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What Democrats and Republicans believe. Plus, the best of the web.

A comparison of the party platforms. A rant against organic food. A quiz to tell you what kind of Pepperidge Farm cookie you are. A look at today's Nerf guns (this ain't the Super Soaker of your youth). And more. Enjoy!


Politics and World Affairs

How The Party Platforms Differ / Michael Cooper / The New York Times

The beliefs and policy proposals of each party, in their own words, side by side.




Are Entitlements Corrupting Us? Yes, American Character Is At Stake / Nicholas Eberstadt / The Wall Street Journal

"A half-century of unfettered expansion of entitlement outlays has completely inverted the priorities, structure and functions of federal administration as these were understood by all previous administrations." (via Maurice)




Are Entitlements Corrupting Us? No, Entitlements Are Part Of The Civic Compact / William Galston / The Wall Street Journal

"Since the Ford administration, both political parties have usually agreed on the proposition that people who work full-time, year-round, should not live in poverty, and neither should their families." (via Maurice)




Why I Had No Choice But To Spurn Tony Blair / Desmond Tutu / The Guardian

The Archbishop pens a letter. Scheduled to sit on a panel about leadership with Blair, he withdraws because of Blair's conduct on Iraq, writing, "leadership and morality are indivisible."




If You Think Obama's First Term Was Bad, Imagine A Second / Ramesh Ponnuru / Bloomberg

Argues that, contrary to President Obama's stated belief, Republican obstruction will be even greater and lead to even more gridlock should he win another term.




Arts and Culture

The Serious Eats Guide To Sandwiches / Jed Portman / Serious Eats

An amazing glossary of sandwiches. From the U.S.: the Dagwood, the Elvis, the Mother-in-Law. Abroad: the Arepa, the Banh Mi, the Chip Butty. Yum.

U.S. Guide

International Guide




I Ate Every Variety Of Pepperidge Farms Cookie / Leon Neyfakh / Slate

A very fun read. Includes a witty slideshow, and even a quiz to determine what kind of cookie you are...which correctly determined that I was a Chessmen kind of guy.




The Organic Fable / Roger Cohen / The New York Times

"Organic has long since become ... the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism... to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century."




Beyond The Matrix / Aleksandar Hemon / The New Yorker

The team behind "The Matrix" takes on "Cloud Atlas," one of my favorite novels, and one that seems unfilmable. The author's pleased, though, and so are the directors. Fingers crossed.





Business and Economics

How Nerf Became The World's Best Purveyor Of Big Guns For Kids / Jason Fagone / Wired

Forget the Super Soaker of your youth. Today's Nerf "blasters" (the company's term for guns) come with fully automatic firing, ammo drums, and more. Fascinating read.





Facebook Handled Their IPO Exactly Right / Mark Cuban / Blog Maverick

Cuban at his best, bluntly destroying the commentators who have criticized Facebook's CFO for botching its initial public offering.




The Economics Of Magazines And Diversity / Ta-Nehisi Coates / The Atlantic

Excellent context on why so few minorities make it onto the mastheads of major American publications.





The US Economy May Surprise Us All / Roger Altman / Financial Times

Five glimmers of hope — housing, energy, banking, competitiveness, and politics — that could bode well for our struggling economy.




Science and Technology

How Google Builds Its Maps — And What It Means For The Future Of Everything / Alexis Madrigal / The Atlantic

Great post: "The secret to this success isn't, as you might expect, Google's facility with data, but rather its willingness to commit humans to recombining and cleaning data about the physical world."




My Way / Christoph Niemann / The New York Times

Speaking of maps, these cartoons using maps to deliver jokes are witty and worth a quick scroll.




Lunch With The FT: Tim Berners-Lee / Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson / Financial Times

The low-key inventor of the World Wide Web takes the author to a food truck at MIT, then discusses why he kept the Web open, and why he won't say what he was typing during the Olympics opening ceremony.




How Children Succeed / Paul Tough / Slate

What several studies tell us about the relative importance of intelligence versus motivation in success. (via Bo)




Exactly How Screwed Is Paypal? (Hint: Very) / Sarah Lacy / PandoDaily

Its customer service is terrible, its main source of strength—its partnership with eBay—is becoming less relevant, and its founders are investing in new competitors.




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Science

Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how

What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?

Via Ridwell

Ryan Metzger and son Owen

There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?

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The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.

Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

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Little boy and his mom get surprised with tickets to Eagles game.

In today's world, it's easy to get caught up in all the negative news we're exposed to, but in reality, most good deeds are done away from a camera—just one person helping another without desire for fanfare. And for mom Bryanne McBride and her young son, Mason, that's exactly what they were doing when they got the surprise of a lifetime.

Bryanne was approached by a man in a parking lot asking for a dollar to catch the bus. The entire time, the mom scrounged around in her purse looking for spare change and revealed she felt bad because she thought she had some. Bryanne's desire to help was a simple act of kindness to another human in need without the expectation of something in return.

