Friday, September 9th, 2022


Are You Not Entertained?

It's only occasionally that every major news site leads with the same topic. It's much more rare that those news sites lead with about a dozen stories on that topic. This morning, in addition to live updates and video coverage, the NYT and WaPo had 18 above the internet-fold stories about the death of the Queen. Forget the court jesters on social media and reality TV, the Royal Family sits on the throne atop the attention economy. In some ways, the coverage of the Royal Family is the true measure of their power—and a look across today's major news sites shows their power is not waning. The mega-coverage is happening in UK publications, of course, but it's also happening across the world. You don't have to be one of her subjects for the Queen to be your favorite subject. The British used to colonize land. Now they colonize our attention. It's not just news. The Royals are covered endlessly in documentaries and dramatized versions of their lives that blur the line between fiction and a carefully scripted fictionalized reality. How blurred is the line? Today, Netflix announced that production on its series The Crown would pause as mark of respect. But don't worry, the hunger for royal content will be more than sated over the weekend. For seven decades, the Queen was the world's leading influencer and she continues to dominate even in passing. The Queen is Dead. Long Live the Queen. The Show Must Go On.

+ Here comes King Charles III. He's a much less popular figure and he has a big crown to fill. Here's the latest on the Queen and the succession from BBC. You can click that link or just sit and wait. Either way, you're gonna get so much of the latest on this story that by the end of the weekend, your system will need a royal flush.


The Thin Green Line

"Hours after a burglary at a designer jeans store in St. Louis' upscale Central West End neighborhood, at least 16 city police officers received an email alert with surveillance photos of the car believed to belong to the suspects — and an offer of a reward of at least $1,000 for any officer able to locate it. The email was not from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the police force that employs them and that residents fund with their taxes. Instead, it was from a retired city police detective named Charles 'Rob' Betts, who also employs them at his private company, The City's Finest." It's one thing to have private security. That already separates the haves from the have nots. But it's a bit much when you can essentially pay directly for more official police protection—and these guys are in uniformed and armed, even when they're working private. ProPublica: St. Louis' Private Police Forces Make Security a Luxury of the Rich.


California Rolls with the Punches

"This is perhaps the singularly most unusual and extreme weather week in quite some time in California – and that is saying something." It's been remarkably hot in California. Now, predictably, we've got some immensely concerning fires and smoke filling the skies. What's next, a hurricane. Well, not exactly. Just potential flash floods from one nearby. Fires, heat … a hurricane? California's ‘most unusual' week of extreme weather. (Until next week, anyway.)


Weekend Whats

What to Read: Pickleball is the all the rage these days. But in some places, tennis is still the sport of choice. For example, San Quentin. AP: San Quentin inmates find community through tennis. "They have their own tennis etiquette: Any close balls are typically called in to avoid confrontation."

+ What to Slice and Dice: I'm going to recommend a product I don't necessarily need myself since, as a vegetarian salad addict, I'm a slicing samurai. But my wife ordered a Once For All mandolin safe slicer and it will work really well for you civilians. If you need to peel, there's no product that's even close to the Oxo.

+ What to Shop: I buy just about all of my t-shirts from Cotton Bureau. They just launched phone cases too. Everything is designed by the community and fulfilled on demand. You should check out their stuff. I also sell all my NextDraft merch through their site. Great small business and team.


Extra, Extra

The Underdog: "What will happen in the ensuing days is, as ever, hard to predict. But the assumption is that Ukraine has taken advantage of redeployments by Russia away from the north and east of the vast frontline to launch its surprise attack, making clear that it is willing to be flexible and opportunistic – and that anybody who is sure of Kyiv's strategy should instead be willing to be surprised." Ukraine counterattack takes Russia – and everyone else – by surprise.

+ Pregnant Prison: "The medical community calls this legal approach harmful and counterproductive. But it's a strategy many legal experts say is likely to become more common now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, making it easier for states to pass laws that give fetuses and embryos the same rights as children or their mothers." The Marshall Project: Dozens of women who used drugs while pregnant have faced criminal charges. Experts expect even more cases now that Roe has been overturned. In Alabama, Pregnant women are held for months in one Alabama jail to protect fetuses from drugs. (It's only gonna get crazier. Vote.)

+ When Your Fax is Offline: "The telegram, a form of communication associated more with the Roaring '20s than the 2020s, has kept a foothold in Japan, where millions of the messages still crisscross the nation every year, carrying articulations of celebration, mourning and thanks. Old friends send them for funerals. Politicians deliver them to constituents. And businesses use them to commemorate the retirement of valued employees." NYT: How Do Japanese Show They Care? By Sending a Telegram.

+ Forensic Burn: "A new forensic analysis of controversial Donkey Kong world records claims those records were scored on an emulator and not on original hardware, essentially accusing the record holder of cheating." Forensic Analysts Accuse Billy Mitchell of Cheating. (This has been the subject of a documentary and scandalous stories for years and years!)

+ Over Troubled Water: "Sharply-suited dignitaries gathered to inaugurate a footbridge in the Congolese capital on Monday only for the structure to collapse beneath their feet to the barely concealed delight of onlookers." Bridge collapses during ribbon-cutting ceremony in Congo. (Maybe the ribbon was structural...)


Feel Good Friday

Meet South Dakota's new corn-bassador, a boy who recently found out that corn is real. (Then he melted some butter on it, and a star was born.)

+ "A Transportation Security Administration K9 named Eebbers has retired after nearly a decade of service, during which he earned the distinction of being the agency's oldest working bomb-sniffing dog, as well as its cutest."

+ New malaria vaccine is world-changing, say scientists.

+ How a new hard hat technology can protect workers better from concussion.

+ EU aims to ban products, imports made with forced labor.

+ A Scottish woman who found she could detect Parkinson's through smell has inspired scientists to develop a swab test that could be used to diagnose it.

+ Jeff Bezos's ex-wife MacKenzie Scott donates her two Beverly Hills mansions worth $55m to charity.

+ Mom fights off tiger with bare hands to save 15-month-old son in India. (My mom once did something similar when a couple of jehovah's witnesses knocked on our door.)

+ The Busload of Books tour is underway. Here's a great interview that explains what it's all about. Follow along on Insta, Facebook, or YouTube.