Weekly Link Roundup

November 29, 2017

 Fendi Petite 2Jours Elite Leather Shopper (from this post)
▪ The Fendi 2Jours Leather Shopper is on sale (40% off) in a pretty light beige at Net-a-Porter; I think only one or two bags remain in stock so act quickly if you are interested. And because it's sale season, I was also able to find it on sale in additional colors through different retailers: 30% off in red at mytheresa; 30% off in a grey-green at Net-a-Porter; 30% off in light tan at Farfetch; and 40% off in light blue at Net-a-Porter.

Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them (The New Yorker): "... for a possible thing to seem plausible it must be reasonably consistent with our prior experience. But what makes an impossible thing seem plausible? In a convoluted passage in the Poetics, Aristotle tells us that if an impossible thing would “necessarily” require something else to occur along with it, you should put that second thing in your story, too, because then your readers will be more likely to believe the first one. In other words, even something that is factually impossible can be logically possible, and how closely that logic is followed will affect how plausible a supernatural being seems ... a good starting place for any Unified Theory of the Plausibility of Supernatural Beings: the more closely such creatures hew to the real world, the more likely we are to deem them believable."

What It Takes to Run a Food Truck (WSJ): "Margins change from truck to truck, but the numbers ... are between 8% and 10%."

Luxury Brands Yield to Discounts Amid Push to Stay Exclusive (Bloomberg): "The online luxury category saw the highest volume of markdowns, with prices on more than a quarter of products in stock lowered between 26 percent and 50 percent, according to Edited, which tracks real-time data for brands and retailers. That’s higher than the discount volume for premium and mass-market goods sold online."

Overnight in Walmart Parking Lots: Silence, Solace and Refuge (The New York Times): "There are standards of etiquette — do not, for instance, sit in the parking lot in lawn chairs — and also online rosters of no-go Walmarts. There is an expectation that you should buy something, but there is no parking fee. There is a measure of solitary privacy, even in a place that is deliberately accessible. Still that doesn’t prevent some people from leaving skid marks in the parking lot."

The Club Where You Bare Your Soul to Strangers (The Atlantic): "Authentic relating uses exercises, or games, to teach and facilitate the skills, like curiosity and empathy, necessary to quickly create deep, meaningful human connection. In a period when loneliness is increasing as our avenues for connecting expand, practitioners tell me they are drawn to a community that makes conversing and relating with one another an intentional activity—one with guidelines and structure designed to elicit intimacy."

Beyond Thankful: Cultivating a Life of Gratitude (WSJ): "Feeling gratitude starts with a realization of what we have received from others and what it cost them ... Gratitude is good for us in many ways. Studies have shown that it strengthens our immune systems, helps us sleep better, reduces stress and depression and opens the doors to more relationships ... People can get better at being grateful, but it takes practice."

The Complicated Legacy Of A Panda Who Was Really Good At Sex (FiveThirtyEight): "When he died from cancer on Dec. 28, 2016, the 31-year-old Pan Pan was the world’s panda paterfamilias: the oldest known living male and the panda (male or female) with the most genetic contribution to the species’ captive population. Today, there are 520 pandas living in research centers and zoos, mostly in China. Chinese officials say more than 130 of them are descendants of Pan Pan. Pan Pan saved his species by being really, really, ridiculously good at sex. Before Pan Pan, experts thought that building up a stable population of captive pandas was going to require extensive use of artificial insemination. Pan Pan not only led the way on reproducing in captivity, he taught us that pandas were perfectly capable of doing it for themselves — and they’re now increasingly allowed to do so."

