January 2024

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

From the Editor:

Hi, Clay here with an editorial note and a warm welcome to 2024.

I’m so hopeful that no wires got crossed and this newsletter is in your inbox. After putting it off (literally) for years, I have moved away from Wordpress and am now running this site with static site generator, Hugo. Feel free to have a peak around.

Update (2024-01-02): Welp, wires did get crossed and you probably got a blank email. Hopefully not a 2024 omen and this update works properly.

To get the year off to a strong start I wanted to make a request: If you enjoy this newsletter, share its links with others, or just want to be friendly, please consider sharing this link to a friend who might be interested in subscribing.

And now, onto the first edition of 2024.

Scam City

7 Months Inside an Online Scam Labor Camp

More than anything else, Neo Lu, a 28-year-old Chinese office worker, believed the gig would be the new start he needed to save money for his dream of emigrating to the West. So in June of last year, he said his goodbyes, flew to Thailand and headed for his new job.

But when he arrived, his head was spinning from the scorching sun — and the feeling that something was very wrong. Instead of an office building in a city, Mr. Lu had been dumped at what looked like a labor camp haphazardly built on a patch of jungle and muddy fields.

Within the compound were spartan, low-rise concrete buildings with barred windows and doors. Two men in combat fatigues, carrying rifles, guarded the main entrance. High walls and fences topped with razor wire surrounded the compound, clearly meant to keep not only outsiders at bay, but also those inside from leaving.


The Asbestos Times

Few materials fell from grace like asbestos. Once cherished as an almost-magical material, it is now the archetypal carcinogen. We spent over a century integrating it into buildings, wiring, pipes, brake pads, and more, and we now spend billions of dollars a year removing it.

But the standard story of asbestos as a mistake – or even a crime – of massive proportions does not do justice to the real benefits it brought. Asbestos was central to mitigating urban fires, which cost thousands of lives each year as modern cities grew larger, denser, and more flammable. But as we learned to control urban fires without it, asbestos’s health costs seemed less and less worth bearing. Asbestos is in its final days and soon the material will almost disappear entirely.

Home Alone Fanfare

Sign Off

Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.

Thanks for reading. Have a great month,


Hi, that's me!

How kind of you to make your way down here.

A bit about me: I can be interested in anything, for better or worse. I love photography, travel, golf, and baseball. My latest pursuit is learning the guitar. I write a rad newsletter that I publish monthly.

Follow @claycarson on Twitter, Mastodon or Instagram.