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Weekend Briefing No. 462
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
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19%—Gun violence recently surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for American children. Nineteen percent of deaths for children ages 1–18 is due to a gun. The gun-death rate for children is nearly five in every 100,000. I’m still shook by this.
7.1%—The consumer price index rose 7.1% compared to the same time last year, according to data from the US Labor Department. The figure is slightly below the expectations of 7.3% and down from a June high of 9.1%, though this remains higher than any point since the early 1980s.
13.4—Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope identifies the most distant galaxy observed to date; objects lie roughly 13.4 billion light years away, meaning the light detected is believed to have originated just 325 million years after the Big Bang.
We Have Ignition
Nuclear fusion has the potential to be a miraculous clean energy source. If fusion can be deployed on a large scale, it would offer an energy source devoid of the pollution and greenhouse gasses caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the dangerous long-lived radioactive waste created by current nuclear power plants, which use the splitting of uranium to produce energy (fission not fusion). Over the years, scientists have made progress in the lab. But there was always a nagging caveat. In all of the efforts by scientists to control the unruly power of fusion, their experiments consumed more energy than the fusion reactions generated. The dividing line where the energy generated by fusion equals the incoming energy is called ignition. Scientists studying fusion energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced on Tuesday that they had achieved ignition. That sparked public excitement as scientists have for decades talked about how fusion, the nuclear reaction that makes stars shine, could provide a future source of bountiful energy. New York Times (5 minutes)
About 25% of cars bought in China this year were either hybrid or electric. Across Europe, they accounted for 18% and 5% in the U.S. The electric vehicle (EV) revolution has begun. Global carbon dioxide emissions could fall by 1.5 gigatons per year if half of the world’s cars were electric. But the EV revolution comes with its own dirty cost. The materials that go into today’s batteries, such as nickel, lithium and cobalt, are in extreme demand. Prices for these minerals are soaring. For the countries in which these elements are buried, the EV boom promises profits. Yet it also means massive extraction efforts—and the environmental and social issues that these cause. Rest of the World (14 minutes)
Designing for Everyone
26% of the US population is living with some type of disability. That’s over 1 in 4 people who could become frustrated and leave if they can’t easily use your website or app. Accessibility is no longer an option - and it’s essential to good design. Glance (Sponsored)
TIME magazine just released their list of best innovations of 2022. Here are some of my favorites: 1) House Zero. House Zero is a 2,400 square foot, three-bedroom solution 3D-printed by a 9,500-pound robot. 2) Hoverpen. The Hoverpen 2.0 is a ballpoint pen that hovers at a 23.5-degree angle—a nod to the earth’s axial tilt—without electricity. 3) Chameleon Car. Ever wished you could turn your black car white on a sweltering day? The chameleonic BMW iX Flow—the world’s first color-changing vehicle, albeit still a prototype—is wrapped in “E ink.” TIME (16 minutes)
How to Introduce Yourself
Many of us dread the self-introduction, be it in an online meeting or at the boardroom table. Here is a practical framework you can leverage to introduce yourself with confidence in any context, online or in person: Present, past and future. I’ll use myself as an example. 1) Present. Start with a present-tense statement to introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m Kyle. I’m a startup attorney. My focus is making founders’ lives easier.” 2) Past. Add two or three points that will provide people with relevant details about your background. “Before I was an attorney, I was a founder. I know how challenging it is to run an early stage startup.” 3) Future. This is your opportunity to demonstrate enthusiasm for what’s ahead. “I’m excited to help you scale your company without going off the rails.” Harvard Business Review (5 minutes)
Creativity is the ability to produce an artifact or an idea that is both novel and useful given a particular social context. Researchers generally believe that creativity is a two-part process. The first is to generate candidate ideas and make novel connections between them, and the second is to narrow down to the most useful one. The generative step in this process is divergent thinking. It’s the ability to recall, associate and combine a diverse set of information in novel ways to generate creative ideas. Convergent thinking takes into account goals and constraints to ensure that a given idea is useful. This part of the process typically follows divergent thinking and acts as a way to narrow in on a specific idea. Superorganizers (7 minutes)
To outperform, you need serious competitive advantages. But contrary to what you have been told, most of them don't require talent. Here are a few you can start today: 1) Simplify where others complicate. Learn to convey extremely complex ideas in simple, digestible ways. 2) Relentless consistency. Many people are able to produce bursts of energy. Few people are able to produce consistent, steady flows of energy. The former might be flashy, but the latter is relentless. Take pride in punching the clock—in showing up—day in, day out. 3) Low Time Preference. Life is a long game. Those with low time preference play it more effectively; they happily delay gratification to build real value. In a world of people seeking instant gratification, this is a meaningful edge. The Curiosity Chronicle (4 minutes)
Should We Work Together?
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.
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. -Helen Keller