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How Mr. Beast became the Willy Wonka of YouTube.

Hello, friends. It’s me, J.D., back for my first live Apex edition in a couple of months. My recent installments were prepared before I took off for my epic month-long journey to Scotland, Norway, and Iceland. That trip was amazing, and it really helped me to get clear on what I want to do with the rest of my life. Mentally and physically, I’m in a great place right now. Yay!

Anyhow, I’m back to curating stories for Apex Money. Today’s installment is a few hours late, yes, but I should be on time for the rest of the week. Let’s see what I’ve gathered for you today…

“My e-bike changed my life.” [Slate] — “Since I bought this fairly inexpensive transportation device in 2021, I’ve ridden hundreds upon hundreds of miles, each of them replacing a mile I would once have driven in a car. I’ve taken uncountable trips to the grocery store, and scores of rides to the office or the Metro or to meet friends for a night out…My e-bike has changed my life. I’m happier, healthier, and more active. My relationship to my community has been completely transformed. I guess I’ve become an e-bike guy. You can, too.”

Electric bikes are the most climate-friendly way to travel. [Triangle Blog Blog] — “After traveling 4,500 miles, I have spent less than $5 on electricity. Five dollars! That’s less than a cost of a mocha latte something at Starbucks. That is astounding. That’s less than the cost of two gallons of gas. It means that on days I bike the 10 miles to and from work, I’m spending less than one cent on electricity to get there.”

“My father’s death in seven gigabytes.” [Wired] — “My father’s last decade was one of relentless downsizing, from apartment to assisted living to nursing home, shedding belongings, throwing away clothes and furniture. And at the end: Two boxes and a tiny green urn. The ultimate zip file. After I parsed and processed and batched his digital legacy, it came to 7,382 files and around 7 gigabytes.”

How Mr. Beast became the Willy Wonka of YouTube. [The New York Times Magazine gift article] — “Donaldson has built a YouTube empire on this kind of quasi philanthropy…The phenomenal popularity of these videos has made him a superstar by any measure and cemented his reputation as a secular saint among the YouTube faithful, but it has also left him open to the criticism that his generosity is more calculated than heartfelt — another audience-development strategy alongside the garish thumbnails and finely tuned video titles.” [I enjoyed this.]

To close things out today, here’s my favorite YouTube video from the past two months. It’s a nine-minute look at how one couple moved into (and remodeled) a vacant house in the Japanese countryside.

As a man who loves Zelda games and Hayao Miyazaki films, there’s something intensely appealing about what this couple has done. It’s like Totoro in real life, you know?

Okay, that’s it for my first day back. I’ll return tomorrow with more interesting stuff for you…