thing tank

From web journalism to an Uber-Lyft squabble

If it’s a trend, a clip, a comment, a moment, a meme, a tag, or a topic, it’s a thing. Thing Tank is a review of the week in things, and rates them either up or down.


Following the police shooting of Missouri teenager Michael Brown, Twitter user @CJ_musick_lawya creates the hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown to critique media portrayals of black men, with tweeters juxtaposing smiling, “respectable” shots of themselves with stereotypical “thug” poses and asking, “Which photo would they use?”


A Polish couple fell hundreds of feet from a cliff in Portugal after crossing a safety barrier to take pictures of themselves. These were the second and third selfie-inflicted deaths of the month, after a Mexican man shot himself in the head. Solidifying the selfie-as-tragedy trend, Kim Kardashian will release a book of them next year.


A new app called SketchFactor detects varying degrees of “sketchiness” in city neighborhoods based on a mix of crowdsourced anecdotes and city crime data. Critics cry racism while others cry . . . well, racism. Co-founder Allison McGuire addresses the controversy by saying “racial profiling is sketchy.” No word on when app will implement irony detection.



Researchers at UC San Diego developed a tattoo-like patch that was meant to measure lactate levels but found second use as a biobattery that charges as the wearer sweats. Scientists claim it’s strong enough for a man but pH balanced for an iPhone.


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Smartphone car service apps Uber and Lyft are beefing like Nicki and Kim, with heads of the latter accusing recruiters from the former of poaching drivers, and arranging and canceling thousands of rides to sabotage Lyft service. If they don’t stop fighting, we will pull this car over right now! Oh wait, no we won’t.


The next time you feel like cable news is just whitewashing the cruel realities of our world, remember the time that BBC Scotland broadcast a massive spider’s savage takedown of an unsuspecting bug on the lens of the camera. Raw. Real. Ew.

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.