David Letterman And Drummers

Dave Shumka, writing for CBC Music:

Ever since I made this video of David Letterman talking to drummers, I've wondered if he's actually seen it. I recently asked one of his writers, Bill Scheft, on Twitter. According to Scheft, not only has Letterman watched it, but "he loved it as he loved few things." I realize that it just seems like I'm bragging on the internet, but that's about the greatest thing I've ever heard.

Go check out his post and watch all the videos embedded.

Letterman’s Last Great Moment

Bill Simmons, writing for Grantland:

After Johnny Carson retired in 1992, David Letterman became the king and stayed the king, even as his show transitioned from antiestablishment to establishment. Leno drummed him in the ratings without matching Letterman’s relevance; he never mattered as much as Letterman did. We forgave Letterman for losing interest over the years, for never filming bits anymore, for clearly not working as hard as he used to, for chugging along because he couldn’t think of anything else to do (and maybe for the paychecks, too). Even an embarrassing sex scandal couldn’t ruin his legacy; he handled the ensuing fallout so effectively that, five years later, people barely remember it.

As Letterman became older and older, those human moments distinguished him. You wanted to watch him after 9/11. You wanted to grieve with him after Carson passed away. You wanted to hear him admit that heart surgery was scary, that he felt humiliated when private demons seeped into his show, that it pissed him off when John McCain canceled on him at the last minute. Candid Letterman was always better than Candid Anyone Else. When Kimmel and Fallon started thumping him in the crucial 18-to-49 demo, Letterman held one trump card: He’s the only late-night host who elicits the same respect from guests that Carson did. Even Jon Stewart can’t say that. We know celebrities appear on late-night shows to promote themselves; it’s part of the deal. They went on Letterman’s show to impress him, to win him over, and that was always the difference.

NSA Knew About Heartbleed Bug and Has Been Using It To Spy On You For Years

Michael Riley, writing for Bloomberg:

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts.


Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.

I voted for Barack Obama to be President in 2008 to put a stop to this Bush-era bullshit. That he has been completely corrupted by the neo-conservative September 11 cowards that make up the security aparatus of our government is inexcusable. In a just world, congress would launch investigations, the FBI would be arresting people, the NSA would get split up into different agencies, its director would resign, people would be fired.

People would go to jail.

Instead the President might have to stand in front of a podium for 5 minutes and talk about how important it is all for your security and safety for the continued institutionalization of the digital gestapo.

Why Colbert Makes Sense For ‘Late Show’

FiveThirtyEight's Walt Hickey on the Colbert decision:

Stephen Colbert will be replacing David Letterman at “Late Show” on CBS, and that is remarkably convenient for us: We had done a study with SurveyMonkey Audience, an online polling firm, about politics and late-night talk shows.

Take a look at 538's demographics of the two shows they learned from the survey. It looks like exactly what the show needs as far an a boost in audience.

Why Stephen Colbert Is the Perfect David Letterman Replacemen

Tim Goodman, writing for The Hollywood Reporter:

NBC, take note. This is what an orderly transfer of power looks like.

If ever there was a no-brainer for such an important slot at the network -- and despite what you might think about the late night talk show environment, it’s still a marquee gig when judged from within -- then hiring Colbert was it. He has a built in following which will likely grow when he drops his faux right wing persona that was the cornerstone of his time on The Colbert Report. He is insatiable about pop culture, politics, music -- pretty much anything in the zeitgeist. And he has the ideal mind for taking in those information streams, weeding out what’s important and then commenting on them.

Later on, Goodman writes:

Yes, fans of Colbert “in character” will miss his show, but the truth is that the format, despite being an excellent vehicle that launched Colbert to stardom, was far too limiting for Colbert’s talent. He’s absolutely going to blossom with this new freedom. From his time on Strangers With Candy to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, he’s shown his comedic talent in various forms with an improve performer’s fluidity. Those are traits that will make him instantly watchable doing his own taped (and live) skits on The Late Show, plus they will serve him well behind the desk doing interviews.

Having interviewed Colbert at length before, I can only imagine that in some ways The Colbert Report was a golden-handcuffs type situation for him. This opportunity to take over for Letterman and branch out in a new direction should truly inspire him. An inspired Colbert? Gold.

And if you have any worries that CBS will somehow “tame” Colbert, fear not. Or, put another way -- give the network more credit. It’s not going to hire him and then shackle him. That’s just bad business and CBS is already the best run broadcast network in existence -- it knows what it is doing. There’s no need to shape Colbert. There’s no need to break him in. He will not be awkward or mistake prone. He’s a pro. He’s going to invigorate CBS’s late night presence. And he’s going to validate, right out of the gate, the network’s smart and swift decision to hire him.

I could not agree more.

Colbert to Succeed Letterman on ‘Late Show’

Dave Itzkoff, writing for the New York Times:

“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Mr. Colbert said in a statement. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”

He added: “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

I couldn't be happier.

Threes: The Rips-offs and Making of the Game

Threes is a hugely popular and successful iOS game that was created by Asher Vollmer, Greg Wohlwend and Jimmy Hinson.

