Weekend Link Roundup
The chicken sandwich that launched an arms race (from this post)

The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Is Here to Save America (The New Yorker): “… the Popeyes chicken sandwich has ascended to the pantheon in record time, not because of a catchy ad campaign or an irresistible pricing scheme but because it is, if Twitter, Instagram, and uncountable blog posts and off-the-cuff reviews are to be believed, the best goddam chicken sandwich in the world.”

I Gooped Myself (The Atlantic): “Instead of questioning long-standing assumptions about women’s bodies, as Goop often claims is its goal, the company’s products embrace one of America’s oldest health myths: that physical beauty is proof not only of a person’s health but of her essential righteousness. If the outside is perfect, the inside must be too. It’s a retrograde vision of womanhood for a company that so frequently deploys the word empowerment … Fundamental to Goop’s sales philosophy is the idea that the female body is a matter of opinion, and that ‘asking questions’ is the best way to resist a medical establishment determined to tell women how to feel.”

How Medicine Became the Stealth Family-Friendly Profession (The New York Times): “Medicine has become something of a stealth family-friendly profession, at a time when other professions are growing more greedy about employees’ time. Jobs increasingly require long, inflexible hours, and pay disproportionately more to people who work them … But medicine has changed in ways that offer doctors and other health care workers the option of more control over their hours, depending on the specialty and job they choose, while still practicing at the top of their training and being paid proportionately … Women are now half of medical students. In some specialties, like pediatrics, geriatrics and child psychiatry, they are the majority. Female doctors are likelier than women with law degrees, business degrees or doctorates to have children. They’re also much less likely to stop working when they do … Flexible, predictable hours are the key — across occupations — to shrinking gender gaps.”

Lord & Taylor Has a Surprising New Owner. What Happens Now? (The Business of Fashion): “Le Tote, a clothing rental service, is buying Lord & Taylor … The company will pay $75 million in cash, plus a $25 million payment due in two years, with no interest. Le Tote gets Lord & Taylor’s inventory, e-commerce operations and intellectual property in the deal, but not its real estate, which remains with Hudson’s Bay … the chain sold for $1.2 billion in 2006.”

How to Haggle With Your Hacker (The Wall Street Journal): “… hackers accept a significantly lower payment about 80% of the time for certain strains of ransomware … Ransomware attacks more than doubled in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier … The average ransom demand increased to about $225,000 in the first quarter of 2019 from the 2018 average of about $116,000.”

A Town for People with Chronic-Fatigue Syndrome (The New Yorker): “The dominant theory holds that C.F.S. may not have a single etiology but may instead be a dysfunctional state of the immune system triggered by one of several ailments. Another asserts that C.F.S. is actually an umbrella term for several immune conditions with similar presentations … progress remains slow because, though the N.I.H. has now determined that the disease is biological, funding has yet to catch up.”

Apple’s Watch Is Smarter, but My Casio Keeps Getting the Job Done (The New York Times): “Planned obsolescence has been practiced for decades but it has been elevated into a corporate art form lately … simply creating good, inexpensive products that rarely need to be replaced has become an extraordinary accomplishment. Yet Casio, whose sales have been flagging, doesn’t boast about its practices … In the five years through Wednesday, Casio’s share price has dropped more than 20 percent. The price of Apple stock has more than doubled in that time.”

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Instagram’s Chain-Letter Uprising (The New York Times): “On Facebook, bad information often rises from obscurity. The spread of a single viral message on Instagram appears to be more of a top-down process, finding audiences in the manner of a product or trend promoted by influencers. On Facebook, the viral machinery is visible, intended to show you not just how many people have shared something, but where it came from and what people think about it. On Instagram, there is no one-tap way to repost content, so a repost takes a bit of work — screenshot, manual credit, re-caption — and is therefore understood as an endorsement, not unlike a choice to wear a piece of clothing or drink a particular drink.”

