Pat's Picks

Pat's Picks are the stories we've picked from the Story Stack as our top recommendations for the day.

  1. New Format for Pat’s Picks

    We’re using some new online tools from Rebel Mouse to better highlight and promote the most interesting and important stories of the day. You’ll find Pat’s favorites on the Pat’s Papers home page, or directly at

  2. Pat’s Picks: Friday, August 8

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    Testing an Electric Harley Without the Vroom (VIDEO)

    Harley-Davidson is giving fans a first look at its new electric motorcycles. The question is - will riders go for a bike that doesn’t roar? The electric Harley has no exhaust, no vibration and no fumes. But there’s also no roar of the engine. Instead, the bike makes a jet-like whine. The company says the bikes reach 60 miles per hour in about 4 seconds and can go around 60 miles between charges. The Seattle Times says the company hopes the bikes will appeal to younger, tech-savvy riders. VIDEO


    State Fair a Bonanza for Scientific Research

    If you want to take a break from riding the rides or seeing the sites, why not sign up for a scientific experiment? The Minnesota State Fair sets up every summer next to the University of Minnesota - and researchers have learned to take advantage. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says more than 30 scientists will be recruiting fair goers for studies. Researchers say the fair is a great way to gather so many subjects from such a wide geographical area.


    Tick Bite Can Make You Allergic to Meat

    If you get bitten by a Lone Star tick, you may want to be careful the next time you eat a burger. The Associated Press reports doctors across the country are seeing cases of tick bites that cause a meat allergy in some people. Some patients have reactions so severe, they end up in the hospital. Doctors say the allergy doesn’t appear to be permanent, but additional tick bites do bring it back.


    California Assembly Passes Cellphone Kill Switch Bill

    Because of the size of its market, when California enacts a law about a consumer product, it often becomes the standard for the rest of the country. So it’s worth reporting that California’s assembly passed a measure requiring smartphones made after July 1, 2015 to feature a kill switch that would render the phone useless in the event that it’s stolen. The San Jose Merscury News says the state senate has already passed the bill and Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it.


    Where are the Women Sports Pundits?

    The Washington Post says while women have made major strides in sports journalism over the last two decades, there remains shockingly few women on sports-talk shows. ESPN has had only two women among the 33 regular and guest panelists who have appeared on Around the Horn. One simple reason may be that men are often in hiring positions in this industry - and they tend to hire other men.


    What We’re Streaming on Netflix

    Despite its origins as a movie rental service, television shows have become even more popular among Netflix subscribers. USA Today has the results of a marketing survey showing the top shows streamed on Netflix. House of Cards was number one, followed by Breaking Bad and Dexter. But the next survey might have different results, as Netflix has said Orange is the New Black was its most watched show ever.

  3. Pat’s Picks: Thursday, August 7

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    Cyberattack Fatigue Setting In

    Did you change your password after hearing about the latest security breach by Russian hackers? Many people haven’t. The Arizona Republic says we’re suffering from “breach fatigue.” Most people know that we’re at risk of having our information stolen, but we do little to protect ourselves from identity theft.


    Impossible to Win Twitter Fights

    How do you win an argument on social media? You can’t. The New York Times’ Nick Bilton says he learned the hard way that it’s impossible to come out on top when the fight is on Twitter. Experts say part of the problem is we are able to react so quickly on social media - and it’s difficult to gauge someone’s tone online.


    More Options for Round-the-World Flights

    You can get around the world in far fewer than 80 days. The Wall Street Journal says it’s getting easier and cheaper to book tickets to circumnavigate the globe. Longer nonstop flights mean flying around the world can be accomplished with just a few connections. The three major airline alliances are offering more options with big savings for round-the-world trips.


    Angels Work to Win Over Young Dodgers Fan

    When several players from the Los Angeles Angels visited patients at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, they met Luke, a 7-year-old, diehard Dodgers fan. Over the course of a few more visits, some of the Angels players worked hard to win Luke over as a fan. The Orange County Register says Luke finally did accept an offer of Angels tickets - but for a game against the Dodgers.


