What's Good: Feb. 21, 2020

Bank robbery, profiles, and righteous anger.

Hello, good morning, happy Friday. I started at my new firm on Tuesday, and everything is just wonderful. Everyone here is kind and welcoming and supportive, I am working on cases that I am fascinated by and excited about, and there are no fewer than 20 different kinds of Keurig pods for coffee, tea, and even hot cocoa. I billed 8 hours every day so far this week and felt GREAT about it, I love it. I even have a view, kind of!

It’s hard to get a good angle with my phone, but I can see the Chicago Skyway from my office, which is cool. This weekend I am going to play an absolute ton of Destiny 2.


Not the kind of heat she was looking for

They met on a dating app. Then he robbed a bank on their first date and forced her to be the getaway driver,” is a real headline from this unfortunately very real story.

It all started, the woman told police, when she picked up Castillo from his parents' home in Chepachet, Rhode Island, and drove him 30 minutes east toward North Attleboro, Massachusetts. She said he drank wine in the passenger seat of her Nissan Maxima (which is also illegal, but he wasn't charged for that one).

The two had never met in person before that fateful day in 2016, she told police. So why would she think anything was wrong when he told her to pull over as they approached a bank?

He got out of her car and left her there alone for a few minutes. Then, suddenly, he came running back, sweating with sunglasses, a hat, a gun and $1,000 cash in hand, the woman said.

"F**king go," he told her.

She "panicked," she told police, so she did as she was told.

Of course she panicked! Why is that phrased and framed that way, did they intend to imply that she would have done it even if she had not panicked, or that panicking is an insufficient justification? When you are swiping on Tinder, the kind of heat you are looking for is the emotional heat generated by romantic sparks, not the kind of heat where the police have a BOLO out for you.

I guess if you were alone on Valentine’s Day, at least you were not forced to participate in a bank robbery. That is what I told myself when I saw this article last Friday, anyway.


HQ is dead, long live HQ

I loved HQ during its heyday. Scott was an incredible host, the questions were interesting, the prizes were good, the advertisements were non-invasive. Playing with friends was a hoot. I signed up with Kerry’s referral code so she would get an extra life, although shortly after I did she told me that she had thousands of extra lives and I should have used someone else’s, oh well.

Anyway, during HQ’s lifespan, Taylor Lorenz wrote this incredible piece about Scott and HQ. When she reached out to Rus to let him know she was profiling Scott, Rus threatened to fire him.

Yusupov’s objections began with the line, “Scott said that despite the attention, he’s still able to walk down the street and order his favorite salad from Sweetgreen without being accosted.”

“He cannot say that!” Yusupov shouted. “We do not have a brand deal with Sweetgreen! Under no circumstances can he say that.”

When asked to confirm that Rogowsky can’t say he personally enjoys eating at Sweetgreen, Yusupov said “he cannot say that,” inaccurately claiming that Scott had disclosed private company information by revealing his preference for a salad chain.

When The Daily Beast read Yusupov a quote from Rogowsky saying “I can make people happy and give them the trivia they so desperately love and want. It’s been so great to build this community,” Yusupov implored the reporter to “take that out.”

So I had been waiting with bated breath to see what Scott would eventually say about the company, and now that it’s shuttering (for now), the tea has arrived:

There is more if you click through. The whole HQ saga is fascinating and Kerry has been doing a great job covering it.


Untangling the internet

Hey speaking of Taylor Lorenz, she got profiled by The Caret this week and the piece is very good. I am obviously a big fan of hers, and we are friends, but I think the piece speaks for itself. Here is a small excerpt:

You dabbled in politics yourself at The Hill.
Yes I wrote breaking news and I ran a bunch of their social media and video strategy. I covered the 2016 election using things like Snapchat and Facebook Live. After the election in 2017, I started covering a ton of protests and rallies and marches.
You were actually physically assaulted at one.
Yeah, I was clocked to the ground while I was live-streaming in front of 3 million people at Charlottesville in 2017. It's not something I generally talk about.

Taylor and I actually met - in real life! - shortly after that. I was attending the vigil for Heather Heyer in Washington, D.C. (I spent August 2017 in D.C. working for a bipartisan policy firm). Randomly, she came up to me and asked if I had a phone charger - and I did! Whenever I go to stuff like that, I always bring my monster Anker battery pack that holds like six full phone charges. We chatted briefly while she got enough juice to make it home, exchanged contact info, and parted ways. But I got to know her more and more in the months thereafter, and it has been extremely awesome to follow her career and see her find so much success - she is a tremendous journalist.

A few years ago, your job didn’t exist and you had to fight to prove to your editors that internet culture was a valid beat. Now you’re a Harvard Nieman fellow and an (extremely popular) New York Times writer. What changed?
I think we're just getting to the point in the past year, year and a half, where people have started to care. The New York Times created a job for me to cover this stuff because there's an audience for it in a way that there wasn't a few years ago I think.

This is a very good profile and you should read all of it.


Broken dreams and bloody knuckles

Lately I have been noticing a lot of commentary from people, especially people in older generations, about millenials and other young people being “so angry all the time.” They dismiss us as overly emotional, as being unwilling to separate politics from interpersonal relations, as being unaccepting of anyone who does not totally agree with us. All of these accusations are false and misleading, they are based on false premises, and they only serve to reinforce the prejudices and views of the accuser. When someone says this sort of thing to you, you should notice it, stand up for yourself, and encourage them to recognize the position they are putting you in.

