Good morning, and welcome back to the Weekender. Our weekend journey is just now starting, so thank you for choosing us for your travels. As you may recall, this was the 44th week of the year 2014 on the planet known colloquially as Earth, otherwise known as Terra in other inhabited star systems. It was not a quiet week, as you might imagine. Below you'll find your itinerary, carefully crafted for your pleasure; stories from the week passed and recommendations for the days ahead. Now. Please sit back and relax as we take you on a journey through time and space. You might hear a slight buzzing in your ears as we get started.
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles hosts one of the biggest Day of the Dead festivals in the country, featuring Aztec ritual dancers, musical acts, and thousands of people dressed as Calacas, or skeletons. The entire event allows for the authentic celebration of the Mexican holiday meant to honor dead ancestors and loved ones. This is the 15th year for the annual event, so it's going to be big. The event starts Saturday at noon and runs until midnight.
Frankenstein Castle is a fairly appropriate destination for adventurous global travelers. Said to have inspired Mary Shelley's classic Gothic novel, the location, situated on a hilltop in Odenwald, positively drips with popular lore and legends. There's even one about a dragon that lived there. Of course, if you go these days you can always visit the restaurant.
How come there's still no good option for long-term male birth control? As he debates getting a vasectomy, Ben Popper investigates the history of birth control for men, the progress that researchers have made, and why bringing an option to market seems to perpetually be five years away.
Every big tech company is getting into health this year, and this week, Microsoft finally laid out its plan: a fitness band that's supposed to be accurate, powerful, and work for almost anyone. We spoke with Microsoft about how it intends to turn a single band into an entire health ecosystem.
Famed architect Frank Gehry's latest creation opened to the public of Paris on Monday, and we were there to witness the celebration. The new building is absolutely stunning to witness, but Gehry is still facing critics who feel that it's little more than distracting spectacle.
NFL coaches and fans want all the stats they can get, and Zebra Technologies wants to give it to them. Zebra is working on wiring every field in the league with tracking technology that'll collect speed, acceleration, and distance data from players. And that's just how it intends to get started.
Tech companies are all trying to change the way you pay, but a new product called Poynt would rather change what accepts your payments: it's a card reader that's way better than anything you've used before — and it might just let you pay any way you'd like.
New York Magazine
Adrian Chen attends a birthday event for 8chan, currently the base of operations for Gamergate, at a strip club in Long Island City, New York.
Inside the club, the 8channers sat around tables eating cake under elaborate rotating chandeliers. They traded the kind of rationalist locker room banter familiar to anyone who has spent much time browsing geek message boards, the dankest murmurations of the male id dressed up as pure logic. Dieter and Raj were deep in conversation about the nature of sexual attraction. Dieter believed it was an uncontrollable force of nature. He posited that it was only natural for a man to find women of one race more attractive than another. "It’s not racist," he said. "I think evolutionary psychology plays into what you find attractive. It’s not up to you; it’s up to your dick. Your dick choses."
The New York Times
Gideon Lewis-Kraus profiles Christopher Nolan in the run-up to the release of Interstellar.
That his films manage to be both mainstream blockbusters and objects of such cult appeal is what makes Nolan a singular, and singularly admired, figure in Hollywood. He is commonly found sharing discriminating sentences of praise with James Cameron on the one hand and Paul Thomas Anderson on the other; he has been anointed, without any apparent campaigning on his own behalf, the successor of both Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. His loyalists have consistently and strenuously defended him against critics who claim that although he may be a masterful technician, he’s not a visionary or true auteur. Regardless of the visionary question, however, it’s pretty much impossible to think of a film that grossed more than a billion dollars and is better than "The Dark Knight" — or, to think of it in the way that Nolan prefers, a better film that was seen, so many times over, by so many people.
Susan Crawford breaks down how "terminating monopolies" like Comcast and Verizon crush rivals by charging for access to data.
Today, we have communications giants who see no need to adhere to traditional Internet niceties. Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable are now powerful enough that they can demand that they be paid for connecting with other networks. Their power comes from their huge numbers of subscribers; other networks need Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon more than these eyeball networks need them. If the eyeball networks aren’t paid, they will refuse to upgrade the doors between their eyeballs and the network seeking to connect. If that upgrade doesn’t happen but the eyeballs keep asking for more and more data — because, say, they want to watch movies online from Netflix — packets get dropped. And if packets get dropped, hourglasses spin and screens freeze.
Ashley Feinberg delves deep into the history of the troll.
Purportedly, the actual use of the term "troll" dates back to the 80s, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first instance of the term "troll" being used in an online capacity happened on December 14th, 1992 in the usenet group alt.folklore.urban, when someone wrote "Maybe after I post it, we could go trolling some more and see what happens."
Olga Khazan investigates the unprecedented heroin crisis in rural America.
More recently, heroin has taken root here after authorities cracked down on unscrupulous doctors who were overprescribing pain meds, sending addicts searching elsewhere for a similar high. In West Virginia, heroin-overdose deaths have tripled over the past five years, while prescription-painkiller deaths have dipped slightly. There were many contributing factors, not the least of which were personal decisions by the addicts themselves, but it’s clear that pharmaceutical companies, negligent doctors, and even the law-enforcement backlash have all played a role.
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After spending the better part of 2014 celebrating the 20th anniversary of Illmatic, Nas is ready to start ramping up the release of a new album. With that comes his latest single, "The Season," a laid-back little number featuring a classic soul beat from the late, great J Dilla.
This being Halloween weekend, we thought hard about including a classic like "Thriller" to the mix. But instead we landed on OutKast's slightly more sensuous "Dracula's Wedding." Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is a landmark album for a whole host of reasons, and the creativity that brought this track into existence is just one of them.
Sunset Overdrive gives us what might just be the most fun post-apocalyptic game we've played in some time. That's mainly because it's bright and exuberant — basically Tony Hawk meets Dead Rising drenched in Red Bull. The game is fast-paced and completely ridiculous, letting you cause about as much mayhem as you want. Basically, you need to pick up this game as soon as possible.
Who doesn't love Joss Whedon? While his next big feature will be Avengers: Age of Ultron, since it's now the Day of the Dead you can and should watch the brilliant and subversive The Cabin in the Woods. Starring a group of sexy young adults that happens to include Thor himself, the movie pokes loving fun at old-school slasher movies like Friday the 13th and The Evil Dead. If you've never seen this, you need to watch it on Netflix.