Russia Adopts Steven Seagal, and the Week’s Other Good News

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Curse Words

The curse is over for Cubs fans, and for a few glorious hours, the curse of 2016 was over for all Americans. The Cubs survived being down 3-1 in the World Series, they survived an unlikely Cleveland comeback in Game 7, they survived the collapse of their seemingly invincible closer, they survived Tarpocalypse, and they survived the massive weight of their own cursed history to, at long last, bring joy to Mudville. And Americans got a four-hour break from political news and a much-needed reminder that baseball was our national pastime before we fell in love with the act of destroying our own republic from within. To both the Cubs and the Indians who gave us one of the great nights in baseball history: thanks, we needed that.

+ From me, a few words on the end of the curse: Why was everyone so stressed? The Cubs do this every 108 years like clockwork.

+ “Yes, Game 7 was played on the same day as the annual Catholic holiday to remember and celebrate the dead, and pray for their safe passage from purgatory into heaven. You can’t make this stuff up.” ESPN’s excellent Wright Thompson: In Chicago, the final wait for a Cubs win mixes joy and sorrow.

+ Quartz: The Breaker of Curses: No one is as good at their job as baseball’s Theo Epstein is at his. (Chicago and Boston are both Theocracies now…)

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The NextDraft newsletter is now on WIRED.com. Every Friday, mastermind Dave Pell visits the far reaches of the web to bring the news you missed. Politics, tech, science—you name it, and it’s here.

(Original story reprinted with permission from NextDraft.)


Children of the Candy Corn

There’s just a couple days to go until the election. We know that by looking at the calendar. But we can also feel it, as nearly every other topic has been pushed out of the national headlines, and out of our personal headspace. The twists and turns of the presidential race occupy so much of our psyche that they ooze into every part of our lives. When my son said he wanted a Halloween costume that everyone would recognize, I suggested he dress as one of Hillary Clinton’s emails. There’s no doubt that our obsession with this ultimate reality show is a hazard to our mental health. But is it also a hazard to our relationships? The New Yorker’s Joshua Rothman looks at a new book that examines the impact of elections when it comes to our neighbors. “Politics can become a poisonous influence in our lives. Like a tacky filter on Instagram, it can color our perceptions too radically; it can play too large a role in the construction of our identities and social lives. It fills us with unwanted passionate intensity. Perhaps, somewhere in the territory of the self, a border marks the place where our lives as citizens end and our sovereignty as individuals begins. If such a border exists, though, it doesn’t feel very secure.” You have a Clinton sign on your lawn. He has a Trump sign on his. Can you get along? (Or to put it another way: Aren’t there enough reasons to be irritated by your neighbors without adding politics to the mix?)

The Bronx Hits a Sour Patch

“The Bronx is home to 1.5 million people, two hundred thousand public-school students, eleven colleges and universities, and a single general-interest bookstore.” Well, at least for now. By the end of the year, the borough will be back down to zero.

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

Stevie Wonder isn’t blind. The Beatles never existed. Katy Perry is actually a grown-up JonBenét Ramsey. Those are just three items from Vulture’s list of the 70 greatest conspiracy theories of all time.

Location, Location, Location

It is a tale of two cities. Well, actually it’s a tale of cities and less urban areas. “Even as much else about this election feels unprecedented, America’s urban-rural divide will be as strong as ever, continuing a decades-long process in which the two parties have sorted themselves ever more clearly by population density.” The NYT Upshot on why Republicans don’t even try to win cities anymore.

+ If the idea that the results of this election could end up in the hands of the Supreme Court doesn’t scare you, then maybe this reminder will: We only have eight justices on the Supreme Court.

When the Ship Hits the Fan

Free shipping. Those are the two words internet consumers have come to expect from online stores. But the shipping is not ultimately free. And your savings are putting extreme pressure on the bottom lines of even the largest e-commerce players. And your expectation that everyone will ship for free is crushing small e-tailers. From FastCo: Free Shipping Is A Lie.

+ Shoplifters’ 10 Favorite Things To Steal During The Holidays.

New Power Generation

“This fast pace of growth suggests that, if sustained, off-grid connections will within a few years outstrip the rate at which people are being connected to the grid, leapfrogging power lines in much the same way that mobile phones bypassed fixed-line telephone networks.” Using small-scale solar power, Africa is getting in the game while remaining off the grid. And it’s been a long wait on “a continent in which two of every three people have no access to power.” From The Economist: Africa unplugged.

Steam Punked

“We may well have missed, or are missing, the greatest opportunity in a century. The unintended consequence is more lives are going to be lost.” That’s a senior scientist of an anti-smoking group joining a chorus of policy-makers and health advocates who are arguing that the “relentless portrayal of e-cigarettes as a public health menace, however well intentioned, is a profound disservice to the 40 million American smokers who could benefit from the devices.” Is vaping just another tool to enable young people to turn an oral fixation into a lifelong health problem? Or is it the closest we’ve come to developing a way to extend the lives of people who smoke cigarettes, while making it less likely teens will start smoking them in the first place? The feds say it’s too soon to tell, while e-cig proponents say we’re wasting precious time. From the NYT: E-Cigarettes Can’t Shake Their Reputation as a Menace. (When I was young, a lot of kids started smoking because they thought it made them look cool. At least vaping removes that incentive.)

+ Missouri has a tobacco tax on its ballot. And get this: Cigarette companies are urging voters to adopt the tax, while health advocates are against it.

Check Yourself Before Your Brex Yourself

“This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty — beginning formal exit negotiations with the EU — on its own.” The British High Court has ruled that Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU. Things could get really complicated.

Bottom of the News

BBC: Putin gives US actor Steven Seagal Russian citizenship. They hacked our elections. We got them to take Steven Seagal. Advantage US.

+ “Avoiding those three letters brought me comfort and let me think I’d be eating some sort of sacredly pure meal made with food, not chemicals. Oh, how young and foolish I was.” From FiveThirtyEight: How MSG got a bad rap: flawed science and xenophobia. (Now I feel less weird that’s what we’re handing out on Halloween at my house.)

+ “I’ve accomplished a lot of running goals in my life, but not even in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would win a world championship.” Aaron Yoder explains how he came to be a world champion at running backwards. (That’s pretty much how I describe most of my endeavors.)

+ From Vanity Fair: How Jon Stewart Took Over The Daily Show and Revolutionized Late-Night TV: An Oral History.

+ “It is my brother’s and my shared belief that a single fast food meal eaten on or about June 6, 1982, ruined the relationship between us in a way that we still don’t understand, and from which we have yet to recover … It was 1982. We were young. There was only one urinal.”

+ Perhaps as a gift to the internet, Neiman Marcus sells collard greens for $66.

This is a weekly best-of version of the NextDraft newsletter. For daily updates and to get the NextDraft app, go here. (Original story reprinted with permission from NextDraft.)

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