Several weeks after their success on the App Store, several clones/rip-offs began to surface on the web, Android store, and on the App Store. First there was 1024, and then the massivley popular 2048 came out. 2048 has been so popular that many more people know it exists and have played it who've never heard of Threes. Crappy journalists have begun writing articles about the "overnight" success of 2048 and how the creator managed to create it in "just 42 days". They fail to mention that he only did so after playing Threes and copying its look, feel, and playstyle.

The creators of Threes have now posted a wonderful piece outlining all of this and releasing the entirely of their email chain between themselves over the year in which Threes was created.

It’s been a weird and awesome couple of months. Our expectations for our tiny game were well, fairly tiny. Basically, we hoped it’d do better than Puzzlejuice. It did. By a lot. It’s still hard to address the world’s response with something beyond a wide-eyed daze but essentially we couldn’t be more thrilled. Duh.

But there’s another side of that daze that we wish to talk about. The rip-offs.

Go check it out.

Chris Hadfield: What I Learned From Going Blind In Space

From the page description:

There's an astronaut saying: In space, “there is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse.” So how do you deal with the complexity, the sheer pressure, of dealing with dangerous and scary situations? Retired colonel Chris Hadfield paints a vivid portrait of how to be prepared for the worst in space (and life) — and it starts with walking into a spider’s web. Watch for a special space-y performance.

A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Chris Goodfellow at Autopia, Wired's Aviation blog, writes:

Fire in an aircraft demands one thing: Get the machine on the ground as soon as possible. There are two well-remembered experiences in my memory. The AirCanada DC9 which landed, I believe, in Columbus, Ohio in the 1980s. That pilot delayed descent and bypassed several airports. He didn’t instinctively know the closest airports. He got it on the ground eventually, but lost 30-odd souls. The 1998 crash of Swissair DC-10 off Nova Scotia was another example of heroic pilots. They were 15 minutes out of Halifax but the fire overcame them and they had to ditch in the ocean. They simply ran out of time. That fire incidentally started when the aircraft was about an hour out of Kennedy. Guess what? The transponders and communications were shut off as they pulled the busses.

Get on Google Earth and type in Pulau Langkawi and then look at it in relation to the radar track heading. Two plus two equals four. For me, that is the simple explanation why it turned and headed in that direction. Smart pilot. He just didn’t have the time.

Read his entire piece (which I don't want to quote all of here). This is the most calm, logical, and reasoned answer I've seen yet. Don't tell CNN though, they are having fun with their on-air circus.

FiveThirtyEight Relaunches

Nate Silver, writing the new manifesto of the just relaunched FiveThirtyEight, "What The Fox Knows":

We’re not planning to abandon the story form at FiveThirtyEight. In fact, sometimes our stories will highlight individual cases, anecdotes. When we provide these examples, however, we want to be sure that we’ve contextualized them in the right way. Sometimes it can be extraordinarily valuable to explore an outlier in some detail. But the premise of the story should be to explain why the outlier is an outlier, rather than indicating some broader trend. To classify these stories appropriately, we’ll have to do a lot of work in the background before we publish them.

All of this takes time. That’s why we’ve elected to sacrifice something else as opposed to accuracy or accessibility. The sacrifice is speed — we’re rarely going to be the first organization to break news or to comment on a story. We’ve hired an extraordinary team of editors, led by Mike Wilson. In contrast to our writers, our editors largely do not have quantitative backgrounds. Instead, they will serve as the first (and second and third) line of defense to ensure that our coverage is both accurate and accessible. Where we do react more quickly, such as on DataLab, our blog-like product led by Mona Chalabi and Micah Cohen, we’re going to label our analysis as work in progress.

We are going to screw some things up. We hope our mistakes will be honest ones. We hope you’ll gain insight and pleasure from our approach to the news and that you’ll visit us from time to time. We hope to demonstrate the value of data journalism as a practical and sustainable proposition.

It’s time for us to start making the news a little nerdier.

Ben Thompson explains why sites like FiveThirtyEight and others will be so successful moving forward:

This, of course, is made possible by the Internet. No longer are my reading choices constrained by time and especially place. Why should I pick up the Wisconsin State Journal – or the Taipei Times – when I can read Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, Bill Simmons, and the myriad other links served up by Twitter? I, and everyone else interested in news, politics, or sports, can read the best with less effort – and cost – than it ever took to read the merely average just a few short years ago.

Sites like FiveThirtyEight, and Grantland are delightful to read and produce a quality product. If they ever stop doing so, other sites will do so instead. This is the power of the Internet. No longer does a mediocre local newspaper hold monopoly power over your news because you are unfortunate enough to live where you do and therefor are subjected to their distribution area as your only option of news. A lot has changed in 20 years. Sites like FiveThirtyEight, Grandland and others will probably hold as much prestige and respect 30-50 years from now as organizations such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal do today.

Except they aren't tied to annoying things such as location or paper.

I for one welcome our new nerdier news overlords.