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Weekend Briefing No. 162
Ooops…. I wanted to start this Weekend Briefing with a sincere apology. I made a (pretty big) mistake last weekend. When I was intending to send out my other newsletter called Impact Esq to a list of a couple hundred people, I accidentally sent it to the entire Weekend Briefing list of 18,000+ people. Face palm! I just wanted to say I’m sorry for the mix up and the extra email.
I guess this is also an opportunity to say that I’m writing a monthly email about social enterprise and impact investing law called Impact Esq. If you got the email last week and you liked it, you’ll need to subscribe here because I won’t send it to you again unless you do.
20,669 words – Apple iTunes terms and conditions is 20,669 words long. Here's the complete, unabridged legal agreement, drawn as a graphic novel by R. Sikoryak.
6 years – This week marked the sixth anniversary of the war in Syria, now considered one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. 465,000 Syrians have been killed or are missing. Over 11 million people, or half the population, have fled the country or are internally displaced persons (IDPs).
3rd – Adding to the list of Uber’s woes, a report this week noted that Uber’s self-driving truck division’s slogan is “Safety Third”.
Gene Drives in the Wild
Scientists here are engaged in what could be the most promising, and perhaps one of the most frightening, biological experiments of our time in a village called Ana in Burkina Faso. The goal: to nearly eradicate the population of one species of mosquito, and with it, the heavy burden of malaria across Africa. These scientists are planning to release mosquitoes equipped with “gene drives,” a technology that overrides nature’s genetic rules to give every baby mosquito a certain trait that normally only half would acquire. No living thing — no mammal, insect, or plant — with a gene drive has ever been set free. But if all goes as planned, it might happen here, in a remote village of about a thousand people, where the residents don’t even have a word for “gene.” Learn more at Stat News (14 minutes).
Zebras > Unicorns
For years I’ve been seeking a name (beside lifestyle business) for companies that aren’t seeking unicorn status. Developing alternative business models to the startup status quo has become a central moral challenge of our time. These alternative models will balance profit and purpose, champion democracy, and put a premium on sharing power and resources. Companies that create a more just and responsible society will hear, help, and heal the customers and communities they serve. Whereas the unicorn seeks exponential growth, exit with 10+x return to shareholders, the zebra seeks sustainable growth, profitability with prosperity for all stakeholders. Learn more about the zebra at Medium (8 minutes).
I Invented the Internet
28 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet, he says he’s concerned about 3 new trends that must be tackled for the web to reach its potential. 1) We’ve lost control of our personal data. Having our data collected and moves tracked across the web at all times has a chilling affect on free speech. 2) It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the web. Those with bad intentions can game the system to spread misinformation for financial or political gain. 3) Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding. Targeted political adverts are being used in unethical ways – to point voters to fake news sites, for instance, or to keep others away from the polls. Learn more at the Guardian (5 minutes).
The Giving Layer
The giving layer of the Internet combines two previously distinct channels of online interaction, e-commerce and social sharing, into something far more democratic and altruistic, and it’s big: all told, the crowdfunding sector generated $34 billion in free-flowing cash in 2015, and is on pace to do nearly 10 times that within the next decade. Crowdfunding campaigns are popular among Millennials because they are moved by requests that are tangible and immediate. These viral campaigns reach more potential donors but those givers often respond in an emotional as opposed to rational way: You’re paying to alleviate someone’s suffering, not the broader societal problem it represents. Learn more at Fast Company (8 minutes).
Secular Culture Wars
Some observers predicted that with the decline in American religious affiliation, secularism would ease cultural conflict. Turns out, that was naive. Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it’s also making America’s partisan clashes more brutal. And it has contributed to the rise of both Donald Trump and the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism. As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways. The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse. Learn more at the Atlantic (6 minutes).
Honey Nut Cheerios
Bees are in trouble, and Honey Nut Cheerios wants to help. The brand pulled its bee mascot Buzz from the front of cereal boxes in the U.S. this month to call attention to the alarming decline in pollinator populations around the world. Without bees, the food world would be a very different place. A third of food around the world would disappear without honeybees, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Honey Nut Cheerios is also giving out free wildflower seeds so cereal lovers can grow their own home for bees and their pollinating pals to thrive. Learn more at Huffington Post (3 minutes).
The Lonely American Man
For many men with kids, when you have a gap in your schedule, you feel bad running off with the fellas. Most men wouldn’t admit that they are lonely. They have family around them all the time, they have work ‘friends’, they comment on friends’ Facebook posts, etc. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that’s good enough — and for many men it is, at least until their spouse gets the friends in the divorce. Whereas, women tend to maintain friendships over the phone, men tend to need to participate in an activity to make and keep a bond. It turns out that this loneliness is deadly. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation. Learn more at the Boston Globe (12 minutes).
About the Weekend Briefing
Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.