Monthly Archives: December 2019

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The End of Owning Music: How CDs and Downloads Died Physical formats are cratering, but vinyl’s niche is growing. Jack White and other experts explain the future of listening. “I definitely believe the next decade is going to be streaming plus vinyl,” says Jack White. “Streaming in the car and kitchen, vinyl in the living room and the den. Those will be the two formats. And I feel really good about that.” If you visited Austin’s Waterloo Records recently, you might have noticed a construction project that was unthinkable not so long ago: The 36-year-old Austin music staple was replacing 24 feet of CD racks with space for more vinyl. “After 30 years of CDs, a lot of people are moving on from that format,” says Waterloo owner John Kunz. “Whether they’re going back to vinyl, or streaming, people are selling off those CDs.” As streaming gives the music industry […]

How to Fly the Best First-Class Seats, Cheaper Than Economy The tools you need to secure a private suite in the sky—at almost zero cost—may already be inside your wallet. Photo from Emirates. Airline industry experts have been proclaiming the death of first class for years. While some airlines have done away with it altogether, others are doubling down with palatial suite-style seats, lavish amenities, and services that pamper, both on the ground and in the air. What’s ensued is a golden age of flying … for those who can afford it. In November, Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Emirates Airline both unveiled all-new first-class suites, tricked-out with such extravagant amenities as in-suite minibars and Mercedes Benz-inspired interiors. A round-trip ticket from Dubai to Geneva in Emirates’ new suites can cost upward of $8,000—and that’s on the affordable end of the spectrum. These airlines aren’t alone: Quieter, gradual enhancements on such airlines as Cathay Pacific Airways […]

What Unites Republicans May Be Changing. Same With Democrats. In a book released on the eve of the 2016 election called “Asymmetric Politics,” political scientists Matthew Grossmann and David Hopkins argued that America’s political parties don’t just have different ideologies, but are really different kinds of organizations. “Republicans are organized around broad symbolic principles, whereas Democrats are a coalition of social groups with particular policy concerns,” the authors concluded. I don’t want to treat that book as gospel, but it speaks to a certain understanding that has existed throughout my 17 years covering national politics. Democrats have been considered the party of Asian, black, gay, Jewish and Latino people, along with atheists, teachers, union members, etc. — in short, a coalition organized around a bunch of different identity groups. Meanwhile, Republicans have been thought of as the party of small government, low taxes, a strong national defense and “traditional” moral […]

We’ll put you on the right path to maximize your benefits. Photo from iStock. Social Security will pay out nearly $1 trillion in benefits this year. For more than half of all recipients, the payments are more than 50% of their retirement income. But for the eighth year in a row, this critical pay-as-you-go program will take in less in taxes than it pays out in benefits. If nothing is done to change the system and the economy behaves as expected, a financial catastrophe demanding across-the-board benefit cuts will arrive in 18 years. You’ve heard this lament before, of course, along with assurances that, sooner or later, members of Congress will get around to doing something to shore up the system. But focusing on the long-term crisis masks a much more immediate threat, one that can explode long before 2035—perhaps when you, or someone you know, walks into a local […]

Chasing Escobar Javier Peña, as a character, was popularized through the Netflix series ’Narcos.’ But the story of the real Peña—who lives in San Antonio—and his quest to end the reign of Pablo Escobar, is bigger than a screen. A mug shot of Pablo Escobar taken in Colombia in 1981. Inside a church in Medellín, Colombia, Drug Enforcement Agency agent Javier Peña listened as the fourteen-year-old boy in front of him admitted to murdering ten policemen. The boy was one of Pablo Escobar’s sicarios—the hitmen, often teenage boys, hired to kill anyone in Escobar’s way. The teenager didn’t feel any remorse. If he was given an order, he would kill again in a second. He would do anything for Escobar. It’s been decades since that day: Peña’s charcoal black mustache is now a crisp white, and the brown gradient aviators he often sported have been replaced by a small pair […]

How Overexcited Neurons Might Affect How You Age New research makes a molecular connection between the brain and aging—and shows that overactive neurons can shorten life span. A thousand seemingly insignificant things change as an organism ages. Beyond the obvious signs like graying hair and memory problems are myriad shifts both subtler and more consequential: Metabolic processes run less smoothly; neurons respond less swiftly; the replication of DNA grows faultier. Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research develop­ments and trends in mathe­matics and the physical and life sciences. But while bodies may seem to just gradually wear out, many researchers believe instead that aging is controlled at the cellular and biochemical level. They find evidence for this in the throng of biological mechanisms that are linked to aging but also […]

The Sugar Conspiracy In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long? Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic. A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. […]