030: Summer, you salty dog


Basically

In the last two weeks, Grande trumped Trump. Kalanick went on leave. Comey testified. Amazon bought Whole Foods. (Also eyed Slack, FYI.) Australia called for gun amnesty. Rodman visited bff. There was a hung parliament, a hung jury—a hung everything. Crescent rolls (read: croissants) became endangered. Germany gave birth to a pint-sized democracy. And, Macron: long live you.


Verbatim

"The woman’s body is a silver neuron surfboard." Here's Nicole Daedone and the art of the delayed orgasm, with special guest Alan Watts. Narrated by the nimble Peter von Ziegesar for Aeon, this is a must read.

It wasn’t too far-out to consider orgasm less a mathematical constant, like pi, that remains the same in every case, and more a variable that can be cracked open, parsed, stretched out to the length of a Miles Davis trumpet solo, keyed, modulated, imbued with tonal variations.


The LinkedIn of Love


Things

We’re not the only ones sad about the end of Bloomberg Businessweek’s era of gloriously weird design with their latest relaunch, but the lead quote from this interview with editor Megan Murphy still cuts deep: "We’ve moved into a time where we want our covers and our imagery to reflect the seriousness of the content, and the times that we are living in."As we pour a ludicrous one (some sort of appletini with a sparkler in it) out for a grand experiment, we call bullshit on that. These times need all the batshit, nose-thumbing design intervention they can get. There’s more truth and power in these objectively awful portraits of Steve Bannon, for instance, than anything a “serious” brief could ever muster.

(This is also why, after years watching its construction and mocking it from our former office over the road, we welcome Toronto’s weirdo dog fountain unreservedly. Acknowledging fun in the world does not preclude one’s ability to take that world seriously.)

Airbnb is finding that its customer base really doesn’t care for the things that were its founding principles. As it doubles down on a market of travellers that really just want a cheaper hotel, serendipity doesn’t sit well in the guidelines. As laid out by Sarah Stodola in an essay on Instagram travel influencers that calls back to Kyle Chayka’s great essay on “Airspace” that we’ve linked to plenty—all places are becoming any place, and influencers, she says, steal the wonder of the world by mythologizing “things that are merely pleasant.”

Is the success-in-defeat of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders really a sign that a new era for the old left is slouching towards us? Sarah Leonard argues in her Times op-ed that a generation that came to political awareness after the fall of the Berlin Wall—amidst never-ending crises, inequality and broken centrist promises—doesn’t hold an irrational fear of walking the collective path. In a small group of stubborn oldies who clung for a lifetime to beliefs long since laughed off, they see another possible world and they like it. Old mate Taibbi’s got a pretty good overview of establishment feelings about such things.

The winner-takes-all boss-level battle between Walmart and Amazon has moved into the thin air of the financial realm, while their newly acquired subsidiaries are left warring below in the valleys of product innovation. Both have asserted retail dominance through developments in logistics, afforded by their sheer scale. Traditionally, this has meant vertical integration of product distribution capabilities: think Walmart’s just-in-time inventory management and Amazon’s jet fleet. Now, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is driving the battle ever higher, into the cultural realm. This strategy can be traced from their book-seller origins, through Prime, AWS, and Amazon Studios—this is their home turf. Meanwhile, Walmart is out of its element, disoriented and exhausted, grasping for acquisitions of retail startups like Bonobos (announced the same day as the Whole Foods deal). Walmart has finally understood that the ground has shifted and they’re even starting to learn the terrain, but they’re gasping and ultimately doomed.

ADVICE: “Do not, under any circumstances, think about any interaction you’ve had with another human being for longer than seven seconds.”

Anjan Sundaram’s writing on Paul Kagame’s Rwanda is always worth reading. Here, as the country closes in on another election Kagame will likely win, Sundaram lays out the vast gulf between his reputation as a liberator and champion of democracy in global circles, and the brutal reality on the ground.

This week in “doing science is harder than reporting on it”: sexy CRISPR gene editing technology looks like it might do things to the genome that weren’t exactly intended. A sloppy study or a warning sign? Hard to tell from out here, but we look forward to the debate on this one.


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Slap on that sunscreen folks. It's toasty out there.