Tuesday, November 26th, 2019


Wait For It…

"Amazon's famous speed and technological innovation have driven the company's massive global expansion and a valuation well over $800 billion. It's also helped make Amazon the nation's second-largest private employer behind Walmart and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, one of the richest humans on Earth. Now, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that the company's obsession with speed has turned its warehouses into injury mills." Yeah, we like our packages to arrive fast. But do we really need them that fast, all the time? Before you answer, check out this report on Amazon's injuries that exposes the true toll of its relentless drive for speed. Behind the Smiles.

+ "Amazon flourished over its first two decades with little opposition and less scrutiny. A new coalition and a report unveiled on Tuesday make clear that era is over." NYT: Activists Build a Grass-Roots Alliance Against Amazon. (All these stories about big tech are really the same story. How big is too big? How much is too much? By now, both answers are probably in the rearview mirror.)


Support Hose

"The airline industry, which has been working to curb the number of comfort animals onboard, has recently found an ally among the nation's war wounded. Some veterans and service dog organizations say the overuse of untrained dogs, pigs, rodents and amphibians — and, at least once, a small sloth — as emotional support companions has made it difficult for veterans to get acceptance for their properly trained service animals on airplanes and beyond." Jennifer Steinhauer in the NYT: Veterans Join Airlines in Pushback Against Conduct Unbecoming a Support Dog. (When I read the following lede, I figured this was just another article on politics.) "It seemed, in retrospect, a bit of a low point — a medium-size dog racing through an airplane at 30,000 feet, spraying diarrhea toward passengers throughout the cabin."


Life is Short(er)

"About a third of the estimated 33,000 'excess deaths' that the study says occurred since 2010 were in just four states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana — the first two of which are critical swing states in presidential elections. The state with the biggest percentage rise in death rates among working-age people in this decade — 23.3 percent — is New Hampshire, the first primary state." In case you needed further evidence that everything is political, premature death has been added to the list. But one thing that both parties can agree on: A drop in American life expectancy for three consecutive years is a bleak reality, and the last thing most observers were expecting. 'There's something terribly wrong': Americans are dying young at alarming rates.


Auburn Heir

"On this day, they've done what mothers and fathers do all the time: A child presented them with a choice. They talked about it. They made a decision. They followed through. It was, by almost any measure, a fairly ordinary act of parenting. Except for this: Josh is not their son." ESPN: Loss, love and a promise kept for the voice of Auburn football. "This is a story about a terrible accident and the unfairness of life and the ineffable compassion of friends and that spindly, ever-spreading spider web of emotion that we all bring to our own interpretations of family."


Thirty Something

"On Monday, three men — now graying and in their 50s — walked out of prison, freed after spending all of their adult lives behind bars. Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart appeared relieved but also perplexed as they emerged to tell a cluster of waiting news cameras about their years in prison, waging what often seemed like a hopeless fight to prove their innocence in the long-ago murder that they had always insisted they did not commit." NYT: They Spent 36 Years Behind Bars for Murder. Someone Else Did It.

+ "She is one of millions of family members of people in prisons and jails across the United States who fund the $1.2bn prison phone industry, an industry that prison reform advocates have been trying – and failing – to fix for years and that the Federal Communications Commission head, Mignon Clyburne, called 'the greatest, most distressing, type of injustice I have ever seen in the communications sector.'" The Guardian: 'They're profiting off pain': the push to rein in the $1.2bn prison phone industry. (Editor's note: Sick.)

+ Reason: West Virginia Inmates Will Be Charged by the Minute to Read E-Books on Tablets. (Editor's note: See previous editor's note.)


Kush Job

"Kushner has clashed with the career officials who have questioned some of his ideas, such as installing web cameras to live-stream construction. He has blamed former chief of staff John F. Kelly and former homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for not focusing enough on the wall, senior administration officials said. For their part, former officials have said Kushner displays a lack of knowledge of the policy issues and politics involved in the immigration debate." Jared Kushner's new assignment: Overseeing the construction of Trump's border wall. (Given Jared's track record, this could be good news for those who oppose the wall...)

+ Although the decision will be appealed, a federal judge ruled former White House counsel Don McGahn must speak to House. She made the point pretty strongly: "Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings." (I think he meant the past 247 years...)

+ Here's Trump on his minions giving testimony: "I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify." (Future presidents. That's a phrase that made me smile.) Here's the latest from the impeach pit from CNN and WaPo.


Base Runners

Gregory Thomas in the SF Chronicle: The secret BASE jumpers of California. "Without a trail to guide them, the jumpers followed a dry creek bed to a vast scree field on Morrison's flank, forging through brambles in the dark. Up and over the summit ridge of the crumbling crag they found their destination, the tip of a white buttress peeking out of the mountain's shadow and into the bright sun. It is one of the rare natural exit points in California where wingsuit BASE jumping is logistically feasible and technically legal. The reward for the grueling approach was to be a 55-second flight. 'It'll be nice to not have to run away as soon as I land this time.' [This] was to be his first legal wingsuit flight in California." (I was already scared just reading about the hike...)

+ Winners of the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest 2019.


Offspring Break

"Parents spent more on education, toys, and games. But nothing grew faster than per-child spending on child care, which increased by a factor of 21—or approximately 2,000 percent—in those 40 years." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: Why Child Care Is So Ridiculously Expensive. (And yet, during the holiday season, priceless...)


Claim Jumping

This, it turns out, is "standard practice because the premiums typically exceed potential damages in the long-term." Bloomberg: After $1 Billion Theft, German Museum Finds It Has No Insurance.


Bottom of the News

"Kross cuts through the moans and shouts from off-camera: 'Someone go wide!' She's telling the cameramen to make sure they are adequately capturing the reverse gang bang of Ferrara—the love of her life." The 'Mess of Complexity' in Directing Your P-rn Star Partner. (Finally, another couple that can relate to what it's like when my wife and I proofread each other's newsletters...)

+ "But first, understand, this is a strange and misunderstood tradition that doesn't go back as far as you might think and has been sustained by a special interest group — the turkey lobby." NPR: I Beg Your Pardon: The Strange History Of Presidents Sparing Turkeys. (In this year's White House Thanksgiving event, Trump only pardoned the white meat.)