New York Startup Unleashes Big Data on Art Investing (Bloomberg): "Valuing art is inherently subjective, and many experts are skeptical that it can be profitably bought and sold simply by the numbers ... Arthena’s pitch coincides with a surge of interest in art investing. Many investors are seeking to diversify their portfolios amid low bond yields and what some consider a frothy equities market. Sales at the big auction houses have jumped 18 percent in the first half of 2017 ... Art funds are another way to get into the market, but these are usually sold to high net-worth individuals or family offices and managed by professional experts with connections in the art world. Arthena wants to make art investing accessible to more people and attract the next generation of art enthusiasts, including data-obsessed millennials ... Investing in art is a daunting prospect for most people because there’s not much available data. That’s changing thanks to the likes of Magnus, a startup with ambitions to catalogue the existence and price of every artwork and to make that information publicly available; another startup, Artsy, streams auctions on smartphones and tablets and lists inventory from a global network of galleries."

Blue States Practice the Family Values Red States Preach (The New York Times): "According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 32 states, those with the highest percentage of high school students who say they have had sex are Mississippi, Delaware, West Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas. All but Delaware voted Republican in the last presidential election ... Divorce rates show a similar pattern: They tend to be higher in red states than in blue states, with Arkansas highest of all. 'Individual religious conservatism is positively related to individual divorce risk,' according to a 50-state study reported in the American Journal of Sociology ... One large international survey found that the largest group of customers on Ashley Madison, the dating website for married people, were evangelical Christians. And a major 2013 study found that men in the Houston and Kansas City metro areas were the most likely to call sex ads, while men in San Francisco and Baltimore were the least likely to ... the deeper problem seems to be the political choices that conservatives make, underinvesting in public education and social services (including contraception). This underinvestment leaves red states poorer and less educated — and thus prone to a fraying of the social fabric."

How to Identify Serial Harassers in the Workplace (The Atlantic): "What if a system of 'information escrow' existed instead? ... the use of an allegation escrow to allow victims to transmit claims information to a trusted intermediary, a centralized escrow agent, who forwards the information to proper authorities if (and only if) certain prespecified conditions are met. The escrow agent would keep harassment allegations confidential, unutilized, and unforwarded until the agent has received a prespecified number of complementary harassment allegations concerning the same accused harasser. For example, if the escrow agreement specified the accumulation of two additional allegations as a triggering event, then the agent would wait until the escrow had received three separate allegations concerning a particular alleged harasser before forwarding the information to specified authorities and initiating a complaint."

Motherhood Is Hard to Get Wrong. So Why Do So Many Moms Feel So Bad About Themselves? (Time Magazine): "... millions of other American moms ... had been bombarded by a powerful message: that she is built to build a human, that she will feel all the more empowered for doing so as nature supposedly intended and that the baby’s future depends on it. Call it the Goddess Myth, spun with a little help from basically everyone ... It tells us that breast is best; that if there is a choice between a vaginal birth and major surgery, you should want to push; that your body is a temple and what you put in it should be holy; that sending your baby to the hospital nursery for a few hours after giving birth is a dereliction of duty. Oh, and that you will feel–and look–radiant ... half of all new mothers had experienced regret, shame, guilt or anger, mostly due to unexpected complications and lack of support. More than 70% felt pressured to do things a certain way. More than half said a natural birth was extremely or very important, yet 43% wound up needing drugs or an epidural, and 22% had unplanned C-sections. Breastfeeding, too, proved a greater challenge than anticipated. Out of the 20% who planned to breastfeed for at least a year, fewer than half actually did."

How America’s Swankiest Stores Do Black Friday (Bloomberg): "America’s fanciest shops do Black Friday in a different fashion than their mid- or mass-market counterparts. Lines are short, and no doors get busted, but there are still sales to enjoy and deals to find. The finest department stores welcome shoppers with rare markdowns, although they’re still quite modest. It’s hard to find anything treated like a true holiday doorbuster—instead, just 25 percent in one corner, an extra 10 percent off in the next."

Frequent Flier Miles Are Kaput—The Game's About Credit Cards Now (Wired): "... the real players know that these days, it's all about credit cards. The best way to earn travel points it to open a card with a signing bonus, not actually take a flight ... the frequent flier reward isn't dead. It's just less accessible to the occasional traveler who values a good deal over swanky amenities. And that could hurt airlines in the long run. Without the potential to score easy points, those budget-conscious travelers are that much more likely to stick with the budget carriers, or hop to whatever company is offering the best deal."

