Weekly Link Roundup: October 31, 2020

Getting sugar-high on something other than candy. Also feeling festive and sort of “normal” in my Rilakkuma Kigurumi

Everywhere You Can Get Free & Cheap Food for Halloween (Thrillist): “Restaurants all across the United States … are offering free, cheap, and weird food in honor of the year’s best holiday. For most of them, you don’t even have to dress up (though, you can and you totally should).”

Want to Be the Next Big Thing in Fashion? Nah (The New York Times): “Fashion is not dead, though tired ideas about the business — who owns it, what drives it, where it meets its consumers — are slumping toward the scrap heap, trailing a tight little cadre of panjandrums who controlled it for too long … If, not so long ago, a designer’s career goal was to create the next mega-label, the small-is-better approach is increasingly seen as preferable to the seductive fantasy of becoming an internet unicorn.”

Even Billionaires Like Saving $500 Million On Diamonds (Bloomberg): “… LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE is said to be approaching a settlement with Tiffany … Tiffany’s board is said to have approved a price of $131.50 per share, a smidge lower than the initial price of $135, or a saving of about $425 million in total … The business logic of LVMH buying Tiffany is obvious: The two firms’ combined market share in luxury jewelry would be above 17%, there would be little overlap with LVMH’s Bulgari brand, and Tiffany’s large, well-located stores in Asia look suited to a post-pandemic world, according to Bloomberg Intelligence … letting Tiffany go to another buyer would be a missed opportunity.”

Men’s Nail Polish Is Taking Off—Why Now? (The Wall Street Journal): “Historically, many notable men have painted their nails. Actor and queer icon Quentin Crisp lacquered his gold as a young man in 1930s London … Starting in the 1970s … musical provocateurs like David Bowie, Mick Jagger and later Kurt Cobain painted their nails in startling colors. In the world of sports, Dennis Rodman … has done so since at least the late ’80s … Today, however, the unfamous are experimenting too. In a trickle-down effect, stars like Lil Yachty are increasingly inspiring young men—and not only dour Hot Topic mall goths—to start dabbing lacquer onto their own nails.”

COVID-19 Is Killing My People—And No One Seems to Care (The Atlantic): “The Rio Grande Valley holds just 4.7 percent of the Texas population, but it accounts for 17 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths. COVID-19 is capricious: Some who are infected have no symptoms; some have mild symptoms and then return to normal life; some fall gravely ill and don’t fully recover for months; some die. It’s much easier to not let the virus ‘dominate’ you when you are an affluent person with access to first-rate medical care … than when you are an essential worker with diabetes and no health insurance in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Frozen Is Fine (Eater): “Frozen food sales have been rising throughout the pandemic. The reasons are twofold: In the early months of lockdown, food shortages and supply chain breakdowns lead to freezer-stocking; as the crisis has worn on, the convenience of ready-to-eat meals has become increasingly appealing to those sheltering at home. Many more people are cooking more at home; many more people are tired, desperate, or sick of it. And beyond the unique, horrible crisis remaking how Americans eat at home, the slower-burning economic crisis is pushing middle class diners toward their freezers, too — frozen food booms during recessions.”

Do Dunkin’ and Arby’s Go Together? Private Equity Group Bets $11 Billion They Do (The New York Times): “Dunkin’ Brands, the parent of Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins, agreed … to sell itself for $11.3 billion, including debt, to Inspire Brands, the holding company that owns Sonic Drive-In and Jimmy John’s as well as Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and others … The deal is a bet that Dunkin’ will survive — and even thrive … Fast-food outlets have held up better than full-service restaurants, as takeout and drive-through options have proved to be more appealing than long meals in a room full of strangers. Dunkin’ has drive-through windows in about 70 percent of its restaurants and was already investing in digital-ordering tools to promote ‘high-frequency, low-touch’ service.”

Tired All the Time? Here Are New Ways to Recharge as the Pandemic Drags On (The Wall Street Journal): “First, recognize it’s OK to not be OK … Create a challenge … Think two years ahead … Confront winter … Even though the initial novelty of virtual happy hours has worn off, the benefits of regularly interacting with other people offers an energizing boost and far outweighs the annoyance of speaking to a screen.”

