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This Week In ‘What Now’: Kim Kelly, Cats, Cops, Cannibalism, And More

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

The Discourse Blog starling shouting, "What Now"

Hello and welcome to our weekly roundup of our subscriber-only newsletter, What Now! We had an incredible week this week, including:

—Labor reporting all-star Kim Kelly talking about the most electrifying union drive in America

—Caitlin answering a dizzying array of reader questions on everything from cats to Blue Lives Matter to hot dog cannibalism

—And, of course, Man What the Hell?!

We’ll give you a taste of all this in a second, but first, a reminder: What Now is our newsletter that we send out exclusively to our Steward tier members three times a week. It contains:

—Exclusive interviews with good, smart people (like Kim!)

—Our Group Chat mailbag where we answer your questions about whatever you want

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

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

—And more!

A feast! And you can get all of it 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! Or click here if you’re already subscribed to a lower tier and want to upgrade to Steward.

OK, let’s get into our sneak previews!

On Monday, Caitlin talked to labor journalist Kim Kelly about the stunning union drive by Amazon workers in Alabama:

It seems like the anti-union tactics Amazon has been pulling have been both totally predictable, but also extreme in a way I can’t believe. They’ve been coming at it from so many different angles and so relentlessly. 

In some ways they’ve stuck to the classic robber baron, early 19th century union-buster handbook, which I feel like is issued to every rich person as soon as they start their first job. But also, true to form with Amazon being Amazon, they’ve gotten a little innovative. The detail that stuck out to a lot of people and stuck out to me when I heard about it is when they were telling us about the traffic lights. According to multiple people, there’s an intersection before you get into the Amazon facility. There’s a little concrete block in the middle, a little mini median where workers will stand and try and chat with people about the union as they go in and out. They hand out flyers and such, and they’ve been out there for months. But fairly recently folks noticed that there were a bunch of city trucks out there one day and they’re fiddling with the traffic lights, and the next day the lights began turning green super quickly. So like when a car was leaving, as they came down that little hill, the light would turn green, so they would keep on going. There wouldn’t be time for them to stop and talk to any organizers. So that’s been happening and it seems like it’s very obvious. People have noticed and it’s also caused some confusion and caused issues and it almost caused an accident. Amazon is really using every trick in the book and it’s also inventing its own tricks to quell this effort. 

On Wednesday, Caitlin answered incredible questions in our Group Chat mailbag, including this one:

Meave asks: Did you ever get that kitten you wanted? If so, could we please have details, such as name, photograph, and best/worst behaviors? How is he getting on with your first cat? 

[Deep breath] I LOVE this question Meave, thank you for asking! We DID get that kitten. His full name is Quincy (his shelter name) Endicott (a reference to Over the Garden Wall) Schneider, and we call him Quinn or Quinny or Mayor Quinby. He’s about 6 months old now and I’m pleased to share that he was the subject of a semi-viral video.

We briefly considered trying to launch his career after this, but honestly, it seemed like too much work for too little payoff. Ah, well. As you can hear in that video, his best behavior is his incredible purr and a general, unrelenting sweetness, which has actually been a huge adjustment for us because our first cat, Bert, is the most perfect boy on earth, but VERY shy and nervous. He and Quinn are getting along better than we expected, which is to say they tolerate each other and even chase each other around (we THINK they’re playing based on what we’ve read), but Quinn is very much still a kitten and has a lot of bad kitten behaviors like trying to eat literally everything, climbing the shower curtain, pestering his big brother, attacking our feet, and getting so excited that he runs around until he pukes. Here are the boys together—they like to sit on the stove because it’s warm 🙂 

And on Friday, Rafi tackled, among other things….

Mardi Grasshole

Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year wasn’t simply the latest in the city’s longstanding annual bacchanalia — it was almost certainly the petri dish that turned the Big Easy into one of the most intense coronavirus hotspots during the early stages of the national pandemic. And now, researchers think they know who to blame. Specifically, a lone, unidentified (and perhaps never to be identified) Texan who a team of scientists from Scripps Research Institute, Tulane University, and LSU Health Shreveport believes singlehandedly brought COVID-19 to the city around two weeks before Fat Tuesday. After some mingling, the single case became several hundred, which exploded into the thousands by the time Mardi Gras rolled around.

Predictable as a massive street festival serving as an infection bonanza might have been, it’s still not New Orleans’ most egregiously preventable COVID transmission outbreak. That dubious honor belongs to attendees of this past year’s “Naughty in N’awlins” swingers convention which — wouldn’t you know it? — ended up leaving dozens of COVID infections in its wake. Go figure.

If you liked any of that, please become a Steward subscriber! See you next week!