Good Reads: From teens and Facebook to the culinary tastes of ‘Dear Leader’ to a new 5G cellphone

This week's round-up of Good Reads includes Facebook losing favor among teens, the first menial jobs of the rich and famous, reminiscences by Kim Jong-il's sushi chef, new campuses for the headquarters of tech giants, and the world's fastest cellphone.

Nick Ut/AP
Most teenagers have a Facebook account they check every day.

Fading enthusiasm for Facebook

Teenagers hate Facebook, according to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. They also can’t get enough of it. The report found that 94 percent of American teens are on Facebook, more than on any other social network. But many of the young respondents have lost enthusiasm for the site, complaining about “the increasing adult presence, people sharing excessively, and stressful ‘drama.’” Despite these frustrations, teens say they keep using Facebook because it has become a key part of socializing.

“I think Facebook can be fun, but also it’s drama central,” one girl told a Pew researcher. Another said: “Honestly, I’m on it constantly but I hate it so much.” 

While these findings might seem troubling, they also sound a lot like young people’s feelings about high school in general. The big difference is how the social network follows teens home. Pew found a significant rise in the kind of material that students share on Facebook compared with what was shared in 2006: 92 percent now reveal their real names, 91 percent post personal photos, 24 percent upload videos of themselves, 20 percent publish their phone numbers. 

What was your first job?

Does your first job define you? Kate Rockwood, writing for Fast Company, asked several major names in business and entertainment about where they began. The consensus: You can start from anywhere. 

Among our favorite first jobs in the illustrated slide show: Doug McMillon, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart International, started off unloading boxes in a Wal-Mart warehouse. Before directing the highest-grossing movie of all time (and then breaking his own record), James Cameron was a truck driver. Martha Stewart began as a $50-an-hour model for Chanel and others. Actress and writer Tina Fey kicked off her professional life answering phones at a suburban YMCA. And Liu Chuanzhi, cofounder of computer giant Lenovo, was a laborer in the rice fields during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. 

A sushi chef’s memory of the ‘Dear Leader’ 

The world knows little about North Korea. As Adam Johnson writes in GQ magazine, “We didn’t even know the age of the current leader, Kim Jong-un, until Kenji Fujimoto revealed his birth date. (January 8, 1983.)”

Who is Kenji Fujimoto? For 11 years, he was personal chef, confidant, and court jester to the supreme leader’s father, Kim Jong-il, and at times played nanny to a young Kim Jong-un. Now, after escaping North Korea and taking on an alias, Mr. Fujimoto is the “Japanese intelligence community’s single greatest asset on the Kim family.”

In 1982, Fujimoto signed a one-year contract, agreeing to move from Japan to North Korea and to teach chefs there how to make sushi. One night, he served dinner to a group of generals, party officials, and high-level bureaucrats. Everyone wore military uniforms except a curious fellow in a tracksuit. The mysterious man, whom he did not recognize as Kim Jong-il (“no one ever called him by his real name,” Fujimoto said, “never”), took a liking to him and insisted that the sushi chef join the entourage.

Soon, Fujimoto was tasked with flying around the world, procuring odd ingredients to satisfy his new boss’s culinary whims. Caviar from Iran. Fish from Tokyo. Beer from Denmark. And sometimes fresh Big Macs from the McDonald’s in Beijing.

Palaces for the kingdoms of tech

Amazon, Facebook, and Apple battle one another across more than just the tech market. These industry titans seem locked in a new fight over which has the most innovative, striking, and wild-looking corporate headquarters, report Bill Rigby and Alistair Barr for Reuters. In May, Amazon unveiled plans to bring a taste of the Amazon forest to Seattle. The blueprints show a shining tower standing over three bubble-like terrariums, each large enough to house “mature trees.”

Apple’s upcoming HQ pulls in the company’s favorite adjectives: sleek and smooth. The 2.8-million-square-foot ring looks like a mix between the Pentagon and an iPod click wheel. From the air, the upcoming Facebook expansion resembles a geometric golf course, thanks to its sprawling green roof. Computer-chip maker Nvidia will build two sci-fi-style triangular buildings, each apparently reminiscent of components in its graphics chips.

Fastest cellphone on the planet

While many Americans are still on their first 4G cellphone, Korean tech giant Samsung recently showed off early trials for its lightning-fast 5G mobile service, reports David Talbot for MIT Technology Review. To recap, 3G (or third generation) service ratcheted up mobile-data speeds to a point at which people could feasibly stream video to their phones. Over the past few years, phone companies raced to cover the country in 4G service, which is many times faster than 3G. Now, Samsung tells Technology Review that it can beam information to phones at 512 megabits per second. (Comcast’s fastest cable package advertises just 105 megabits per second.)

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