Weekly Link Roundup

Wendy’s has made several “upgrades” to its menu this year, but few are good. The “new” crispy fries are reminiscent of the BK offering (so are mediocre at best), and the “Spicy Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich” pictured above is not greater than the sum of its (too many) parts; but if I had to pick a winner, I’d say the Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce is a fine addition to its sauce lineup.

Wendy’s Is Introducing a New French Fry Recipe Next Month (Restaurant Business): “Fries are … vital. They are the most ordered item at the chain. It’s also the item that elicits the most concern as consumers shift more of their orders to delivery—where an order can wait 15 minutes or longer before it gets to the customer. Fries have traditionally poor holding times, which can hurt quality perception … Wendy’s, however, promises that the fries will last longer. The company says the fries are skin on and lightly coated in a batter that will make them crispier and help retain that crispiness … The process of developing the new fries took more than two years.”

Smart Glasses Made Google Look Dumb. Now Facebook Is Giving Them a Try. (The New York Times): “Facebook … teamed up with Ray-Ban. Their new line of eyewear, called Ray-Ban Stories … can take photos, record video, answer phone calls and play music and podcasts … The new glasses, which start at $299 and come in more than 20 styles, face hurdles apart from Silicon Valley’s stop-start history with smart glasses. Facebook has long been under scrutiny for how it treats people’s personal data. Using the glasses to surreptitiously film people is bound to cause concerns, not to mention what Facebook might do with the videos that people collect … The spectacles have an audio activation feature, called Facebook Assistant, which can be turned on … by saying, ‘Hey, Facebook.’ “

Inside J.Crew’s New Look (The Business of Fashion): “The collection, which hit stores Wednesday, features an extended assortment of cashmere pieces … a line of puffer jackets in various colours and prints and plenty of outerwear in the signature tailored style for which J.Crew is known. It’s not a departure from what consumers could find in stores earlier this year or ones before, but Gayot’s inaugural looks come with extra oomph: little details like a surprising lining inside a jacket or extra ruffles on a poplin collar. Her vision also nods to streetwear: loose, cropped trousers and preppy jackets layered over sweats. Everything is designed with a comfort-first mindset, suitable for lounging and for in-person meetings, too. This stylish-yet-not-too-edgy stance seems to signal that the retailer is trying to recapture some of the moxie that garnered J.Crew its popularity in the late 2000s … but without losing sight of the loyal customers who buy Tippi sweaters and the Cece flats again and again. The latter, observers say, was where Drexler and Lyons failed toward the end of their tenure when sales began to slip … Under the new regime, merchandising is a top priority. Wadle’s vision aims for a product mix that combines a creative, fashion-forward approach with J.Crew’s tried-and-true preppy formula. Gayot, in her new assortment, has reinvented best-sellers like the cashmere crewneck sweater, adjusting the fit to be looser in the shoulders and shorter in length to better pair with high-waisted jeans. Other updates include elongating the toe of J.Crew’s famous ballet flat for style and comfort, as well as turning the trench coat into two separate styles — one long and lean and the other a trendier, relaxed fit.”

Banana Republic Tries to Become Cool Again—By Looking to Its Past (The Wall Street Journal): “… this June, Banana Republic launched the BR Vintage collection: 225 items from the company’s safari-style past … The brand amassed the clothes—mostly dating to the 1980s and ’90s … At $229 for a pair of leather-and-linen women’s boots and $498 for a men’s leather flight jacket, prices exceeded what vintage Banana pieces sell for on resale sites like eBay and Depop, but weren’t far off the designs’ original retail prices. Within the first day, 50% of the items had sold … The label is struggling financially. In the first quarter of this year, Banana Republic (which is owned by Gap Inc. ) saw its net sales fall 29% compared with the same period in 2019. In October 2020, Gap announced that it would close some 130 Banana Republic stores by 2023.”

How to Solve Any Problem Using Just Common Sense (The New York Times): “Contemplating Fermi problems keeps me curious about the world and how things relate to one another … If you’re interested in trying one, consider: If you didn’t limit yourself to the questions you knew Google had a ready answer for, what would you want to know? The point is to imagine the infinite cosmos, not to organize it, label it or conquer it.”