A Journey to the Center of a Spicy Dunkin’ Donut (The Ringer): “… the Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut is part of ‘Dunkin’s] slate of Halloween promotional items, along with a decorate your own donut kit … pumpkin donut, and their Spider Donut … But we all know why the Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut really exists: because the world is in a state of chaos where few norms remain intact and fewer boundaries sacrosanct. The Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut was, in retrospect, all but inevitable … The triumph of the Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut isn’t so much that it’s good—it’s that it is. The donut is an existential triumph.”

Watch What Happens When Real Housewives Don’t Wear Masks (The New York Times): “… there is research that shows the health-related behaviors of reality stars can affect viewers’ behavior, and now that these personalities have popular social media platforms, their claims have an unmediated reach as we hit another peak in coronavirus cases. With the caveat that we don’t really know the impact of mask wearing from influencers because the pandemic is so new.”

Sin and Scandal at Liberty University (Rolling Stone): “The value of a Liberty degree, whether earned on campus or online, has always been negligible. In 2017, 41 percent of the university’s graduates were earning less than $25,000 a year. The constant bad publicity of recent years was not going to help.”

After Going All-In on Amazon, a Merchant Says He Lost Everything (Bloomberg): “Amazon can suspend sellers at any time for any reason, cutting off their livelihoods and freezing their money for weeks or months. The merchants must navigate a largely automated, guilty-until-proven-innocent process where Amazon serves as judge and jury. Their emails and calls can go unanswered, or Amazon’s replies are incomprehensible, making sellers suspect they’re at the mercy of algorithms with little human oversight. Recourse is limited because when merchants set up shop on Amazon, they waive their right to a day in court by agreeing to binding arbitration to resolve any disputes. Amazon doesn’t negotiate terms with merchants. The boiler plate agreement is take-it-or-leave-it, a telling reminder of who has the upper hand in the relationship.”

Fancy Cars, Fine Dining, Creator Mansions, Cash: Triller Is Shelling Out for Talent (The New York Times): “In August, Triller announced it was seeking a new funding round of $250 million, hiking its valuation to over $1 billion … Founded in 2015, Triller bills itself as an app for making professional-looking music videos, quickly. Functionally, it’s different from TikTok: it has different editing tools; its users can’t ‘duet,’ or react to videos; and while it offers top singles and hit songs, it lacks the extensive library of sounds and mash-ups that TikTok users employ to express themselves … The most important thing about Triller, some of its backers say, is that it’s an American company … Questions have also come up about the accuracy of Triller’s reported metrics. In August, Triller threatened to sue Apptopia, a third-party app analytics company, for providing estimates of Triller’s app downloads that were vastly lower than the company’s publicly reported numbers … six former Triller employees spoke to Business Insider claiming that the company ‘reported monthly active users that were five times higher than what some internal metrics showed.’ “

The Casual Bodycon Dress Is Unexpectedly Having a Moment This Fall (Vogue): “The clingy silhouette has been given a sophisticated makeover that imbues it with a certain effortless glamour. But it’s also an easy outfit formula: Just throw it on and go. Thanks to cozy fabrics like structured wool designs, snug ribbed-knits, and warm jersey materials, it’s warm enough to wear throughout the fall and winter.”

Loathe Your Loved One’s Politics? Here’s Some Advice (The Wall Street Journal): “We have a fantasy that people who are our intimates are going to be like us in every fundamental way. We wonder: How can somebody important to me not see what I see? And yet there are always going to be significant points of contention in an intimate relationship.”

Out of Work in America (The New York Times): “The effects of the Great Depression were plain to see as it unfolded 90 years ago: Soup lines formed beneath storefront signs advertising free meals for the unemployed. The impact of millions of lost jobs today is less visible when so many are staying home. Social distancing has helped financial suffering hide.”

Recently purchased: Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence, KitchenAid 9-Speed Hand Mixer (take $20 off with code HSN2020; read reviews here), KitchenAid 450 Watt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer, Keebler Caramel Nut Dreams Fudge Shoppe, and L.L.Bean Scotch Plaid Flannel Pajamas.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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