Thursday, October 10th, 2013


The Question Mark

"When Amazon employees get a Bezos question mark e-mail, they react as though they've discovered a ticking bomb. They've typically got a few hours to solve whatever issue the CEO has flagged and prepare a thorough explanation for how it occurred, a response that will be reviewed by a succession of managers before the answer is presented to Bezos himself. Such escalations, as these e-mails are known, are Bezos's way of ensuring that the customer's voice is constantly heard inside the company." Amazon competes with companies like Wal-Mart and has dominated the online retail space. Amazon competes with Apple when it comes to devices and the sales of digital goods. Amazon provides web services for companies like Dropbox. Amazon is your favorite store. Amazon is the device on which you read. Amazon is your hard drive in the cloud. In BloombergBusinessweek, Brad Stone explains how Amazon became the everything store and gives you a glimpse into the world of Jeff Bezos and his question marks.


Let’s Keep This Short

Short story writer Alice Munro just became Canada's first recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Great, now I have to learn how to read Canadian. Here's a brief overview of Alice Munro's life and work.

+ Munro on why she writes short stories. "And I even start novels. But something happens to them. They break up. I look at what I really want to do with the material, and it never turns out to be a novel. But when I was younger, it was simply a matter of expediency. I had small children, I didn't have any help. Some of this was before the days of automatic washing machines, if you can actually believe it. There was no way I could get that kind of time. I couldn't look ahead and say, this is going to take me a year, because I thought every moment something might happen that would take all time away from me."

+ Here's an archive of Munro's short stories that appeared in The New Yorker.

+ Writing short stories has always been a tough way to make a living. Technology could alter that reality a bit.


Delayed Gratification

House Republicans are floating a plan that would include a short term debt limit increase. That could mean six more weeks of bickering. But at least the United States will be able to make payments to all these holders of U.S. Treasury debt.

+ Will that end the government shutdown? That's unclear. Until we know, the U.S. Park Police should let Chris Cox go ahead an mow the lawn.

+ At this moment, these nine companies have more cash on hand than the U.S. government.


Married with (315 Million) Children

"In the final days of his presidency, George W. Bush sat behind his desk in the Oval Office, chewing gum and staring into the distance as two White House lawyers briefed him on the possible last-minute pardon of I. Lewis Libby. 'Do you think he did it?' Bush asked. 'Yeah' one of the lawyers said. 'I think he did it.'" In the NYT Magazine, Peter Baker provides a very interesting -- and somewhat surprising -- account of the working relationship between Bush and Cheney: The Final Insult in the Bush-Cheney Marriage.


Blood Brothers

"The riders had known they would be asked to take blood at some point in the Tour, but weren't told when. As had happened before, someone -- sometimes a motorcycle driver who had been hired to do it, sometimes the team chef, sometimes a security worker -- had delivered the blood immediately before the transfusions. Engine trouble was just a ruse designed to outsmart the journalists and the French police who suspected the Postal team of doping." This excerpt from a book called Wheelmen shows the lengths to which cyclists -- led by Lance Armstrong -- went to gain an advantage in the impossibly difficult Tour De France.


Your Inner Spielberg

Thanks to high speed connections, the ubiquity of video camera-enabled smartphones, and your cat's seemingly never-ending ability to create entertainment, the Internet has morphed into the world's largest movie theater. Nearly 20 percent of American adults "share videos online that they have recorded or created themselves." Why? To go viral. Here are Pew's latest numbers when it comes to posting and watching videos online.


The Tasting Menu

Syndicated from Kottke: McDonald's recently held an event where chefs took the ingredients used to make McDonald's menu items and used them to make dishes that one might find at a nice restaurant.

+ The chefs certainly have enough ingredients to work with. Check out Buzzfeed's list of twelve fast food items with a ridiculous number of ingredients.


If You Have to Ask…

How much is your Las Vegas mansion worth? Well that depends on how much Satan was worshipped there. Welcome to the weird world of assessing the value of stigmatized properties.


A Lengthy Term

How did Detroit drop so far so fast? There were a lot of factors. But one of them was government corruption. And no single person represents the era of Detroit corruption better than former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. He just got sentenced to 28 years (yes, 28) in federal prison.

+ "Over the past 80 years, five Detroit mayors and four county executives have either been sent to prison, were the subjects of federal probes, or were removed from office." Charlie LeDuff on Detroit's corrupt political past.


The Bottom of the News

No one expected free and fair elections in Azerbaijan. So it certainly wasn't a surprise that President Ilham Aliyev won in a landslide. It was, however, a bit surprising that those results were released a day before voting began.

+ Well, Kanye and Kimmel made up. "For me to say I wasn't a genius, I would just be lying to you and to myself." But the beef between Obama and Kris Jenner is just getting started.

+ These are some of the most amazing Lego projects ever made. My kids got bored with Lego. So now I just have them build Ikea furniture.