Friday, November 10th, 2023


From Ragless to Riches

In the past, losing one's shirt referred to losing all of one's possessions. These days, losing your shirt could be the first step towards making it big. As long as you lose your pants, too. (You might as well knock your socks off while you're at it.) We're talking about one of those social networks that people don't really like to talk about (or explain how a related bill showed up on their credit card statement). For more, we should probably start ... where else? ... somewhere in Florida. "In the mornings, the workers of Bryce Adams's OnlyFans empire buzz in through a camera-wired security gate, roll up the winding driveway that cost $120,000 to pave and park outside Adams's $2.5 million home-office-studio complex. A large American flag waves from a pole above their office door. So does a banner depicting Adams, in tight shorts, from behind." Drew Harwell in WaPo (Gift Article): Inside an OnlyFans empire: Sex, influence and the new American Dream. "America's social media giants for years have held up online virality as the ultimate goal, doling out measurements of followers, reactions and hearts with an unspoken promise: that internet love can translate into sponsorships and endorsement deals. But OnlyFans represents the creator economy at its most blatantly transactional — a place where viewers pay upfront for creators' labor, and intimacy is just another unit of content to monetize." (All these years I've been failing to monetize my newsletter when I should have been trying to monetize my unit.)


The Scarlet Letter A

"Given Trump's increasingly explicit rhetoric about shifting the chief executive position toward authoritarianism, it seems difficult to understand how he's still running even with President Biden in early polling — or, in some cases, leading him. A bevy of possibilities emerges: Is the media failing to inform voters? Are Trump-supportive voters tuning out media that's reporting on his intentions? Is he simply seen as the lesser of two evils?" Or is it a worse possibility that seems more and more likely to be the case? WaPo (Gift Article): A lot of Americans embrace Trump's authoritarianism.


War of Words

After the attack of October 7, Israel had every right to defend itself and to work towards eradicating the threat posed by the increasingly ISIS-like Hamas. And over the past few days, we've gotten reports of many Hamas bases and military outposts being destroyed. But on the way to getting to the right people, Israel killed way too many of the wrong people; innocent civilians who themselves have long been victims of Hamas' rule. That's my take as an American Jewish son of Holocaust survivors with relatives in Israel. And that's the take of Israel's most steadfast ally. From Antony Blinken: "Far too many Palestinians have been killed. Far too many who suffered these past weeks, and we want to do everything possible to prevent harm to them and to maximise the assistance that gets to them." Yes, it's true that the barbaric massacre of October 7th would have baited any democracy into a fierce response, and yes, Hamas' heinous use of civilians as human shields plays a key role in the death numbers, but there's still a problem. Omer Bartov, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University, lays out the case in the NYT (Gift Article): What I Believe as a Historian of Genocide. Regardless of the way it's thrown around, genocide is the wrong word for what's taking place. But Israeli leaders are using a lot of wrong words to describe what's happening as well.

+ These criticisms of Israel can't happen in a vacuum. Hamas' evil use of civilians and homes, schools, and hospitals, as shields is almost unprecedented. And beneath it all, are the tunnels. And the tunnels aren't for protecting civilians. Very interesting piece in NYT (Gift Article): The Tunnels of Gaza: How the subterranean maze below the Gaza Strip works. "One 85-year-old Israeli woman who was held hostage for 17 days in the tunnels after being kidnapped on Oct. 7 described being marched through a 'spider web' of wet and humid tunnels. She eventually reached a large hall where two dozen other hostages were being held." And from The Times of Israel: Inside a Gaza bedroom, beneath a child's bed, soldiers searching for tunnels find how low Hamas can go.

+ Here's the latest from CNN, NBC, BBC, and Times of Israel.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: In some circles, Yogi Berra is mostly remembered for being a colorful character with a lot of memorable Yogisms. And he was that. But he was also one of the best and most winning baseball players of all time. He also has one hell of a supportive granddaughter. Need a feel good doc? Check out, It Ain't Over.

+ What to Watch: During the tech era, we get endless stories of new money. If you're bored by that, lose yourself in old money in the guilty and gildy pleasure of The Gilded Age on Max.

+ What to Read And if you want some more backstory on just how rich the richest New Yorkers were back in the day, curl up in a pile of cash and check out Anderson Cooper's latest book: The Astors. (Cooper's great-great-great-grandfather was Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was rich. But not Astor rich...)


Extra, Extra

Sticks and Loans: Hacks are so common these days that even massive ones can fail to get our attention. Consider this one on the world's biggest bank. From Bloomberg (Gift Article): "On Thursday, trades handled by the world's largest bank in the globe's biggest market traversed Manhattan on a USB stick. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd.'s US unit had been hit by a cyberattack, rendering it unable to clear swathes of US Treasury trades after entities responsible for settling the transactions swiftly disconnected from the stricken systems. That forced ICBC to send the required settlement details to those parties by a messenger carrying a thumb drive as the state-owned lender raced to limit the damage."

+ West Can't Coast: "Putin still believes that time is on his side. If he can't win on the battlefield, he will win using political intrigue and economic pressure. He will wait for the democratic world to splinter, and he will encourage that splintering. He will wait for the Ukrainians to grow tired, and he will try to make that happen too. He will wait for Donald Trump to win the 2024 U.S. presidential election, and he will do anything he can to help that happen too. Right now, Putin's bets are on the Republicans who repeat Russian propaganda." Anne Applebaum making the case that it's sad one even needs to make at this point. The West Must Defeat Russia.

+ Where Do I Plug This In? Electric vehicles are hitting a road block: Car dealers. (Weird. They've always been so great to work with in the past...)

+ Cult Not Following: "Conservative activists pushing for parents to have more of a say in what their children are taught in school suffered a series of high-profile losses in Tuesday's election, dealing a major blow to a movement that has advocated for book bans and restrictions on classroom discussion about issues of gender and race." In school board elections across America, voters offer stunning rebuke of culture war politics.

+ Swift Shift: "As thousands of Taylor Swift fans eagerly lined up Thursday for the superstar's first-ever concert in Argentina, they saw themselves surrounded by posters urging them to not vote in favor of right-wing populist Javier Milei in next week's presidential election." Taylor Swift's Argentina concert takes political turn as presidential election nears. (I wonder if she could save America in 2024?)

+ Don't Call Us, We'll Call You: "Time, technology and changing tastes have derailed a once profitable, unique business that at its peak sold thousands of vintage telephones to buyers from around the world and produced revenues of nearly $1 million a year." Wisconsin couple has tens of thousands of old phones — and nobody to buy them.


Feel Good Friday

Partners in Fate - Arab citizens heroic rescue of Jews from the Be'eri Massacre. (Trust me.)

+ I'm Israeli, my ex-husband is Palestinian – and our union has never been stronger.

+ NYT (Gift Article): San Francisco Shop Owner Responds to Hate Crime With Message of Love: An ice cream shop owner was devastated by vandalism to her store, but she now sees a new way forward.

+ NPR: When she was suffering, a hospital worker held her in his arms and hummed.

+ NYT: As a Teen, She Loved Video Games. Now She's Using A.I. to Try to Quash Malaria. (As a teen I loved video games. Now I'm playing other video games.)

+ How Africa's first heat officer is protecting women in Sierra Leone.

+ Dog leads owner to cat stuck 100ft down Cornish mine shaft.