But, fine, let’s go with their characterization, for the sake of argument. Maybe we can, occasionally, attempt to explain our position to them on their terms.

Why are millenials and gen-z people so upset? Even well-educated ones? Well:

To be clear: people with college degrees make more, statistically speaking, than people without college degrees. But the “equality” component of the machine is broken. There’s a massive gap between the promises that floated around that degree — and that includes graduate degrees — and the lived post-degree experience. We’re not talking about liberal arts graduates ski-bumming until they decide they’re ready for that six-figure job. We’re talking about those 40% of graduates working jobs that don’t even require a college degree, and the one in eight working jobs that pay $25,000 or less.

And:

To understand millennial burnout, you can’t just understand the amount of student loans we’re carrying; you have to understand what they feel like. And if and when you understand that, it’s incredibly straightforward to see why so many support Sanders and Warren.

If you are a millenial or gen-z person reading this, none of it is surprising to you, it all sounds familiar. In fact, it probably ignites the fury of a thousand suns to leap from your bones and consume all that dares to near you, because oh my god they fucking screwed us.

But I’m including this piece because I think it explains the issue quite well for people who are not millenials or gen-z people, and I think many of them still do not “get it.” I know there are some who read this newsletter, so I hope it helps them, but also I hope it helps everyone reading by being a resource that they can share whenever they need someone else to explain this phenomenon for them because explaining it yourself over and over and over is just utterly exhausting. Which is, you know, exhaustion atop exhaustion. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, we are all sick and tired of being sick and tired.

If you sell us a dream, and we buy it, and you shatter it before our eyes and laugh at us for trusting you, well, maybe you should not be surprised that we are thrilled about voting for candidates who want to help us make things right.

What I am saying, really, is that boomers committed securities fraud. They got us to buy shares in these dreams and made material misrepresentations or omissions about the risks (namely, their misconduct) inherent in those investments. Here is a potential remedy:

That is a very specific joke that maybe one of you will get, but I love it, I think it is a tremendous idea. We are all disillusioned and ready to fight, let’s go. Register to vote, volunteer to make phone calls and knock on doors, or, even better, Run For Something.


This section is about the greatness of Senator Elizabeth Warren

After I publish each week’s newsletter, I immediately begin a draft for the following week and start dumping various links into it so I can curate and commentate them over the course of the week. This is the first thing I dumped last week; the moment I saw it, I was overcome with joy (caveat, do not read the replies):

I did not watch the debate this week, but I did enjoy some clips, here is one:

This is what it looks like when a law professor decides to use their cold-calling skills to eviscerate someone. This is not what an actual law school class is like, because they specifically design their in-class questions to help students learn rather than designing them to embarrass the recipient (or at least that’s what good professors ought to do). Those same skills, obviously, can be used to take someone to task for some absolutely egregiously disgusting behavior. And Bloomberg has just the worst possible answer - “the women wanted the agreements,” really? That is like being asked why the Court ruled against a party and saying “the party wanted to be ruled against.” I cannot believe anyone was impressed or persuaded by that answer, but just in case and like every good law professor does, Senator Warren followed that remark up for the next class (read: TV appearance):

She also had her team immediately tweet out the text version of the prepared covenant. If you follow me on Twitter, forgive me for repeating myself, but this is the most beautiful political move I’ve ever seen. I’m not even saying that it’s going to be impactful, although I hope it will, I’m just saying I find it to be amazing and I love it. Bloomberg has lawyers, this has been explained to him, he knows how big of an own it is. And she is just tearing him apart limb from limb. This is the lawyer version of every “you coward” tweet any of us have ever done. It is everything, to me. Plus, ABC has spoken with several women who expressed interest in telling their stories, so this may have some staying power. I hope it does. At least the content of the campaign staff NDAs has been leaked.

And one more good thing:

Yeah, that’s good stuff.


Extremism, health, and harm

By February 2019, Judith had become unbearably anxious. The 28-year-old Pacific coast native’s due date had come and gone. Just two days shy of 45 weeks pregnant, her belly was stretched so far that it shined, her body was swollen, and nearly everything — from her toes to her hair — ached. 

For women who haven’t gone into labor by 42 weeks, just about every medical and birth professional recommends induction — a jump-start to labor from medicines that ripen the cervix or contract the uterus. But Judith, an artist and freethinker who believes in “all that hippy jazz,” had a different kind of birth plan — one that dismissed medical recommendations and relied on nature and intuition, that rejected a sterile hospital for a warm pool in her own home and that avoided doctors and midwives. Instead, Judith wanted to be with only her husband and her closest friend, a plan known as freebirth, or unassisted birth, by the tiny subculture of women who practice it.

I do not really have the words to describe this story by Brandy Zadrozny. She has been working on it since last year. You can tell where it is going, a little bit, from those first two paragraphs. I will warn you that it is emotionally devastating, it will crush you as you read it. But, like everything I put in this newsletter, I think it is absolutely a must-read piece, and I hope you read and share it. A common theme of this newsletter so far has been that misinformation is dangerous, and I think this story is a cornerstone example of that theme.


You deserve some good animal content


Good work, everyone. See you next week.