National News

Snapchat's secret to success

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-23 02:00

Snapchat just might become the world’s third most highly valued start-up, coming up behind Xiaomi and Uber. News broke last week that the instant messaging service, whose content disappears within seconds, is seeking a valuation that could go up to $19 billion.

What makes Snapchat worth that much money? For one, it just launched a new feature called Discover. It’s made up of several channels, via which Vice, CNN, National Geographic and others will broadcast content according to deals they signed with Snaphat.

“They all want to reach Snapchat users who are young, they are millennials, they are the cool kids,” says Will Oremus, a senior tech writer at Slate, who has written about how the app often confuses him.

“We are confounded by snapchat, the little buttons don't make any sense,” he says.

A self-proclaimed “oldster,” Oremus, 32, says he is 148 in “Snapchat years.” And this, he thinks, is at the heart of Snapchat’s success. It appeals to teenagers and millennials because older people don’t use it. And they don’t use it because it’s confusing, according to Oremus.

Take Facebook, for instance. When it first launched, Oremus says, it was popular among college-going kids because it took some time to figure out and it was largely used by youngsters. Using Facebook effortlessly, and constantly sharing on it, was part of a secret knowledge they shared. But soon people of all ages started using Facebook. Today, Facebook, according to Oremus, is for “the uncool kids and, more than that, for the uncool parents.”

Oremus says this is similar to a theory put forward by venture capitalist Andrew Parker in his blog. In that post, Parker talks about “the secret knowledge culture of gaming,” and how each game came with its own set of cheat codes, passwords and “hidden artifacts.” He writes that this turned the “secret knowledge” into a “shared experience.”

“Snapchat, in its way, is about secret knowledge, too,” says Oremus. “It’s cool because the parents can’t figure it out. The way the kids figure out is they show each other. That’s what makes it fun.”

 

The statistics behind those Oscar acceptance speeches

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-23 01:30
1.68 million black men

During his Oscar acceptance speech, John Legend stated, "We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850." Vox looked into the numbers behind the statement, finding that 1.68 million black men are currently under correctional control, not including those who are in jail serving short sentences or are awaiting trial. That's more than the 872,924 black men who were enslaved in 1850. While the growth in overall population in the U.S. makes the statistic slightly misleading, Vox points to other equally alarming studies on how incarceration affects the lives of black men.

80 cents

Speaking of the Oscars, Best Actress in a Supporting Role winner Patricia Arquette used her acceptance speech to call for equal rights and pay for women. As Fusion reports, she has a point. Women still only made 80 cents to a man's dollar in 2014 — a slight improvement over previous years that's credited to the recession hitting men harder.

$14.5 billion

That's the value of the deal in which Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. will pay $10.1 billion for Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. As reported by Bloomberg, Salix is soon expected to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea.

$19,483,430

That's how much Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has raised for his re-election campaign thus far. That's four times the amount raised by his opponents (see chart below). Like any election, it helps to know rich people. And as some are pointing out, this new electing funding structure may be no better than the old, infamously-corrupt Chicago political machine.

 

179 apps

That's how many Android apps ask for only access to users' network connectivity and access to the power data, meaning no GPS information is provided. But that doesn't mean these apps can't figure out where you are. New research shows that location can be determined by how your phone is using power — the further away a signal, the harder the phone has to work. As reported by the BBC, even though activities like listening to music and using social media also contribute to battery loss, the researchers were able to create an algorithm that discounted these factors.

 

How We Talk About Our Teachers

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-23 01:02

The words college students use to describe their professors say a lot about how men and women are judged differently.

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Lots Of Seniors Are Overweight, But Few Use Free Counseling

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-23 00:24

A little-known part of the Affordable Care Act pays primary care doctors to help overweight seniors lose weight. So why aren't more seniors taking advantage of the free weight loss counseling?

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Brutal ISIS Tactics Create New Levels Of Trauma Among Iraqis

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-23 00:23

The self-styled Islamic State has made a practice of public beheading and other horrific acts of violence. It's taking a huge toll on Iraqis, only a fraction of whom are getting the help they need.

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For TSA Officers, Congress' Inaction On Funding Could Hit Home

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-23 00:22

If Congress doesn't fund the Department of Homeland Security this week, most DHS employees will likely be ordered to stay on the job — and make do without a paycheck until funding is restored.

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Immigration Courts 'Operating In Crisis Mode,' Judges Say

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-23 00:21

The nation's immigration courts are jammed with the asylum cases of some 60,000 unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border last summer. There are 429,000 cases pending and only 223 judges.

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When Kids Think Parents Play Favorites, It Can Spell Trouble

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-23 00:20

When children think they're being slighted, it can lead to risky behavior as teenagers, a study finds. Having warm, respectful relationships helps counteract the "You always liked her best!"

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Kids, Allergies And A Possible Downside To Squeaky Clean Dishes

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 20:41

Swedish kids growing up in families who wash their dishes by hand seem less likely than families with dishwashers to develop certain allergies, one study suggests. But there may be more to it.

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'Birdman' Wins Big On A Soggy Night At The Oscars

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 20:39

Sunday night's Oscars brought expected wins for actors like Julianne Moore and J.K. Simmons, and big awards for the quirky showbiz satire Birdman.

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2015 Oscar For Best Picture Goes To 'Birdman'

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 20:07

At the 87th Annual Academy Awards, Julianne Moore won best actress for her work in Still Alice, and Eddie Redmayne won best actor for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

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New Defense Secretary Makes Unannounced Trip To Afghanistan

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 13:14

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is in Afghanistan meeting with that country's new president, Ashraf Ghani, and discussing possible changes to the timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals.

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When Pot Goes From Illegal To Recreational, Schools Face A Dilemma

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 12:27

Since Colorado legalized marijuana use, some schools in the state are starting to change how they teach students about the drug in health class. Educators worry students are receiving mixed messages.

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Lamb Dumplings, Lentils And A Bittersweet Taste Of Home

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 12:27

One of Syria's most famous restaurants is bringing the tastes of Damascus to Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled from war, and are hungry for a reassuring slice of home.

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California's Drought Exposes Long-Hidden Detritus

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 12:26

More than 67 percent of California is experiencing "extreme drought" or worse. At Southern California's Lake Perris, dry conditions have revealed tractor tires and sunken boats, unseen for decades.

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Bomb Blast Kills 2 At Pro-Kiev Rally In Eastern Ukraine

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 12:02

The explosion, at the demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, occurred in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

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Homeland Security Chief: Threat To U.S. Malls 'A New Phase' For Terrorists

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 08:28

Jeh Johnson, speaking on CNN's State of the Union, said he is taking seriously a video put out by the Somali-based al-Shabab group calling on followers to attack Western shopping malls.

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Clark Terry, Ebullient Jazz Trumpeter, Has Died

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 08:20

A member of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington Orchestras, Terry also enjoyed a long freelance career which included jazz education and a featured slot in NBC's Tonight Show band. He was 94.

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Clark Terry, Acclaimed Jazz Trumpeter And Composer, Dies At 94

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 07:43

The famed musician was one of the most prolific recording artists in jazz and performed with such greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Quincy Jones in a career that spanned decades.

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Watch The Oscars With Us

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-22 07:01

Follow along as Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, Bob Mondello and Glen Weldon live tweet the 87th Annual Academy Awards.

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