    Six More 1980s Cartoon Films Michael Bay Should Make

    With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being the latest of the 80s and 90s cartoons to be transformed into a live-action film, the Omaha World-Herald has suggestions of six more classic cartoons Michael Bay should make into movies, complete with posters, plot lines and suggested cast members. The gritty, grown-up version of Super Mario Brothers might star Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. The tagline: “This time, it’s about more than mushrooms.”


    Wireless Phone Charging Coming Soon

    Your days of looking for an outlet to charge your phone at Starbucks may soon be over. The New York Times says the coffee shop is teaming up with Powermat, an industry leader in wireless charging technology, to embed charging mats in tables and counters. Cadillac announced plans to use the technology in car dashboards and other carmakers are following suit.

  4. Pat’s Picks: Wednesday, August 6

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    Ebola Drugs a Low Priority for Pharmaceutical Companies

    While the world experiences the deadliest Ebola outbreak ever, the disease remains one that has no drugs to treat it. The San Francisco Chronicle says drug makers have little incentive to spend time and money on a disease that predominantly affects people in impoverished countries. Health officials tell the Chronicle this outbreak could encourage pharmaceutical companies to speed up the development process or lead small groups in risky drug trials.


    Russian Crime Ring Steals 1 Billion Passwords

    Will this be the straw that breaks the Internet password’s back? A Milwaukee cyber security firm says Russian hackers have amassed 1.2 billion username and password combinations and half a billion email addresses to form the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials. The New York Times says so far the criminals have not sold many of the passwords and are instead using them to send spam on behalf of others.


    Need a New Laptop? Get a MacBook Air

    The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern puts the best Windows PCs, Chromebooks and MacBooks to the test. If you’re in the market for a laptop, the short answer is to get a MacBook Air. But if you’re looking for a Windows-powered Ultrabook, Stern recommends Lenovo’s Yoga 2 Pro or Acer’s Aspire S7. The $600 Asus VivoBook is good for those on a budget and if you’re really tight on cash, go for a Chromebook, such as Acer’s C720.


    School Cafeteria Food Healthier Than Packed Lunches

    The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a new Tufts University survey that found school cafeteria lunches are often much healthier than lunches packed at home. Researchers found nearly a quarter of packed lunches lacked what would be considered an entree - such as a sandwich or leftovers. School lunches, which are held to federal standards, must provide specific amounts of milk, fruits, vegetables, grains and protein.


    NRA Commentator: Blind People Should Have More Guns (VIDEO)

    The New York Daily News jumped on this story of a news commentator on the National Rifle Association’s online news site defending the right of blind people to own guns. In a video, commentator Dom Raso says blind people should be able to have whatever guns they want, and those who disagree don’t understand the Constitution. One gun control advocate compared the idea to allowing blind people to drive.


    Becky Hammon Hired as Spurs’ Assistant Coach

    As a young girl, Becky Hammon asked her dad if she would ever play in the NBA. He broke the news to her that she wouldn’t. Well, now she’s the first woman hired by an American men’s professional sports team as a full-time assistant coach. The NBA champion San Antonio Spurs didn’t mention her gender once in announcing her hiring - saying their decision was based on her basketball IQ. Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News says Hammon will begin working with the Spurs after wrapping up her 16th and final season in the WNBA.

  5. Pat’s Picks: Tuesday, August 5

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    When Your Star Pitchman Gets Traded

    When the Red Sox traded ace pitcher Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics, it wasn’t just Sox fans who were disappointed. Just days before the deal, People’s United Bank had featured Lester, their longtime pitchman, on a massive billboard near Fenway Park. Executives tell the Boston Globe that it’s always a risk to sign endorsement deals with athletes, but it’s often worth the gamble. Typically, as was the case in Lester’s deal, the endorsement contract ends if the player gets traded.