The Real Problem With Tomi Lahren’s Athleisure Line (Vogue): “… what makes the thorny prospect of Tomi Lahren acting as a brand ambassador for a sports-luxe brand all the more depressing is not even her politics: it’s the fact that an entire brand has been built on the necessity for women to carry a gun simply as a constitutional right, even when heading to a morning work-out. As the debate around gun control laws continues to swirl, leggings with in-built holsters can only be judged as a saddening by-product”.

Amazon Has Ceded Control of Its Site. The Result: Thousands of Banned, Unsafe or Mislabeled Products (The Wall Street Journal): “Amazon has increasingly evolved like a flea market. It exercises limited oversight over items listed by millions of third-party sellers, many of them anonymous … A Wall Street Journal investigation found 4,152 items for sale on Amazon.com Inc. ’s site that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are banned by federal regulators … Of the 4,152 products the Journal identified, 46% were listed as shipping from Amazon warehouses … After the Journal brought the listings to Amazon’s attention, 57% of the 4,152 listings had their wording altered or were taken down.”

Shareholder Value Is No Longer Everything, Top C.E.O.s Say (The New York Times): “Breaking with decades of long-held corporate orthodoxy, the Business Roundtable issued a statement … arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders. Instead … they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers … The Business Roundtable did not provide specifics on how it would carry out its newly stated ideals, offering more of a mission statement than a plan of action … For companies to truly make good on their lofty promises, they will need Wall Street to embrace their idealism, too. Until investors start measuring companies by their social impact instead of their quarterly returns, systemic change may prove elusive.”

Forever 21 Prepares for Potential Bankruptcy Filing (Bloomberg): “The company has been in talks for additional financing and working with a team of advisers to help it restructure its debt, but negotiations with possible lenders have so far stalled … Focus has thus shifted toward securing a potential debtor-in-possession loan to take the company into Chapter 11 … Founded in 1984, Forever 21 operates more than 800 stores in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.”

The High Price of Fast Fashion (The Wall Street Journal): “Of the more than 100 billion items of clothing produced each year, some 20% go unsold. Leftovers are usually buried, shredded or incinerated. The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2015 that Americans sent 10.5 million tons of textiles … to landfills that year. And most clothing contains synthetics, and most synthetics aren’t biodegradable.”

What to Do When You’ve Said the Wrong Thing (The New York Times): “If you strive to never misspeak, you’re probably going to end up making it worse for yourself, ‘because then there’s more guilt, anger, upset feelings when the miscommunications and the hurt feelings occur’ … Before you apologize … Assess the harm … Don’t catastrophize … Don’t let it fester … try to make amends as soon as possible. Sometimes when we procrastinate on having a difficult conversation, we end up not having the talk at all, which is what actually causes irreparable damage to the relationship … During the apology … Take responsibility … Validate their pain … Be genuine … Explain how it won’t happen again … After the apology … Reset … Let it go.”

Vaping May Hamper the Lungs’ Ability to Fend off Infections (Wired): “Researchers at Baylor … found that inhaling just e-cigarette vapor, without any nicotine, fundamentally altered important cells that defend the mice’s lungs against infections … those changes mean the lungs’ defenses against bacteria and viruses are ‘compromised,’ leaving the mice with a dysfunctional lung immune system.”

Does Joe Biden Want to Be Doing This? (The New York Times): “It is not hard to whiff a heavy scent of obligation around Team Biden, as if they were positioning him as a kind of Democratic savior … But with some exceptions, Mr. Biden’s days as a potent and fiery stump speaker seem long past. He can exude a level of weariness certain days. He can be as unfocused, long-winded and prone to misstatement as ever … most problematic for him — more than his age or carelessness or long-windedness — has been his continued insistence on talking about how committed he would be to working across the aisle … The younger and more liberal voters flocking to rallies for Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders tend to have zero interest in doing business with Joe Biden’s old Republican friends.”

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Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!

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