+ The Big Problem With the Giant Stanley Cup (Wired): “Despite its buy-it-for-life legacy, Stanley products are now commonly purchased as trendy collectors’ items … There aren’t any published studies of how much reuse a Stanley cup needs to get before it’s more energy efficient than plastic water or soda bottles. But in 2009, The New York Times reported that, when compared to plastic, the production of stainless steel bottles requires seven times the amount of fossil fuel, emits 14 times more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and requires hundreds of times more metal resources.”
+ The Stanley Cup: A 40-Ounce Bully? (The Cut): “The tumblers have particularly taken off among preteen girls, launching something of a cup-based social hierarchy in middle and even elementary schools — especially after students returned from winter break with the shiny new Stanleys they received for holiday presents … Parents might find themselves rolling their eyes at the idea that ‘everyone’ in their child’s class has a Stanley, but teachers say it’s not that much of an exaggeration.”
+ It’s Just a Water Bottle (The Atlantic): “Sometimes a cup is just a cup in the right place at the right time … Trying to parse why strangers ascribe such meaning to an object or product that is meaningless to you—or why they’re so set on one thing and not another, similar thing—is usually a fool’s errand.”
+ The T Predictor: What We’ll Be Obsessing Over in 2024 (The New York Times)
+ Home Influencers Will Not Rest Until Everything Has Been Put in a Clear Plastic Storage Bin (The Atlantic): “… if you go looking for organizational inspiration, the tips and tricks you find will center disproportionately on a single object: the humble clear acrylic storage container … Restocking videos … can make a subject out of anything in your home that could plausibly be stored in a clear bin of some kind, and often in enormous quantities … Pantries, closets, and refrigerators are no longer where the messy background work of domesticity is hidden from view. Instead, the curatorial work of filling and arranging those spaces is proof of a new, highly prized form of domestic mastery.”
+ Think Clothes Were ‘Better’ 50 Years Ago? Our Investigation Might Surprise You (The Wall Street Journal): “… it’s still entirely possible to nab new pieces that live up to, or even surpass, their old-school counterparts … But it takes far more effort now. You’re unlikely to score such finds at mainstream brands and must typically navigate a thicket of subpar examples to find them … high-end clothes today are just as well-made as their ’80s equivalents, whether they’re manufactured in, say, Italy, the U.S. or China. But contemporary fabrics are overwhelmingly thinner. And stretchier … Decades ago, folks spent much more on clothes yet bought fewer things … According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1950 American households allocated 11.5% of their annual expenditure to apparel. In 2022? Less than 3%.”
+ Inside The New York Times’ Big Bet on Games (Vanity Fair): “… games are critical to the Times’ business strategy in trying to reach users … beyond its core news product. Of course, the Times is still competing … with its traditional print and digital rivals … But the company is also vying for people’s attention against every app on their home screen. So it’s developed products in recent years to satisfy the lifestyle needs of its audience: cooking, shopping … sports … and audio … People who engage with both news and games on any given week have the best long-term subscriber retention of any product combination in the bundle, and it isn’t lost within the Times newsroom just how integral Wordle, Connections, and the rest have become to the bottom line.”
+ In 1741, a British man-of-war, HMS Wager, was separated from its squadron during a violent storm and later shipwrecked near the coast of Patagonia; its entire crew were thought to have perished. Ten months later, thirty emaciated men washed up on the coast of Brazil in a makeshift vessel built from the carcass of the Wager. They told a stirring tale of perseverance and received a heroes’ welcome; their story might have concluded there but for the return of three more survivors of the Wager–including the ship’s captain–six months later. These three men gave a different account of events, and accused the first group of abandonment and mutiny.
David Grann, a staff writer at The New Yorker best known for authoring The Lost City of Z and The Killers of Flower Moon, is masterful at weaving together a cohesive narrative in The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder from contradictory accounts (and unwieldy source material) told by two groups of people with very good reasons to lie (mutiny is a crime punishable by hanging)—and manages to remain (mostly) impartial about his subjects. What Grann does especially well is in containing the scope of the story: while he tries to tie in themes of imperialism and racism, and wants readers to consider the nature of “order,” the story never strays far from the people struggling for survival through disease, violent storms, exposure, starvation (and its attendant atrocities), and judgment. Grann also excelled in showing a darker side to seafaring, which is an oft-romanticized undertaking. Life on board the Wager was miserable from the get-go: typhus spread widely on the overcrowded ship which was also loaded with “a farm’s worth of livestock”; scurvy, and false remedies to cure it, further ravaged the crew; rats “infested sleeping quarters … and disfigured the dead”; violent waves constantly threaten to sweep away anyone who dare to not be securely fastened. All of this happened long before the Wager struck rock.
If you are a fan of the historical nonfiction genre, or if you enjoyed any of Grann’s prior works, you should find The Wager an absorbing read.
+ Coming of Age at the Dawn of the Social Internet (The New Yorker): “… the Internet is in a state of limbo, suspended between the remains of an aging, broken system and the nebulous beginnings of a new one. One of the Internet’s best qualities remains that anyone can start over, at any time, with a blank Web site, and create whatever they want.”
