World Wide Wednesday

Apologies for the lack of updates this week. I’m working the booth for my friend’s candy company at the Sweets and Snacks Expo. The only way I can describe it is that it’s the candy store for candy stores. If a candy company isn’t represented here and giving out samples, I haven’t heard of it. Just, oh man. If all goes according to plan, I should have a post on this experience up on Friday. On to the links…

Deep Routes

– On Deadspin, former Seattle Supersonics employee Jeremy Repanich goes into excruciating detail about what it was like to work for the team as it was sold and moved. Here’s one of many unflattering passages about Starbucks founder Howard Schultz:

He was a man accustomed to walking into a boardroom and bending it to his will, and he began his Sonics reign full of unearned bravado. On the flight home from New York after the NBA confirmed his takeover of the team, he sat with Wally Walker, the former player and Goldman Sachs man who, as the team’s GM, had just brokered the deal. Schultz turned to Walker and said in all sincerity, “OK, now we need to get Garnett”—as if he could decree such a thing and it would simply be so. At the All-Star Game in 2002, he announced to an assembled group of owners that he’d have a ring when they saw him the following year. This was the uninspiring era of the Gary Payton-Vin Baker-Brent Barry Sonics, remember. Philadelphia 76ers president Pat Croce responded that in a year Schultz wouldn’t have a ring and he’d be $20 million poorer.

– Remember that Wall Street Journal article on Tiger Moms–extremely strict Chinese mothers hellbent on their children’s achievement at any cost–from last year? My brother Dale passed this along: Julie Park, a tiger cub of Korean descent, writes about her rebellion. It takes awhile to get to the point, but once it does, it’s fascinating:

Unlike Chua, I rebelled. Early on, my parents wanted me to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer, and I had enrolled at UC Irvine as a biology major. But after a year and a half, and without consulting my parents, I got off the pre-med track and hopped a freight train heading nowhere: I chose to study not what was prestigious or respectable but what I loved (literature and philosophy). My parents stopped paying for my education, and I had to work as a temp and teaching assistant to put myself through the rest of college and graduate school. When I finally got my Ph.D., I asked my mother, “Are you proud of me now?” Her response was, “We never asked for that.” This has not been good for our relationship.

– Oldie but new to me: on Slate, Ben Yagoda tells about the unglamorous career of being a freelance writer. This was written seven years ago and my impression is that the job has actually gotten more difficult since:

We freelancers have always had to put up with magazines that die on us, along with butchered copy, chuckleheaded editors, rights-grabbing contracts, isolation, lost manuscripts, whacks to the ego, changed quotes, the absence of security or benefits, and—unkindest of all—the kill fee (i.e., paying authors a third or a quarter of the agreed-upon rate if an assigned piece is not used for virtually any reason, up to and including the fact that someone else wrote about Winona Ryder). Usually, though, these indignities are outweighed by the good stuff about freelancing: freedom, no commute, funny war stories, the periodic ego boost of appearing in print, and the chance to eat caviar with Uma Thurman.

But something has changed. These days, when the pros and cons are put on the scale, the minus side sinks every time. I’ve spent 29 years as a freelancer—some of it full time, most of it on the side—but it may finally be time to take down my shingle.

– In the LA Times: American Airlines sold an unlimited travel pass, buyers of said pass flagrantly abused the system costing the airline millions of dollars, airline hires lawyers to revoke the passes. AMERICA!

Quick Reads

– Billionaire Republican Fight!! T. Boone Pickens says that the Koch brothers are the biggest deterrent for a US energy plan for how to utilize natural gas. Before you go ahead and praise Pickens’ patriotism, this is of course a matter of defending one’s self-interest: he kind of sort of has a massive stake in natural gas and probably isn’t too keen on the Koch bros. cockblocking his position.

– On Gizmodo, Brent Rose composes a mathematically perfect running playlist.

– Howard Stern conducts a long interview with Sacha Baron Cohen. I honestly haven’t had the time to listen to it yet but it’s obviously going to be funny and enlightening.

– Going back to the Sonics story from the longreads section, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Michael Hunt juxtaposes Howard Schultz and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl, who is paying for part of the Bucks’ new arena with his own money. If you’re first reaction is, “Uh, don’t these billionaires hate government taxes and spending? Shouldn’t they practice what they preach and, as wealthy owners of private corporations, finance their own revenue-generating investments?” Well, yes, but that’s not exactly the way these things end up working when heartless owners can up and move a team (or sell the team to someone else who will do the same) that is embedded in a city’s identity, behaving as petulant children when they don’t get their way. While this decision makes slightly more sense for Kohl, who is unmarried and has no heirs, he has MUCH less money than Howard Schultz, whose children would not have starved or lacked shelter if he had kicked in for a new Supersonics arena.

Food Porn

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo in a Sourdough Bread Bowl at Soupbox (Chicago)

Real Chili – Milwaukee, WI


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