Weekend Briefing No. 427
Weekend Briefing - A briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend. Happy Easter!
In case you missed it, Banks Benitez and I are launching a new email briefing about how blockchain, crypto, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and other Web3 technologies are having a positive social/environmental impact. We’ll be sending out the first issue this Thursday. If that’s interesting to you, subscribe here.
As expected, last week’s briefing on Bitcoin was a bit polarizing; some people loved it, others didn’t. For instance, my mom said, “I read until my brain hurt. First time I didn’t finish the WB, sorry. I do at least know the difference between blockchain and cryptocurrency.”
On a positive note, it was one of the most popular briefings of all time. If you missed it, you may want to go back and check it out. Ok, no more Web3 talk this week. I promise.
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43%—Immunotherapy treatment shows promise against testicular and ovarian cancer, with 43% of patients in a small test pool showing significant tumor shrinkage.
18—A new thermal battery allows energy generated by solar and wind power to be stored for up to 18 years; still in the concept phase, the approach may allow a wider adoption of variable renewable sources into the grid.
8.5%—U.S. inflation rose 8.5% in March compared to the same time last year, the largest such increase since December 1981. It also marked the fifth straight month of inflation and hit a new 40-year high.
Politicians and urban planners are betting on hyper-local living—a future ideal that borrows much from the past. But is it a path to urban utopia or just a fad? As a concept, it’s both quaint and quietly revolutionary: redesign cities so that people live, work and have access to all the services they need—whether that’s shops, schools, theaters or medical care—within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. The aim is to “rebalance” cities that were originally designed to boost productivity rather than well-being. While many see a roadmap to a “new utopia” in the 15-minute city, others question its novelty—and its feasibility. It’s easy to see how such an idea might be achievable for the upper class but constantly out of reach for the working class. Politico (9 minutes)
The Razor’s Edge
As we hurtle toward an ever-hotter future, GQ spotlights eight places whose very identities depend on a simple calculation: If we limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, these places could be saved. In a two-degree scenario, they would be irredeemably lost. Here are three of those places: (1) Jacobabad, Pakistan. One of the world's hottest cities simply can't stand to get any hotter. (2) Line Islands. Off the coast of this Pacific paradise, a coral reef teems with wildlife—but teeters on the brink of destruction. (3) Yakutia, Russia. In one of the coldest regions on earth, a thaw of the permafrost is releasing massive levels of methane—and maybe something worse. GQ (11 minutes)
The Hottest Market on Earth?
The global wealth of Billionaires soared 70% in the last 19 months, and they know exactly what they want: more art. A lot more. Take Amazon founder Jeff Bezos—he recently spent $70 million on two paintings alone. While billionaires have nearly unlimited access to stocks, homes, and private equity, their art holdings could have the biggest growth, market watchers say. So it’s no wonder The WSJ declared “art is among the hottest markets on Earth.” In fact, experts predict a Marylin Monroe portrait by Andy Warhol will sell for $200 million this spring. With that kind of coin, you could buy 100 houses in the Hamptons. So what if you could invest in paintings like that one before they go nuclear? Well, the good news is now you can with Masterworks. This tech platform valued at over $1 billion, lets you invest in paintings by Picasso, Banksy, and yes Warhol via fractional shares. I’ve even teamed up with them to let my readers jump the line and join their 400K users with my referral link. Masterworks (Sponsored)
How To Criticize Coworkers
Feedback is high leverage because it’s cheap for you to give and provides high value to the recipient by giving them information early. Their alternative is having to guess at their own performance and behavioral impact. A good exercise here is to think back to your most pivotal learning experiences. How many of them include surprising feedback? For example, think of a time when a teacher or parent was proud of you, or the time you found out you hurt a friend’s feelings. These are short-lived moments that, in some cases, stick with you your whole life. Constructing them intentionally for other people can let you have a major impact on them. The principles of good feedback are: (1) Praise in public, criticize in private. (2) Use “I” instead of “you” language. Stop guessing at things the other person knows better than you; namely their intentions and what they were thinking. (3) Be as specific as possible using situation-behavior-impact (SBI). (4) Be on the same side. (5) Stop if you’re too worked up. (6) Use a tight feedback loop. Alex Turek (16 minutes)
Building Habits When Exhausted
So what do you do when you’re trapped in the vicious cycle of needing to improve your habits so you can feel refreshed, but struggling to muster the willpower and motivation to even try? (1) Start with sleep. If you’re super tired, then the key to greater productivity is not to push harder; push less. Once you start getting enough sleep habitually, your body will support you in accomplishing your daily goals instead of dragging you down. (2) Nutrition. One effective habit is to start drinking more water. Greater water intake improves energy, aids concentration, and reduces fatigue and anxiety. (3) Exercise. Counterintuitively, exercise ultimately gives you more energy throughout the day instead of depleting it. It also has the added benefits of improving mood, sleep quality and focus. Harvard Business Review (8 minutes)
Thanks to a new interactive website called Lightyear.fm, we already know what Plutonians are listening to: either “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap or "Sugar" by Maroon 5. The caveat, to that, of course, is it's what they're listening to if they can pull in radio broadcasts from Earth. Lightyear.fm essentially takes the opening scene of the 1997 film Contact and makes it a functional interactive experience. Once you load up the site, your eyeballs are treated to a flight through space while your ears learn how long it would take radio broadcasts from Earth to make that same journey. You start out in Earth’s orbit, then push back through the cosmos with a running ticker of how many light minutes, hours or years you are from our planet. Depending on how far you are from Earth, you’ll hear a chart-topping song from the corresponding month or year. Wired (8 minutes)
Celebration and Loss
The same day “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Jon Batiste bandleader received 11 Grammy nominations—the most by any artist this year—the love of his life was beginning chemotherapy treatments for her second battle with cancer. Jon Batiste and bestselling author Suleika Jaouad (Between Two Kingdoms) talk with correspondent Jim Axelrod about how their world was turned upside down, and how they met adversity with an act of defiance. CBS (9 minutes)
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be 80, you have just over four thousand weeks. Nobody needs to be told that this isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance and the ceaseless battle against distraction. We’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and efficient, and “life hacks” to optimize our days. But such techniques often end up making things worse. The sense of anxious hurry grows more intense, and still the most meaningful parts of life seem to lie just beyond the horizon. Still, we rarely make the connection between our daily struggles with time and the ultimate time management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks. Four Thousand Weeks introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing finitude. Showing how many of the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths, but choices we’ve made as individuals and as a society―and that we could do things differently. Buy Now
Most Read Last Week
Web3 Impact—Subscribe to our upcoming newsletter on how Web3 Technology can create a positive social/environmental impact.
Latecomers Guide to Crypto—Understanding crypto now, especially if you’re naturally skeptical, is important for a few reasons. The first is that crypto wealth and ideology is going to be a transformative force in our society in the coming years.
Bitcoin Explained—Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies set out to upend the financial order and replace conventional money. Bitcoin has certainly disrupted the global financial system, but can it ever live up to the hype?
In addition to the Weekend Briefing, I write a monthly briefing on startup funding called Funding Fridays. I review the startup funding deals from the past month and deliver a concise summary to you on the first Friday of every month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
Should We Work Together?
This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.
A man who was completely innocent offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act. –Mahatma Gandhi
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