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Weekend Briefing No. 494
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
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770,000,000 – Al Hilal, a Saudi football club, really wants French superstar Kylian Mbappé. In fact, they are offering about $330 million to his current club Paris Saint-Germain and a reported $770 million in wages to Mbappe to play for one year.
9 – Here are the nine books on Barack Obama’s summer reading list.
15 – An Ontario, Canada, couple ate spicy peppers and then locked lips for more than 15 minutes to break the Guinness World Record for the longest habanero pepper kiss.
What’s Up with Elon?
What’s going on with Elon Musk? In this episode of Search Engine, PJ Vogt investigates the erratic behavior of the world’s wealthiest man with Hard Fork’s Casey Newton. They postulate three theories: (1) Money. Elon became so wealthy so quickly that he literally doesn’t give a f*ck. (2) Drugs. Elon has admitted to taking ketamine regularly. There’s speculation that he may also be using other drugs. Perhaps that’s the source of erratic behavior. (3) Simulation. He’s mentioned many times publicly that he believes it’s very possible that what we experience as reality is really just us living in a simulation created by more intelligent beings. If so, then maybe Elon’s just a character in the simulation that’s having the most fun. Check out the podcast. It’s pretty interesting. Search Engine (60 minutes)
What about you? Which theory do you find the most compelling? Do you have your own theory?
Cities around the world are contending with what the US Surgeon General recently deemed a “loneliness epidemic,” and one of the public health proposals to solve it is to build social infrastructure that facilitates more human connections. When it comes to friendship, closeness matters. Emotional closeness, sure, but also — whether we like it or not — physical proximity. Researchers talk about an ideal “friendship radius” that even the internet hasn’t made obsolete. It can vary by person and location, but at a basic level, the closer you are, the better. A popular urban planning concept offers a vision for proximity. The 15-minute city. The urban planning concept of a 15-minute city is one that’s designed so that residents’ basic needs can be met within a small radius accessible by foot, bike or public transit. Those basics could include work, school, child care, groceries and friends. Bloomberg (6 minutes)
Stuck in the System
Right now, hundreds of thousands of people are "stuck" in the U.S. criminal justice system. They've completed all of their requirements for release, but nobody knows it because the system is run on old databases that don't talk to each other. DRK Foundation portfolio entrepreneur and TED Fellow Clementine Jacoby, CEO of Recidiviz, describes how we can fix the bad data trap — bringing thousands of people home, reducing costs and improving public safety along the way. DRK Foundation (Sponsored)
Toilet to Tap
The city of Oceanside California invested $70 million in the drink of the future: purified wastewater. It is turning water from the residents’ dishwashers, showers and toilets into potable water — or toilet to tap. Before the reclamation facility was built, Oceanside, a city of 175K people, imported 90% of its drinking water from the highly contested Colorado River and the Bay Delta. The wastewater facility will provide 30% of Oceanside’s needs, lowering its dependence on the Colorado River. The pivot to reusing wastewater is badly needed: Potable water is an increasingly precious resource. Worldwide, already 26% of the global population or 2 billion people live in water-stressed areas, according to UN Water, which projects this figure could double by 2050. Reasons to Be Cheerful (7 minutes)
Office to Farm
With office usage hovering near 50% of pre-pandemic levels, many cities are struggling with a plethora of under-utilized space. Why not dedicate those desks and cubicles to growing food? Whereas many commercial real estate owners are attempting to convert office space to residential apartments, that process is incredibly capital intensive. On the other hand, office spaces already provide an ideal environment for growing food, since they are already air-conditioned, heated and well-ventilated. When executed correctly, indoor vertical farming can yield as much produce as traditional farming methods in urban areas and smaller spaces. Additionally, farmers say they gain the added benefit of yielding a consistent, year-round production without the uncertainties of climate or pests, all while utilizing up to 95% less water than a traditional farm. Modern Farmer (6 minutes)
Helped, Heard or Hugged
This question can be very powerful for your relationships: Do you want to be helped, heard or hugged? It provides a framework for responding to a loved one in a way that can resonate with the needs of the moment. It should be applied to moments with spouses, friends and family alike. When emotions are really swirling, our own discomfort compels a response that seems best to us. Instead, we might first take a breath, and then figure out what this person really wants back from us. Asking works. Used judiciously, this can be transformational. Examined (4 minutes)
The song “Closing Time” by the American rock band Semisonic came out in March 1998. It hit #1 on the Alternative charts and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song. It gets played in stadiums, Weird Al covered it and it’s the last song of the night in countless bars. But did you know there's an entire second meaning to the song? I did not. This was one of the best behind-the-scenes looks at the songwriting process. It’s surprising and tender. I think you’ll dig it. Song Exploder (25 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 one-on-one call with me.
Check out Founder Fridays — A Friday morning briefing helping founders scale smarter.
It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own. – Marcus Aurelius