Thursday, October 7th, 2021


The Point of No Return

My son and I are scheduled to go clothes shopping. When I was a kid, such a plan usually resulted in my mom and me browsing the husky section of the local department store. For my son and me, the shopping excursion will likely take place online. Because of that, some of the stuff won't fit or won't be what he was expecting. In our house that means the item goes on a shelf somewhere to be ignored in perpetuity and the box gets tossed into the garage where, we hope, at some point, it will decompose. For most people, this scenario means returning the item. "All of that unwanted stuff piles up. Some of it will be diverted into a global shadow industry of bulk resellers, some of it will be stripped for valuable parts, and some of it will go directly into an incinerator or a landfill." Amanda Mull in The Atlantic: The Nasty Logistics of Returning Your Too-Small Pants. (It's almost as depressing as the nasty logistics of trying to squeeze into them...)

+ "One-hour errands are now multi-hour odysseys. Next-day deliveries are becoming day-after-next deliveries. That car part you need? It'll take an extra week, sorry. The book you were looking for? Come back in November. The baby crib you bought? Make it December. Eyeing a new home-improvement job that requires several construction workers? Haha, pray for 2022." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: America Is Running Out of Everything.

+ "Foreman calculates 1,800 Tonka trucks fit on each 40-foot container. So at $20,000 per container, that's costing him $11 each. That's up from an average of $1.75 each in a typical year." Toymakers race to get products on shelves amid supply clogs. (Because of shipping container price hikes, expect smaller toys to be the most available this holiday season.)


Texas, There’s a New Sheriff In Town

"This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right." A judge blocked Texas's six-week abortion ban, but it's uncertain if abortions will resume.


Children of the Scorn

"We as a society, with public funding, spend so much less on children before kindergarten than once they reach kindergarten ... And yet the science of child development shows how very important investment in the youngest ages are, and we get societal benefits from those investments." The NYT's excellent Claire Cain Miller on How Other Nations Pay for Child Care. "Rich countries contribute an average of $14,000 per year for a toddler's care, compared with $500 in the U.S. The Democrats' spending bill tries to shrink the gap." (Gift Article for NextDraft readers, except toddlers who will be required to pay full price so we don't risk creating an entitlement society.)


Overturning a Blind Eye

"Trump directly asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election result, and his chief of staff Mark Meadows broke administration policy by pressuring a Justice Department lawyer to investigate claims of election fraud." Senate Judiciary Committee issues sweeping report detailing how Trump and a top DOJ lawyer attempted to overturn 2020 election. (We know. We know. But this means nothing unless we do something about it. He's still trying to overturn the last election and laying the groundwork to overturn the next one.)

+ Top Trump aides set to defy subpoenas in Capitol attack investigation. (I still remember when it was frowned upon to RSVP No to a Congressional subpoena.)


42 Faced

The power to round up thousands of Haitians at the border and fly them to Port-au-Prince "came in large part from an obscure, controversial policy called Title 42. Granted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it gives the federal government the power to block 'non-essential' travel at the border in the event of an emergency involving communicable diseases. The patrolmen on horseback who were photographed menacing migrants, Biden said, were 'beyond an embarrassment.' They were 'simply not who we are.'" But Title 42 is who we are. Jonathan Blitzer in The New Yorker: How Biden Came to Own Trump's Policy at the Border.


Zanzibar Raised

"For his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents." Zanzibar-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah won this year's Nobel Prize in literature.


Whats Aaaaap?

"In Lebanon, COVID-19 tests can be ordered on the app. In Argentina, a chatbot connects patients to doctors to report COVID symptoms. A Philippine diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates uses the app as a hotline for its citizens working in the country. In Brazil, citizens use an in-app directory of 1000s of retailers." (Some) Americans might be able to live without Facebook for a few hours. But much of the world depends on WhatsApp.


Fridge Magnet

"Amazon is reportedly aiming to bring some of the tech it uses at cashierless Amazon Go stores to your kitchen ... The company has been working on a smart fridge that can monitor items and help you order replacements if you're running low on something." (It's only a matter of time before Amazon inserts itself into your colon, using a scaled-down Blue Origin rocket as a delivery mechanism.)


Gorilla and My Eye Mist

"A mountain gorilla whose picture went viral after she photobombed a park ranger's selfie has died at 14." Mountain gorilla who became selfie star dies in the arms of her caretaker.


Bottom of the News

"'Erotic audios go deeper than visual,' Mistress Lillith says. 'It starts to touch the client on a more cerebral level.'" Inside the secretly vibrant business of p-rn MP3s. (In the business, we call this ear-waxing off.)

+ "The structure, located in the covered walkway connecting East 10th and East 11th streets, is a Telepoem Booth. People can examine the booth's directory, dial a number on the old-fashioned rotary phone and hear a poem read aloud." Dubuque telephone booth offers direct line to poetry." (I mean, you just have to enter an enclosed public space, touch a shared dial, and let the earpiece of a communal phone actually touch the flesh of your ear. I'm not sure even erotic audio is worth that...)

+ Planes, Trains and Yaks: Five of the World's Most Remote Bars.