Weekly Link Roundup

Burger King’s new “Ch’King” sandwich (also called the “Hand-Breaded Crispy Chicken Sandwich”), may not look like much, but it made me re-download the BK app. I’d argue it’s the best thing that BK has had on its menu in years; and I’ve eaten one almost every day last week: The exterior is crunchy (the inside is on the dry side, but I am not bothered by that) and the “Savory” sauce is a perfect blend of sweet and savory. The hottest component in the “spicy” iteration of this sandwich is actually the pickle (which isn’t good, so I now just order without). (In other fast food news: in the background of this image is McDonald’s new Caramel Brownie McFlurry, which is topped with caramel sauce and fudgy brownie pieces. It was good, but the Oreo McFlurry is still better.)

Burger King Announces Nationwide Availability Of New ‘Ch’King’ Sandwich On June 3, 2021 (Chew Boom): “Under development for the past two years, the new Ch’King features a freshly hand-breaded chicken filet, served on a toasty potato bun with crisp pickles and a savory signature sauce. The new sandwich is also available in Spicy and Deluxe versions. The Spicy Ch’King takes it up a notch with a spicy glaze, while the Deluxe Ch’King adds crisp lettuce and a tomato slice, minus the pickles.”

Do I Have an Aesthetic? (Vogue): “Overtime, ‘aesthetic’ has evolved from an academic word and something utilized by artists and auteurs to something to categorize our own identities by. It can mean both personal style and a vague stand-in for beauty … I liked this idea of finding something so specific, burrowing really deep and adding layer upon layer. It feels like choosing a movie in which to inhabit, rather a goal to aspire to. A personal aesthetic doesn’t have to be a super defined, pre-existing concept like Light Academia. It doesn’t even have to be true.”

OnlyFans Isn’t Just Porn 😉 (The New York Times): “Celebrities use the site because they know that regardless of a creator’s stated career … OnlyFans’ draw is the promise of seeing that which is normally unseen. Plenty of bios warn subscribers that the attached account is non-explicit yet pepper in teasing cues to the contrary … OnlyFans purported to offer a generous income to anyone enterprising enough to try it … Compared with clip sales … OnlyFans demands little commitment up front. If you’re new to sex work, or have resolved to keep most of your clothes on, you can warm up by posting the sort of tantalizing selfies many of us share free on social media … Several performers I spoke with attributed their success on OnlyFans to the site’s traffic, but that’s not exactly true. OnlyFans’ search function is so unhelpful that several third-party websites exist solely to help users thoroughly explore the platform’s offerings … Newbies aren’t precluded from accruing a large base of followers or developing smaller groups of die-hard fans, and some manage it well. But attracting paying admirers for one’s self-created work doubles the amount of labor required to get paid anything at all … Given that creators have to acquire and convert their own audience while producing their own material, exactly what service does OnlyFans provide? ‘OnlyFans is a glorified payment processor’ … ‘It’s being celebrated for putting more money back into performers’ hands and creating a space where performers can own and distribute their own content, but they’re taking a predatory cut. This isn’t a typical civilian processor that takes between 3 and 7 percent. OnlyFans takes 20 percent.’ For sex workers, any payment processing is elusive, so they can’t afford to be picky.”

J.Crew Is Naming Former Supreme Designer to ‘Disrupt’ Brand (The Wall Street Journal): “J.Crew … [named] Brendon Babenzien, co-owner of culty New York menswear label Noah and former longtime design director at pioneering streetwear brand Supreme, to the role of J.Crew’s men’s creative director. His first designs will hit stores in the second half of 2022 … The 49-year-old native of Long Island made his name in fashion during 14 years at Supreme … Mr. Babenzien will continue to operate Noah alongside his wife, Estelle Bailey-Babenzien. Noah is a more grown-up label than Supreme, offering striped dress shirts, cashmere suits and beachy striped tees. Noah’s $52 pocket tees and $128 striped button-ups are nearly double the price of similar styles at J.Crew. Mr. Babenzien said he doesn’t intend to take J.Crew into Noah’s pricing tier, but that pricing was a continuing discussion. He and Ms. Wadle said they were both focused first on raising the quality of J.Crew’s styles.”