The Jobs You're Most Likely to Inherit From Your Mother and Father (The New York Times): "Working sons of working fathers are, on average, 2.7 times as likely as the rest of the population to have the same job but only two times as likely to have the same job as their working mothers ... Daughters are 1.8 times as likely to have the same job as their mothers and 1.7 times as likely to have the same job as their fathers ... the passing down of occupation and other measures of socioeconomic status seems to affect boys more than girls ... Some of the jobs most likely to be passed down include steelworker, legislator, baker, lawyer and doctor. Children are less likely to follow their parents’ careers if they are middle managers or clerical or service workers. These findings broadly align with previous research ... Children often pursue their parents’ jobs because of the breakfast-table effect: Family conversations influence them. They fuel interests or teach children what less commonly understood careers entail."

Lake Chad: The World’s Most Complex Humanitarian Disaster (The New Yorker): "Chad is a weak state with a strong military, known for its brutal treatment of combatants and civilians ... in recent years, the Lake Chad region has become the setting of the world’s most complex humanitarian disaster, devastated by converging scourges of climate change, violent extremism, food insecurity, population explosion, disease, poverty, weak statehood, and corruption ... Across the Sahel, millions of people are displaced, and millions more are unable to find work. The desert is expanding; water is becoming more scarce, and so is arable land ... I have asked many American diplomatic and military officials to define a coherent long-term strategy for the region, but none of them have been able to articulate more than a vague wish: that by improving local governments and institutions, encouraging democratic tendencies, and facilitating development, the international community can defeat terrorism ... The strategy is a paradox: in pursuing stability, it strengthens the autocrat, but, in strengthening the autocrat, it enables him to further abuse his position, exacerbating the conditions that lead people to take up arms."

Secrets of the Marvel Universe (Vanity Fair): "After Avengers 4, an ambitious multi-franchise crossover movie slated for release in 2019, at least some of the original characters who sit at the center of the billion-dollar Avengers team will be hanging up their capes and shields. That’s partially because the Marvel contracts with the actors who play them ... are coming to an end ... Disney promises that Marvel has at least another 20 years’ worth of characters and worlds to explore ... but declines to offer up any secrets of that ambitious slate."

Insects Are In Serious Trouble (The Atlantic): "Since 1989, scientists from the Entomological Society Krefeld had been collecting insects in the nature reserves and protected areas of western Germany ... Between 1989 and 2016, the average weight of insects that were caught between May and October fell by an astonishing 77 percent. Over the same period, the weight of insects caught in the height of summer, when these creatures should be at their buzziest, fell by 82 percent ... Insects are the lynchpins of many ecosystems. Around 60 percent of birds rely on them for food. Around 80 percent of wild plants depend on them for pollination. If they disappear, ecosystems everywhere will collapse ... the German team couldn’t find any evidence that the two usual suspects—habitat loss and climate change—were important culprits. The declines were similar in every kind of habitat ... The team didn’t look at larger-scale climate events, like prolonged droughts, and they couldn’t measure the effect of habitat fragmentation ... That’s why researchers need to do similar surveys in other countries."

Clothes Make the Con Man (Racked): "... you would be hard pressed to find a con artist who doesn’t use fashion and style as key tools ... these cons often take advantage of a psychological phenomenon known as 'affinity bias,' where we have intuitive trust and fondness for people who appear to be like us. And we often judge relative affinity in an instant."

▪ I hewed to (my) tradition for Black Friday/Cyber Monday this year: blew my discretionary budget on Cheesecake Factory gift cards, bulk shopped the Zara sale, and stayed away from B&M stores. I was on track to have enough money left over to buy more Cheesecake Factory gift cards, but spent the rest of my fun fund on several Burberry orders (I am not proud, because I'd rather eat more cake, but I am very excited about the Burberry Down-filled Parka Coat with Detachable Fur Trim and am probably going to keep the Medium Coated Leather Tote in both colors. I intend to keep updating this Burberry Winter Sale post as new styles get added).

Have a great week, everyone!

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