Friday, June 16th, 2017


Welcome to the Jungle

Sorry, the hot food section of the buffet is reserved for Prime members. That guy in aisle four is here to pick up the headphones he ordered online. And if you need a price check, you can just ask Alexa. The early days of the Internet were all about new, tech-fueled indie companies using their tools to take on the big corporations. Now, those tech upstarts are the big corporations, and their aspirations are far greater than those of the companies they disrupted. The latest sign of such ambitions is Amazon's $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods. A company that started out as digital bookseller has moved into nearly every product category; it's in your living room, on your TV screen, in your mailbox, and now its worked its way into your most basic need - the food you eat. Amazon's size and scope is surpassing the reach of the jungle from which it borrowed its name. It's even quite likely that the site where you first heard about this acquisition was powered in part by Amazon's servers. If all that sounds like a lot to digest, don't worry. Amazon sells fiber too.

+ NYT: "The online retailer is on a collision course with Walmart to try to be the predominant seller of pretty much everything you buy."

+ Recode: "The deal gives Jeff Bezos something else he craves: More than 400 brick-and-mortar stores that could also serve as same-day delivery hubs, especially in urban centers."

+ 16 fun facts about Whole Foods.

+ How is the market reacting? Amazon just erased $32 billion from its competitors' market caps. (Let them eat Kombucha.)


Netflix and Bill

Speaking of tech companies that are changing the world order in their industries, "the largest cable-TV providers in the US now have fewer combined subscribers than the streaming service Netflix." Orange is the new green.


Weekend Whats

What to Endure: This is a hard documentary to watch. I had to take a couple breaks and force myself to watch the whole thing. I know, that doesn't sound like a rave review. But it really is worth your time to watch NatGeo's look at the fall of Syria and the rise of ISIS: Hell on Earth. While we're talking about bombing airfields over a "beautiful piece of chocolate cake," hundreds of thousands are being killed and millions more brutalized.

+ What to Rock: Longtime readers know I'm a big fan of the British rock duo Royal Blood. Their much-anticipated second album is out today. How Did We Get So Dark is available on your favorite streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music. The band features one bass, one set of drums, and a lot of rock. Speaking of rock, Bob Seger (who may have been the last of the holdouts) just released his catalog to streaming services.

+ What to Read: Stephen King says, "The Force is mesmerizing, a triumph. Think The Godfather, only with cops. It's that good." And that's a lukewarm review compared to what others are saying about Don Winslow's new novel. It comes out in a few days, so order your copy now.


Close, But No Cigar

"America has rejected the Cuban people's oppressors. They are rejected officially today -- rejected." And with that, President Trump rolled back some (but not all) of Obama's Cuba policy shifts. Also, a memo from Homeland Security John Kelly stated that, "Obama's 2012 order that shielded Dreamers -- young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children -- 'will remain in effect.' That program, known as DACA, began five years ago this week."

+ Another day, another Twitter rant. This time, Rod Rosenstein appears to be the target. "I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt." From WaPo: Trump appears to confirm obstruction investigation in morning Tweet rant.

+ NY Daily News: "She's arranged tournaments at Trump golf courses, served as the liaison to the Trump family during his presidential campaign, and even arranged Eric Trump's wedding. Now President Trump has appointed longtime loyalist Lynne Patton -- who has zero housing experience and claims a law degree the school says she never earned -- to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York." On the other hand, well, nah, I've got nothing...


He Said, She Said, He Did

"This court finds that by instructing Mr. Roy to get back in the truck constitutes wanton and reckless conduct by Ms. Carter, creating a situation where there is a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to Mr. Roy." From Buzzfeed: The woman who encouraged her boyfriend to kill himself was just found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


Chip and Fail

"By December 1992, something rare had happened. All three studies -- all paid for by the industry -- showed similar results: roughly a doubling of the rate of miscarriages for thousands of potentially exposed women. This time the industry reacted quickly. SIA pointed to a family of toxic chemicals widely used in chipmaking as the likely cause and declared that its companies would accelerate efforts to phase them out. IBM went further: It pledged to rid its global chip production of them by 1995 ... Despite industry skepticism, three scientific studies led to changes that helped generations of women. 'That's almost a fairy tale in public health.'" Then the chipmaking duties got outsourced to other countries. But the scientific results didn't. And the fairytale ended. From Businessweek: American Chipmakers Had a Toxic Problem. Then They Outsourced It.

+ WaPo: America's new tobacco crisis: The rich stopped smoking, the poor didn't.


Sex, Guise, and Videotape

"This week's scandal on Bachelor in Paradise, involving allegations of sexual misconduct between cast members DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios, demonstrates the risks that both cast members and producers face when they sacrifice safety and self-interest on the altar of reality-TV spectacle." A producer explains how sex is orchestrated on reality shows.


Drill Seekers

When you think of Arizona border crossings, you probably picture Mexicans trying to make their way into the US. But there is another group of refugees headed in the other direction: dental refugees. In Los Algodones, there are 6,000 dentists waiting to service clients who can't afford dental care in the US. From Buzzfeed: Filling the Gap: "You see people with gauze in their mouth…drooling at the slot machine and you know why they're there." (That quote pretty accurately describes every Vegas trip I've ever taken.)


Marry, Marry Someone Contrary?

"In 1960, just 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said they would be unhappy if a son or daughter married someone from the other party." In other words, the rage between parties is not the same as is ever was. From NYT Upshot: How We Became Bitter Political Enemies.

+ How bad has it gotten? Even Ted Nugent says he's gonna tone things down. (In that case, I'll put Cat Scratch Fever back into my playlist rotation...)


Bottom of the News

If you're still at the office and it seems like you're the only one, it could be because Summer Fridays off are all the rage this year.

+ WaPo: The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. (That headline is a bit misleading. It's not really surprising at all...)

+ Fortune: The Fidget Spinner Trend Is Ending and You Missed It. (Alternatively, the search numbers for fidget spinners are dropping because every friggin kid is too distracted by their fidget spinner to care about the Internet anymore...)

+ There's one simple way to improve the lives of your friends and followers (and dramatically improve the level of discourse at your next dinner party). Spread the word about NextDraft.