Monday, May 8th, 2017


Getting Giggy With It

It's long been described as the sharing economy. But, of course, there is little real sharing going on. The gig economy is just another way to pay people to give you a ride or rent you a room or bring you a meal. Even if the sharing economy is really the on-demand economy, does it represent a new, more worker-friendly, more altruistic version of the working life? The New Yorker's Nathan Heller wonders: Is The Gig Economy Working? "The American workplace is both a seat of national identity and a site of chronic upheaval and shame. The industry that drove America's rise in the nineteenth century was often inhumane. The twentieth-century corrective—a corporate workplace of rules, hierarchies, collective bargaining, triplicate forms—brought its own unfairnesses. Gigging reflects the endlessly personalizable values of our own era, but its social effects, untried by time, remain uncertain." In a perfect version of the sharing economy, I would summarize Heller's findings and deliver them to you in easily digestable, bite-sized chunks. But once you see the rates I charge, I have a feeling you'll want to try Task Rabbit.


Rocky Mountain High

Looking for a miracle to add more years to your life? You might want to start with a U-Haul. If you happen to live in the high country of central Colorado, your life expectancy numbers are looking pretty good. But America is in an era of great divisions, and the number of years you can expect to live marks perhaps the most important and dangerous divide. According to the latest numbers, US life expectancy varies by more than 20 years from county to county.


Macron Takes the Fifth

For much of the world, the broader storyline of Emmanuel Macron's victory over Marine LePen is that globalism stopped the momentum of nationalism. But the French election was about more than that, and Macron's win will be studied not just in terms of policy, but in terms of strategy. "Macron's extraordinary path to victory is the story of a candidate that chose to be bold –- and to break, on his way to power, many of the conventional rules that have defined the European politics of late." From Buzzfeed: 6 Ways Emmanuel Macron Rewrote The Script of European Politics.

+ "It's entirely unprecedented in the Fifth Republic. It's extraordinarily unusual, the way he has broken through the system -- coming from nowhere." WaPo:
Emmanuel Macron's unlikely path to the French presidency.

+ "He faces two main problems -- a complete lack of representation in parliament and a deeply divided country." For Emmanuel Macron, now comes the hard part.

+ "Instead, biographer Anne Fulda has written, they thought he had a crush on Laurence Auzière, a girl in his class at school. It was, in fact, her mum he was falling for.
When his parents found out, the account continues, they asked her to stay away from him until he was 18. 'I can't promise anything,' she said." BBC: Meet Brigitte Macron, the new first lady.


Make America Yates Again?

"To state the obvious you don't want your national security advisor compromised with the Russians." As her Russia-Trump testimony began, Sally Yates said that she believed that Michael Flynn was "compromised" and warned the White House about it. Here are the live updates from CNN.

+ "The warning, which has not been previously reported, came less than 48 hours after the November election when the two sat down for a 90-minute conversation in the Oval Office." President Obama warned Trump against hiring Mike Flynn a couple days after the election.

+ Eli Lake: Washington Loves General McMaster, But Trump Doesn't. "Trump was livid, according to three White House officials, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president's threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy."

+ The Daily Beast: A Hidden Hand in the Trump-Russia Drama Owns a Ramen Shop. No, Seriously. (Politics has a knack for ruining things. Let's not let it ruin Ramen...)


Cataloging the Fall of Sears

"'The Sears catalog had an even bigger impact in 1900 than Amazon has had today,' said Robert Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University and author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Like today's e-commerce powerhouse, the Sears catalog provided shoppers more choice than ever before, and at lower prices. Sears freed shoppers from the tyranny of the local general merchant and improved their living standards. 'The cost of living went down the minute Sears became available.'" Sears was the original retail disrupter. But times change. Here's Bloomberg on the long, slow, painful, unprecedented Fall of Sears.


Don’t Lie to My Face(book)

"Americans spend about six times as much of their time cleaning dishes as they do golfing. But there are roughly twice as many tweets reporting golfing as there are tweets reporting doing the dishes." In the NYT, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has some advice: Don't Let Facebook Make You Miserable. (You know everything that you put on Facebook is a lie. So why do you believe everything everyone else shares is true?)


Marathon Man

From WaPo: Science, Nike, and Eliud Kipchoge (not necessarily in that order) nearly pulled off a 2-hour marathon. I watched the run, and it was amazing to see Kipchoge's remarkable grace as he essentially sprinted for just over two hours. It was also nice to see humans of different countries, cultures, and colors working together towards one goal. It's better when only the clock is the enemy.

+ "Only from 35 kilometers did he slow, and then by 2 seconds per kilometer!" FiveThirtyEight: One Runner Came Tantalizingly Close To A 2-Hour Marathon.

+ Nike might have shown us the future of marathon racing. They definitely showed us the future of brand marketing. "In terms of planning, marketing and ambition, it's easily comparable to 2012's Red Bull Stratos ... even if the feat is literally much closer to Earth." Adweek with the Story Behind Nike's Ambitious Effort.


You Know, For Kids

"While spinners are nothing more than a Detroit-based soul act from the early 1970s to most people, early-adopter entrepreneurs are beginning to sense a potential fidget-based gold rush." The NYT's Alex Williams pieces together a surprisingly long timeline to track How Fidget Spinners Became a Hula-Hoop for Generation Z. As a parent, this trend is equal parts interesting (physical fidget devices are becoming huge in an era of digital distractions), irritating (seriously, these things are ridiculous), and liberating (the highly nonsensical fidget spinners have seemed to replace the much more insidious and terrible bottle flipping-trend).


Doctor’s (Takeout) Orders

"Back around 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek doctor, had this missive: Let food be thy medicine." And now some hospitals are finally catching up with the advice. NPR on Fresh Food By Prescription.

+ NYT: Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong.

+ Bloomberg: Doughnuts are on a Global Rampage, and They Must Be Stopped.


Bottom of the News

"It's not uncommon for companies to try to finesse their way out of a hefty tax bill, but one Manhattan strip club tried a unique excuse when attempting to skirt $3.1 million in state taxes: Its dancers were providing therapy to customers, and not just entertainment." (In fairness, most of the patients did seem pretty happy.)

+ Dove has captured the attention of the Internet with its Real Beauty Bottles -- consumers seem to be invited to choose a bottle shape based on their body type. (I combined aspiration and reality by buying the skinniest bottle, and then coming home and pouring it all over the couch.)

+ Bill Clinton teams with James Patterson to write White House thriller. (Like we really need another one of those at this point...)