Friday, August 30th, 2019


The Two Thousand Year Commute

Some days you probably feel like you need a few extra hours in your commute to keep up with your growing podcast queue. But, for the most part, commuters have historically been willing to travel about 30 minutes to get to and from work. (I spent 22 minutes in a Starbucks drive-thru this morning.) "In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, described an idea that has come to be known as the Marchetti Constant. In general, he declared, people have always been willing to commute for about a half-hour, one way, from their homes each day ... From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes." Jonathan English in CityLab: The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History. "To see how, let's travel back in time by more than 2,000 years, and move towards the present. (This journey will take less than 30 minutes.)"


Work Ethic

"If the term 'working homeless' has not yet entered our national vocabulary, there is reason to expect that it soon will. Hidden within the world of homelessness has always been a subset of individuals, usually single parents, with jobs; what's different now is the sheer extent of this phenomenon." TNR: The New American Homeless.

+ "The bottom half of all U.S. households, as measured by wealth, have only recently regained the wealth lost in the 2007-2009 recession and still have 32% less wealth, adjusted for inflation, than in 2003, according to recent Federal Reserve figures. The top 1% of households have more than twice as much as they did in 2003." WSJ: Historic Asset Boom Passes by Half of Families.


Weekend Whats

What to Hear: Very occasionally, you go to see someone in concert and the opening act ends up being the best part of the show. A few decades ago, that happened to me and my friend RD (who proofs many of these blurbs). Since that night, we've been sure to go see John Hiatt every time he's in town. Hiatt was, and is, one of the most respected singer songwriters in the business. I put together a starter playlist on Spotify: John Hiatt: NextDraft Collection. And here's the same playlist on Apple Music. It should provide a great soundtrack for your Labor Day roadtrip.

+ What to Binge: The more new shows we get, the more people seem to like to go back and binge the old ones. Well, Taxi is finally available to stream. It's a great show and a reminder of a time when taxis were just called taxis, and had to be profitable to stay in business. (I'd love to see Louie DePalma run a startup.) Watch Taxi on Amazon Prime.

+ What to Serve: Wimbledon is the most prestigious tournament, but (both on TV and in person) the US Open is always the most fun to watch. On Saturday, the future of Women's tennis will be on full display as the excellent Naomi Osaka takes on the the remarkably delightful 15 year-old phenom Coco Gauff. This women's third round match could end up being the hottest ticket of the whole event.


Three Strikes Needs To Be Out

"Alvin Kennard, who was convicted of first-degree robbery, was 22 when he was first imprisoned in 1983. Now, 36 years on, the 58-year-old is finally to be freed after a judge ordered his release from Donaldson correctional facility in Bessemer." If he was pushing four decades in the joint, he must have done something pretty bad, right? Actually, he robbed a bakery of $50.75 in his 20s.


Cartel It Like It Is

"Another disturbing trend is that young children are being gunned down by killers targeting adults. The Sinaloa and Juarez cartels once prided themselves on their targeted killings, which riddled intended targets with bullets while leaving family members untouched. Now, children are being killed with chilling frequency." PBS Newshour: Mexico's new drug war is more deadly than past violence.


Unequal Playing Field

"The deeper story is that the weed of American-style meritocracy is strangling the roots of youth sports. As parents have recognized that athletic success can burnish college applications, sports have come to resemble just another pre-professional program, with rising costs, hyper-specialization, and massive opportunity-hoarding among the privileged." Derek Thompson: Meritocracy Is Killing High-School Sports.


Dorian Way

"Dorian is expected to become an extremely dangerous major hurricane soon with additional strengthening likely as it heads for the northwestern Bahamas and the Florida Peninsula." Live updates from CNN: Hurricane Dorian intensifies as it heads for US.

+ You can follow the calm leading into the storm via these webcams.


Self Evident

"In his opinion, Judge Joseph M. Getty said that the court had to contend with this question: 'Can a minor legally engaged in consensual sexual activity be his or her own pornographer through the act of sexting?'" Buzzfeed with more evidence that laws are not keeping up with our technology (or reality). A Teen Is A Child P-rnographer For Sexting A Video Of Herself To Her Friends, A Court Ruled.


Fair Game

Step right up as Altlas Obscura takes you On the Midway With the Carnival Game Investigators Out to Protect Your Summer Fun. "A retired police officer in Dearborn, Michigan, Margittay has found a second act as a crusader, and his cause is to root out, expose, and rid the world of shifty carnival games. He can't stand when fraud stands in the way of fun. So in the place of fun, when he visits a fair, he collects evidence." (Finding rigged carnival games seems like a side gig that would keep a person pretty damn busy...)


Feel Good Friday

"Magennis ... was home alone Tuesday, Aug. 13 and called Comcast customer services to address a problem with his cable. He put his phone on speaker and placed it on a table, so he could take notes while he spoke. But when the customer services representative answered on the other end, Magennis was unable to get a word out." Customer services representative 800 miles away helps save life of man having a stroke. (Yup, I just featured a feel good story about a customer service call...)

+ Pinterest to direct vaccine searches to health sites. (I'm glad that Pinterest is directing vaccine searches to health sites. I'm worried that people are searching for vaccine information at Pinterest.)

+ KFC's plant-based 'chicken' sold out in five hours. (It doesn't really matter if it's meat or not, as long as it's fried...)

+ Iowa officer responds to kid with fear of monsters in his room.

+ Louisiana teen wears hilarious costumes to greet little brother at bus stop every day.

+ The Verge: Sony Celebrates 40 Years Of Walkman In Tokyo. (I miss the days when my music couldn't be interrupted by the internet.)

+ College football players shave their heads to support coach battling cancer.

+ Detroit man pays tax bill for woman about to lose her home.

+ A Charlotte teen registered people to vote as they waited in Popeyes line.