Thursday, December 7th, 2023


France Surrenders

Note: NextDraft will be off on Friday, so I included Weekend Whats today.

Even in an era that will be forever known for its norm breaking, you might want to brace yourself for this one. The scene of this cultural deviation took place in Paris at dawn. "A throng of 500 people, mostly French, stood with uncharacteristic patience in a snaking line, intent on buying a decidedly un-French confection ... dozens of them had camped out overnight [and] watched through a giant window as a conveyor belt ferried fried dough toward a waterfall of sugary frosting. When the doors opened, they swarmed inside." Yes, Parisians were lining up to greet the arrival of Krispy Kreme in France. As strange as it seems that even a single block of country famous for defending its culture could be taken over by an American fast food (even one wielding the mighty weapons of fried dough and frosting), it turns out that the American fast food invasion has been making significant progress in France for years. "In the spring, Popeye's fried chicken drew huge crowds in Paris when it opened the first of 350 restaurants planned across France. Wendy's has announced plans to set up shop in France. Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Domino's Pizza, Chipotle, Steak 'n Shake, Carl's Jr. and Five Guys have long had toeholds, but they are rapidly expanding their footprints with plans for hundreds of new locations across the country." NYT (Gift Article): Hot Glazed Doughnuts on the Menu, and Parisians Can't Get Enough. Napoleon famously said, "Victory belongs to the most persevering." And no one can outlast a Krispy Kreme conveyor belt.

+ Don't worry, America isn't exporting all its fast food. There's still plenty to consume right here at home, with much more to come. McDonald's aims to open nearly 9,000 restaurants, add 100 million loyalty members by 2027. "McDonald's wants a global footprint of 50,000 locations ... For comparison, Starbucks in November said it aims to reach 55,000 cafes worldwide by 2030." Starbucks dominates the (often sugar-filled) afternoon drink and snack market. McDonald's is looking to eat (and drink) into that edge with a new restaurant called CosMc's, offering drinks such as a churro frappe and a pear-flavored slush. (Remind me to buy more stock in Novo Nordisk...)


Wet Noodle

From Bloomberg: The World's Fastest-Sinking Megacity Has One Last Chance to Save Itself. "Parts of Jakarta are subsiding at unprecedented speed. The longshot fix rests with noodle billionaire Anthoni Salim ... If Salim can help ... deliver on the plan to bring water to every Jakarta household, experts say the city has a chance — and the company will rake in billions of dollars. If it fails, it's likely that chaos will reign in the world's second-biggest metropolis. Unabated sinking, combined with intensifying storms and rising sea levels, will be more than Jakarta's seawalls can withstand, said JanJaap Brinkman, a flood expert at Dutch water research institute Deltares: 'There will be so much sea water rushing in, it will never stop. There will be no escape.'" No pressure.


Doctor of Law

"A Texas judge on Thursday gave a pregnant woman whose fetus has a fatal diagnosis permission to get an abortion in an unprecedented challenge over bans that more than a dozen states have enacted since Roe v. Wade was overturned. The lawsuit by Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from the Dallas area, is believed to be the first time since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that a woman anywhere in the country has asked a court to approve an immediate abortion ... That decision is likely to be appealed by the state, which argued that Cox does not meet the criteria for a medical exception." It's madness that a woman would have to hand over medical approval to a series of judges. As if having a fetus with a fatal diagnosis isn't bad enough, now she has to deal with this.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: You gotta imagine, it's 1971. No sitcom has ever touched social or political issues. And Norman Lear dives in with complete abandon. An absolutely monumental moment in pop culture history. Check out the pilot episode of All in the Family on YouTube. It still crushes. (If you missed it yesterday, I shared some thoughts about Norman Lear.)

+ What to Doc: While we're on the topic of all-time comedy greats, check out this short Judd Apatow doc on the friendship between Don Rickles and Bob Newhart.

+ What to Movie: "A curmudgeonly instructor at a New England prep school remains on campus during Christmas break to babysit a handful of students with nowhere to go." The Holdovers has the feel and quality of an excellent 70s movie. It's now available to rent online or to watch in theaters. Both my teens made it all the way through, sans complaints (a minor miracle these days.)


Extra, Extra

Not Home, Alone: "Since the summer of 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted surging numbers of migrants. Most of them are fleeing political turmoil and violence in Haiti and Cuba. Nearly everyone is sent back. Some are children. Increasingly, they are traveling alone." A special report from ProPublica and the NYT Mag: When the Coast Guard Intercepts Unaccompanied Kids.

+ False Calm Before Storm: "The sophistication of the attack, and the growing evidence of long-term, strategic planning by Hamas, sheds new light on the reach of the group's intelligence apparatus and the complacency of Israel's vaunted security state." WaPo: As it planned for Oct. 7, Hamas lulled Israel into a false sense of calm. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, and Times of Israel.

+ See Ya, Wouldn't Want to Be Ya: "We're barely into December, and that trend has continued, with more high-profile exits on the Republican side of the aisle. The month began with embattled New York Rep. George Santos getting expelled, and continued with North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, who bravely laced up his bow tie for a brief term as interim speaker, announcing he would not run for reelection. Not to be outdone, deposed Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced not only that he would not be running for reelection but that he wouldn't even be sticking around for the rest of his term." Kevin McCarthy's Not the Only One Quitting Congress. (It's hard to believe, but members of Congress seem to have an even lower opinion of Congress than the public.) Meanwhile, The House voted to censure Democratic Rep. Bowman for pulling a fire alarm in a Capitol office building. (In his defense, the place is experiencing an emergency.)

+ K9 One One: "Although the scientific investigation is in early stages, what has become known as the mystery illness may not be all that mysterious — or even a single illness, scientists said. Instead, a variety of run-of-the-mill viruses and bacteria could be driving the current outbreaks." NYT (Gift Article): ‘Mystery' Dog Illness May Not Be a Mystery at All, Experts Say.

+ Age Ain't Nothin But a Filter: "Our future selves used to be a mystery. Now thanks to social media filters, we can stare them right in the face." WaPo (Gift Article): TikTok's ‘aging' filters bring us face-to-face with mortality. (Isn't it disturbing enough to witness the changes in real time?)


Bottom of the News

And since ND will be off tomorrow, will end with something that has a serious Feel Good Friday vibe. "While McConnell couldn't afford to help his neighbor financially, he did what he could to brighten the kids' days. He regularly drew chalk drawings outside their home to engage with the children and brought doughnuts for them whenever he stopped for a coffee. But McConnell wanted to do more." More was most definitely done. WaPo (Gift Article): He struggled when his kids' mom died. Then boxes began appearing at his door.