Netflix's Mission

"Fundamentally we're about eliminating loneliness and boredom."

—Netflix CEO Reed Hastings [time.com, 10/25/16]

'Sadness Is Doing Her Job Right Now'

"Grief is an attack on life. It's not a seducer. It's an ambush or worse. It stands right out there and says: 'The minute you try something, I'm waiting for you.'"

—writer and comedian Patton Oswalt, whose wife, Michelle McNamara, died earlier this year. Oswalt admitted he's still struggling deeply with her death, grappling with his loss through counseling and reading C.S. Lewis's A Grief Observed. "I found out the hard way these past few months that alcohol doesn't really help." He also returned to stand-up comedy. Oswalt says that the day his wife died, however, was only the second-worst day of his life. The worst, he says, was when he had to tell his 7-year-old daughter, Alice, the next day. When he told her, the movie Inside Out became a reference point for the little girl. "I guess Sadness is doing her job right now," Alice told her dad. [nytimes.com, 10/30/16]

A Heroic Halloween

For the first time in 11 years there will be more superheroes than princesses knocking on your door this Halloween. Spending on costumes is expected to reach $3.1 billion this year, with more than 3 million children dressing as their favorite action hero or superhero, according to a new survey released by the National Retail Federation. Princess costumes have held the top spot for the last 11 years, but fell to No. 2 in 2016, with roughly 2.9 million in sales. Animal costumes took third place. [cnn.com, 10/19/16]

Super Role Model or Pin-Up Girl?

The United Nations recently dubbed Wonder Woman as its Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. But that decision has earned some blowback within the organization, with a petition by "concerned" U.N. staff members begging the organization to reconsider. The petition suggests that Wonder Woman—with her "impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots"—is the "epitome of a 'pin-up' girl." [abcnews.go.com, 10/21/16]

Metlife Gives Snoopy a Pink Slip

Metlife is firing Snoopy. The insurance company giant is saying goodbye to Snoopy and the Peanuts gang as its brand ambassadors, ending a three-decade relationship. "We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant," said Esther Lee, MetLife's global chief marketing officer. "However, as we focus on our future, it's important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers." [usatoday.com, 10/20/16]

Tackle Football & Young Brains

Much of the research on the effects of concussions and football has focused on deceased NFL players. But what about the three million children in the United States who also play tackle football? How do the game's inherent impacts affect young brains? A new study shows that jarring collisions, even those that don't result in concussions, are measurably affecting the brain matter of young players. Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center conducted a study of 25 players, ages 8 to 13, in Winston-Salem, N.C. The players' helmets were outfitted with sensors that recorded the frequency and severity of blows to the head. They found that even among young players, the hits being inflicted were quite hard. They also performed MRIs on the children and noted that saw differences in the brain's white matter, the tissues that connects a brain's grey matter.

Though the scientists weren't able to determine whether or not the changes—some of which were noted after just one season of playing tackle football—were detrimental, they clearly observed alterations in the children's brains as a result of the impacts they received. "We have detected some changes in the white matter," lead researcher Dr. Chris Whitlow told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "And the importance of those changes is that the more exposure you have to head impacts, the more change you have." In a separate interview, Whitlow told NBC that there's a lot we don't yet know about how children's brain development might be influenced by the repeated head impacts in football. "[Children's] brains are undergoing such rapid change, particularly in the age category from maybe 9 to 18. And we just don't know a lot about it." [ajc.com, 10/25/16]

Friendly, Pricey Coffee

Central Perk, the coffee shop made famous in NBC's sitcom Friends, is opening up for real Nov. 24. First catch: The duplicate coffee shop will be in Singapore. Second catch: If you want to sit on the famous couch, it'll run you around $720. According to the Singapore paper Today, that's what annual memberships to the Perk will cost. While you can walk into the Central Perk without forking over those hefty yearly dues, only members will have the ability to skip the line, bring friends in or make reservations to sit on that famed couch. No word regarding whether members will also be able to bring in their own smelly cats. [time.com, 10/25/16]

Too Many Fish in the Digital Dating Sea?

"It's possible dating app users are suffering from the oft-discussed paradox of choice. This is the idea that having more choices, while it may seem good … is actually bad. In the face of too many options, people freeze up. They can't decide which of the 30 burgers on the menu they want to eat, and they can't decide which slab of meat on Tinder they want to date. And when they do decide, they tend to be less satisfied with their choices, just thinking about all the sandwiches and girlfriends they could have had instead."

Atlantic writer Julie Beck, from her article "The Rise of Dating App Fatigue" [theatlantic.com, 10/25/16]

'Dead'lier Than Ever

The Season 6 debut of AMC's highly rated, hyper-violent zombie slayfest The Walking Dead drew some 18 million viewers in the first three days after it aired. It's also drawing sharp criticism from many in the mainstream media asking when the show's violence crosses the line from a gruesome plot construct to sadistic "torture porn masquerading as storytelling," as The Verge's Bryan Bishop put it.

Slate's Sam Adams said of the episode, "Abrupt death is nothing new to The Walking Dead. It's essentially the fuel the show runs on, the ultimate demonstration of its guiding philosophy that in a world ruled by flesh-eating corpses, no one and nothing is ever truly safe. But even for a show that takes pride in dreaming up new ways to dismantle the human body, last night's killings were remarkably gory—the bloodiest deaths in the show's history and perhaps television's as well." He also added, "The killings were vicious and brutal, and, even for some fans of the show's generally gory approach, more than they were willing to bear. To judge from social media, last night's episode prompted an exodus of fans who'd given the show the benefit of the doubt and felt they'd not only been cheated but had their noses rubbed in it. … [The episode] 'The Day Will Come When You Won't Be' makes it clear that the drive to provide more and greater shocks has overwhelmed the show's always-tenuous commitment to story and character: The Walking Dead has become the dramatic equivalent of clickbait."

Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who portrays the bat-wielding human villain, Negan, told USA Today, "That was a lot of violence. When we shot it, there was even more. I think the shots that were really creepy were where you couldn't exactly see what was going on except for the silhouette of Negan with the bat coming down, with the blood flying. I don't know if you need to see the closeup gore of it all. It's a lot." [slate.com 10/24/16; theverge.com, 10/24/16; usatoday.com, 10/27/16]

Australia's Porn-Free City

As part of a campaign to combat violence against women, local leaders and Christian ministries in Toowoomba, Australia, have teamed up to try to make their city porn free. City Women chief executive Letitia Shelton admitted that an actual porn-free city "sounds very ambitious and unlikely," but she stated that she believes that curbing many of porn's negative influences is achievable. "Look at the anti-smoking campaign, there has been a huge reduction in smoking," Shelton said. "You'll never stop it, but you can show people the impacts it has on your life." Pledge cards with the heading "A City Free from Porn" were passed around at a city gathering and participants were invited to read: "I acknowledge that viewing pornography promotes the exploitation of women and violence against women, and it damages families. I commit that I won't view porn and I will help create a city free from porn." [christianpost.com, 10/20/16]