Future college students might feel a little silly dressing up in togas and doing keg stands, all in the privacy of their own darkened childhood bedrooms (though that actually turns out to feel like a pretty natural way to compose a newsletter). But the college experience could be on the way to a dramatic change as courses shift from real classrooms to virtual ones. This spring, enrollment in Gregory Nagy's Greek literature class at Harvard exceeded thirty-one thousand students. What will online offerings from the big education brands mean for smaller schools? And what impact will online education have on the college experience, which, after all, is about more than coursework? As the New Yorker's Nathan Heller explains in Laptop U, clicking on Yale or Harvard isn't necessarily the same as going there: "Access to 'elite education' may be more about access to the elites than about access to the classroom teaching. Bill Clinton, a lower-middle-class kid out of Arkansas, might have received an equally distinguished education if he hadn’t gone to Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale, but he wouldn’t have been President." (True, but I bet Snapchat would've been around a lot sooner.)
2. Your Crappy T-Shirt Gets Ethical
H&M is the biggest purchaser of garments from Bangladesh. They along with other clothing giants like Zara "agreed on Monday to sign a far-reaching and legally binding plan that requires retailers to help finance fire safety and building improvements in the factories they use in Bangladesh." This could mean that you'll actually have to break out a fiver next time you score some kids' shorts at H&M, but it seems like it's worth it.
3. Don't Smoke Alone
The New Republic's Judith Shulevitz provides some very interesting insight into the lethality of loneliness: "Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking."
Several former employees have admitted that Bloomberg News reporters "were trained to use a function on the company’s financial data terminals that allowed them to view subscribers’ contact information and, in some cases, monitor login activity in order to advance news coverage." And someone at some company is probably monitoring your online activity too. If it's online, it's public.
This season, AMC's The Walking Dead outperformed every scripted show on television. Meanwhile, half the Internet is waiting for the new season of Arrested Development to drop as they discuss Don Draper's odd hotel etiquette and John Snow's romantic swordplay on Game of Thrones. All the action is on basic cable, pay cable, and the Internet. Can the old networks get back into the hit-making business?
+ Fox has a plan to bring back viewers. It's bringing back a hit show. Kiefer Sutherland has signed on to whisper his way through another explosive season of 24.
Over the past week, several readers have questioned my decision to link to stories that detailed the grim realities of the Cleveland kidnapping story. And the criticism is not without merit (I thought long and hard before deciding to include the links). Sasha Weiss examines our hunger for the obscene details: " I can’t help asking, for whom, and for what purpose, were these details publicized? Why do I need to know what I now know?" Damn good question.
8. That Dirt Ain't Dumb
A couple years ago, my friend Mera told me that probiotics and fermented foods would the be the big upcoming health stories. And she could not have been more accurate. Last year, I asked Mera which health and food story to watch out for in 2013. She answered with one word: Soil. From the NYT, I give you the hidden world under our feet. Take it from me (and mostly Mera), you'll want to start digging into this subject.
It was two years before anyone would hear of a site called YouTube, but Ghyslain Raza already knew what it was like to be the central figure in a massive Internet video meme. Ten years later, the Star Wars Kid speaks.