National / International News

What's with the addiction to subscription boxes?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:49

The DIY movement notwithstanding, many people are so desperate to shed chores they’ve started outsourcing even frivolous shopping. It’s a situation caused by and, in turn, fueling a big retail trend: subscription boxes.

Even if you think you’ve never heard of subscription boxes, you probably have. Years ago, we knew them as the fruit- or cheese-of-the month club. Now they’ve gone upscale, niche – and run amok. 

There are subscription boxes for vegans and carnivores, for the gluten-free and gluten loaders, for people who can’t get enough ostrich jerky or infinity scarves, for preschoolers who insist on sustainably sourced toys – maybe as many as 500.

At this point in the game – about four years since the launch of Birchbox, the beauty-sample site credited with starting the recent surge – almost any American, and her finicky pet, could survive on boxes alone.

Somehow, a nation that endlessly whines about household clutter, and is so prickly about presents that there’s a registry for every gift-giving event, has started paying strangers to pick out — excuse me, curate — random items and ship said items to their homes.

And on those glum days when the mailbox is empty, junkies can fill the void with box-centric YouTube videos, blogs, reviews and discussion boards.

One theory to explain the phenomenon is that we have too much choice – it’s a relief to let someone else paw through all of the junk for you.  Another is that exhausted working women want a gift every month – even if it’s one they’ve sent, and paid for, themselves. Even if they don’t actually like it.

 Oh, really, I shouldn’t have . . .

Subscribers take their deliveries so seriously that blogs warn of “spoilers” before discussing the contents of a particular box. It’s like learning the gender of your unborn baby, only the reveal involves small-batch pistachios.

Recently, I flirted with a fashion box but luckily the realization that I’d end up schlepping to return clothes I didn’t choose in the first place kicked in before I'd entered my credit card.

But there is one box I’d love: a subscription that takes a box of stuff from your house every month. Call it the disappearing box.

The subscription box that should be

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:49

The DIY movement notwithstanding, many people are so desperate to shed chores they’ve started outsourcing even frivolous shopping. It’s a situation caused by and, in turn, fueling a big retail trend: subscription boxes.

Even if you think you’ve never heard of subscription boxes, you probably have. Years ago we knew them as the fruit- or cheese-of-the month club. Now they’ve gone upscale, niche — and run amok. 

There are subscription boxes for vegans and carnivores, for the gluten-free and gluten loaders, for people who can’t get enough ostrich jerky or infinity scarves, for preschoolers who insist on sustainably-sourced toys—maybe as many as 500.

At this point in the game — about four years since the launch of Birchbox, the beauty-sample site credited with starting the recent surge — almost any American, and her finicky pet, could survive on boxes alone.

Somehow, a nation that endlessly whines about household clutter, and is so prickly about presents that there’s a registry for every gift-giving event, has started paying strangers to pick out — excuse me, curate — random items and ship said items to their homes.

And on those glum days when the mailbox is empty, junkies can fill the void with box-centric YouTube videos, blogs, reviews, and discussion boards.

One theory to explain the phenomenon is that we have too much choice--it’s a relief to let someone else paw through all of the junk for you.  Another is that exhausted working women want a gift every month — even if it’s one they’ve sent, and paid for, themselves. Even if they don’t actually like it.

Oh, really, I shouldn’t have . . .

Subscribers take their deliveries so seriously that blogs warn of “spoilers” before discussing the contents of a particular box. It’s like learning the gender of your unborn baby, only the reveal involves small-batch pistachios.

Recently I flirted with a fashion box, but luckily the realization that I’d end up schlepping to return clothes I didn’t choose in the first place kicked in before I’d entered my credit card.

But there is one box I’d love: a subscription that takes a box of stuff from your house every month. Call it the disappearing box.

London Mayor Boris Johnson Owes IRS Money, Won't Pay

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:42

Johnson holds dual U.S.-U.K. citizenship, but hasn't lived in the U.S. since he was 5. He told WAMU's Diane Rehm Show that he had been billed for capital gains on the sale of his first home.

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Rooney backs Welbeck's United exit

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:37
Danny Welbeck did the right thing by leaving Manchester United for Arsenal, according to former team-mate Wayne Rooney.

Student data and school attendance

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:35

Schools are gathering data on kids, and as student databases grow, so does the ability of technology to predict how or what a kid might do next.

Marketplace's Adriene Hill has been looking at the ways student data is being used to see into the future, and spoke with David Brancaccio to talk about efforts to predict, and change, attendance patterns.

Bahrain: Will polls fuel unrest?

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:34
The people of the island kingdom of Bahrain go to the polls on 22 November in the first general election since the Arab Spring protests of 2011.

The 2 Things That Rarely Happen After a Medical Mistake

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:13

When patients are harmed by a medical error, they rarely are told about it or given an apology, according to a study based on results from ProPublica's Patient Harm Questionnaire.

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King 'couldn't cry because of pain'

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:12
Olympic team pursuit champion Dani King says she feared for her career after a training crash put her in intensive care.

Hamilton puts down title marker

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:09
Lewis Hamilton is fastest in both practice sessions as he puts down a title marker ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ulster Bank closing 10 more branches

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:02
Ulster Bank is to close another 10 branches in Northern Ireland.

Holder Calls For Calm As Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Looms

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:02

In a newly released video, Holder has messages for law enforcement agents as well as for those protesting the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

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Republicans savage immigration plan

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 06:00
President Barack Obama's use of executive powers to give more than four million undocumented migrants work permits "damages the presidency" says a Republican leader.

Iran urged to agree nuclear deal

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:48
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urges Iran to "seize the opportunity" of reaching a deal on its nuclear programme in Vienna.

VIDEO: Games tech boost for movie planning

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:42
Researchers at Abertay University in Dundee look to have given the blockbuster a boost by applying computer games technology to the film industry.

VIDEO: Two dead in London balcony incident

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:28
Two men have died and at least six other people have been injured in an incident in Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge where eyewitnesses say a sofa was being moved through a balcony window.

VIDEO: BBC F1 team's best moments of 2014

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:27
The BBC F1 team share their favourite moments of the 2014 season so far, as the title goes down to the wire at the last race in Abu Dhabi.

Boehner: 'We Will Not Stand Idly By As President Undermines The Rule Of Law'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:26

House Speaker John Boehner said President Obama acted like a king when he deferred the deportation of up to 5 million immigrants.

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VIDEO: Bid to 'remove worst bits' of Health Act

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:25
Liz Kendall says a Labour private member's bill would remove the worst bits of the huge Health and Social Care Act.

Teenager raped 91-year-old woman

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:17
A teenager admits raping a 91-year-old woman at her home in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire.

Uganda uproar over toddler's death

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:01
The funeral is held in Uganda of a boy of two, who was run over by a council vehicle after his mother was arrested for selling fruit.

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