The weekend is here! Pour yourself a mug of Danish blend coffee, grab a seat by the fire, and get ready for our longer-form weekend reads:
• A new era for the American worker American workers have power. That won’t last forever. More than any other time in recent memory, the present moment offers many Americans a chance to make work better. American employees in 2022 have more leverage over their employers than they have had since the 1970s, the result of a confluence of factors. The pandemic that began in 2020 has prompted a widespread reevaluation about what place work should have in the lives of many Americans, who are known for putting in more hours than people in most other industrialized nations. There’s also been a groundswell of labor organizing that began building momentum in the last decade, due to larger trends like an aging population and growing income inequality. This movement has accelerated in the past two years as the pandemic has brought labor issues to the fore. (Vox)
• The Renaissance Man of Venture Capital: Lux Capital’s Josh Wolfe is channeling sci-fi to bank on “the inevitable arrow of progress.” Wolfe’s willingness to entertain the dark side — and to do so in such a fanciful way — is what has made him one of the most iconoclastic VC founders out there. In fact, a number of the companies Lux has financed started out as mere concepts in Wolfe’s brain, leading him to go out and find the scientists who could turn his vision into reality. That could prove to be a competitive advantage in a more circumspect VC world, which until now has been dominated by too much money chasing too many investments. (Institutional Investor)
• Longer-Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics What are the long-term effects of pandemics? How do they differ from other economic disasters? We study major pandemics stretching back to the 14th century. Significant macroeconomic after-effects of pandemics persist for decades, with real rates of return substantially depressed, in stark contrast to what happens after wars. Capital is destroyed in wars, but not in pandemics; pandemics instead may induce relative labor scarcity and/or a shift to greater precautionary savings. (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)
• After the Beanie Baby bubble burst What happens when the frenzy ends and the world doesn’t value your valuables? At the height of Beanie Baby mania in the 1990s, plenty of people genuinely believed the toys might be the key to their retirement or their kids’ college tuition. Some people stole litters of them, and at least one person was reportedly killed in a Beanie-related dispute. Now, when cleaning out their basements or going through bins left behind by their grandparents, some people decide to check in — just in case — to see if they’re sitting on a gold mine of ’90s relics. Most of the time, they aren’t. (Vox)
• Sometimes, Life Stinks. So He Invented the Nasal Ranger. “If somebody said, ‘I have an odor problem, where should I go?’ That would be Chuck and Mike McGinley,” said Jacek Koziel, an agricultural engineer who studies odor at Iowa State University. Their methods provide policymakers and researchers with “hard evidence to make the case that odor is real and it affects people’s lives,” he said. For Chuck McGinley, an engineer who devised the go-to instrument for measuring odors, helping people understand what they smell is serious science. (New York Times)
• The ‘Future of Food’ Is Already Here — but How Dystopian Is It? At the Food on Demand conference in Las Vegas, the food service industry laid out its vision for a future in which customers never have to wait. Just don’t think too hard about how that’d work. (Eater)
• An Evangelical Climate Scientist Wonders What Went Wrong . “For many people now, hope is a bad word,” says Hayhoe, the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy as well as a professor of political science at Texas Tech. “They think that hope is false hope; it is wishful thinking. But there are things to do — and we should be doing them.” (NYT Magazine)
• The secret MVP of sports? The port-a-potty The concept of mobile restrooms evolved slowly over the years, with centuries of civilizations essentially just doing small tweaks on the chamber pot. The need for portable bathrooms rose in the late 1800s as more and more American jobs drifted into large-scale mining and building projects. An abandoned copper mine in northern Michigan from the turn of the 20th century was recently discovered in remarkably preserved condition, including a wooden box that had been used by miners as their underground bathroom. For miners and construction workers who desperately needed bathrooms while on the job all day, finding a tree or a wooden box often was the best they could do 100 years ago. (ESPN)
• The Dirty Work of Cleaning Online Reputations Cleaning up your image, however, is not cheap. A serious campaign can cost between $10,000 and $20,000 or more and will usually run for at least four to eight months. For a fee, companies will tackle damaging search results. But is the new economy of digital makeovers making things worse? (The Walrus)
• How Mo Salah Became the New King of Football Mohamed Salah is the best player in the world right now. The world just hasn’t admitted it yet. In Egypt, where his life story is taught in schools, his nickname is the Happiness Maker. This is as much for his feats on the field—where he has in five seasons led a resurgent Liverpool to Premier League and Champions League titles, breaking umpteen records on the way—as his feats off it. He’s got that million-lumen smile; the Afro-beard combo; the whole wholesome, hardworking, family-man image. In Nagrig, the village in the Nile Delta north of Cairo where Salah grew up, his generosity is legendary: He has paid to build a school, a water-treatment plant, and an ambulance station there, and every month his foundation provides food and money to the destitute. (GQ)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square (with Jack Dorsey), and currently CEO of Invisibly, empowering people to manage the future of their personal data.
Americans now spend nearly as much time streaming user-generated videos as they do watching traditional TV.
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.