Weekly Link Roundup: December 25, 2020

Currently wearing Christmas plaids from Madewell (past season, similar here) and eating cake from Sun Mary Bakery

Oysters in France, KFC in Japan… Do They Know It’s Christmas? (The Economist): “Christmas is a curious blend of the universal and the local. The food served to celebrate it encompasses more variety than a box of chocolates, yet most of us assume that the flavours of our country’s Christmas, the treats and sweetmeats that mark out the day as special, are the flavours of Christmas … When you mess with Christmas dinner, you mess with your memories too. The festival is fundamentally about nostalgia and memory … The perfect Christmas of the past is always elusive. Even Elizabethan writers complained that Christmas failed to live up to its medieval heyday. To change something as central as the feast risks undermining your own sense of connection with the past.”

Sensational Sweets of the Imagination (The New York Times): “… saccharine foodstuffs … They take something we know — food, which is tangible and often mundane — and make it mysterious. But in these fanciful sweets we may discover something that will not just sustain us or tantalize our taste buds but also grant us entry into a fictional world.”

What to Wear to Get Ahead in Finance—According to HBO’s ‘Industry’ (The Wall Street Journal): “At first glance, the clothes on ‘Industry’ look incredibly boring, which is the point … While you might initially dismiss the show’s style as a flat reflection of corporate banality, the barely perceptible details of the characters’ clothing speak volumes … when everyone wears essentially the same uniform of a suit and light button-up to the office, tiny elements pop out, whether that’s a slightly longer-than-standard cuff, an Audemars Piguet watch or a discreet Cartier Love bracelet … Gray or navy suits only, no black … no brown shoes; no breast pocket on shirts. As for suits … The men who’ve made it wear Brioni or bespoke.”

The Journalist and the Pharma Bro (Elle): “Over the course of nine months, beginning in July 2018, Smythe quit her job, moved out of the apartment, and divorced her husband. What could cause the sensible Smythe to turn her life upside down? She fell in love with a defendant whose case she not only covered, but broke the news of his arrest. It was a scoop that ignited the Internet, because her love interest, now life partner, is … Martin Shkreli: the so-called ‘Pharma Bro’ and online provocateur, who increased the price of a lifesaving drug by 5,000 percent overnight and made headlines for buying a one-off Wu-Tang Clan album for a reported $2 million. Shkreli, convicted of fraud in 2017, is now serving seven years in prison … Watching Smythe, I finally realize her motive for telling her story. She wants Shkreli, and hopes putting their love on the record might at last give her some power in the relationship.”

Make Space for Grief After a Year of Loss (HBR): “This year, grief is everywhere, and though it’s been written about and discussed, it’s still going to be felt more acutely at year’s end … ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ takes on a different meaning when you have suffered a loss … acknowledge that people will be anxious, vulnerable, and disoriented … Don’t just pretend that things are normal: Share your experience, invite people to share theirs, and make that behavior normal … right after sympathy, offer truth. Here is the data. Here is what we are dealing with right now. Take questions … Sharing your company monthly revenues and your plans to deal with a steep drop … will be more honest and useful than giving people a pep talk about how bright the next quarter will be … simplify the work. Make it more manageable. When we are anxious and remote, it helps to focus on clear and concrete goals, to know what is expected and what is enough … Grief erases our sense of agency, and work can help restore it … All of these actions help to ground your colleagues in reality and orient them to the present. That is the best work can offer: Reminding us that we are here for now.”

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Holiday Fun or Commercialized Insanity? (The Wall Street Journal): “Today, tens of companies specialize in zany sweaters themed around every conceivable piece of Christmas regalia from shining ornaments to bursting presents … Though Christmas sweaters were always garish, they weren’t always so inane … What was once a grassroots example of thrifty, recycled fashion has turned rancid … Such disposable clothes simply generate clothing waste.”

When the Weather Outside Is Frightful, Here’s How to Stay Warm (The New York Times): “The human body can adapt relatively quickly to cold temperatures. Habituation to cold is the reason the same temperature can feel really cold in the fall and blissfully warm in the late winter … The good news is your body can begin to adjust to frigid weather in a matter of a days … Clothing matters a lot … Plan for three layers. The base layer should be made of a lightweight moisture-wicking fabric … Add a second layer of fleece, merino wool or regular wool for insulation. Your outer layer, usually a winter coat, should repel wind and rain … Hands and feet also need special attention. Two sock layers can help, but loosen your shoes or buy winter boots a little larger so they don’t fit too tightly and restrict blood flow.”

Holiday Shoppers With Money to Burn Covet Secondhand Luxury (Bloomberg): “Consignors of high-end sneakers and handbags have reaped big returns. The perennially sold-out Louis Vuitton Pochette purse goes for an average of $1,300 on Tradesy, more than double its retail price tag. The resale value of Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost 350 surged 157% on online luxury consignment store RealReal Inc.”

Giving Billions Fast, MacKenzie Scott Upends Philanthropy (The New York Times): “Ms. Scott … had given more than $4 billion to 384 groups, including 59 other Y.W.C.A. chapters … In the course of a few months, Ms. Scott has turned traditional philanthropy on its head … By disbursing her money quickly and without much hoopla, Ms. Scott has pushed the focus away from the giver and onto the nonprofits she is trying to help. They are the types of organizations — historically Black colleges and universities, community colleges and groups that hand out food and pay off medical debts — that often fly beneath the radar of major foundations … As she did in July when she announced donations of $1.7 billion to 116 organizations, Ms. Scott unveiled her latest round of philanthropy through a post on Medium. She noted that she had made ‘unsolicited and unexpected gifts given with full trust and no strings attached.’ “

Wonder Woman’s Riskiest Mission Yet (The Wall Street Journal): “WarnerMedia … has committed to putting its entire film slate for 2021 onto its HBO Max service on the same day those films are set to debut in theaters … ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ … with a reported budget over $200 million—qualifies as the most expensive ever to make its initial debut on a subscriber-based streaming service.”

Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School (ProPublica): “Even as other states move toward reforms focused on keeping nonviolent juvenile offenders in the community, Michigan continues to lock up children for minor transgressions that aren’t actually crimes: technical violations of probation or status offenses like truancy or staying out after curfew … Michigan keeps such poor data that the state can’t even say how many juveniles it has in custody at any given time or what crimes they committed … Michigan ranked fourth in the nation, trailing only the much more populous states of California, Texas and Florida in the number of minors held for technical violations, and that Michigan’s rate was more than twice the national rate.”

How Much Herd Immunity Is Enough? (The New York Times): “Hard as it may be to hear, [Fauci] said, he believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt — almost as much as is needed to stop a measles outbreak … The early range of 60 to 70 percent was almost undoubtedly too low … and the virus is becoming more transmissible, so it will take greater herd immunity to stop it.”

♥ (Podcast) How To Cook One Perfect Meal (How To! With Charles Duhigg)

Gift Cards Are the Go-To Holiday Gifts of 2020 (The Wall Street Journal): “Gift-card purchases in the first week of December were twice the rate in the same period last year … The gift-card boom might not help holiday sales. Retailers can’t record the revenue until the cards are redeemed … The top-selling gift cards this year are Visa, Amazon, Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox, Kohl’s Corp. and Lowe’s Cos. … The average shopper is spending 17.6% more on gift cards in 2020, compared with 2019, while the average number of gift-card transactions per shopper is up 12.3% compared with last year.”

Why Capable People Are Reluctant to Lead (HBR): “… there are three specific types of perceived risks that deter people from stepping up to lead … acts of leadership might hurt their relationships with their colleagues … The fear of leadership harming interpersonal relationships … Despite the fact that both organizations and employees generally claim to admire leadership, people worry that actually engaging in leadership acts might make them look bad in the eyes of their peers … Fear of being associated with and blamed for failure is a powerful deterrent that keeps people from taking on opportunities to lead … To mitigate these risks, managers can identify lower-stakes opportunities … and encourage high-potential individuals to exercise their leadership muscles in these safer environments.”

What You Can Do Post-Vaccine, and When (The New York Times): “When people are fully vaccinated … but most others aren’t yet, their lives probably shouldn’t change very much … vaccinated people should still wear masks and avoid large groups and indoor gatherings when possible … If you and the people you want to see are all vaccinated, it should be safer to socialize with them, including indoors … But being in large groups or traveling, when there’s no way to know if the people around you have been vaccinated, will remain risky … ‘Immunity is not an on/off switch; it’s a dial … If you’re below herd immunity, the virus is still happily circulating in the population and there’s always a chance the vaccine isn’t working for you’ … It should be much safer to move around once your community achieves herd immunity … at least 70 percent of people need to have acquired immunity for the whole community to be protected … When a majority of people are vaccinated … it will be safer to do things in your community, like eat at indoor restaurants, attend a party or ride a bus. Next Christmas, families can probably gather in ways they should avoid this year … It’s too early to know exactly when we’ll hit that threshold.”

These Masked Portraits Are an Instagram Sensation (Vogue): “Masks convey many different meanings and reactions … In my portraits, which are photo-collages elaborated via a self-taught photoshop process on existing images, I try to see masks under a humorous light, even if obviously the situation is all but humorous. I try to add a fashionable element … make them seem beautiful and not threatening. I work on exaggerating details of the costumes worn by the subjects in the portraits, which leads to reading the image as slightly bizarre and ironic and funny, with an over-the-top quality that makes the meaning of the masked face less dramatic or threatening. They’re seen through our contemporary eyes, as a maximalist, visually charged take on historical codes. I never add any extra element to the pictures … These are amazing pieces of art that I deeply respect. I don’t want in any way to belittle their invaluable place in art history, quite the contrary. I don’t want to add a mobile phone or a joint or something nonsensical into the picture! I try to elaborate them in a way that’s plausible and that fits without distorting their beauty. I’d like them to look like an original.”

From Nike to Balenciaga, the Seven Strangest Sneakers of 2020 (The Wall Street Journal): “… many of the trappings of the fashion industry are gone … One facet of the industry felt like business as usual, however: the ceaseless churn of sneaker releases … Many of these sneakers are immensely odd, marked by design elements like fake fur, colors more lurid than a bowl of Lucky Charms and convoluted soles that would look at home in Robo-Cop’s wardrobe. Many of these garish shoes have nevertheless become collectible, fetching thousands of dollars … on the resale market.”

The Stimulus Deal: What’s in It for You (The New York Times): “Individual adults making up to $75,000 a year would receive a $600 payment, and a couple earning up to $150,000 a year would get twice that amount. If they have dependent children, they would also get $600 for each child … Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin … expected the first payments to go out before the end of the year. But it will be a while before all eligible people receive their money … older children … 17 or older … will not be eligible for a payment … Everyone eligible for unemployment benefits would receive an extra 11 weeks … Everyone who qualifies for unemployment checks will also get an additional weekly payment of $300.”

♥ Recently purchased: AQUA Puff-Sleeve Popcorn Cashmere Sweater, Braun Epilator Silk-épil 9 Flex 9-300 Set, Cuyana French Terry Pleated Front Pant, Mariah Ribbed Knit Maxi Dress, Burberry Argyle Intarsia Cardigan, and Aquazzura Greenwich Loafer.

(If you celebrate) Merry Christmas!

For anyone who is doing some after-Christmas sale shopping, I will be publishing a big sale post tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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