This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.
Re-Turn and Burn
A century ago, the average return rate at Penney’s was probably something like two per cent; before Internet shopping truly took hold, retail returns had risen to more like eight or ten per cent. Returns to online retailers now average close to twenty per cent, and returns of apparel are often double that.
The crowd is ushered in, with the energy of sleepless speed addicts who just got a fresh fix. The sound system pumps a techno-beat version of the theme song, and they dance goonily. Names are called to “come on down” and do they ever. Those big paneled doors upstage part — a little arthritically, as if they need to be greased or replaced — and Barker strolls purposefully out toward them, and it is bliss, and he basks in it for a professional 10 seconds and away we go, grind out another hit:
Rich, show us the first item up for bid!
Of Dice and Men
Playing Dungeons & Dragons is more difficult in prison than almost anywhere else. Just as in the free world, each gaming session can last for hours and is part of a larger campaign that often stretches on for months or years. But in prison, players can’t just look up the game rules online. The hard-bound manuals that detail settings, characters and spells are expensive and can be difficult to get past mailroom censors. Some states ban books about the game altogether, while others prohibit anything with a hard cover. Books with maps are generally forbidden, and dice are often considered contraband, because they can be used for gambling. Prisoners frequently replace them with game spinners crafted out of paper and typewriter parts.
Sometimes, through their characters, they opened up about problems they would never otherwise discuss — abusive parents, fractured childhoods, drug addictions — unpacking their personal traumas through a thin veil of fantasy. “With Billy, D.&D. has become our therapy,” Ford wrote in 2019.
Death row didn’t offer any of the educational or mental-health programs available in regular prisons; rehabilitation isn’t the goal for those on death row, and special programming is not always logistically feasible for people held in solitary confinement. For these players, the games served as their life-skills course, anger-management class and drug counseling, too. Like Ford and Wardlow, a lot of the men on the row came to prison at a young age and never had a chance to be adults in the free world.
- A Chronological List of WWII Movies
- The most savage Mario Kart play I have ever seen
- New Word Order
- The high-tech, super-secure government warehouse where old cash dies
- Why do old books smell so good? and the Mariko Aoki phenomenon
- How to watch football like an expert from the comfort of your couch
- How playing Jar Jar Binks led to abuse, near death – and saving Baby Yoda
- Wear All You Want, They’ll Make More
- How Are Webb’s Full-Color Images Made?
Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.
Thanks for reading. Have a great month,