FYI, this is now being dumped into a promotions inbox so if you aren’t getting it, then it might be there.
I realize that you probably can’t read this if you’re not getting it, but oh well. This is all I’ve got.
This Week in Our Dumb World
This is what it looks like to engage with a problematic history. This is what it looks like to come out with hope.
It had been nearly 50 years since the University of Wyoming banished 14 black players from its football team, but the decades-old dispute was all Tom Burman could think about as he guided his car across the grain-colored plains stretching from the Denver airport to campus.
The university’s athletic director had spent the previous night in Orlando watching the players — known as the “Black 14” — accept an award and explain how they had been kicked off the team in 1969 after trying to ask their coach if they could wear black armbands during an upcoming game. They had wanted to show solidarity against racism at a time when civil rights protests were common on the nation’s college campuses.
Instead, they were immediately banished, sending many of their lives into turmoil. Some transferred away from Wyoming, others left school, never to return and never to receive a degree. Burman hurt for the men as he heard how they had been villainized throughout the state as insubordinate and ungrateful, how most fans sided with their white coach and his strict “no protest” policy.
Over beers at the hotel bar later, Burman listened as the players, now in their 60s and 70s, talked of keeping tabs on their former team’s wins and losses, even though most had not been back on campus in decades.
“I thought to myself: These guys, they don’t have a school,” Burman said. “As simple as that was, that was important to me.”
And so, as he drove back to campus in September 2017, Burman decided he had to do something. As it turned out, the school’s president at the time, Laurie Nichols, had been thinking the same thing, working to educate herself on the Black 14 scandal, which remained perhaps the most divisive incident in the school’s 132-year history. When Burman mentioned the idea of trying to repair the university’s relationship with the players, Nichols readily agreed.
“It is a time when universities are really grappling with their histories,” Nichols said. “We can’t go back and change history, but there are times when you can come back and have an appropriate response to it.”
Speaking as a veteran of the restaurant industry, this sounds like absolute unmitigated hell.
With that in mind, I expect it to become universal within 5 years.
There’s also the question of what happens to the aggregate information Presto Vision and other similar tools collect. Even if the underlying videos get deleted, the data lives on. At franchised restaurants like Outback, it could be vacuumed up by parent organizations, and used to make business decisions in the future. In a press release, Presto touted its software could be employed to provide “remote, immediate visual access across multiple locations, and a high-level view of performance metrics and noteworthy events across brands for large restaurant chains.”
"These are legally separate firms, they have no oversight or responsibility for working conditions or wages," says Brian Callaci, an economist and researcher at Data & Society who has studied franchising. But technology like Presto Vision would potentially allow them to "monitor and control activity supposedly at legally independent businesses." Jones, from Evergreen Restaurant Group, did not immediately return a request for comment about if and how the data collected by Presto Vision would be shared within his organization, or with Bloomin' Brands, Outback Steakhouse's parent company.
Presto Vision is also just the latest in its parent company's suite of monitoring tools designed to optimize the chain restaurant industry. Along with its competitor Ziosk, Presto makes electronic tablets stationed at tables in restaurants like Chili’s, Olive Garden, and Applebee’s across the country. Customers use the devices not only to order food, but also to rate the performance of their waiters and waitresses. A Buzzfeed News investigation found workers with lower scores have received fewer shifts and tables, and potentially even faced termination—despite customer ratings often reflecting aspects of the experience that servers can’t control, like the quality of the food.
If you know the history of Vice News/Magazine/Dot Com then nothing about a giant cocaine ring.
If you are unfamiliar then, buddy, you’re in for some good times.
Nobody ever said the word “cocaine,” Slava says, but that’s what they inferred. “Ali and I were debating whether it was cocaine or meth,” Slava recalled. “The only time I knew it was cocaine was after they were arrested.” (The drug mules shared this confusion about the contents of the packages. Porscha Wade later told Australian police she thought the luggage contained either gold or cannabis, while Nate Carty told authorities he was aware the luggage was drug-related, but that he didn’t know exactly what it was.)
Nobody ever even explained who “they” meant. “Trey had described it like you get this lavish trip, all expenses paid for, all you have to do is deliver these bags to Australia, and you get $10,000 each,” Slava continued. “Everyone at the time was like, What, that’s crazy. That sounds so rad.”
Slava says he wound up in touch with people who were in touch with people who, somewhere along the line, ran a transnational drug trafficking ring organized enough to move humans who smuggled millions of dollars’ worth of product around the globe because he was sick of writing about Canadian music. “I really exhausted the pipeline of potential content,” he said. He’d noticed other writers in the Canadian office get praised for daring reporting, particularly one coworker who’d managed to get a source within ISIS. Pivoting to crime writing sounded exciting.
“Me, with my little journalist mind frame—How can I make the most of this?—I decided to pursue this further.” The plan, according to Slava, was to interview drug mules and submit the story to Vice. “When I hear this story I’m like, This is my ISIS guy. This is the equivalent of that.”
It’s a very very strange world that we have created for ourselves.
Then came Caspar, a beautiful white Turkish Angora who goes by the handle “@LittlePiecesofCat” (which he shares with another cat of indeterminate relationship, named Melchior). One day, my boyfriend came home to find me morose. “Caspar has lymphoma,” I told him, unable to meet his eye. He was understandably confused, partly because we don’t have any friends called Caspar.
“Who?” he asked.
Indeed: Who? While Colonel Meow was a bona fide feline celebrity, a peer of renowned Instagram celebrities like Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub, I haven’t the faintest clue how I became one of Caspar’s (and Melchior’s) 10.7K followers. And yet, suddenly, his struggle was part of my everyday life. Every day, I would get a new update on his lymphoma treatments. His white-blood-cell count was too low! He wasn’t responding well to chemo! His fur had lost some of its lustrous sheen! I found myself Googling feline lymphoma in my spare time, educating my friends on his prognosis and various treatment options over brunch and coffee dates. I generally think that I have enough stress in my life without a random cat’s terminal illness, but I also felt like I didn’t have a choice. What else could I do? Unfollow him in his time of need?
This article was WAY more extensive than I ever imagined it would be.