A child's pink bicycle helmet... the remnants of a chicken dinner... and 7 other things worth your time.
The town my family and I live in suspended recycling pickup due to Covid-19. (Some municipal employees were were exposed, and others had to quarantine for a bit).
So we — along with all of our neighbors — are now making weekly trips to the public works center, to wait an hour in line to drop off our stuff.
This got me thinking about trash, and I suddenly remembered the time two years ago that a “professional trash picker” dug through Mark Zuckerberg’s garbage, and a reporter for the New York Times went along with him and published what they found.
I wouldn’t normally think this was fair play, but of course it’s already out there. (The NYT has a slightly larger readership than Understandably, at least for now.)
Also, Facebook is basically at war against Apple to continue tracking us all, which is sort of a digital version of digging through our trash. Yet, when this happened to Zuck two years ago, he was literally (within days) writing a 3,000-word manifesto calling for more privacy in social media.
(If you have more patience than I do, you can read it here: A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking.)
Let’s just say privacy it doesn’t seem to be a priority now, at least if it conflicts with business. So, this might be a good time to revisit the trash-picking story.
Our guides for this trek were Jake Orta, a formerly homeless Air Force veteran who could afford a "small, single-window studio apartment" in San Francisco thanks to his rummaging, and Times reporter Thomas Fuller, who accompanied him on six trash-picking tours.
He ekes out a subsistence living from scavenging trash—about $300 a week—and sometimes finds things like phones, iPads, and designer jeans.
Among Orta’s regular targets, at least in 2019, was a San Francisco house that Zuckerberg had bought in 2012 for just a shade under $10 million. Here’s what he got on one such outing:
a child's pink bicycle helmet,
a vacuum cleaner,
a hair dryer,
a coffee maker,
a pile of clothes,
a Whole Foods paper bag,
some A&W diet root beer cans,
some cardboard boxes,
a junk mail credit card offer,
the remnants of a chicken dinner,
a stale baguette,
some Chinese takeout containers, and
a garbage bag containing "just junk," in Orta's words.
Tech moguls: they're just like us, right? If only we could target ads at them based on their trash.
7 other things worth your time
President Biden agreed to a compromise to pass stimulus legislation that would strip 7 million U.S. families from the $1,400 checks (or a portion of them). Basically, individuals who make $80,000 a year, or families making $160,000, are now being cut off, in order to get the rest of the bill through the U.S. Senate. (CNN)
The House of Representatives hurried up some votes Wednesday and canceled other sessions set for today, after Capitol security warned of “conservative militia groups threatening violence at the Capitol.” It’s apparently tied to some kind of fringe conspiracy theory suggesting President Trump will take back the presidency today (March 4), since that was the original U.S. presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. I don’t take this all that seriously, but it’s notable that it’s disrupting business on Capitol Hill. (The Hill)
Unexpected casualty of the last year? The sick day. Remote workers are loathe to take them, because you’d basically have to be on death’s doorstep to tell your boss you can’t work for the day. (Bloomberg)
Parler dropped its federal lawsuit against Amazon, which had kicked the social networking site off its AWS servers. But the social network then filed a second suit in state court, saying it had been worth a billion dollars before Amazon’s move. (Business Insider)
The first space hotel is slated to begin construction in 2026. Expected costs? $5 million for a 3-day trip. Add-ons would (will?) include a spacewalk, and “top chefs making really, really good food.” Separately, and a bit sooner: “Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced on Tuesday that he will choose eight members of the public to join him on a trip around the moon, scheduled to fly on SpaceX's Starship rocket in 2023.” Applications are here, and open until March 14. (WashPost, CNBC)
“A new icon that Amazon rolled out on its mobile app has quietly undergone an alteration,” after the logo drew comparisons to Adolf Hitler’s mustache. If you click through, you’ll see: yeah, it kind of did look like that. (Today)
“An artwork in the style of Banksy, depicting an escaping prisoner, has appeared on a wall of Reading Prison, in England. Oscar Wilde was imprisoned there in the 1890s for 'indecency'. The artist has yet to claim the work.” (AFP)Possible Banksy artwork appears on wall of prison. An artwork in the style of Banksy, depicting an escaping prisoner, has appeared on a wall of Reading Prison, in England. Oscar Wilde was imprisoned there in the 1890s for 'indecency'. The artist has yet to claim the work
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay. I’ve written about this trash picking thing before on Inc.com. If you’re not yet a subscriber, please sign up for the daily Understandably.com email newsletter—with thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings from happy readers.
And of course, please share Understandably! Seriously, if you’ve wondered, What can I do to help Bill build this? That’s the #1 thing—for people who enjoy this newsletter to encourage friends and family to sign up as well. Can you think of one person who might enjoy it? Thank you!
Finally, if you liked this post, please click that little heart icon below. Comments are always welcome, and if you reply to this newsletter, it will go straight to my inbox.