Good morning, Quartz readers!
Egypt’s generals miscalculated. After ousting president Mohamed Morsi a month ago, they treated his Muslim Brotherhood as they always had: a movement with no political power, whose supporters they could keep beating into submission. But a movement that has been robbed of power is very different from one that never tasted it. The massacres on Aug. 14—over 600 dead by the official toll, perhaps many more in reality, and probably the worst single day of bloodshed in modern Egyptian history—will not be the end.
Traditionally, the army was the one institution Egyptians trusted to guarantee stability. After Morsi’s ouster, which almost all the political groups supported, it initially seemed the army might retain that trust. Now, though, it’s hard to see what will pull the country back from at least some degree of civil war, and prolonged autocratic rule. The US, perhaps the country with the most leverage over the generals, seems paralyzed.
“The Arab Spring has been over for some time. But it officially ended today,” tweeted Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer on the day of the massacres. Bremmer exaggerates; the Arab Spring changed the Middle East permanently, and its effects are still playing out. But Egypt’s flirtation with democracy is certainly in the deep freeze.—Gideon Lichfield
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
The death of “20% time.” Google engineers told Christopher Mims that the company’s policy of giving them time off for special projects is effectively over. Others weighed in: You can still take 20% time, as long as it’s in your spare time. Online, a lively debate has ensued about how companies encourage—or extinguish—creativity.
Your recycling bins are no longer watching you. Siraj Datoo’s reporting on recycling bins that track the movements of passers-by prompted the City of London to ban the scheme.
Dolphins are the canaries in the ocean coalmine. A spike in the number of dead and dying dolphins washing up on US Atlantic beaches could be a sign of rising pollution levels or a side-effect of climate change. Gwynn Guilford explains.
The complete guide to getting an economics PhD. Miles Kimball and Noah Smith explain that not only is it the best kind of PhD to have; anyone can get one, and you don’t need to be an economist. Just learn some math, study hard, read the right blogs, and don’t only focus on the top schools.
What Chinese Valentine’s Day looks like. Rather strange, says Lily Kuo. The shortage of women due to the one-child policy has turned the Qixi Festival on Aug. 13 into a frenzied rush of matchmaking events and forests of lonely-heart ads. Plus, in the last few years, public celebrations of symbolic same-sex weddings.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
What if the problem isn’t Facebook’s privacy settings, but our own? Using examples from university students to an indigenous Brazilian tribe, Ian Leslie in Aeon Magazine writes that we’re “pretty stupid” when it comes to online privacy. If governments can track us so well, is it because we’re innate over-sharers?
The origin of “engine.” We have steam engines, search engines, “engines of growth”; the definition of an engine, you might conclude, is some kind of machine. But the word engyn predates the machine age, says the Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen; it meant “ingenuity”, which was why it was applied to machines.
If economics is a “science”, why do macroeconomists always disagree? Not because of ideological blinders or imperfect math, argues Noah Smith, but because the data are fundamentally bad. You can’t repeat or control experiments—there’s only one Greece—so there’s no empirical basis for choosing one economic model over another.
Forty maps that explain the world. The global distribution of legal systems; a 12-month time-lapse of snow and vegetation coverage; the myriad languages and dialects of the Middle East and Central Asia; the ranges of North Korean and Palestinian rockets. A whole new set of perspectives on the planet, from the Washington Post.
The hard life of celebrity elephants. A great read from Rollo Romig in the New York Times about one man’s campaign to stop the mistreatment of elephants, which is also a lens on the culture, economics, and bureaucracy of modern India.