Burned
March 27, 2014

In this corner: A Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist. In the other corner: A statistics whiz and founder of the data journalism site, FiveThirtyEight.

If that matchup sounds like the driest, most staid battle imaginable, well, it kind of is. And it's one that's been playing out ever since Nate Silver left the Times for his own venture. To condense the tiff: Silver said many columnists were "worthless" and predictable; Paul Krugman suggested FiveThirtyEight erred in vaunting numbers as infallible, accusing the site of "sloppy and casual opining." In the latest, weirdest salvo, Silver wrote a tongue-in-cheek analysis categorizing Krugman's references to FiveThirtyEight as either favorable or unfavorable, purportedly to show that Krugman has mysteriously turned on him and his work. There's even a chart.

The headline — "For Columnist, a Change of Tone" — is a nice joke on the Times' stylistic inclinations. But in racing to needle his former colleague with snark and numbers, Silver is exemplifying the exact criticism Krugman and others have made, that the site is cherry-picking data to reach preconceived, sometimes flawed conclusions. (As others have pointed out, Silver's latest broadside misses some key variables.) Worse though, the spat, which started as a couple of mild media critiques, has now completely devolved into a petty, personal slap fight between two very smart people. At this rate, the next round in the imbroglio may well be a Krugman article titled, "I know you are but what am I?" followed by a Silver analysis of metaphorical rubber and glue.

For such respected analysts and writers, is this really the best work they could be doing? Jon Terbush

The Daily Showdown
2:08 p.m. ET

Trevor Noah won't take over the anchor chair for The Daily Show until fall — but that doesn't mean he isn't eager to give it a spin first. In a new promo for his upcoming "new and sexy" takeover of the Comedy Central series, Noah screws around on a (seemingly) empty set:

Jon Stewart's final episode of The Daily Show will air on August 6. Trevor Noah's first episode as host of the Daily Show will premiere on September 28. Scott Meslow

Science!
1:57 p.m. ET
iStock

A team of Swiss scientists has finally discovered the answer to a mystery close to their hearts: the reason Swiss cheese has holes.

The scientists at Agroscope, an agricultural research center, found that the holes are the result of hay inside the milk used to make the cheese, rather than from bacteria, as scientists previously believed.

The researchers explained to The Guardian that small bits of hay can fall into traditional milk buckets, which can cause holes in the cheese. Most modern cheesemaking techniques don't use traditional buckets, which eliminates the hay bits.

Before the new study, most scientists believed a 1917 study arguing that the holes were caused by milk bacteria releasing carbon dioxide during Swiss cheese production. But recent developments also side with the Agroscope team's findings — in the last 10 to 15 years, Swiss cheese has had fewer holes, as traditional milk buckets have been replaced by sealed milking machines. Meghan DeMaria

FIFA
1:13 p.m. ET
Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

FIFA President Sepp Blatter spoke publicly about the organization's corruption scandal for the first time at the organization's annual congress in Zurich on Thursday, the New York Times reports. The U.S. Department of Justice indicted several FIFA members Wednesday, including two vice presidents.

Blatter was not implicated in the report, but said he knows soccer fans hold him responsible "for the actions and reputation of the global football community."

"We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time," Blatter continued. "If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it. But it must also fall to me to be responsible for the reputation of our entire organization, and to find a way to fix things."

Blatter said he still plans to run for re-election. Julie Kliegman

Really?
12:50 p.m. ET
Pool/Getty Images

The Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Daily Item issued an apology Thursday for printing a letter to the editor that called for President Obama's execution on Memorial Day.

Lewisburg resident W. Richard Stover, author of the letter, wrote that it was "time to rise up against an administration who has adequately demonstrated their gross incompetence." Stover adds that the needed "regime change" has "previously been accompanied by execution by guillotine, firing squad, [or] public hanging." Stover's letter was critical of Obama's handling of the ISIS situation in Iraq and the fall of Ramadi.

In its apology Thursday, the Daily Item said there was "no excuse" for its printing the letter. "We should have recognized that the final two metaphorical paragraphs of the Ramadi letter were inescapably an incitement to have the chief executive of our government executed," the newspaper wrote. "They should have been deleted."

The Daily Item also admitted its staffers' shortcomings, adding that the reason the letter was published was that "no bells went off when the editor handling the letter read it and placed it on the opinion page." Meghan DeMaria

Coming Soon
12:38 p.m. ET

It's only May, but this year's wannabe Oscar contenders are already jockeying for buzz. The first trailer for Edward Zwick's Pawn Sacrifice — a biopic of chess legend Bobby Fischer — shows off star Tobey Maguire in a trailer that recalls last year's Best Picture nominee The Imitation Game:

Pawn Sacrifice focuses on Fischer's legendary 1972 match against Boris Spassky — arguably the most famous game in chess history. "It's a war of perception," says the trailer. "A poor kid from Brooklyn against the whole Soviet empire." But as the pressure builds, Fischer begins to snap, eventually leading to his well-publicized reclusion.

Pawn Sacrifice hits theaters in September. Scott Meslow

We all scream for ice cream
11:28 a.m. ET

Ben & Jerry's wants ice cream lovers to know their dessert isn't the only thing in danger of melting. They announced new flavor Save Our Swirl, or SOS for short, to draw awareness to December's UN Climate Summit in France. There, global leaders are expected to work toward establishing a universal climate change agreement.

The flavor combines raspberry ice cream, marshmallow and raspberry swirls, and dark and white fudge ice cream cones.

"We created a flavor to bring attention to this historic issue and to send out our own SOS for our planet," the company said in a news release Wednesday.


Ben & Jerry's is also encouraging fans to sign activist group Avaaz' petition to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Julie Kliegman

it's getting hot in here
11:20 a.m. ET

Parts of India are in the grips of a brutal heat wave that has risen to a hellish 117 degrees Fahrenheit in certain areas. Some 1,100 people have died from causes related to the heat wave, which is expected to continue through next week.

It's gotten so bad that asphalt roads are literally melting, as captured here by The Hindustan Times' Sanjeev Verma, in New Delhi: Ryu Spaeth

See More Speed Reads