During the time it took for the unsuspecting mother to dig for loose change, the "stranded" stranger, Zach, introduced himself and asked if the duo were from Philly. Once they said they were from the area, he then inquired if they were Eagles fans...the football team, not the birds. "You ever been to an Eagles game?" Zach asked.

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via Tod Perry

An artist's recreation of Jackie's napkin note.

A woman named Jackie pulled a move straight out of a romantic comedy recently, and it has the internet rallying around her potential love interest. Jackie met a guy at a bar and liked him so much that she gave him her phone number. Well, 80% of her number, that is.

The world heard about it on January 17 when Twitter user Henpecked Hal shared a picture of the napkin with her partial phone number written on it. "My 22-year-old cousin met his dream girl at a bar and it's going pretty well,” Hal wrote in the tweet.

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Family

Two couples move in together with their kids to create one big, loving 'polyfamory'

They are using their unique family arrangement to help people better understand polyamory.

The Hartless and Rodgers families post together


Polyamory, a lifestyle where people have multiple romantic or sexual partners, is more prevalent in America than most people think. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, one in nine Americans have been in a polyamorous relationship, and one in six say they would like to try one.

However popular the idea is, polyamory is misunderstood by a large swath of the public and is often seen as deviant. However, those who practice it view polyamory as a healthy lifestyle with several benefits.

Taya Hartless, 28, and Alysia Rogers, 34, along with their husbands Sean, 46, and Tyler, 35, are in a polyamorous relationship and have no problem sharing their lifestyle with the public on social media. Even though they risk stigmatization for being open about their non-traditional relationships, they are sharing it with the world to make it a safer place for “poly” folks like themselves.

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Education

Woman without an internal monologue explains what it's like inside her head

“She's broken my mind. I don't even understand what I'm not understanding."

PA Struggles/Youtube

An estimated 50-70% of the population doesn't have an internal monologue.

The notion of living without an internal monologue is a fairly new one. Until psychologist Russell Hurlburt’s studies started coming out in the late 90s, it was widely accepted that everyone had a little voice narrating in their head. Now Hurlburt, who has been studying people's "inner experience" for 40 years, estimates that only 30-50% of the population frequently think this way.

So what about the other 50-70%? What exactly goes on inside their heads from day to day?

In a video interview originally posted in 2020, a woman named Kirsten Carlson gave some insight into this question, sharing how not having an inner dialogue affected her reading and writing, her interactions with others and how she navigates mental challenges like anxiety and depression. It was eye-opening and mind-blowing.
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Community

Native Siberian shares what daily life entails in the coldest village on Earth

See how the people of Yakutia, Siberia take showers, do laundry, go to school and more in minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

A man in the Yakutia region of Siberia takes an ice bath in minus 50 degrees Celsius.

For most of us, waking up to a temperature of minus 50 degrees would spell catastrophe. Normal life would come to a screeching halt, we'd be scrambling to deal with frozen pipes and power outages, school and work would be canceled and weather warnings would tell us not to venture outside due to frostbite risk.

But in the Yakutia region of Siberia, that's just an average winter day where life goes on as usual.

When you live in the coldest inhabited area on Earth, your entire life is arranged around dealing with ridiculously cold temperatures. Villages don't have running water because freezing pipes wouldn't allow for water treatment. Kids go to school unless the temp drops below minus 55 degrees Celsius (which is then considered dangerous). Showering involves spending hours stoking a fire in the bathhouse to create a steamy, warm room.

Native Siberian Kiun B. has created a series of documentary short films detailing what daily life is like in Yakutia's frigid winters. She was born and raised in Yakutsk, Siberia, widely recognized as the coldest city on Earth, where average winter temperatures hover around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. As seen in her videos, smaller villages in the Yakutia region regularly dip down into the negative 50s, with the lowest recorded temp in the Yakut village of Oymayakon reaching a mindblowing minus 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

The popularity of Kiun's YouTube channel demonstrates how curious people are about life in such harsh conditions, as her videos have been viewed by tens of millions of people in the past year alone.

Check out this video detailing a day in the life of a family in a Yakutia village.

Can you imagine going out to use an outhouse in minus 40 degrees? Oof.

Another of Kiun's videos goes into more detail about how people shower and do laundry in the region. You might assume they wouldn't line-dry their laundry outdoors, but they do.

Watch:

What do people wear to protect themselves from the negative temperatures? Frostbite is a real risk, so it's important to have the right kinds of clothing and outdoor gear to stay safe and relatively comfortable.

Kiun shared some frigid fashion norms from Yakutsk, which include traditional fur hats and boots as well as lots of layers and down jackets.

However, there are some Yakut folks who see the cold as something to embrace. For instance, this man takes an ice bath out in the elements as a morning ritual. It's something he has worked up to—definitely not something to try on your own during a cold snap—but it still has to be painful.

(Seriously, please don't try this at home.)

The way humans have learned to adapt to drastically different environments, from the sweltering tropics to the Arctic tundra, is incredible, and it's fascinating to get a close-up look at how people make life work in those extremes. Thank you, Kiun B., for giving us a glimpse of what it's like to experience life in the dead of winter in the world's coldest inhabited places.