The Roe Baby (The Atlantic): “Shelley had long considered abortion wrong, but her connection to Roe had led her to reexamine the issue. It now seemed to her that abortion law ought to be free of the influences of religion and politics. Religious certitude left her uncomfortable … It had upset her that the Enquirer had described her as pro-life, a term that connoted … ‘a bunch of religious fanatics going around and doing protests.’ But neither did she embrace the term pro-choice: Norma was pro-choice, and it seemed to Shelley that to have an abortion would render her no different than Norma … Abortion, she said, was ‘not part of who I was‘ … From Shelley’s perspective, it was clear that if she, the Roe baby, could be said to represent anything, it was not the sanctity of life but the difficulty of being born unwanted.”

Will the Brick-and-Mortar Boom Last? (The Business of Fashion): “As of late August, there were 4,616 new stores announced among major US retailers, nearly 50 percent more than what was announced in all of 2020 … retailers large and small have reported a boost in foot traffic, and some have reported the e-commerce wave has started to recede. American Eagle Outfitters … said its e-commerce business dipped 5 percent in its second quarter compared to last year, but its overall revenue rose above 2019 levels.”

The Two Reasons Parents Regret Having Kids (The Atlantic): “When American parents older than 45 were asked in a 2013 Gallup poll how many kids they would have if they could ‘do it over,’ approximately 7 percent said zero … experts believe that there are two major pathways to parental regret. One of them is burnout … The other key reason for parental regret is that some parents simply never wanted kids in the first place.”

OnlyFans Is Not a Safe Platform for ‘Sex Work.’ It’s a Pimp. (The New York Times): “‘Sex work’ implies that prostituted people really want to do what they have virtually no choice in doing. That their poverty, homelessness, prior sexual abuse as children, subjection to racism, exclusion from gainful occupations or unequal pay plays no role. That they are who the pornography says they are, valuable only for use in it … Silent in the discussion of OnlyFans’s proposed rule is whether preventing underage youth from being used on the site has ever been possible. Prepubescent children, maybe. But almost anyone past the onset of puberty can be presented as a so-called consenting adult. Most women enter the sex industry underage, their vulnerability central to their appeal, hence marketability. Children cannot be protected from sexual exploitation as long as pornography is protected and prostitution of adults is tolerated, because these are the same group of people at two points in time, sometimes no more than one day apart, sometimes at one and the same time — children presented as adults, adults presented as children.”

Forgetting My First Language (The New Yorker): “The struggle to retain my first language feels isolating but isn’t unique; it’s a shared pain common among first- and second-generation immigrants. This phenomenon is known as first-language attrition, the process of forgetting a first or native language.”

Stop Waiting for Your Soul Mate (The Atlantic): “Back in 2011, a Marist poll asked, ‘Do you believe in the idea of soul mates, that is two people who are destined to be together?’ To this question, 74 percent of men and 71 percent of women answered “yes.’ … the belief that two people are deliberately brought together by unseen forces … [is] correlated with dysfunctional patterns in relationships, such as the assumption that partners will understand and predict each other’s wishes and desires with little effort or communication because they’re a cosmically perfect match. In other words, a belief in destiny leads to a belief in mind reading … Perhaps people in search of their soul mate feel less of a sense of responsibility to the other person if that particular relationship simply wasn’t meant to be.”

The Tragedy of America’s Rural Schools (The New York Times): “Nationwide, more than 9.3 million children — nearly a fifth of the country’s public-school students — attend a rural school. That’s more than attend the nation’s 85 largest school districts combined … The problems rural schools face … are distinct and require distinct solutions. Not only are rural communities more likely to be impoverished, they’re also often disconnected from the nonprofits and social-service agencies that plug holes in urban and suburban schools. Many don’t have access to broadband internet, and some don’t even have cellphone service, making it hard for young people to tap outside resources. Rural schools have a difficult time recruiting teachers and principals. And long before the pandemic turned ‘ventilation’ into a buzzword for anxious parents, rural children were learning in aging buildings with broken HVAC systems and sewers too old to function properly. Money won’t solve all of those problems … ‘but money and political will can do a whole lot for poor, rural communities.’ … rural advocates argue … that most states aren’t creating specific plans to address the myriad challenges rural communities face.”

♥ Recently purchased: Express Double Breasted Sweater Jacket, Alice + Olivia Caleb Puff-Sleeve Sweaterdress, Sdencin Houndstooth Sweater Vest, Madewell The Sport Camera Bag, Flora Nikrooz Blythe Matte Charmeuse Romper with Lace, and Ann Taylor Collared Midi Shirtdress.

Have a good week, everyone!

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