July 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Leaving your kids in the Forest, rethinking Franken, and your toilet paper habit is not sustainable.

“In some variations of the challenge, loosely based on military exercises, adults trail the teams of children, but refuse to guide them, although they may leave cryptic notes as clues. To make it more difficult, adult organizers may even blindfold the children on their way to the dropping, or drive in loop-de-loops to scramble their sense of direction. Sometimes, they hide in the underbrush and make noises like a wild boar. If this sounds a little crazy to you, it is because you are not Dutch.” The NYT on the practice of dropping kids off in the forest and seeing if they can find their way home. A Peculiarly Dutch Summer Rite: Children Let Loose in the Night Woods. I have a similar tradition with my kids, but I drop them off at popular urban intersections with nothing but an iPhone, a few hundred in cash, and their own Uber accounts. (Relax, I follow them with my drone the whole time…)



Al Franken freely admits that he regrets his decision to resign from the Senate. And he’s not alone in that regret. “A remarkable number of Franken’s Senate colleagues have regrets about their own roles in his fall. Seven current and former U.S. senators who demanded Franken’s resignation in 2017 told me that they’d been wrong to do so. Such admissions are unusual in an institution whose members rarely concede mistakes.” The New Yorker’s always excellent Jane Mayer on The Case of Al Franken.


Takin’ it to the Streets

“The protest movement has different factions and additional demands, including pro-democracy activists calling for the right to elect their own government, which is now approved by Beijing. Other demonstrators are asking that those who clashed with police have their charges dropped. And some in the crowd fed up with Lam are calling for her resignation.” NPR: Hong Kong Protests Turn Violent As Clashes Erupt Between Demonstrators And Masked Mob.

+ Where you find mass protests, you often find a massive economic divide. And Hong Kong’s is about as big as they come. NYT: Tiny Apartments and Punishing Work Hours: The Economic Roots of Hong Kong’s Protests.

+ “Governor Ricardo Rosselló, 40, a Democrat and member of the island’s statehood party, said Sunday he would not seek reelection in 2020 and would step down from his role as head of the party.” Turns out just not running again isn’t enough to satisfy Puerto Rico’s protestors. WaPo: Puerto Ricans shut down a major highway and march toward capitol to demand the governor resign.


Iran Clad Story

BBC: “Iran says it has arrested 17 spies who it says were working for the CIA, and sentenced some of them to death. The intelligence ministry said the suspects had been collecting information in the nuclear, military and other sectors.” President Trump took to Twitter to dispute the claims, saying the report is totally false, zero truth, and more lies from a badly failing regime. Later he added, “It’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran.” (Editor’s note: We had a deal with Iran.)


Ticket Master Class

“Live Nation told Billboard that artists rarely seek its help to sell their own tickets on the secondary market anymore, suggesting how fast the business is evolving as artists test its new tools to capture some of the profits that were going to resellers. “Since then, requests like these have declined virtually to zero as tools like dynamic pricing, platinum seats and VIP packages have proven to be more effective at recapturing value previously lost to the secondary market.” Billboard tracks the evolving methods monopolistic ticket sellers use to make sure very few customers get concert seats at face value. Secretly recorded phone call offers window into how Live Nation helped Metallica and other artists place tickets directly on resale market.


Hunger Games

“The riders, once you’re tuned in to them, are everywhere, gliding by stoically, usually on electric bikes, wearing their precious cargo on their backs: the silent swarm of tens of thousands of workers for apps like Seamless and GrubHub and Uber Eats and Caviar and DoorDash and Postmates, crisscrossing the city to gratify New Yorkers’ insatiable need for burgers and pad thai and chicken tikka masala delivered in minutes. For a few days this spring, I was one of them.” Andy Newman in the NYT: My Frantic Life as a Cab-Dodging, Tip-Chasing Food App Deliveryman.

+ “Pizza? Pad Thai? I don’t know, it’s your life! But whatever you do, do not tip through the app on DoorDash.” MoJo: Whatever Else You Do With Your Life, You Should Tip the Delivery Guy in Cash.


Tarmac Daddy

“The fact that young girls were getting out of his helicopter and getting into his plane, it was like he was flaunting it. But it was said that he always tipped really well, so everyone overlooked it … On multiple occasions I saw Epstein exit his helicopter, stand on the tarmac in full view of my tower, and board his private jet with children—female children … One incident in particular really stands out in my mind, because the girls were just so young.” Vanity Fair pays a visit to Jeffrey Epstein’s private island.


Dining Haul

“‘He just knew all the right things to say,’ Meredith told me. He also sent her a fake photograph of a bodybuilder. By the time Meredith sat down in Pasadena’s Mercado restaurant, Mike had already polished off a plate of shrimp tacos. ‘I know it’s probably surprising,’ he said, patting his stomach, ‘But I can eat, like, two meals.'” Jeff Maysh in The Daily Beast: How Scorned Women and a Casanova Cop Caught L.A.’s Dine-and-Dash Dater.


Avatar Disney Capped

The reviews weren’t very good, but that didn’t stop The Lion King from setting an opening weekend box office record for Disney. It was the same weekend when Avengers: Endgame became the highest grossing film ever.

+ Even if you don’t adjust for inflation, the Endgame numbers aren’t as impressive as what Avatar did.


Bottom of the News

“Costco was not alone, however. Georgia-Pacific’s Angel Soft and Quilted Northern brands, Procter & Gamble’s Charmin, and Target’s generic Up & Up Soft & Strong all received failing grades.” The fluffy toilet paper you are buying is helping kill Canada’s ancient forest. (Usually, I’m on the side of sustainability. But when it comes to soft toilet paper, I’m like, “We can probably spare one Canadian forest…”)

+ ESPN: How players reacted to ‘Madden NFL 20’ ratings. (Not the video game players. The actual players.)

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