Jason Arias
The Baffler,  October 5

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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Alas, poor Earth!

A skull-shaped asteroid with a sinister grin will pass by—but unfortunately not strike—Earth on November 11 because even the vastly indifferent forces of the universe seem to enjoy watching our self-destruction.

 

Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.

The intrepid minds at Handy, who oversee but don’t quite “employ” a precariat army of grout-scrubbers and leaky-pipe-fixers, have deployed a canny trick to inspire loyalty: debt peonage. According to a new study, the startup levies a bevy of fees on wayward housekeepers when they miss jobs, arrive late, leave early, or (god forbid) participate in platform disintermediation and offer to polish the Calacatta marble countertops of the creative class sans Handy’s help. Some “Handy Pros” report being in arrears to the company for over $1,000.

 

Tis’ the season

In honor of Nobel season, let us take a moment to honor the memory of Nobel laureate Leon Lederman, who passed away at the age of ninety-six this week after selling his prize for $765,000 to help cover the astronomical cost of dying peacefully.

 

You get a fake raise! You get a fake raise! And you get a fake raise! 

Imagine the shit-eating grin on Jeff Bezos’s face as the press roundly praised his boundless largesse, his willingness to listen to critics, his divine right to direct the course of humanity to a better, wiretapped future of drone-delivered paper towels, while he quietly moved to eliminate monthly bonuses and stock awards in order to pay for his grand gesture of raising the hourly wage of his soon-to-be obsolete workforce to a measly $15 an hour. (Because, of course, he couldn’t very well cancel his plans to begin shipping cargo to the moon to make life easier for the humans doomed to perish on planet Earth.)

 

The IRS hates me because of this one simple trick!

Like any astute billionaire, Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker knows a thing or two about employing seasoned tax shamans to shrink a tax bill down to peanuts. And, boy, do they know some amusing tricks for shorting the public purse! Take, for instance, how removing five toilets from his second Chicago mansion and having it declared “uninhabitable” in a property tax appeal saved the venture capitalist and Hyatt Hotel heir hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes over several years!

 

Flying under the influence

The birds of Gilbert, Minnesota, are just like the rest of us: they sometimes have a few too many fermented-berry cocktails and go out for a night on the town, flying into windows, cars, and generally acting confused about where they left their debit card.  

 

Barbara Ehrenreich: Butter Fiend 

In a comic-strip-ified interview with the Nib, Baffler contributing editor and the nation’s de facto Twitter laureate Barbara Ehrenreich, discusses, among other things, the sole purpose of bread: “a vehicle to put butter into my body.”

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Further Reading

 October 2

In March, the Colorado River Research Group published a report urging water watchers to stop using the word “drought” to. . .

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