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Letter sent on Aug 29, 2016

Why Walmart is a public nuisance

Five stories worth reading—including America’s crime-ridden superstores to Europe’s slowing economies, and more.

Welcome to my semi-annual reboot of the IfYouOnly digest: our daily picks compiled into a single list of five great reads worth spending your time on. Take your shoes off, I’ll put the kettle on while you have a look around.

Sometimes Walmart’s most glaring crime might seem like its ban on any poor T-shirt audacious enough to suggest that America could have a female president. But, you know, it’s actually pretty bad out there in Wal-land: last year more than 200 violent crimes in attempted kidnappings, stabbings, shootings, and murders took place on the retailer’s turf. If you’re thinking that, well, it doesn’t seem so crazy given that the world’s largest retail business has more than 4,500 stories, then hang on: Shannon Pettypiece and David Voreacos in Bloomberg Businessweek lay out how it’s (a) way worse than competitors (b) a result of corporate cost-cutting, and (c) puts strain on publicly-funded police, turning them into de facto Walcops.


At first I’m awestruck by the scale of the space, that I could go anywhere, and that I could play with the game’s system to make my own fun. This is exactly what I do in No Man’s Sky: I land, I look for the resources I need, and I use them to build upgrades. It’s cool because I chose where to go and I chose what to build. But then there’s the second phase, where I realize that these spaces aren’t handcrafted. They’re a mix of formulas that create an infinite number of situations that are only superficially different than one another. This planet is red. That planet is blue.

Emanuel Maiberg, ‘No Man’s Sky’ Is Like 18 Quintillion Bowls of Oatmeal, Motherboard


I’ve never had a problem being alone, but as I get older it’s something I’ve come to appreciate more. Writers are, by the nature of their work, often alone—but few have the ability to capture the nature, the terror and the power of aloneness as Durga Chew-Bose does in this beautiful piece from the Hairpin. It resurfaced in my world last week, and I was hungry to read it again.


Sometimes you come across a story so perfectly constructed out of everything in the zeitgeist that you stare at it, a little confused, a little suspicious. Was this concocted by shock-haired dementos in a journalism lab, you wonder, like some Frankenstein’s monster of news? Cobbled together from sloughed-off facts and rapidly-cooling hot takes? Or is it, in fact, a perfectly-timed truth that is greater than the sum of its parts?

So, my friends, cast your eyes upon this Atlas Obscura piece from Brianna Nofil, which hinges on a central fact that is so beautiful and so juicy that it feels magicked: America turned the athlete’s village from the 1980 Olympic Games into a honest-to-god federal prison.

Take every conversation about the Olympics and crime and race and incarceration and America, and throw in a few others for good measure. You almost don’t need to go further than the headline, although you most definitely should.


And just to prove I’m not purely ragging on America this week, here’s a little nubbin from The Economist which posits that Europe’s major businesses are weaker in terms of global influence than they have ever been. Since most of this success or failure seems measured on profits and market capitalization, I found myself arguing with it almost every step of the way. (Not coincidentally: I just finished watching The Big Short.) But in the end, it presented me the question: How do you stop being bullied by bigger kids? Is the only way to become the bigger kid, be the bully?

This week’s stats:

Words — 13,457

Reading time—68 minutes

Readability index—14

And that’s it for this week. Keep up with us each day, and you can suggest links for us to share by email, on Medium, or on Twitter.

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