    Remembering James Brady

    The Washington Post pays tribute to former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who died yesterday at 73. Writer Jon Thurber details Brady’s courageous comeback from the gunshot wound that nearly took his life during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. Brady and his wife Sarah became the faces of the gun control movement in the United States. Brady was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Clinton in 1996.


    A Little Pessimism is a Good Thing

    Maybe Debbie Downer is on to something. The Wall Street Journal says occasionally having a pessimistic outlook can help you manage anxiety and stay healthy. While optimism is generally seen as being the preferred trait for health and well-being, psychologists say those with a more negative outlook tend to handle stress better, as they typically have prepared for the worst. Ideally it’s best to be generally optimistic with a slight streak of pessimism thrown in.


    Ebola Containment Efforts Thwarted by Lax Enforcement

    Amid the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola, nations in West Africa are enacting strict measures meant to control the spread of the virus. But the New York Times says in many cases, those rules are being thwarted by lax enforcement. In some areas, people seem to challenge the very notion that Ebola is responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. Walter Lorenzi, the chief of the Doctors Without Borders’ mission in Sierra Leone says you can’t fight the spread of Ebola halfway.


    Living Memorials Help Terminally Ill Patients Celebrate Life

    They go by several different names; healing services, life celebrations, living memorials, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune says more and more terminally ill people are choosing to celebrate their lives before they pass away. The gatherings offer friends and family a chance to say goodbye and share stories. The patient gets a chance to say thank you and acknowledge the role that others have played in their life.


    Scrabble Adds 5,000 Words

    You can take a “selfie” with your “frenemy” and you’ll earn 24 points in your Scrabble game when you do. Merriam-Webster is adding 5,000 new words to the updated version of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, due out August 11th. The book’s editor tells the New York Daily News when slang becomes part of our culture, it becomes part of the dictionary. Purists say they fear the words will disappear from pop culture as quickly as they arrived.

  6. Pat’s Picks: Monday, August 4

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    Toledo’s Water Crisis

    It seems there’s no easy fix for the algae problems that have led to the water crisis in Toledo, Ohio. The Toledo Blade says the rapid deterioration of Lake Erie seems to have caught many by surprise, yet the problems that have led to the lake’s “pea green” color go back years. The founder of Lake Erie Waterkeeper group says this should be a warning sign for the other great lakes.


    Why Auto Recalls Take So Long

    The Wall Street Journal looks into why it takes so long for automakers to issue a recall to fix a defect. Blame falls on both car makers and regulators - and once a recall is issued, regulators rarely issue a strict deadline for repairs to be completed. The paper says regulators began investigating fires in Jeeps back in 2010 and only last year did Chrysler agree to issue a recall. Even now, almost none of the 1.6 million defective Jeeps have been fixed.


    Hotel “Fines” Guests $500 for Bad Reviews

    If you stay at the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York, you might want to keep your complaints to yourself. The New York Post says the hotel charges couples who book weddings $500 for every bad review posted on Yelp and other sites by their guests. It’s actually spelled out in an online policy. When negative reviews do make it online, the innkeepers typically respond aggressively, blaming the reviewer for their bad experiences.


    Nickelodeon’s New Web Series

    Nickelodeon is growing up. The network today debuts “Welcome to The Wayne,” on its revamped website and Nickelodeon app. It’s the network’s first original animated series created exclusively for the web and mobile. The New York Times says the 36-year-old network is trying to reach a new generation of viewers “who barely distinguish between among a television set, a laptop, a tablet and a mobile phone.”


    Robotic Pets for Seniors

    There’s a new wave of interactive, robotic pets helping seniors and people with special needs. Paros are outfitted with microprocessors and sensors that respond to light, touch, voices and movement. The San Jose Mercury News says while there are some ethical concerns with using robots, researchers say the “animals” can have a calming and socializing influence on people who may otherwise feel anxious or isolated.

