Weekly Link Roundup

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Having the best time at a Taiwanese KFC (the much more innovative/adventurous sibling of the American KFC), where they served Salted Egg Crispy Fried Chicken (surprisingly good!) for LNY

KFC will start selling donuts alongside its fried chicken beginning next Monday, Feb. 24. Fried chicken with donuts is not exactly a novel concept in 2020, but it is one of my favorite food combinations so I am excited for its arrival. (For those of you whose local KFC chooses not to participate, just BYOD.)

Breaking the Curse of the It Bag (The New York Times): “Sometimes, being crowned the Next Big Thing is the worst thing that can happen to a designer … the Pouch, a squishy clutch bag made from butter-soft leather crushed in the middle that feels kind of like a soft toy, or a therapy dog … was among the first products Mr. Lee made when he arrived at Bottega, and it was a phenomenon: an It bag when It bags were no longer supposed to exist … According to Kering’s 2019 annual report, released earlier this month, the Pouch was ‘the fastest selling bag in Bottega Veneta history.’ It was followed not long afterward by aggressively square-toed leather slides with the trademark basket-weave intrecciato of the brand blown up to steroidal proportions, more bags, and quilted leather skirts and coats.”

The Outsize Influence of Your Middle-School Friends (The Atlantic): “Two-thirds of the children entering their first year of middle school changed friends between the fall and the spring … At the start of the year, they stay close physically and emotionally to those familiar classmates. But as they settle into life in the new environment, their social horizons expand. They gravitate to those with similar interests of the kind that begin to solidify in these years … Similarities, as always, attract. Earlier friends often fall by the wayside. Friendship has real power for kids … friendship may even begin to resemble an attachment relationship like what children initially have with parents … But there is also a dark side to the social world of middle school … Sixth graders who do not have friends are at risk of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. About 12 percent of the 6,000 sixth graders in Juvonen’s study were not named as a friend by anyone else. They had no one to sit with at lunch and no one to stick up for them when bullied. Of that group, boys outnumbered girls nearly two to one, and African American and Latino students were more likely to be friendless than white kids … not having friends in sixth grade triggered a greater sense of threat in seventh grade, which led to increased internalizing difficulties, such as depression and anxiety, by eighth grade … It wasn’t friendlessness alone that created problems, it was the resulting sense of threat.”

The Princess, the Plantfluencers, and the Pink Congo Scam (Wired): “Each rare plant … if properly nurtured … turn into a business opportunity, by selling cuttings … to fellow collectors online … the biggest returns [come] from plants with shocks of color—specifically, pink … Of all the pink plants online, few are as prized as the pink princess philodendron. Its heart-shaped leaves unfurl toward the sun, with streaks of bubblegum pink the shape of a crescent moon … In the past three years, houseplant sales have grown by 50 percent, according to the National Gardening Association. It’s now a billion-dollar industry, and an increasing share takes place online. Plants that weren’t rare before are now in high demand. … The incredible hype around rare plants has also attracted its fair share of poachers, thieves, and grifters. In 2018, for example, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated cases where thousands of succulents had been taken from public land to be sold online for $50 each.”

♥ Until 5PM EST on 02/20/2020, take 50% off 500 full-price styles at J. Crew with code SHOPNEW, including bestsellers like the Résumé Dress (reviewed here) and Button-front Cap-sleeve Dress. I ordered the well-reviewed Tie-front Pleated Dress. My picks:

Victoria’s Secret to Go Private at $1.1 Billion Valuation (The Wall Street Journal): “Sycamore Partners is expected to buy 55% of Victoria’s Secret and take the struggling business private … L Brands is expected to keep a 45% stake in the separate company, which will include the Pink chain … L Brands’ operations would be reduced to running the Bath & Body Works chain. Leslie Wexner, the embattled billionaire who has run the retail company for more than 50 years, will step down from his roles as CEO and chairman … He is expected to remain on the L Brands board and retain stakes in both companies … He currently owns about 17% of L Brands shares … A $1.1 billion valuation would mark a sharp fall for a business that operates hundreds of stores … and generated about $7 billion in annual sales in its last fiscal year. L Brands ended Wednesday with a market capitalization of around $7 billion, down from $29 billion at its peak in 2015. The Columbus, Ohio, company has about $5.5 billion in net debt, which will be retained by L Brands … Sycamore Partners has scooped up several troubled apparel brands and bricks-and-mortar chains, including The Limited, Hot Topic, Nine West and Staples.”

Elon Musk Can’t Lose (BuzzFeed News): “Musk’s legal victory over Vernon Unsworth – a previously unknown Brit who became a legitimate hero while helping rescue a boys soccer team and their coach from a Thailand cave — will rank low on his list of achievements. But in many ways, it is far more revealing of Musk than any of the technological feats that land him in the headlines … Musk has used his Twitter seriously, and the company listed the account as a source for information in a 2013 financial filing. He frequently publishes projections for Tesla. But any reasonable sampling of his tweets would also include dumb jokes, memes, and the conversational detritus for which Twitter is known. That stuff is often a convenient foundation for the ‘I was just joking’ defense used by so many people walking back missteps on the modern web. It certainly was for Musk.”

