What's Good: Sep. 24, 2021

Fire, money, and bridges.

Hello, good morning, happy Friday. Last weekend I went on a riverwalk bar crawl with the Rev Brew Crew, which was tremendous. This weekend is the Halo Infinite beta test. Life is a little tumultuous right now, but it’s nice to have some bright moments to hang on to. I will probably stream some Halo on Twitch, so drop a follow if you want to check it out.

Late last night when we were all in bed

Headlining this week is an incredible 12,000 word story about the Great Chicago Fire:

Hardly any rain had fallen on Chicago for months, and the drought was getting worse. Over the 22 days leading up to October 8, 1871, it had rained only once — a measly 0.11 inches. “Under the burning sun for so many weeks, the whole city became virtually a tinderbox,” recalled William Bross, one of the Chicago Tribune’s owners.

A mere 35 years earlier, Chicago had been a frontier outpost with a few thousand inhabitants, but now it was the commercial metropolis at the heart of the Midwest, growing at an astonishing pace as it drew people from around the country and from Europe, mostly German and Irish immigrants.

By 1870, it was the United States’ fifth-largest city, with a population of 300,000. And for the most part, it was made of wood. “Lumber was cheaper than brick and was more easily procured and more rapidly handled,” the Tribune would observe in 1872. “In a city where time was everything and durability was not a matter much considered, street after street was lined with wooden buildings.”

Forest and prairie fires were frequent in 1871 across a vast swath of the country’s northern regions, from the Rocky Mountains to upstate New York. During the first week of October, the Chicago Fire Department fought more than two dozen fires, wearing out the city’s approximately 190 firefighters and their horse-drawn equipment. They had 17 steam fire engines — three of which were out for repairs — along with four hook-and-ladder wagons and six carts that carried reels of fire hose.

It’s worth the read, I promise.

Danger zone

I talk a lot of shit about anti-vaxxers in this newsletter, but it’s for good reason. And they’re only becoming a larger and larger problem:

Anti-vaccine Facebook groups have a new message for their community members: Don’t go to the emergency room, and get your loved ones out of intensive care units.

Consumed by conspiracy theories claiming that doctors are preventing unvaccinated patients from receiving miracle cures or are even killing them on purpose, some people in anti-vaccine and pro-ivermectin Facebook groups are telling those with Covid-19 to stay away from hospitals and instead try increasingly dangerous at-home treatments, according to posts seen by NBC News over the past few weeks.

The messages represent an escalation in the mistrust of medical professionals in groups that have sprung up in recent months on social media platforms, which have tried to crack down on Covid misinformation. And it’s something that some doctors say they’re seeing manifest in their hospitals as they have filled up because of the most recent delta variant wave.

Wage theft

One of my law school professors has a fascinating piece about monopsony:

The spectacle of the antitrust challenge to Big Tech has been riveting. But a far more consequential transformation in antitrust law has largely escaped notice — the movement to use antitrust law to address wage suppression and inequality caused by the power of employers in labor markets.

Economic theory says that when a pool of workers has only one potential employer, or a small number of potential employers, those workers will be paid below-market wages. Without the credible threat to quit and work for a competitor, workers lack leverage that could allow them to secure a raise and better conditions. This situation is sometimes called monopsony, and it is similar to monopoly in the market for goods. When buyers have no choice among sellers, a monopolist can charge high prices; when workers have little choice among employers, the employer can “charge” low wages.


What, exactly, is going on here:

A curious news story popped up in the Sonoma County Press-Democrat this summer, just as a bipartisan group of US senators was trimming the sails on Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans and sending their own $1.2 trillion package to the Senate floor: The Wine Country paper of record reported that one of those senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, had traveled to the city of Sonoma in August 2020, where she earned $1,117.40 as a paid intern at a winery.

According to the Press-Democrat, Senator Sinema worked at the California winery for three weeks last summer, and has also traveled to Sonoma for a fundraiser held on her behalf at a luxury inn that charges $950 a night for a room during peak season. Why would a sitting senator—earning a taxpayer-funded salary of $174,000—take a paid internship at a winery? Well, Sinema is apparently a serious wine buff, in her own way, who perhaps subscribes to literary lush Charles Bukowski’s view that politics is like “sucking wine through a bent straw.” (Bukowski was sucking wind in the original.)


This is quite the bout of karma:

Just days after supporters of former President Donald Trump violently stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Ali Alexander, one of the primary organizers of the rally that day, appeared to be busy, attempting to hide his ties to dozens and dozens of websites calling the 2020 election stolen.

Domains tied to Alexander that pushed Stop the Steal, which the Daily Dot reviewed, including ones he publicly posted on as himself, were scrambled in the wake of the riot to hide ownership. But hacked documents show they trace right back to Ali and an anonymize service from the web hosting company Epik.


I have previously raved about Death Stranding in this newsletter. Now, with the advent of the “Director’s Cut” release, I am here to share the raves of others:

This isn’t just a review of Death Stranding: Director’s Cut. This is a review of Death Stranding.

Allow me to explain.

On Nov. 8, 2019, after three years of nebulous trailers and confusing gameplay demos, Kojima Productions released Death Stranding, its first project as an independent studio. I played it for 15 hours and didn’t enjoy a single one of them. I played the role of an exhausted man transporting boxes to a bunch of jerks scattered across a decimated U.S.; it was a plodding, preachy, indulgent mess. I promptly deleted it from my PlayStation 4.

On Sept. 24, 2021, Kojima Productions will release Death Stranding: Director’s Cut. I have been playing it for weeks. This time, I saw the closing credits.

It’s a great game. I recommend it. Or you can just watch a “game movie” of someone else playing it on YouTube, but I think the individualized experience is really powerful and worth the time and effort.

You deserve some good animal content

Have a good weekend.

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Giancarlo Esposito interview, do politics belong in video games? The State of the Plague. A Labor Movement for the Platform Economy. Tens Of Thousands Of Black Women Vanish Each Year. This Website Honors Their Stories. Google Seeks Search Deals For TikTok and Instagram Videos. China expands crackdown by declaring all crypto activities ‘illegal’. The Bannon Subpoena Is Just the Beginning. Facebook Grew Marketplace to 1 Billion Users. Now Scammers Are Using It to Target People Around the World. A teenager on TikTok disrupted thousands of scientific studies with a single video. Stop making employees turn on webcams during meetings.

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