  7. Pat’s Picks: Friday, August 1

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    There’s No “Song of the Summer”

    It seems every summer there emerges a hit song that is unofficially labeled “The Song of the Summer.” Think 2013’s Blurred Lines. But so far, the summer of 2014 hasn’t produced a signature anthem. The Wall Street Journal says while Iggy Azalea’s Fancy sat at the top of the charts for seven weeks, it lacks that universal appeal that inspires people of all ages to hit the dance floor.


    WWII Portrait Artist Brings Veterans Back in Time

    The Los Angeles Times introduces us to Chris Demarest, a painter whose latest project is creating portraits of World War II veterans in their prime. Over the past few years he’s painted dozens of these portraits, which he now brings with him to museums and libraries as a self-funded traveling exhibition. As he travels, he creates new works for people he meets along the way. He says many veterans see the war as the most significant time in their lives.


    Kim Kardashian Could Earn $60 Million from Video Game

    The New York Post details the curious case of the company behind “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” the popular smartphone game. The Post says shares in Glu Mobile soared in the first few weeks of the game’s release. But the company’s shares took a big hit after it announced its gross margins would be lower than expected. The main reason: Kardashian earns 30 to 40 percent of in-game revenue, which could net her $60 million to $80 million annually.


    It’s a Jungle Out There: Learning to Drive in New York City

    If you’ve ever driven in New York City, you know how stressful it can be. Imagine learning how to drive there. The New York Times has a fun read about the perils of learning to drive in Manhattan where pigeons, taxis and pedestrians looking to get hit to earn a quick buck all present a challenge to the student driver. One instructor says driving is 80 percent confidence and 20 percent common sense.


    Stand-Up Paddleboarding Gains Popularity

    The Des Moines Register has some good information for those looking to try stand-up paddleboarding. Instructors say it’s much easier than it looks and once you get the basics down, you’re in good shape. Instructors recommend starting out on your knees and getting a feel for the movements before trying to stand.

  8. Pat’s Picks: Thursday, July 31

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    Air Traffic Control Jobs: No Experience Required

    The Chicago Tribune says since the FAA changed its requirements in an effort to expand hiring, more than half of all air traffic controller job offers have gone to people with no aviation experience. Of the 22,500 people without an aviation background, 837 were offered a job. The FAA says its biographical assessment test helped the agency select from a larger pool of qualified applicants.


    Player-Tracking System Coming to NFL

    Football fans will soon know a lot more about their favorite players, thanks to tiny sensors in their shoulder pads. USA Today says the sensors will measure speed, acceleration and other information. The league says the data will add to the fan experience and could also change the way coaches look at the game.


    Opinion: Treat Gun Regulation Like Car Regulation

    New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof draws an interesting parallel between car safety and gun safety. He says we could have easily made the case decades ago that “Cars don’t kill people—people kill people …” But instead we passed speed limits and air bag requirements and drivers license requirements. But Kristof says the country has passed up on similar opportunities to innovate in gun safety.


    It’s All the World Cup’s Fault

    Television sales soared while other appliance sales slowed - and it’s all thanks to the World Cup. The Wall Street Journal says no less than 100 public companies have commented about how the World Cup affected their business. Makers of snack foods and sports drinks did particularly well - but companies like American Airlines and Denny’s saw less business.


    Hundreds of Obama Administration Rules Technically Illegal

    The Washington Post says about 1800 rules passed by the Obama administration over the past two years are technically not valid - because they were never reported to Congress as required. But there’s not much anyone can do about it. Congress also barred such federal rules from judicial review, meaning no one can demand the administration submit the required paperwork.

  9. Pat’s Picks: Wednesday, July 30

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    Europe Bankrolling Terror by Caving In to Ransom Demands

    The United States, famously, refuses to pay ransoms. But that’s not the case everywhere. The New York Times makes the case in a front page story that European nations essentially bankroll Al Qaeda and its affiliates by caving in to ransom demands. While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by the Times found that Al Qaeda has taken in $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008. In some cases the governments mask the payments as development aid.


