PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

Silicon Valley Finds Remote Work Is Easier to Begin Than End (Maria)

The author writes, “Technology companies that led the charge into remote work as the pandemic unfurled are confronting a new challenge: how, when and even whether they should bring employees back to offices that have been designed for teamwork. ‘I thought this period of remote work would be the most challenging year-and-half of my career, but it’s not,’ said Brent Hyder, the chief people officer for business software maker Salesforce and its roughly 65,000 employees worldwide. ‘Getting everything started back up the way it needs to be is proving to be even more difficult.’ That transition has been complicated by the rapid spread of the delta variant, which has scrambled the plans many companies had for bringing back most of their workers after Labor Day weekend.”

Corporate America’s Deafening Silence on the Texas Abortion Law (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “The optimistic notion that corporate America would step in to uphold the public interest in the face of politicians’ actions or inactions died on Sept. 1. That’s when a spectacularly restrictive anti-abortion law took effect in Texas, after the Supreme Court allowed it to go through without comment. … Yet the law, Senate Bill 8, was enacted, signed and made effective with scarcely a peep of protest from American corporations. That includes some of the nation’s leading companies with Texas headquarters, such as American Airlines, Texas Instruments, Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.”

President Biden, Texas Shows We Can’t Wait Any Longer. It’s Time to Pack the Court (Inez)

The author writes, “William Brennan, the great US supreme court justice, liked to greet his incoming law clerks with a bracingly simple definition of constitutional doctrine: five votes. ‘You can’t do anything around here,’ Brennan would say, wiggling the fingers of his hand, ‘without five votes.’ Underscoring the truth of Brennan’s hardboiled definition was the court’s 5-4 ruling this week (with Chief Justice John Roberts in dissent alongside his three liberal colleagues) to let stand a Texas law that turns ordinary citizens into de facto bounty hunters empowered to sue anyone who performs or ‘aids and abets’ an abortion on a woman past her sixth week of pregnancy. … Back in April, Biden empaneled a bipartisan commission of scholars, lawyers and jurists tasked with exploring the issue of ‘court packing.’ The commission is scheduled to submit its report later this fall, which returns us to Justice Brennan’s five wiggling fingers.”

After Jubilation, Pakistan Faces Dilemma as Taliban’s Takeover of Afghanistan Inspires Religious Militants (Russ)

The authors write, “In the two weeks since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15, Pakistan’s typically fractious political voices joined in something rare: unison. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, applauded Afghans for tearing free of the ‘shackles of slavery.’ His political opponents, including leaders of Islamist parties, congratulated the Taliban for its ‘historic victory’ over American imperialism. A half-dozen retired Pakistani army generals publicly celebrated. So did extremist groups that are sworn enemies of Pakistan’s generals and government. But beneath the widespread jubilation, Pakistan is beginning to reckon with the destabilizing effects washing across the Afghan border.”

See Inside the $135 Million Estate Where Elizabeth Holmes Reportedly Is Living While on Trial (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes and her husband are reportedly living on the grounds of the most expensive estate currently listed for sale in the Bay Area — Green Gables in Woodside. The hot-button trial of Homes, founder of the failed Silicon Valley startup Theranos, started last week with jury selection after numerous delays. … The sprawling estate — which boasts seven houses, three swimming pools, a tennis court and a gargantuan Roman pool — went on the market or the first time ever in March and is currently listed for $135 million.”

How to Make Your Web Searches More Secure and Private (Mili)

The author writes, “When it comes to looking something up on the web, most of us default to Googling it — the search engine has become so dominant that it’s now a verb, in the same way that Photoshop is. But using Google for your searches comes with a privacy trade-off. Google’s business is, of course, based on advertising, and every search you make feeds into the profile of you that it uses to target the ads you see around the web. While Google isn’t telling marketing firms what searches you’re running, it is using those queries to build up a picture of you that ads can be sold against.”

Spanish Bishop Resigns After Falling in Love With Author of Satanic-Themed Erotic Fiction (Dana)

From The Telegraph: “A Spanish bishop known for performing exorcisms has resigned after reportedly falling in love with an author of satanic-themed erotic fiction, sparking fears among his former Catholic colleagues that he has been possessed by the devil. Xavier Novell, 52, who became Spain’s youngest bishop when named in 2010, resigned in late August, with Church authorities in Solsona, Catalonia, citing ‘personal reasons’ for his decision. But sources quoted by the Catholic publication Religión Digital this week confirmed rumours that Mr. Novell had embarked on a relationship with Silvia Caballol, a psychologist and writer of erotic novels, leading him to set aside his vow of celibacy.”

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