I wasn't too surprised that Mitt Romney performed well during the first presidential debate. He had a lot of practice during the primary season and had been hyper-focused on the first debate. Most pundits and all the insta-polls have confirmed that it was a big night for Romney. Like most observers, I was shocked by President Obama's overall lack of energy.
Regardless of one's politics, it was quite clear that only one guy really wanted to be on that stage last night. And I wonder whether this is an aberration or an ongoing trend. Last Spring, it still seemed like Obama was lacking his usual campaigning energy -- at the time, I even asked one campaign insider if his heart was really in it (she insisted it was). His much-anticipated convention speech was, at best, the third most effective one delivered during that event. And last night's performance was epically lackluster.
I wouldn't wish the job of president on my worst enemy. Whoever wins is in for domestic legislative gridlock, a likely worldwide recession, continuing tensions in the Middle East, and an increasingly partisan, hyperbolic, and invasive media. Is there a chance, at least on some level, that Obama just doesn't want it anymore? It may have just been an off night (and it's not clear that the debate will result in any major voting swings). Maybe he was sick. Maybe he was distracted by a major event or decision. Maybe Romney just knocked him back on his heels. But if you at least consider the possibility that Obama isn't all that fired up for this race, it adds an interesting layer of meaning to the line with which he opened the debate: "And so I just want to wish, Sweetie, you happy anniversary and let you know that a year from now we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people."
A lot of kids in New York City can't bring their cell phones to school. But leaving them at home seems inconceivable. Enter the phone truck. Students leave their phones in a truck that's parked around the corner where enterprising entrepreneurs charge a buck a day to hold it.
+ The absence of cell phones might help students academically ... and socially. A recent study suggests it's harder to connect with a new friend when there's a cell phone visible. (Of course, with a phone nearby, who really needs a new friend?)
3. I Am Bald Spot, Hear Me Roar
According to a new study out of Wharton, "men with shaved heads are perceived to be more masculine, dominant and, in some cases, to have greater leadership potential than those with longer locks or with thinning hair." In part, it might just be that shaving one's head beats the combover. According to Seth Godin: "These are people who decide to own what they have." (That's, in large part, why I never wear pants.)
4. The Billion Club
Facebook has become the first social network to have more than a billion customers. Let's take a break from the IPO bashing to marvel at that achievement. It's incredible that they can keep the site snappy under that kind of load.
+ Syndicated from Kottke.org - Coca Cola, McDonald's, and... Facebook: Facebook recently went over a billion users served. In an interview with Businessweek, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned a conversation he had with Facebook board member Marc Andreessen, where Andreessen mentioned the likely only other companies with a billion users are Coca Cola and McDonald's. What does it feel like to have a billion users? Read the answer and more in Jason Kottke's interesting post.
+ MIT researchers have designed a jacket that strangles ... uh I mean hugs ... you every time you get a "like" on Facebook.
5. Unleashing the Savant Within
There have been several cases in which a severe head trauma resulted in people instantly developing incredible abilities in art, music or memory. Is it possible to tap that inner-savant without the head injury? The Telegraph's William Langley wonders: Is there a savant inside all of us? (Related: I currently have 76 browser tabs open.)
6. What's in a Name?
Hey, who decided that the Weather Channel gets to choose the names of all future winter storms, including hurricanes? Well, the Weather Channel did.
7. Easy Rests the Head That Wears 3 Crowns
Miguel Cabrera just won baseball's triple crown (meaning he led his league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs). How big a deal is that? The last person to do it was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
+ Here are some cool photos from San Francisco's Coronet Theater during the opening weekend of Star Wars in 1977. No other theater within 50 miles was showing the movie.
9. You've (Usually) Got Baggage
In a single month last summer, 53 million passengers took domestic flights. A third of one percent of those people reported a mishandled piece of luggage. We like to complain about air travel, but that's a pretty impressive stat. According to one pilot: "This success is largely due to the humdrum baggage tag. That random sticky strip you rip off your suitcase when you get home? It’s actually a masterpiece of design and engineering."
10. The Bottom of the News
A Windows tech support scammer called someone on the phone. Not much new or interesting in that. But this time, he happened to call a tech blogger from Ars Technica.
+ The Canadian police are in hot(cake) pursuit of thieves who nabbed $30 million in Maple Syrup. And they're getting closer.