    Give Yourself a Tech Timeout

    Want to reduce your reliance on technology? There’s an app for that. The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern introduces us to some ways to set up tech-timeouts. She says you can use parental controls to avoid spending too much time on your devices, especially during the summer or while on vacation. She recommends a $2 iOS app called Parental TimeLock or for Android users, Trustlook’s free Screen Time Control. She also recommends disabling notifications and hiding tempting apps.


    President Harding’s Steamy Love Letters Revealed

    The Library of Congress has released thousands of pages of handwritten letters sent by President Warren G. Harding to his mistress. The New York Daily News says Harding repeatedly writes about his pal Jerry. The expert opinion is “Jerry” was a code name for his private parts. In one letter he wrote, “I hope Jerry will be welcomed cordially.”


    Beyoncé & Jay Z to Split Once Tour Finishes

    It looks like the end is approaching for Beyoncé and Jay Z. Sources tell the New York Daily News, the power couple is orchestrating the breakup of their marriage. But being the savvy business people that they are, Beyoncé and Jay Z will stay together for the duration of their lucrative On the Run tour, which wraps up in late September.


    Spanx Jeans: Stretching the Limits of Slimming Products?

    Do Spanx jeans live up to the hype? The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan says Spanx claims the magic of the jeans is not just in their slim fit, but also in their design. From the wider waistband, to the dark wash, to the faux wrinkles and the pocket placement, Spanx claims their jeans really do make you look slimmer. Givhan was not convinced, ultimately deciding the jeans were just another option in a sea of options.


    Fist Bump May Replace Handshake in Hospitals

    A recent study found handshakes transferred more than twice as many bacteria as fist bumps. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says that’s adding ammunition to the arguments of doctors who say handshakes should be banned in hospitals. Some doctors’ groups say handshaking in hospitals generates unnecessary risks.

  10. Pat’s Picks: Thursday, July 24

    The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.

    Judge Calls for Return of Firing Squads

    The latest execution gone awry, this time in Arizona, has advocates both for and against the death penalty squaring off. In the Arizona Republic, columnist EJ Montini writes about the federal appeals court judge who called for the return of the firing squad. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski was upset over the court’s decision to stay the execution of Arizona killer Joseph Rudolph Wood (a ruling that was overturned by the Supreme Court leading to yesterday’s execution). Judge Kozinski argues that drugs are to be used to help people with medical conditions, while no one can argue with the intended purpose of firearms and ammunition. He says we need to own up to the brutality of executions or not carry them out at all.


    Eating Well for $4 a Day

    Writer Joanna Prisco tests recipes from “Good and Cheap” a new cookbook that claims you can eat well on $4 a day. Prisco had scones for breakfast at $.75 a serving and soup for lunch at $.84 per serving. She broke the bank, however, with a shrimp dish for dinner. While author Leanne Brown estimates it to cost $3 per serving, Prisco actually spent almost $6 per serving on the dish.


    The White House’s Third Wheel

    When a government official sits down for an interview, he or she will nearly always have a chaperone - from the White House. The Washington Post says nearly every officially sanctioned interview with a “senior administration official” is done with a White House press staffer in the room. The paper says journalists see these monitors as an attempt to shape the news coverage and control the message. The papers have to play along with the system or else risk not getting the interview at all.


    Keep Cool With an Unlined Suit

    Good news for guys who have to wear a suit in the summer. More and more designers are coming out with unlined suits that are suitable for the boardroom. The Wall Street Journal highlights a number of unlined or partially lined suits from high-end labels. The director of menswear at Saks Fifth Avenue says unlined suits were once a “kiss of death” but he now expects 15 to 20% of the suits the store carries for next year to be unlined.


    Is Your Dog the Jealous Type?

    Did you ever get the feeling your dog gets jealous when you pay more attention to someone else? You may be right. A new University of California San Diego study finds dogs are capable of displaying jealous behaviors, suggesting dogs are more emotionally complex than once thought. The San Diego Union-Tribune says the study also supports the theory that jealousy is a primordial emotion, that is not limited to humans.