+ The Technologies the Retail Industry Is Betting On (The Business of Fashion): “Companies were selling services that could give shoppers styling tips, create text and image content for marketing campaigns and e-commerce sites, produce blog posts to boost a brand in Google search, generate backgrounds for product photos and power chatbots to help online shoppers, among other applications. … of more than 250 executives in retail and CPG … 99.6 percent … said they were experimenting with [generative A.I.] … in some form.”
+ A new-to-me product that I like enough to have already repurchased: Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. The texture is thick but absorbs easily.
+ I Will Not Thumbs-Up Your Email (The Atlantic): “Last October, Google’s Gmail started letting users send emoji reactions to ‘quickly and creatively acknowledge an email’ … In other words, I got another email … reactions are supposed to relieve you of the burden of writing out a full response … But all of those relieved burdens, taken together, add up to a new one: the duty to react to everything, one way or another … Reactions became so prevalent, in fact, that they devolved into another kind of reply. The replacement for the noise became the noise.”
+ Her Brand Had $100 Million Ambitions. Now It’s Being Sold in a Fire Sale. (The Wall Street Journal): “… Something Navy [launched] in 2020 with about $10 million from investors. Now, after unraveling under mounting debt, the company is being sold in a fire sale that underscores the pitfalls of brands centered around online stars. A group of investors across apparel and real estate have agreed to buy the company in an asset and liability purchase … The investors plan to relaunch the Something Navy brand with Charnas as its creative director … Something Navy is offloading $7.5 million in liabilities and $483,000 worth of outstanding bills … The term sheet listed the consideration of the purchase at $1 … The brand pulled in about $12 million in sales during its first six months, Scanlan said, and doubled its business to $24 million in 2022.”
+ Are Neckties Making a Fashion Comeback? (The Business of Fashion): “… as the rules around how to wear a tie are changing, stylish people have found ways of making their ties look very different to those once worn by the G7 bros, making them feel more of the moment.”
+ Disney Is a Language. Do We Still Speak It? (The New York Times): “The thing about folklore is that it changes as the future unfolds. Each new generation faces challenges, and thus needs new ways of telling old stories. Disney … is uniquely resistant to evolving its language. You can play in Disney’s sandbox — as long as you buy Disney’s authorized merchandise, go to its official parks and don’t color too far outside the lines. Copyright laws have been extended to protect the company’s intellectual property. If you run afoul of the rules … the company might sue you. Those limits to how fans are permitted to interact with the stories and characters they love preserves a rigid language dictated from the top down. But it also keeps those who want to speak the common language from participating in its evolution … The expectations of the 21st century, however, demand something else. In this new age, the tools for remixing culture are easy to access, whether you are a big corporation or just a kid in your bedroom, and that’s important: In a world that prefers to create by remixing, we can all make our own versions of Disney’s myths. But the company … actively discourages sharing that innovation in the spaces today’s audiences know and love best.”
+ 7-Eleven Just Bought Hundreds of Mexican Restaurants (The Takeout): “7-Eleven has just spent $1 billion on the purchase of 204 Stripes Convenience Stores from gas company Sunoco LP. As part of the deal, 7-Eleven also acquires every outlet of Laredo Taco Company currently hosted at Stripes locations. Sunoco had already sold more than 1,000 convenience stores to 7-Eleven back in 2018, and this newest acquisition makes 7-Eleven the sole owner of both the Stripes and Laredo Taco Company brands … The chain’s growing footprint may be coming at the perfect time, as customers turn to convenience store food as an affordable meal option … in 2023 … 54% of convenience store patrons were reducing restaurant visits due to cost, but only 30% said they were buying food from convenience stores less often for the same reason.”
+ For Fashion Supply Chains, Chaos Is the New Normal (The Business of Fashion): “… the Houthis’ intensifying aggression, spurred by Western intervention, poses not only a diplomatic dilemma and a potential new flashpoint in the Middle East war, but also profound disruption to one of the world’s most vital trade routes … All vessels passing through Egypt’s Suez Canal must traverse the Red Sea in order to make journeys between Asia and Europe. The canal is a crucial passage for international trade, through which roughly 15 percent of global shipping trade, including as much as 30 percent of container traffic, passes each year … Ships unable to use the Suez Canal likely opt for the longer route around Africa, which adds on average 10 to 15 days to the trip … There are also higher risks of pirate attacks and adverse weather conditions associated with the so-called Cape Route … Some retailers are even reportedly exploring air and rail alternatives. These are expensive obstacles for which ultimately consumers will have to pay.”
+ How to Spot a Frenemy—And Be a Real Friend (The Atlantic): “… avoid frenemies whenever you can, because … their ambivalent effect on you may net out as more negative than positive owing to forces such as cardiovascular stress, blood pressure, depressed mood, and interpersonal conflict. Frenemies are worse for you even than out-and-out foes … researchers tested the physiological effects of dealing with people with whom we have an ambivalent relationship … They showed that blood pressure tends to rise more in such interactions than in encounters both with real friends and with actual enemies.”
+ Recently purchased: Nike Dunk Low Next Nature Sneaker, Banana Republic Arden Suede Pump, All in Favor Stripe Sweater, Free People Venture Pullover, The Marisela Mini Skirt by Maeve, Sézane Paula Babies, Levi’s Sherpa Zip Up Teddy Jacket, GOELIA Cashmere Sweater, and J. Crew Button-Up Shirtdress in Linen-Cotton Blend.
Have a good week, everyone!