Another busy week out here in Wyoming, but I’m really exciting about a new development very closely related to this newsletter’s purpose. I’ll leave that for explanation below. No essay or original thoughts this week. Just some interesting stories and links from all corners of the web. Thank you, as always, for reading.
Ten Worth Your Time
This past week marked the first full week of posts for a newsletter project from former Pacific Standard editor in chief, Nicholas Jackson, called The Postscript. It’s a love letter to journalism. “The Postscript is a guide to stories that matter — and how they’re made. We share the best reporting and writing being done today, and support the people and processes behind it.” It’s built around a three-part structure.
Stories That Matter: Interviews with the people behind some of the best and most influential journalism being done today (usually reporters, but sometimes editors, podcasters, and others involved in media production), focused on reporting, writing, and lessons we can all learn from the process of creating great work. Read the first post with the LA Times reporters whose six-month investigation helped bring down the Golden Globes.
The Essentials: A recurring column that introduces readers to a subject, concept, or notable individual’s work, with expert recommendations for what to read, watch, and/or listen to. We’ll get you up to speed in minutes, but provide a number of resources for taking a deeper dive, when it works for you. Read the first post on Janet Malcolm.
Weekend Reading: There’s a lot of great journalism out there. Every week, in a format short enough that it won’t be clipped in your email, we aim to share some of the best, with additional context for understanding the biggest stories of the day. This is a weekly digest of reporting you can rely on and writing you can savor.
If that last part sounds familiar to you, dear reader, you’re not wrong. That’s because it’s written by yours truly. I’ll be doing the very same work that I do here in Critical Linking, but under the umbrella of The Postscript. I’m thrilled to be partnered up with the PS team and love the task of curating and recommending some of the best journalism from the past week and adding some other context to help reader’s find their very own rabbit hole of interconnected stories and links.
Read the very first edition of Weekend Reading here, where we discuss stories on Britney Spears’s conservatorship battle, Donald Trump’s Jan. 6, the record-smashing heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, the tragedy in Surfside, and great tennis writing in honor of Wimbledon.
The Postscript is hosted right here on Substack, so if you’re reading this issue of Critical Linking, you have all the skills and knowledge needed to find PS. We’d love to have you subscribe to this labor of love. If you do, please shout us out on social media to help spread the word.
Recently, my dearly beloved home state of Tennessee rolled out a particularly boneheaded plan to offer $250 vouchers to incentive people to travel to Tennessee. The state did this despite rolling back its unemployment benefits from the ongoing pandemic. But the taxpayers of Tennessee will still be footing the bill for the $2.5 program. The governor’s office argues that tourism brings billions to the state, so you’d be forgiven for wondering if the state’s four best-know cities (Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga), for which the vouchers apply, really need the help getting the word out that visitors love coming there. All of this sounds a lot like a Politico story that looks at a bigger effort to make West Virginia a remote worker hotspot. Many think the program caters to bringing in outsiders without worrying about a long list of problems affecting locals who’ve been there all along. Tennesseans could say the same thing.
Jeff Bezos made $8 billion in a single day las week when Amazon’s stock rose more than 4%. The Wall Street Journal published an article revealing the mechanism by which rich Americans live off their paper wealth. It’s particularly timely, and it just further reinforces the reality that billionaires are a totally different species from you and me.
Last month, the New York Times podcast The Daily had an episode about billionaires’ taxes, namely, how they pay so little. It’s a nice companion piece to the WSJ reporting.
The New Yorker wrote about the ongoing billionaire space race, and on the day that Sir Richard Branson successfully completed Virgin Galactic’s first-ever space flight, it seems like a great time to read about the newest space race.
Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson, often writing as one of my favorite film critics, recently wrote a piece about the concept of food expiration dates, and how they contribute to a massive food waste problem in America.
I have two friends (probably more if I really sat and thought about it) who love all things true crime. Podcasts? You bet. Documentary movies? Yep. Documentary series? Those, too. The rise of the popularity in these products is staggering. Netflix is a huge player in that rise, though certainly not the only culprit. There was a time in my life when I would have been a key target for such shows. I read all the books, watched all the TV shows like CSI and Criminal Minds which made me want to read the real-life versions of the same, and I was all about it. But now that there’s a glut of offerings, I rarely partake. Not sure why, but I still found this piece in The Ringer on the booming industry that is true crime very interesting.
Just as I get done saying, “I’m not that big into true crime,” I'm going to turn around and recommend some true crime content. I don’t know why, but when I hear those two words, I think of murder cases. This recommendation isn’t murder. It’s more of a scammer/fraudster type. The podcast The Exit Scam tells the story of the owner of one of Canada's largest bitcoin exchanges mysteriously dying and leaving thousands of clients without access to over $200 million. The podcast wonders whether the owner faked his own death in order to run off with their money. The case against him, at times, is damning.
I recently signed up AirMail, former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter's newsletter project that predated the Substack surge in popularity, and it too presented a fraudster/scammer story that sucked me in. This isn't surprising, though, as I've routinely recommended stories of cheats and fakes in this newsletter. This one is the heartbreaking sort that follows a woman who was in love to man actively concocting lie after lie. Sounds routine, until you hear the types of lies — that he was a secret agent for MI6 like James Bond, that he was exceedingly wealthy, a private pilot, that he suffered from gunshot wounds and brain tumors, and more. Meanwhile, he's scamming her out of more than $1 million. You can't help but wondering how she fell for it, but then you're reminded of love's blinding power and the baseline assumption that people wouldn't make up such grandiose tales about themselves. It's easier to believe your new love is a spy than it is to believe yourself capable of falling for someone who would lie about such things. Match Made in Hell, Pts. I and II.
One last shocking crime story, this one from Iran. A husband and wife team up to kill son, daughter and son-in-law. As if that’s not bad enough, they are completely remorseless. That’s not conjecture; it came from their very own mouths.
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