Why Preppy J.Crew Staked Its Future on a Streetwear Star (The Business of Fashion): “Appointing Babenzien to J.Crew menswear, however, only addresses one side of the retailer’s turnaround. After all, its womenswear drives the majority of J.Crew’s business. To succeed, J.Crew must create ‘congruency and cohesiveness’ between its menswear and womenswear, something the brand has struggled with for years … Wadle told BoF that Bebenzien will work alongside Olympia Gayot, J.Crew’s executive vice president of women’s design … More specific news surrounding J.Crew’s women’s collections has been limited in recent months … Still, J.Crew must simultaneously reinvigorate its look while modernising its distribution, including hundreds of stores and the never-ending discount cycle that characterised its pre-pandemic business.”

The Joy of Eurovision Fashion (The New York Times): “… Vegas-style silver clearly won the night. Spangly, abbreviated shine was the go-to performance look … You couldn’t help but smile at it all, which is the point. Fashion is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to make you feel good. That’s something everyone needs. That Eurovision hides that under a bushel of kitsch doesn’t make it any less true.”

♥ Shop Nordstrom’s Half-Yearly Sale through 06/06/21. My picks:

Is Mars Ours? (The New Yorker): “A degree of planetary protection is enshrined in international law, in order to prevent backward or forward contamination. In 1967, the U.S. signed the Outer Space Treaty; its Article IX prohibits signatories from allowing Earth microbes to reach Mars, or from letting Martian biota hitch a ride to our planet, where they might infect terrestrial organisms. At the moment, Martian life is hypothetical, though an increasing number of scientists think that it could exist … ethical thinking must be based in the question of whether an action benefits human flourishing; the good that might come from having Mars as a second home, both for us and for the creatures we bring, outweighs the needs of a putative native biosphere … Now more than a half century old, the O.S.T. is starting to show its age. It includes almost no mention of private space companies, asteroid mining, or human settlement. Although it remains the ultimate arbiter on space law, its wording remains vague enough for multiple interpretations.”

Asian Homeowners Were Targeted in Burglary Ring, Prosecutors Say (The New York Times): “More than 50 residences in at least four states were ransacked, and jewelry, weapons and thousands of dollars in currency from the United States and Asian countries were stolen between late 2016 and the spring of 2019 … After identifying homes owned by people of Asian descent, the [eight] men would surveil the property and enter when they thought no one was home, often using ladders to climb through unlocked second-story windows.”

Pay No Attention to That Cat Inside a Box (The Atlantic): “For all the hype that box-cats command, scientists still don’t fully understand why felines both big and small so fervidly flop their keisters into anything and everything. And because cats are generally uncooperative study subjects, humans have had a hell of a time trying to suss it all out … a handful of theories have been tossed around. One posits that cats squish themselves into small spaces in search of solace … Some animal behaviorists think that being squeezed by enclosures might even remind cats of being snuggled by their mothers and littermates. Whatever the exact source of the comfort, having a hidey hole to retreat into seems to embolden cats: One 2014 study found that shelter cats who were gifted boxes in their new home were less stressed than their boxless housemates, and adjusted to their surroundings faster.”

Gap Bets It All on Yeezy (The Business of Fashion): “Gap has said little about its partnership with Kanye West since announcing the deal nearly a year ago … Gap desperately needs this collaboration to succeed. It’s closed stores, sold brands and cut costs, but that alone won’t begin to reverse two decades of declining sales and fading cultural relevance … Yeezy is a big, big swing at putting Gap back in the fashion conversation, and the company hasn’t been coy about the line’s importance to the brand’s future. The company expects revenue from the line to top $150 million in 2022, its first full year.”

