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This Week In ‘What Now’: Hamilton Nolan, Butter Battles, and the World’s Luckiest Coma

All the exclusive stuff that our Steward subscribers got this week.

Sam Grasso

Welcome to This Week In ‘What Now,’ where we hype up all the great stuff that we put into our exclusive Steward-tier newsletter called…wait for it…’What Now.’

This week:

—Aleks talked to our good friend Hamilton Nolan about labor, stocks, and of course…yogurt.

—Aleks answered reader questions on everything from butter to Bezos (as in, Jeff.)

—Rafi said “Man, what the hell?!” about topics such as Bari Weiss, the dumbest senator in America, and the world’s luckiest coma victim.

Before we get to the excerpts, a reminder: What Now is our newsletter that we send out exclusively to our Steward tier members three times a week. For their modest contribution to our efforts, our Stewards get a bevy of rewards, such as:

—Exclusive interviews with amazing people (like Hamilton!)

—Our Group Chat mailbag where we answer your questions about whatever you want (like butter!)

—Our take on a lot of news we couldn’t get to on the website

—Rafi’s 5-star “Man, What the Hell?” weekly news roundup, which now lives in What Now.

—And more!

Wow, such riches! But we put all of that into the newsletter because we know our great readers deserve it.

We would love you to be a part of this, and you can be, if you subscribe to our Steward tier. It’s just $10 a month or $100 a year, and in return, you get What Now in your inbox, plus access to all of the stuff on our website, and the ability to comment on posts, and a link to our private Discord server. Doesn’t that sound great? Click the button below and join us!

OK, here’s a taste of this week’s stuff!

From Aleks’ interview with Hamilton Nolan:

A: You’ve written a lot about the pitiful, essentially non-existent plan to boost union organizing and density at a national scale. What do you think should be happening? Basically the plan right now is, “Pray Congress does anything” and we’ve tried that it didn’t seem to work. 

H: It’s definitely a perpetual problem. And you know, it is true that we need to reform labor law and it is true that our city labor laws make it extremely hard to organize in a lot of places in the economy. But I also feel like—and I’ve always felt like this—you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Like, yes, we’re, we’ve been fighting to reform labor laws for decades, unsuccessfully, but in the meantime, you still gotta be able to do that organizing because union density is going down, more or less, every year for decades, and that is not sustainable. So what I would do is take a lot of the resources that organized labor puts into electoral politics and put those resources into union organizing, because I think that the fundamental mistake that they make on a large scale is that they look to electoral politics for their power. Whereas if they were able to grow the labor movement itself and they were able to grow unions, that will, by itself, bring more power. And not only power, thanks to the politicians, but raw power because you have the numbers—and you help all the people that get the unions. I think that’s the most basic thing I would like to see is just a real shift in the resources of the existing unions. And just an across the board focus on new organizing. Because right now, when you look at the big, big existing unions, only some of them even care about new organizing at all, and others really don’t. So that needs to be universal. 

From Aleks’ Group Chat:

Kelsey asks THREE questions: Why is Susan Miller always late? What is the best butter to buy? Does it even matter at all that Jeff Bezos won’t be CEO if just another Business Man is in charge? 

One by one, let’s go. 

  1. Susan Miller, for those not in the know, is the pre-eminent astrologist to the stars—also, me and many of my friends. (I really don’t have time to get into it with you, doubtful readers, why astrology is “not” “real,” so let’s just play along, okay?) Every month, a new horoscope. This has been the terms of agreement since human sentience. However! Susan, despite a new month coming every month since whenever we made up time (humanity IS an act of oppression), is late to publish her horoscopes every month. Every month! Susan has the same deadline every 30 days and she blows it (I am a Capricorn). Lately there have been medical issues and procedures cited, to which I am sympathetic. And to her credit, her horoscopes are very thorough, and generally optimistic, which is something we need right now, but not as much as improved vaccine distribution. I toiled under vast theories of why, every month, she is late. And I have decided that…she is just a writer. And writers are very dramatic and never do anything on time and lie a lot. 
  2. When it comes to butter, it comes down to what you’re using it for. When butter is DOING A LOT OF WORK (see: pie crust), you gotta go European, because it has higher fat content, which is gonna give you a richer flavor. Like if you want your cookies to come out bomb, I’m sorry to report that European butter does in fact take it up a notch and you will notice the difference (in my opinion). Kerrygold had a moment a couple of years ago and Plugra is an affordable grocery brand that comes in a big block. I’ve also heard good things about Vermont Creamery but have not tried it myself. But if you really want to go for it, Ronnybrook Farm makes a European-style butter with 86 percent fat, which is the most I’ve seen stateside (your typical American butter usually has only 80 percent), and feels very decadent. 
  3. Correct, until Amazon pays taxes and its workers a living wage, whoever sits atop the carcasses of the working class as the head of the company will be immaterial. (Read Paul’s latest on this topic.)

From “Man, What the Hell?”

Coma little bit closer
I think it was probably back in May when I had my first real “wow, wouldn’t it be nice to just go to sleep and wake up once this whole pandemic thing is over” thought. Unfortunately, It turned out that I would end up being awake for a good chunk of the time between then and now, fully conscious and painfully aware of all the various flavors of bullshit brewed over the past year or so. And while I wouldn’t call Joseph Flavill “lucky” exactly, I am genuinely fascinated by the fact that whereas my offhanded plea for unconsciousness was a glib joke, this kid actually lived it. Until now.

After spending the past ten months in a car accident-induced coma, this week Flavill miraculously began regaining consciousness. and has started down the road to recovery. This means that, at some point, someone’s gonna have to break the news to him that — holy shit — there was (and still is) a catastrophic global pandemic that’s turned pretty much every facet of people’s everyday lives completely upside down. It’s 28 days later but, y’know, better.

Incredible, we love it! If you liked any of that, please become a subscriber and get ‘What Now’ in your inbox three times a week!

Happy weekend!