The Summer I Turned Swiftie

The Swift Era, And It's Too Hot for Peppers

Historians may recall this as the Summer of the Indictment, but those of us living through this era of Eras know that it’s really the Summer of Taylor Swift. The Eras Tour has already become the highest grossing music tour of all time—though no else one in the top ten can match Ed Sheeran’s one-man, one-guitar, profitability. But the Swift tour is about more than just money. Swift has somehow unified a massive audience in a divided time of segmented audiences. She changes local economies, she alters traffic reports, and she has achieved “a level of white-hot demand and media saturation not seen since the 1980s heyday of Michael Jackson and Madonna — a dominance that the entertainment business had largely accepted as impossible to replicate in the fragmented 21st century. ‘The only thing I can compare it to is the phenomenon of Beatlemania,’ said Billy Joel, who attended Swift’s show in Tampa, Fla., with his wife and young daughters.” NYT (Gift Article): How Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour Conquered the World.

+ She broke Ticketmaster. But that was just the beginning. NYT (Gift Article): Taylor Swift’s Viral Era.

+ So let’s remember that this hasn’t just been a Summer of politics, even if politicians across the country have tried really hard to make the Swift tour about them. The Taylor Swift Official State Sandwich: Politicians understand that Swifties are a key demographic. (Thanks, but I’ll stick with Taylor’s version…)


Gestalt and Pepper

“For more than a year, life for many sriracha lovers has been an excruciating lesson in bland … Grocery stores have enforced buying limits on customers. Bottles on eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon are selling for eye-watering prices—as much as $50 or more. A few Americans have grown so desperate for their flavor fix that they’ve started pilfering the sauce from local restaurants.” So why is this sriracha shortage big news and not just another quirky story? Because like so many other stories, this one is connected to climate change and a weather pattern that has become too hot for peppers. The Sriracha Shortage Is a Very Bad Sign.


Boys to Men

“Mr. Songster said he never felt ‘entitled’ to be free. I can’t wash the blood off my hands that’s on my hands,’ he said. But the emerging research, which showed brains aren’t fully developed until people get into their 20s, gave him new understanding. ‘It made me curious about myself,’ Mr. Songster said of the research. ‘I knew I was a good person, but I couldn’t reconcile the person that I became and I know I am with the person that committed that horrible act.'” None of men in this article suggest that they didn’t do anything wrong. They just suggest that they were boys when they did it. And Philadephia agrees. NYT (Gift Article): Sentenced to Life as Boys, They Made Their Case for Release.


When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor

“‘Animal House’ is where the 1960s finally and decisively turned into the 1980s — the 1970s being understood as a transition period highlighted by double-knit and ‘Kung Fu Fighting.’ With ‘Animal House,’ we crossed the line from hippies to yuppies, from ‘all you need is love’ to ‘greed is good.’ It seems crazy to say it, but the film’s Deltas — a fraternity of proud, self-defined losers — became role models for a generation obsessed with winning. You could argue we’re still living with the fallout.” WaPo (Gift Article): I was on campus when ‘Animal House’ debuted. It changed everything.


Extra, Extra

Counter Culture: “Contrary to MAGA mythology, [election workers] are not dishonest and power-hungry; if you’re dishonest and power-hungry, life affords you many more promising avenues. They are, rather, people with strong values and a commitment to honesty well beyond the understanding of the 18 sketchy characters under indictment along with Trump.” One of the big differences about the latest indictment is that it gets personal. The Two Heroes of the Georgia Indictment. “Trump and his mobsters tried to bully election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss. They stood their ground.”

+ Ashes to Ashes: Eventually, the flames are extinguished, the media moves on, and the rebuilding starts. But it could still be weeks, months, and even years before one grim job is complete. Hawaii wildfires: The painstaking work to identify the dead. And videos put scrutiny on downed power lines as possible cause of deadly Maui wildfires.

+ Sliding Horrors: “Special counsel Jack Smith obtained an extraordinary array of data from Twitter about Donald Trump’s account — from direct messages to draft tweets to location data — newly unsealed court filings reveal.” (Heart of Darkness, Part 2: Tracking Kurtz Beyond the River as He Slides into Trump’s DMs. The horror, the horror.) Meanwhile, the defendant facing the strongest case is the one most likely to flip. So when Fani Willis gets a collect call from Four Seasons Total Landscaping, she’ll know exactly who it is. Giuliani struggling under massive legal bills after defending Trump.

+ Vin Numbers: “The loss-making company’s finances are still in the red with losses upwards of half a billion dollars, but it has several things going for it: a deep-pocketed backer in parent company Vingroup, spearheaded by Vietnam’s richest man Pham Nhat Vuong; a rapidly rising economy; and the growing opportunity to replace China as the world’s factory.” Still, should Vinfast be worth more than Ford and GM?

+ Sick and Frack: “In the reports, the researchers found what they called significant associations between gas industry activity and two ailments: asthma, and lymphoma in children, who are relatively rarely diagnosed with this type of cancer.” A Pennsylvania study suggests links between fracking and asthma, lymphoma in children.

+ Baby’s Throttle: “The website formerly known as Twitter seems to be interfering with links to The New York Times, Mastodon, Bluesky, Threads and Substack to make them load noticeably slower.” Musk is throttling traffic to sites he does like (which also makes a pretty handy list of websites you can trust.)


Bottom of the News

“I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned that later.” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen inadvertently ate hallucinogenic mushrooms in China. (I often inadvertently eat hallucinogenic mushrooms when reviewing my own stock portfolio.)

+ PB&J: An American Love Story.

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