Wandering Eye: A new podcast on the 'Serial' case, California places water restrictions, and more

Last week, California Gov. Edmund Brown released an executive order for the state's first-ever statewide mandatory water reductions. The executive order tells people to replace their lawns with "drought tolerant landscapes" and requires "urban water suppliers to provide monthly information on water usage, conservation, and enforcement on a permanent basis." As the Los Angeles Times points out, though, 80 percent of California's water supply goes to agriculture—and the paper has found a straightforward and interesting way to illustrate that. The LA Times' staff used available research into water usage to calculate how many gallons of water it takes to produce a serving of various foods, then presented it in a visually appealing graphic format to let you calculate how many gallons of water it takes to make your dinner plate. For example: An eight-ounce serving of beef requires a staggering 850.2 gallons of water. An eight-ounce serving of kale requires 18.1 gallons, while a serving of lettuce requires only 6.8 gallons. Good news for drinkers—the beverage that takes the least amount of water to produce is beer, which requires 15.7 gallons (milk, for comparison, requires 43.8 gallons). Cheers! (Anna Walsh)

 

Making shit up, for journalists, is like steroids for athletes. Suddenly, the perfect quote appears, or the perfect setting of the perfect character, which perfectly illustrates exactly the important thing you most want to say. The made-up stories (think "Monkey Fishing" if you're tired of thinking about campus rape) shine oh-so-much more brightly than the mundane prose chained to the checked-out actual. Like Lance Armstrong or any dozen juiced sluggers, the made-up story is a cheat. There is no debate about this, and that is why this piece by Janet Malcolm in this week's New York Review of Books is worth the time it takes to get to the bottom third of it. The New Yorker's Joseph Mitchell was among the best, his multilayered profiles of the 1940s lighting the way for later writers. Malcolm reviews Thomas Kunkel's biography of Mitchell, which regretfully reveals the professional secrets Mitchell took to his grave. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Still fiending for "Serial," the most popular podcast in history that revisited the details of a Baltimore are murder from 1999? You're in luck, because a new podcast, put together by three lawyers, no less, will offer new evidence to the case that sent Adnan Syed to jail for life, according to a post by The Sun. Titled "Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed," the podcast is actually being paid for by the Adnan Syed Legal Defense Fund, so you can imagine what kind of slant they're going to take. Syed has always maintained his innocence, saying his counsel at the time failed to find alibi witnesses. The Court of Special Appeals agreed to reopen Syed's appeal in Febrary. All the more reason why we need a podcast on a podcast. We've reached podcast-ception, people. (Brandon Weigel)

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