What We’re Following

Breaking Up Facebook Isn’t Enough

(Stephen Lam / Reuters)

What would breaking up Facebook actually accomplish? Chris Hughes, who co-founded the social-media platform with his Harvard roommate Mark Zuckerberg, called for the government to break up the company in a New York Times op-ed. Hughes’s proposal is a gargantuan one in scope, suggesting that the company’s staggering amount of power can be curtailed by splitting off its two biggest subsidiaries, Instagram and WhatsApp. But beyond that, it’s slim on details and might not go far enough in defanging the company. Even a pared-down Facebook would still be incredibly powerful,  argues Ian Bogost.

Active-shooter drills are an eerily routine part of being an American student today. This week brought another reminder of that, as nine students were shot at a Denver-area school. A second grader who survived the shooting said he’s gone through lockdown drills since kindergarten—and nationally, 4.1 million students participated in a lockdown or lockdown drill last school year. For some students, the pervasiveness of these drills has created a culture of fear and made the prospect of a looming school shooting nearly inescapable. While more and more students are being subjected to these drills, there is scant evidence that they’re actually effective in preventing harm.

Donald Trump is making it official—Patrick Shanahan is his pick for defense secretary. The former Boeing executive has been auditioning for the job for the past four months as the bureau’s acting secretary, and he’ll be tasked with one of the trickiest jobs in Washington, D.C.—leading a cruise-ship-sized bureaucracy that is looking to transform itself to focus primarily on the threats posed by Russia and China. But first he has to get past a skeptical Senate; Shanahan is tangled in a web of ethics constraints related to his former employer that could prevent him from touching a number of national-security issues.

Saahil Desai


Crazy/Genius

Crazy/Genius: Why Surveillance Is the Climate Change of the Internet

Evening Read

Even Astronauts Binge-Watch TV While in Space

(Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters)

What do NASA astronauts do for leisure while in space? Turns out that binge-watching TV isn’t an exclusively earthbound pleasure:

This time last year, Drew Feustel was weightless, floating from room to room on the International Space Station. When he looked out a window, the view was stunning. There was Earth, resplendent and gleaming against the inky darkness of space. There, beneath silky tufts of white clouds, was the rest of humanity.

But even in this rarefied environment, Feustel sometimes turned his attention to a pastime familiar to us earthbound workers—plowing through every single season of a hit television show.

When Feustel and I sat down for a recent interview, the disposable cup of coffee I had set down on the conference-room table in front of us caught his eye. He laughed. The cup, he said, reminded him of something that had happened on Game of Thrones.

For astronauts like Feustel, leisure activities are critically important to their well-being while confined to tiny, isolated environments. → Read the rest


Urban Developments

The Frankfurt Kitchen Changed How We Cook—and Live

Our partner site CityLab explores the cities of the future and investigates the biggest ideas and issues facing urban dwellers around the world. Gracie McKenzie shares today’s top stories:

In 1926, the architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky designed a new, ultraefficient kitchen for modern women. We’re still cooking in versions of it today. Here’s how the Frankfurt Kitchen changed how we cook—and live.

Uber and Lyft drivers are protesting this week in cities across the country. From companies, they want better wages and working conditions. What can cities do to help?

In many ways, Vancouver is a perfect city. However, in the past 10 years, it’s also become one of the world’s most expensive to live in. If it wants to stop an exodus of its working and middle classes, it needs an affordable-housing strategy, fast.

“The facts are clear and unarguable. Most of the nation’s smaller urban and rural counties are not growing and will not grow,” writes the economist David Swenson. Are America’s rural areas doomed to decline?

Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Subscribe to the CityLab Daily newsletter.


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