Sleep as luxury, walrus stampedes, the politics of pockets

A Letter

A horrific story tells of a woman who needed three jobs to make ends meet. Napping in her car between shifts, a gas can in her trunk tipped over and filled the car with fumes; she died. All three of her jobs were for different Dunkin’ Donuts franchises where she made $8.25 an hour; meanwhile, the CEO of Dunkin’ brands received $4.2M in compensation last year. Sleep is a luxury item.

A widely distributed chart shows how economic expansion has, since 1980, nearly exclusively benefited the already rich. This chart surprises no one, the rich especially.

Animal rights activists are pursuing charges against people who abuse animals that exceed the repercussions for assaulting other people. The photo in this report makes clear the real underlying concern, and reminds me of an oft-repeated response to Ferguson: that if the cops were kicking dogs in Missouri, Americans would be up in arms. A black teenager is picked up on a dubious eye-witness claim and held without charge at Rikers for three years—many in solitary. A few blocks from me, cops yell at three black teens to “get out of the neighborhood.”

Climate scientists definitively connect last year’s heat waves in Australia to global warming. Fire Island is disappearing and there’s no good way to fix it. Flights are rerouted around Alaska to avoid a walrus stampede; until recent years, walruses would spend all summer on the ice, but there’s little ice left for them now.

Apple’s new Health Kit app tracks sodium intake and inhaler use but not menstruation. A bug opened in June reports on the omission, making it unbelievable that Apple’s teams of male engineers simply forgot. The new oversized iPhones expose how women’s clothes fail to make room for technology, requiring women to carry a purse—thus marking them as women.

Leigh Alexander neatly dismantles the GamerGate fiasco with a list of actual ethical concerns in video games. Intel’s decision to pull sponsorship of Gamasutra points to the trouble with focusing on the pipeline as a solution to tech’s lack of diversity: improving the pipeline won’t help if the industry itself remains toxic.

On a positive note, Roxane Gay is to lead up a new vertical alongside The Toast, fantastically named The Butter. Gay is characteristically sharp in her pronouncement: “Give women of color more verticals with complete editorial control and money.” Amen. Gay’s Bad Feminist is one of the best books I’ve read recently; Jess Zimmerman nails why.

Book selling is never not political.


I’m about a third of the way through Naomi Klein’s new book—This Changes Everything—and already a lot of things are clicking. Klein’s thesis is that climate change gives us a singularly unique opportunity to remake our economies into something that genuinely benefits everyone. It feels like a smart, researched update to Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful. Reading it yesterday I felt just the slightest glimmer of hope.

Related books

Naomi Klein’s newest book has a singular and irrefutable claim: responding to climate change requires nothing less than dismantling capitalism from the ground up.

Small Is Beautiful

E. F. Schumacher

Schumacher brilliantly interrogates modern economics and proposes an alternative: a Buddhist economics that takes as its imperative the quality of human life, not the quantity of profit.

Bad Feminist

Roxane Gay

We should all be as bad at feminism as Roxane Gay is.