Hundreds of PPP Loans Went to Fake Farms in Absurd Places (ProPublica): “Kabbage, an online lending platform … processed nearly 300,000 PPP loans before the first round of funds ran out in August 2020, second only to Bank of America … ProPublica found 378 small loans totaling $7 million to fake business entities, all of which were structured as single-person operations and received close to the largest loan for which such micro-businesses were eligible. The overwhelming majority of them are categorized as farms, even in the unlikeliest of locales, from potato fields in Palm Beach to orange groves in Minnesota. The Kabbage pattern is only one slice of a sprawling fraud problem that has suffused the Paycheck Protection Program from its creation … With speed as its strongest imperative, the effort run by the federal Small Business Administration initially lacked even the most basic safeguards to prevent opportunists from submitting fabricated documentation.”

When No Landlord Will Rent to You, Where Do You Go? (The New York Times): “Nevada is the worst state in the nation for poor people seeking housing, with only two affordable and available rental units for every 10 extremely low-income households … No state in the country has enough affordable rentals, especially for low-wage workers, who need to earn at least $23.96 an hour, on average nationwide, to be able to afford a modest two-bedroom rental … Roughly 7.6 million households with low incomes are currently struggling to find a long-term place to live … By the mid-1980s, federal and state governments mostly stopped building public housing directly … The policy largely failed people with extremely low incomes, and over roughly the same period, the available public-housing units declined to 958,000 at the end of 2020 from 1.4 million in 1990, according to HUD … Early in the pandemic, as thousands of midrange and upscale hotels closed their doors, Extended Stay America, a Charlotte-based chain with 652 locations in 44 states, kept all its properties open, proving the strength of its model — and making clear what had been an open secret: People were living permanently in some of its rooms.”

Uniqlo Made a Bet on Comfortable Bras. Now It’s Paying Off (The Business of Fashion): “Uniqlo, part of Fast Retailing Co. … edged out bra specialist Wacoal Holdings Corp. last year to become the top seller of women’s intimate wear in its home market after doubling its market share in recent years … Fast Retailing declined to disclose details on Uniqlo’s innerwear sales, but said the wireless bra was among the top 30 selling products in most of its markets. It’s also the fastest-growing product in the last decade within the women’s underwear segment … Uniqlo managed to weather the pandemic due to profit growth in its Japan business in the last fiscal year and a strong geographic focus in Asia.”

A Breakthrough in the Mystery of Why Women Get So Many Autoimmune Diseases (The Atlantic): “In the United States alone, women represent 80 percent of all cases of autoimmune disease … Some scientists now think the placenta itself might be the reason why women are so disproportionately affected … women’s immune systems are engaged in a fierce tug of war with placentas, even when the organs aren’t actually present. Here’s how the theory goes … When the placenta grows during pregnancy, the organ sends signals to the mother’s immune system to change its activity so that the mother’s body doesn’t eject the placenta and the fetus … Turning down the immune system too much, though, risks leaving women sensitive to pathogens, which would also be bad for the fetus. So instead the mother’s immune system ramps up in other ways throughout adulthood … so as to remain vigilant against germs even when some of its parts become dormant during pregnancies. Things get complicated, however, when those pregnancies don’t actually occur. Women today tend to have far fewer children … without a more or less constant pushback from placentas during pregnancies … the immune system can get too aggressive, too ramped up. It starts looking for things to attack that aren’t dangerous, which is how autoimmune diseases set in … Some people might take Wilson’s findings to mean that women should simply be pregnant all the time, but that’s far from the takeaway here. Pregnancy … also carries major health risks, and not all women want to have 12 kids … the hope is to eventually learn what it is in the immune system that’s trying to respond to the placenta, and to target that thing with vaccines or treatments. More research could mean major improvements in the way women’s autoimmune diseases are treated.”

♥ Recently purchased: J. Crew Cotton Bucket Hat, Reiss Bloor Ribbed One-Shoulder Sweater, Topshop Hooded Minidress, and Tory Burch Minnie Ballet Espadrilles.

Have a great week, everyone!

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