Recent Reads Just Won Second Prize in a Beauty Contest

Monopoly is (wait for it) pulling the plug on the thimble. We’ll pause for a moment so you all can catch your breath.

One of our favorite pieces of late is an inspired, satirical look at the thimble’s feelings, now that it’s been put out to pasture. We’ll also look at the role of Playboy magazine during the Vietnam War, the changing nature of work in America, an astonishing BuzzFeed investigation about hyperpartisan news and a fascinating analysis of the demise of the grassroots energy that got Barack Obama elected.

With that, here’s Recent Reads.

Do Not Pass Go: Interview With The Monopoly Thimble  I’m sure all the Monopoly fans were devastated to learn that the 82-year-old brand lets the public decide to replace playing pieces with new symbols. Or at least they’re (probably?) upset that the (beloved?) thimble will be retired. But how does the thimble feel? This Q&A with the game piece discusses his thoughts on being discontinued and what might replace him, including a hashtag. “[T]hat’s not a thing!” the thimble insists. “We were things. Dog. Shoe. Iron. Wheelbarrow. How do you put a hashtag in jail?” – Sarah Rocca

How Playboy Explains Vietnam  The most successful publications, in print or otherwise, perfectly capture the zeitgeist of their readers. During the Vietnam War, Playboy became the publication of record for U.S. soldiers with its vivid depictions the lifestyle they aspired to, its advice on the things they cared about, its pre-digital interactive features (letters) and its hard-hitting, smart journalism, including about the war itself. Who knew? – Brandon Copple

Medium Launches Snapchat Stories, But for Medium  Medium’s new way of storytelling for mobile devices, “Series,” has a little bit of Instagram and Snapchat (more Snapchat) rolled into one product. This could be a refreshing way to attract an audience that craves images. But my favorite part about this new product is that it allows for stories to unfold over time. It would be nice to slow down the pace a bit and truly consume a story, look forward to the next chapter and gain the satisfaction of adding a bit more knowledge once the story is over. – Pam Munoz

Obama’s Lost Army – Ever wonder what happened to the huge grassroots movement that was instrumental in Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the White House in 2008? This insider account is at minimum an important historical footnote of why populism seemed to abandon Obama so soon after he was sworn into office. “Instead of mobilizing his unprecedented grassroots machine to pressure obstructionist lawmakers, support state and local candidates who shared his vision, and counter the Tea Party, Obama mothballed his campaign operation, bottling it up inside the Democratic National Committee.” The author describes that decision as “the seminal mistake” of Obama’s presidency. – Paul Wilson

The Jobs Americans Do – An examination of the current state of the American working class, represented by Ofelia Bersabe, a Hispanic woman paid to serve others. Her title is various forms of the word “nurse,” as she cares for children, parents and the elderly. Given the loss of traditional blue-collar jobs – notably to automation – caring for aging Baby Boomers is now the largest driver of job growth in the American economy. If there was any doubt left, it’s clear that service work should no longer be considered a way station for teenagers, mothers and senior citizens. It has become a way of life for many Americans. – Amy Yanow

This Is How Your Hyperpartisan Political News Gets Made – Remember a few months back when “fake news” referred to total fabrications, and not just news accounts that public figures didn’t like? Well, it turns out those sources are still out there – and at least one is actually creating clickbait aimed at both conservative AND liberal audiences. The photo at the top of this BuzzFeed piece says it all. The business is outrage. And business appears to be good. – Jackson Pillow

GT Podcast Recommendation

The Axe Files – Former Obama adviser David Axelrod has returned to his journalism roots with a great twice-weekly podcast interviewing important newsmakers, usually from politics. From Corey Lewandowski to Madeleine Albright to J.D. Vance to Theo Epstein, Axelrod is doing his best to have a candid exchange of ideas (from both sides of the aisle) at a time when the national conversation feels like a screaming match. – Paul Wilson