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Weekend Briefing No. 455
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Weekend Briefing No. 455
Welcome to the weekend.
News Flash: We’re opening up sponsorship slots for 2023.
As most of you know, this has always been a side project of mine. In the last eight years, I’ve invested five to seven hours every week to bring you quality content. (And I love doing it!) As the size of the community has grown, there are now opportunities to partner with brands. 2022 was the first year I opened up the briefing to sponsors. We’ve been able to work with great brands. Most of them are longtime members of the Weekend Briefing community.
I wanted to give you clarity on how sponsorships work. If there is a sponsor, it will be in the third position (or the C Block, as we call it), and it will be marked with (“Sponsored”) next to the link. The goal is to connect good content from great brands with great readers.
I know almost half of you are founders, so if you’re interested in sponsorship, shoot me an email. The ideal situation would be that all of our 2023 sponsors are members of the Weekend Briefing community.
If you’re interested in sponsoring the Weekend Briefing in 2023, click here to get the details and apply.
Act fast though. Last year, we sold out the year in under a week.
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5—At least five hours of sleep per night may cut the over-age-50 chances of multiple chronic health problems, researchers say.
18—The founding fathers were surprisingly young. As of July 4, 1776, Marquis de Lafayette was 18. Alexander Hamilton was 21. James Madison was 25. Thomas Jefferson was 33. George Washington was 44.
$3,000—Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment exceeds $3,000 in six cities. This figure nears $4,000 in San Francisco and New York. The four remaining cities with average two-bedroom apartment rents greater than $3,000 are Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, DC and San Jose. Income needed for a two-bedroom apartment is 2.4 times higher than the median household income in New York City.
Trust and Tech
Edleman released its 2022 Trust in Technology report. Here are some highlights: 76% of people trust the tech sector. However, if that definition includes social media, that number drops by 10%. Sixty-five percent worry that technology will make it impossible to know if what people are seeing or hearing is real, a six-point increase since January 2021. Sixty percent agree that the use of technology to replace human workers will increase income inequality. Sixty-eight percent agree that tech companies should be required to contribute resources to the re-skilling of workers displaced by their technologies. In 14 out of 15 markets surveyed, respondents trust domestically headquartered tech companies more than foreign-based tech companies. Why? Among those who distrust foreign-based tech companies, 54% cite distrust in their governments as their reason. (Check out the next story on TikTok as a prime example.) Edleman (15 minutes)
TikTok and Propaganda
ByteDance is the Chinese company that owns TikTok. Interestingly, of the billion global TikTok users, none of them are in China. However, the tip of China’s propaganda spear is TikTok, which has a direct connection to the midbrain of a billion people, including nearly every U.S. teenager and half their parents. Facebook is the most powerful espionage vehicle ever created, and now China commands the most powerful propaganda tool. The latest revelations of the Chinese government’s access to TikTok confirm that the threat isn’t just a cable news mudfest. Real action is needed. Last week, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr wrote a letter to Apple and Google asking them to remove the platform from their app stores. Carr cited national security concerns, saying parent company ByteDance is “beholden” to the CCP and “required by law to comply with surveillance demands.” As Senator Ted Cruz put it, “TikTok is a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear and ultimately think.” Messrs Carr and Cruz are right. The platform’s potential for espionage is a concern. Its use for propaganda is a clear and present danger. The question isn’t whether the CCP strives to diminish U.S. standing and prosperity, but if it should be easy. No Mercy / No Malice (21 minutes)
Stocks’ Volatility Surpasses Bitcoin’s
Industry experts never anticipated it could happen. But as stock market volatility raged, the VIX recently soared above the bitcoin volatility index. Because of these violent swings, more investors are looking for potential solutions outside of traditional markets. One thing the investing pros are turning to are real assets like fine art—but not just for inflation protection and portfolio diversification. According to new research from Goldman Sachs, diversified portfolios with real assets have actually outperformed the traditional portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds since WWII. Masterworks makes it simple to invest in art. Over 550,000 members have first-of-its-kind access to investments in multi-million dollar art (think Picasso, Basquiat and Banksy) for just a fraction of the price. While others are panic selling, Masterworks’ last five strategic exits each realized a net return of +21.5%. Weekend Briefing subscribers can skip their waitlist with this referral link. Masterworks (Sponsored)
In every walk of life, the Boomer-owned institutions profess the inaccurate claim that we live in one homogenous society upon which they exert control. But we live in an era of chaos. Today, it’s nearly impossible to gain traction. For musicians, there are too many songs and too little audience attention. Most artists get lost in the sea of content. Now is the worst time to create generic art and to be playing it safe. Now is the time to experiment, to be different and to be great because innovation always sparks a reaction. As for music and listening to the whole album? You’re lucky if you get people to listen to ONE SONG! Stop the blowback. That’s just how precious people’s time is. If you want our attention, you must deserve it. And you do it by being truly great and special, and that’s no guarantee of stardom. It’s just the start of traction, which could die out. Is it depressing? Absolutely. But that does not mean it’s not reality. The public is overfed and overwhelmed, so it chooses its experiences wisely; wasting time is taboo. The Lefsetz Letter (13 minutes)
Joe Rogan and Steve Jobs
This is a bit weird but interesting. Listen to this entirely AI-generated podcast between Joe Rogan and Steve Jobs. While the first bit of the podcast is clunky with awkward pauses and laughing, it does start to move into real conversation touching on faith, tech companies and drugs. At one point, the AI-generated Jobs uses an analogy about buying all four car wheels separately to use Adobe’s services. The crazy thing is some parts begin to sound believable and actually keep you listening as you start to make a connection to what they are saying. Podcast.ai (20 minutes)
Not Being a Jerk to Yourself
After more than two decades as an anchor for ABC News, an on-air panic attack sent Dan Harris's life in a new direction: He became a dedicated meditator and, to some, even a guru. But then an anonymous survey of his family, friends and colleagues turned up some brutal feedback—he was still kind of a jerk. In a wise, funny talk, he shares his yearslong quest to improve his relationships with everyone (starting with himself) and explains the science behind loving-kindness meditation, and how it can boost your resiliency, quiet your inner critic and simply make you more pleasant to be around. TED (13 minutes)
Unsurprisingly, even the most well-intended and open-minded philanthropic efforts can seem inconsequential in the face of the numerous existential challenges we now face. It’s understandable that so many of us seek to ignore the bad news that’s out there, or worse, fall into the trap of paralysis and inertia. However, in trying to tackle issues as nuanced as racial inequality, climate change and immigration, today’s philanthropists must move with the urgency these crises demand. They must also rely upon patience and pragmatic long-termism, recognizing that progress may take a generation to realize. If nothing else, we need to realize that hope is a “long game.” Also, evidence-based optimism, wedded to patience and persistence, is not a failure of belief. It is, instead, a way to make peace between the philanthropic imperative, widespread uncertainty, and the practical limits on our ability to effect change. Worth (7 minutes)
Move Fast. Don’t Break Things.
Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a flat, 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 1-on-1 call with me.
Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. -William Feather