Smart takes
March 17, 2014
Facebook/The Veronica Mars Movie

This weekend, Veronica Mars fans were delighted by the release of the long-awaited film sequel, which was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign to the tune of $5.7 million last year. But now that the excitement of a new Veronica Mars adventure has worn off, critics can start evaluating the content of the film — and NPR's Linda Holmes has a particularly thoughtful critique of the movie's troubling philosophy on relationships. (Spoilers for the Veronica Mars movie to follow.)

The Veronica Mars movie offers a textbook example of what Holmes dubs "The Bad Caterpillar Theory": The idea that a "mean, jealous, possessive, violent, angry, emotionally unavailable," guy will evolve into a noble, trustworthy, good-hearted man if the female protagonist simply waits long enough. In this case, Veronica's boyfriend of nearly a decade is pushed aside in favor of Logan Echolls, a bad boy with a heart of gold:

By the time the movie starts, Logan has emerged as the Butterfly to a degree that's almost comical. He no longer has any flaws whatsoever; he shows up in Navy whites that weirdly look like they're too big for him, but the message is clear: he's all grown up. There's effectively no edge left to the character at all, and although the movie co-opts the language of addiction and recovery to have Veronica talk about the relationship as an addiction, there's no indication that any of it is actually bad for her or that she's even legitimately conflicted about it. He's transparently innocent of the crime she's trying to get him off the hook for, he's in the Navy ... he's basically been transformed into a cartoon prince.

At last, her patience, her faith, her unwillingness to give up has paid off. The Butterfly has arrived.

So of course she has to dump her nice, generous, supportive, unexciting boyfriend. Of course she does. [NPR]

Read the rest of this thoughtful article at NPR.

Shh!
3:58 p.m. ET
iStock

Silence is golden, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO figures say 43 million people ages 12-35 have suffered hearing loss, and another 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults risk damaging their hearing. The culprit? Listening to music "too much, too loudly," BBC News reports. 

And it's not just your laptop or office earbuds that could be doing damage. WHO warns that concerts and bars are a "serious threat" as they too expose people to unsafe sound levels. The organization recommends taking "listening breaks" if you must frequent such venues, and limiting daily music listening to one hour, max.

This just in
3:20 p.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Twelve years after thousands of artifacts were looted in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion, Iraq's national museum in Baghdad reopened on Saturday, The Washington Post reports.

Iraqi officials have worked for more than a decade to recover some 15,000 stolen artifacts. So far, about 4,300 pieces have been recovered.

The grand reopening was moved up, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, as a message of defiance to Islamic State militants. Recent video showed purported ISIS members breaking statues at a museum in Mosul.

"Our hearts were broken when those artifacts were broken in Mosul," said Qassim Sudani, a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. "Now the national museum has reopened, it will be a lung that allows the Iraqi people to breathe again."

Greetings from the Underworld
2:53 p.m. ET
Facebook.com/Go to Hell, Michigan

For sale: Hell.

A small town in Michigan that bears the name is on the market to the highest bidder, as unofficial Mayor of Hell John Colone put his holdings up for sale for the low price of $999,666, The Huffington Post reports.

While living in Michigan, I of course visited Hell, and I can tell you: There's not much there. But, if you have a million bucks lying around and love the idea of owning Hell's souvenir shop, ice cream store, weather station, post office, and other holdings, then hey, go for it.

You may have some competition from DAMNED, though, a Detroit-based artist group that launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to buy Hell. DAMNED wants to build a performing arts center, and if you contribute, the group is offering such perks as your own, personalized parking space in Hell. Sold!

Foreign affairs
2:23 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration continued its crackdown on Islamist groups on Saturday, as an Egyptian court declared the Muslim Brotherhood-offshoot Hamas a "terrorist" organization, Al Jazeera English reports.

A senior Palestinian official called the verdict "very unwise."

"Hamas is part of the Palestinian national unity movement," Mustafa Barghouti, who is neither from Hamas or Fatah, told Al Jazeera. "This decision is not useful."

The verdict stemmed from two private suits filed by attorneys against the Gaza Strip group, and came just days after Egypt implemented a strict new anti-terrorism law. Egyptian authorities outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood after the 2013 military coup, and they have since blamed Hamas for aiding rebel militants in Egypt — allegations Hamas denies.

brrrrr
1:45 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Talk about a record you could do without.

Several Northeastern cities just suffered through the coldest February since reliable records began, NBC News reports. A slow-moving jet stream has funneled cold air down into the eastern United States, refusing to budge. On the ice block: Bangor, Maine; Syracuse, Buffalo, and Islip, New York; Hartford and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

"Usually these patterns last for a week or so. In this case it's been the whole month," Corey Bogel, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said.

And while forecasters say people can look forward to warmer-than-average months ahead, that's not the case quite yet: Sunday's low for Albany, New York is an even zero degrees.

panda-monium
1:01 p.m. ET
iStock

Party on, pandas.

China's State Forestry Administration found in its latest census that since the last survey ended in 2003, the wild giant panda population has grown by 268, to a total of 1,864 pandas, The Associated Press reports.

"The rise…is a victory for conservation and definitely one to celebrate," Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation for World Wildlife Fund, said.

Giant pandas still face threats to their habitats, though. The new survey noted that the development of such structures as hydropower stations, roads, and mining sites is replacing traditional threats like poaching.

Rules are Rules
12:31 p.m. ET
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

That'll do it.

Photo-sharing app Snapchat posted new "Community Guidelines" on its website, imploring teens to stop sexting or face suspended accounts, the New York Daily News reports.

"Don't use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you're under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: Keep your clothes on!" the rules read.

You heard it, kids: Keep your shenanigans to those of the legal variety.

RIP
11:58 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Ron Frehm

The New York Knicks confirmed on Saturday that Anthony Mason, a former power forward with the team, has died at the age of 48, The Associated Press reports.

The 6-foot-7 Mason was known for his defensive toughness throughout a career that spanned a decade with several teams, but most memorably from 1991-1996 on coach Pat Riley's New York squads. He won the NBA's Sixth Man award in 1995 with the Knicks, and he made the 2001 All-Star team as a member of the Miami Heat.

Mason's son, Anthony Jr., played for St. John's University and then for overseas teams. Another son, Antoine, is playing for Auburn this season, having transferred from Niagara, where he finished second nationally in points per game last season.

Hacked
11:32 a.m. ET
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Car-hailing service Uber announced on Friday that a data breach left the personal information of about 50,000 drivers vulnerable, The Wall Street Journal reports.

While the company said it discovered the hack in September, it waited nearly five months to report the breach, an amount of time one data-breach expert called "an unusual delay."

Most states leave notification time requirements vague, but the maximum among those that do offer specifics is 60 days. Uber said it has not received any misuse reports from drivers, and noted that the 50,000 affected make up a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of drivers working with the company.

Going to pot (or not)
10:02 a.m. ET
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division released its first annual report Friday on the state's legal marijuana market, Time reports.

In 2014, 4.8 million marijuana edibles and nearly 150,000 pounds of marijuana flowers were sold, the authors concluded. The report noted that marijuana flowers were more popular in the medical market, while edibles did better in the recreational market.

The report's findings may influence Colorado's ongoing debate about whether or not to regulate the types of edibles allowed — proponents of limiting the products say some types currently on the market, such as gummy bears, appeal to children and could be accidentally ingested. But the strong sales numbers will likely make it harder to convince the industry to back such limitations.

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