Welcome to Bespoke Brunch Reads — a linkfest of the favorite things we read over the past week. The links are mostly market related, but there are some other interesting subjects covered as well. We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

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Code Problems

Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job by Casey Newton (The Verge)

After widespread reports of PTSD were reported by workers on the team responsible for moderating Facebook content, a preliminary settlement will grant $52mm in relief, working out to at least $1,000 per worker. [Link]

The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet by Andy Greenberg (Wired)

The young Brit who became a hero in white hat hacker circles for stopping the WannaCry malware mess was arrested by the FBI for writing code that would later become its own malware package. [Link]

Health Care

Hospitals Knew How to Make Money. Then Coronavirus Happened. by Sarah Kliff (NYT)

As surgeries and other procedures were suspended in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, hospitals’ biggest source of revenue dried up and threatens to wreck the industry. [Link; soft paywall]

Doctors are turning to GoFundMe to stay afloat during the pandemic by Brooke Borel-Undark (Fast Company)

As practices have been shuttered and patients pause activity, doctors are asking for cash on GoFundMe in order to keep afloat despite the pandemic. [Link]


Prince Fielder Could End Up Being MLB’s Highest Paid Player in 2020 by Dan Gartland (SI)

Retired slugger Fielder retired four years ago but his contract still entitles him to cash after a neck injury ended his career back in 2016. [Link]

More than 40 youth baseball teams participate in Missouri tournament during pandemic by Dawson White (The Kansas City Star)

Despite the risks of COVID transmission, more than five hundred baseball players under the age of 15 took to fields in west St. Louis over Mother’s Day weekend. [Link; auto-playing video]

COVID Markets

Home-Buying Demand Passes Pre-Coronavirus Levels; Inventory Down 24% by Adam Wiener (Redfin)

Interest in buying homes (which to be sure does not mean actual sales) measured by Redfin has surged as buyers look outside of major cities amidst low interest rates and tight inventories. [Link]

The Car Is Staging a Comeback, Spurring Oil’s Recovery (Bloomberg)

With public transit seen as risky, low gas prices, and rebounding economic activity, car travel is becoming increasingly attractive around the world. [Link; soft paywall]

Remote Work

Manhattan Faces a Reckoning if Working From Home Becomes the Norm by Matthew Haag (NYT)

How might real estate markets adapt if firms stick with flexible work arrangements that the COVID crisis has made a necessary part of keeping businesses running? [Link; soft paywall]

Twitter Will Allow Employees To Work At Home Forever by Alex Kantrowitz (BuzzFeed)

After two months of remote work, Twitter employees have been given the all-clear to work from home indefinitely, a huge change for a major tech organization. [Link]

OnlyFans, Influencers, And The Politics Of Selling Nudes During A Pandemic by Claire Downs (Elle)

The pandemic is leading to an increase in remote sex work on the popular site OnlyFans, but some of the new arrivals are drawing scorn for their approach. [Link]

COVID Concerns

JetBlue’s Founder Helped Fund A Stanford Study That Said The Coronavirus Wasn’t That Deadly by Stephanie M. Lee (BuzzFeed)

A widely-cited study that gave the impression COVID-19’s death rate was much lower than had previously been estimated was funded by an airline executive, creating a massive conflict of interest. [Link]

The Case for Reopening Schools by David Zweig (Wired)

One side of the debate about school reopening, which claims children are much less likely to be hurt by COVID-19 and don’t transmit it at the same pace as adults. On the other side of the coin, New York continues to investigate a rare expression of the disease that has a brutal impact on children specifically. [Link]

Food Fights

A private chef quarantined with his wealthy bosses in the Hamptons. He reveals what it’s like to shop for groceries in a ‘war zone’ and make ‘drug deals’ for flour to cook for 17 people. by Hilary Hoffower (BI)

Imagine getting locked into quarantine with your bosses, their family, and taking on the task of cooking to-order for their friends every day. [Link]

There’s Plenty of Meat in America — For Those Who Can Afford It by Lydia Mulvany, Deena Shanker, and Kim Chipman (Bloomberg)

While the conventional meat supply has bent to the breaking point thanks to COVID outbreaks in meatpacking plants around the country, higher-end meats that don’t get processed at the same scale are still widely available…for a price. [Link; soft paywall]

Even If You’re Trying To Avoid Grubhub By Calling Your Favorite Restaurant Directly, Grubhub Could Still Be Charging It A Fee by Venessa Wong (BuzzFeed)

The online delivery platform (which has had merger talks with Uber for a buyout) reaches its hand into the pocket of restaurants by creating phone numbers for them. [Link]

Movie Stories

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: The Oral History of a Modern Action Classic by Kyle Buchanan (NYT)

A long, detailed look back at the most ambitious and iconic action movie of the 2010s, five years later, with fascinating stories about the actors, producers, and set. [Link; soft paywall]

Weird Science

The Bicycle Is Still A Scientific Mystery: Here’s Why by Charlie Sorrel (Fast Company)

It may be surprising to discover, but the physics of the bicycle are poorly understood, with competing theories and mixed evidence about why bikes are so stable. [Link]

Corporate Taxes

Companies Start Reaping Billions in Tax Breaks to Ride Out Economic Slump by Richard Rubin and Theo Francis (WSJ)

The CARES Act (Washington’s first major bill addressing COVID relief) included $650bn in total tax benefits for US businesses; so far 50 different public companies have disclosed deferrals (which eventually must be paid) and savings totaling $2.8bn. [Link; paywall]

Weird Markets

Traders scratch their heads as financial stock soars 2,800% by Filipe Pacheo (MSN/Bloomberg)

An Emirati fish farm is trading at a market cap of $14bn for no obvious reason; its gain over the past year is the biggest in the world for companies with more than $1bn market cap. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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