Why Texans Don’t Want Any More Californians (The Atlantic): “In 2012, California gained 113,000 people on net through domestic and international migration. Last year, California lost 40,000 people on net to migration … The state still grew, thanks to births, but at the lowest rate on record … When you pull back the lens a few decades, however, the ‘exodus’ doesn’t look quite so biblical. The number of outbound Californians in 2018 was no higher than it was in the mid-2000s—or the mid-1990s … Western states taking in new Californians might be more anxious about change than they once were. Texas, for example, has been the most popular destination for outbound Californians for more than a decade, consistently averaging about 60,000 to 70,000 new Golden Staters per year. But now the state is at an inflection point, between its history as a ruby-red conservative stronghold and its future as a more mixed state with blue metros and red rural areas. In this context, the next SoCal family that U-Hauls into North Texas isn’t just some nice couple with different taste in barbecue; instead, they’re potentially the demographic straw that breaks the GOP’s back.”

California Governor Declares Homeless Crisis ‘a Disgrace’ (The New York Times): “Homelessness has become pervasive in California … and it has exposed the stark inequality in the state, whose economy would rank as the world’s fifth largest if it were an independent country. Living in the shadow of the biggest names in technology … are hundreds of clusters of homeless people, in makeshift compounds that resemble some of the world’s most destitute refugee camps … California was also by far the largest contributor to the increase in homelessness across the nation last year. The state has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, driven to a large degree by high housing costs. The average purchase price of a home in California now exceeds $500,000 … Homelessness declined in most states in 2019, compared with the year before … But in California, it increased by 16 percent, or 21,306 people … Nearly half of all unsheltered people in the United States live in California, though the state accounts for just 12 percent of the U.S. population.”

♥ Until the end of today, take 52% off your purchase at LOFT with code LOFTIMIST. My picks:

A Couple in China on Living (and Cooking) Under Coronavirus Lockdown (The New Yorker): “Certain people, especially U.S.-based, have this position of looking down on open-air markets. They’ll say things, like, ‘Of course this virus happened in China, they have open-air markets.’ I don’t know how much you’ve travelled, but open-air markets can be absolutely wonderful. And in China, especially, the markets themselves are so important to the food-supply chain. In the U.S., the major suppliers of food are the supermarkets, and maybe you go to the farmers’ market to get some extra-fresh produce or whatever artisanal goods. Here, the importance is really reversed.”

Could Micro-Credentials Compete With Traditional Degrees? (BBC): “… micro-credentials are bite-sized chunks of education, whether an online course, bootcamp certificate or apprenticeship from a traditional university, specialty provider or online learning platform … some have suggested that in the future, a prospective employee might be able to ‘stack’ these credentials together in place of a university degree. The idea is that it would be more accessible and provide a more affordable – perhaps more targeted – path into employment … For employers to buy into micro-credentials as an alternative, there needs to be data that proves employees with micro-credentials can perform better, or at least just as well, as those with university degrees … Micro-credential providers need to do a better job of making it clear what their certificate or course comprises and delivers.”

What’s the Deal With Airplane Food? (Vox): “The airline catering services industry is worth $6 billion in the United States … While most major carriers have culinary design teams to brainstorm menus, they rely on catering companies to help them produce thousands of in-flight meals a day … The meals (and the aircraft ovens used to heat them) are designed so that the food isn’t severely affected by the change in altitude and pressure. Airline chefs or catering groups usually provide instructions for the cabin crew on how to heat and even plate the food.”

Samsung Galaxy by Thom Browne: Why ‘Designer Cell Phone’ Is No Longer a Punchline (The Wall Street Journal): “For $2,480, the grayish phone, which went up for pre-order last Friday, comes bundled with a pair of similarly Browne-ified earbuds and a smartwatch. It’s a tech set designed to entice a Thom Browne completist, but Samsung and Thom Browne won’t gauge the project’s success in terms of units sold. The goal is to re-tailor customer perceptions. Working with innovative technology can shift a fashion brand’s image to ‘appear more future facing’ … In turn, for Samsung, this liaison with the esteemed cult designer sprinkles a little bit of Mr. Browne’s clout onto the tech giant’s portfolio.”

♥ Recently purchased: Ann Taylor Doubleweave Pleat Sleeve Sheath Dress, Michael Kors Lottie Bootie (on super sale in “luggage” brown here), CHRLEISURE Winter Warm Fleece Lined Leggings (now 40% off, discount taken at checkout), UGG Karel Boot, Gap Puff Sleeve Mockneck Sweater, and Marc Jacobs The Protegé Mini Leather Tote.

Happy it’s-almost-the-weekend(!), everyone!

p.s. if you ordered the Nike Blazer Low Top Sneakers from this post, they just went down in price, so you can call L+T (1-800-223-7440) to request a price adjustment.

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