Wednesday, June 9th, 2021


Endow Jones Index

It was called the sharing economy. But what really being shared was billions of investment dollars from tech venture capital firms looking to use money as a weapon in the race to the top. What it meant for consumers was that our rides, resorts, and refreshments were all being subsidized by investors as part of a customer acquisition land grab. The prices seemed too good to be true because they were. "For years, these subsidies allowed us to live Balenciaga lifestyles on Banana Republic budgets. Collectively, we took millions of cheap Uber and Lyft rides, shuttling ourselves around like bourgeois royalty while splitting the bill with those companies' investors. We plunged MoviePass into bankruptcy by taking advantage of its $9.95-a-month, all-you-can-watch movie ticket deal, and took so many subsidized spin classes that ClassPass was forced to cancel its $99-a-month unlimited plan. We filled graveyards with the carcasses of food delivery start-ups — Maple, Sprig, SpoonRocket, Munchery — just by accepting their offers of underpriced gourmet meals." But at a point, even the winning companies have to charge more than they spend. And in many cases, that point appears to be now. NYT: Farewell, Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy. In short, your allowance just got cut off.


Chinese Body Checkers

"In a chamber often racked by partisan division, Democrats and Republicans found rare accord over the sprawling measure, known as the United States Innovation and Competition Act, as lawmakers warned that Washington risked ceding the country's technological leadership to one of its foremost geopolitical adversaries." WaPo: Senate approves sprawling $250 billion bill to curtail China's economic and military ambitions.

+ The Verge: Biden revokes and replaces Trump orders banning TikTok and WeChat. Trump is still banned from social media, but TikTok is in the clear. My 12-year-old daughter is getting tired of all the winning.


Put Out Putin

"When President George W. Bush first met Vladimir Putin, he seemed smitten, describing the still-new Russian leader as 'very straightforward and trustworthy,' even claiming he got 'a sense of his soul.' A certain Democratic senator from Delaware had a very different reaction." As Biden embarks on his European trip, he has two key goals: to convince allies that the US has their backs. And to make it clear to Putin that the administration no longer has his. Biden disliked Putin before it was cool.

+ And Biden comes to the G7 talks bearing gifts. WaPo: Biden administration to buy 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to donate to the world. (Oh, and I, uh, brought this nice bottle of wine...)

+ "A horde of Brood X cicadas had filled the plane's engines, causing mechanical issues that delayed takeoff. Eventually, White House aides had to find another plane for reporters to make it overseas." A Plane Carrying Biden's Press Corps Was About To Take Off. Then The Cicadas Swarmed. (Might want to tone down that negative insect coverage.)


Reverse Commute

"In its pre-pandemic heyday, we very narrowly thought of the commute as doing one job: getting us to and from our place of work. But clearly, the commute was doing something more, something that we failed to appreciate. What was it?" The Atlantic: The Psychological Benefits of Commuting to Work. (It's not about commuting to work. It's about being alone in a car, and it works a lot better during weeks when Howard Stern is on the air. Bababooey.)


Gimme Some More, Mon

"The bill that emerged from the compromise was more conservative than the referendum approved by voters. Patients can't smoke marijuana flower — they can only vaporize it — and there is a lower monthly purchase limit that some advocates say is barely enough for patients with severe conditions." But the rules aren't the big story. It's who approved those rules. How the Mormon church unlocked medical pot for deep red states.


Case Scenario

"The department likely held its nose and winced in making the argument, but they're playing the long game," said Michael Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Washington, DC. "They don't want to be seen as pro-Trump, but they are looking at protection of federal officials and the President in the future." Why the Biden Justice Department wants to help Donald Trump fight a defamation lawsuit.

+ Slate: Why Is Merrick Garland Defending Donald Trump?

+ WaPo: "The Justice Department in a court filing Tuesday said it can 'vigorously' defend a religious exemption from federal civil rights law that allows federally funded religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students, a move that surprised some LGBTQ advocates who said the wording went further than just an obligation to defend an existing law."


We’re (almost) All Good

"Framing one's health as a matter of personal choice 'is fundamentally against the very notion of public health,' Aparna Nair, a historian and anthropologist of public health at the University of Oklahoma, told me. 'For that to come from one of the most powerful voices in public health today … I was taken aback.' (The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.) It was especially surprising coming from a new administration." Ed Yong in The Atlantic: The Fundamental Question of the Pandemic Is Shifting We understand how this will end. But who bears the risk that remains?


Twin Peaks

"San Francisco is still recording a small number of coronavirus cases, about 13.7 per day, said Dr George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at University of California San Francisco, but they don't appear to be gaining enough of a foothold in the population to trigger wider outbreaks. 'That is what herd immunity looks like,' Rutherford said. 'You're going to have single cases, but they're not going to propagate out.'" San Francisco may be first major US city to hit herd immunity. (We're also first in the National League West, baby.)


Writer’s Block

Patrick Radden Keefe was testifying in front of Congress on the case of the Sackler family and the opioid crisis. Keefe literally wrote the book on the topic. At the hearing, he was greeted by Kentucky's James Comer who ripped him for several minutes for being an author. It's so stupid, it's funny. But attacking academics and writers who tell the truth is fascism 101. So don't laugh.


Bottom of the News

And don't laugh at this either, because it has an impact on health and democracy. "They can put a key on their forehead, it sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think there's a metal piece to that. There's been people who have long suspected that there was some sort of an interface, yet to be defined interface, between what's being injected in these shots and all of the 5G towers." That's a doctor making remarks at a hearing on vaccine bill in Ohio.

+ Starbucks stores across the US are experiencing shortages on some items due to supply problems. (I just added a gallon of Caramel Syrup to my go bag.)

+ A microscopic animal has been revived after slumbering in the Arctic permafrost for 24,000 years. (And it was like, come on, just let me sleep for five more minutes.)