jezebel

What you need to know: Martin Ginsburg, RBG’s college sweetheart turned husband of nearly 60 years, passed away from cancer five years ago. This sweet tribute to their relationship, released in the aforementioned Notorious RBG book, is a behind-the-scenes story that probably will make you cry. Read at your own risk.

‘NPR Voice’ Has Taken Over the Airways via New York Times

What you need to know: “This American Life” host Ira Glass is responsible for one of the most popular and poignant radio shows on air today. Since radio relies entirely on vocal inflection and tone to communicate emotion, it would seem that Glass’ signature speech patterns would be one key to TAL’s success. Not so much, according to NYT’s Teddy Wayne, who argues that the tone in fact comes across as disingenuous. “How could I be deceiving you, the catch in the voice, the exposed seam in a sweater or the actor cracking up during an outtake asks, when I’m vulnerably baring my … flaws?”

Why is this important: It’s not, really, and the article doesn’t give much credence to the idea that maybe Glass (and other “colloquial” hosts) are onto something with this new type of speech. While it’s interesting to note the departure from traditional (often male-dominated) manners of speaking, journalists should be pushed to describe what consequence results from what they report. Otherwise, this click-bait just wasted one of my ten free NYT articles of the month (previous link re: this NYT editorial).
That being said, this clip makes the same case as Wayne, but in less than a minute, far more successfully, and actually funny even to an NPR fan. Fire, meet fire.