Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:
• How America Fractured Into Four Parts People in the United States no longer agree on the nation’s purpose, values, history, or meaning. Is reconciliation possible? (The Atlantic)
• The Sad End Of Jack Ma Inc. Beijing’s protracted dismemberment of Jack Ma Inc. continues. “Bridle on the horse” hardly describes this orgy of value destruction. This “horse” has suffered multiple amputations, performed without finesse by the Chinese government. The Ma empire is worth half what it was 9 months ago. The process is not over. Beijing is now doling out some of the most lucrative slices of Ma’s business to new “partners” of its choosing, including one of the most corrupt and financially shaky companies in all of China. (Forbes)
• Why is lumber so expensive right now? An illustrated explainer of the factors driving up the market. (The Hustle)
• This company delivers packages faster than Amazon, but workers pay the price South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang uses AI to promise almost-instant delivery. But speed comes with troubling labor issues—including worker deaths. (MIT Technology Review)
• How the 1 percent’s savings buried the middle class in debt Whiile many economists think more saving leads to productive investment, U Chicago’s Amir Sufi, Princeton’s Atif Mian, and Harvard’s Ludwig Straub make a different argument. They find that these savings are largely unproductive, being remade by the financial system into household and government debt. And their research outlines a cycle whereby the savings of the top 1 percent fuel the debt and dissavings of the lower 90 percent, which in turn leads to more savings at the top. Research suggests that when the rich bank, the rest borrow (Chicago Booth Review)
• Positive Psychology Goes to War: How the Army adopted an untested, evidence-free approach to fighting PTSD. Few areas of behavioral science better exemplify the danger of unskilled intuition than the increasingly popular endeavor of positive psychology, one of the newest established subfields of psychology and one that has successfully sold questionable theories to many institutions, most notably the U.S. Army, for very large sums. (Chronicle of Higher Education)
• The Minister of Chaos: Boris Johnson knows exactly what he’s doing. We know that he has been fired twice for lying (once as a journalist, once as a politician); that he was the Conservative mayor of Britain’s left-wing capital city; that he helped engineer the defenestration of two prime ministers from his own party; and that he very nearly died during the pandemic. For three decades, we’ve followed his writing, his ambition, his outrages, his scandals. Yet the truth, for a professional Boris-watcher such as myself, is maddeningly elusive. (The Atlantic)
• Chrissy Teigen’s fall from grace Teigen became popular in the first place because she was really good at Twitter in the early 2010s. What it means to be good at Twitter now is very different from what it meant to be good at Twitter then — and if we unpack those changes, we can see just how drastically the culture has shifted in a single tumultuous decade. The rise and fall of Chrissy Teigen shows how drastically Twitter changed in 10 years. (Vox)
• There’s A Stark Red-Blue Divide When It Comes To States’ Vaccination Rates “The top 22 states (including D.C.) with the highest adult vaccination rates all went to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election … Trump won 17 of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates.” (NPR) see also A victim of its own success: how Taiwan failed to plan for a major Covid outbreak Once a poster child for blocking coronavirus, Taiwan failed to fully prepare a pandemic response or vaccination rollout (The Guardian)
• Young Creators Are Burning Out and Breaking Down Many people who have found fame on TikTok are struggling with mental health issues. (New York Times)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Brad Stone, BusinessWeek Technology editor, and author of the new book, Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire.
These 5 countries are home to more than half the world’s forests
Source: World Economic Forum
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.