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Quartz weekend brief—Dorsey’s distortion field, kinky couture, ISIL’s oilmen

By Quartz

One of the most audacious gambles in Silicon Valley today has nothing to do with technology.

Twitter’s appointment of co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO challenges some fundamental tenets of corporate governance. The troubled business is turning to Dorsey to reverse its fortunes, via deep cost cuts and a shift in strategy. Like his hero, Steve Jobs, Dorsey has the chance to rescue the company he helped create. Also like Jobs, he plans to do it while remaining CEO of the other company he created in the meantime: movie studio Pixar in Jobs’ case, payments firm Square in Dorsey’s.

Never one to give less than 200%, Dorsey will not only remain CEO of Square while trying to rescue Twitter; he will do it while Square launches its IPO—a grueling process in which investors clamor for as much time with executives as possible.

It’s a measure of Silicon Valley’s reality-distortion field that many people believe in Dorsey’s ability to pull off this improbable double-act. Everybody is eager to anoint the next Steve Jobs. And maybe that will be Dorsey. But outside the Valley, not many corporations would take such a gamble with management.

Moreover: Unlike Jobs, who was banished from Apple for more than a decade, Dorsey served as Twitter’s chairman in between stints as CEO. His success now would expose the ineffectiveness of corporate boards. What good is a board if a man can do nothing as its chairman but saves the company as CEO—part-time, to boot?

If Dorsey succeeds, then, it might prompt people to ask: What do all those other bosses, in the Valley and beyond, do all day? And why are directors and CEOs paid so much again? That really would be a world-changing breakthrough.—Jason Karaian

Five things on Quartz we especially liked

Meet Berlin’s couturier of kink. Jenni Avins walked into the Butcherei Lindinger expecting to find a conventional fetish store. Instead, she found a highly specialized fashion business with a sophisticated global clientele. She explores the intimate relationship between fashion, sex, power, identity, and the tragic, complex history of Berlin.

Europe’s refugee-only soccer teams. Soccer is one of the few cultural forces uniting the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East. Aamna Mohdin talks to the players of teams such as FC Lampedusa and Liberi Nantes, which offer their members—especially those who came over alone—a sense of achievement, and of family.

Is China’s government complicit in a massive savings scandal? Over 200,000 people lost their money in the collapse of Fanya Metal Exchange six months ago. Zheping Huang interviews some of them, and discovers that the government, which promoted investments in Fanya, is now indifferent to their plight.

The story of the world economy is about to be up-ended. For the last 30 years, global growth has been premised on a fast-growing China. Matt Phillips explains how the coming Chinese slowdown will affect everything from emerging-market currencies to, possibly, US borrowing costs, showing just how closely it’s all interconnected.

El Salvador’s profit-making, risk-taking morticians. The country now has the highest murder rate on earth, and its undertakers are making a killing—but also getting themselves killed. Jack Aldwinckle interviews the denizens of San Salvador’s Instituto de Medicina Legal, the city morgue.

Five things elsewhere that made us smarter

The oilmen of the Islamic State. The key to ISIL’s strength in Syria is a monopoly on local oil production that it runs with remarkable professionalism. Even the rebels fighting the Islamists have to buy their oil from them. If you don’t have a Financial Times subscription, do what it takes to get around the paywall for this revealing investigation of the source of ISIL’s economic clout.

Are emergency rooms sexist? Women have a higher burden of proof to meet than men when reporting pain, and the result can be life-threatening. In the Atlantic, Joe Fassler’s account of a terrifying trip to the emergency room with his wife details a criminally under-discussed phenomenon.

Who is Tom Wolfe? In Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis chronicles with unabashed fandom the man in the white suit, the inventor of New Journalism, the Southerner who one day started writing like a bat out of hell. Lewis finds Wolfe’s greatest attribute to be his power of observation, especially when turned on the dissonance of high society. Leonard Bernstein hosting the Black Panthers for cocktails, anyone?

Being Richard Nixon. Twitter won’t seem so shallow and simplistic a medium after you read this account in Vox by playwright Justin Sherin of how he created a Twitter account—@dick_nixon—and, through reading obsessively about Nixon’s past, learned to tweet as if the ex-president were alive today. The lesson: even in 140 characters, to be Nixon, you have to really know Nixon.

The inner lives of animals. Scientists usually caution against reading human-like emotions and feelings when we watch how animals behave. Tim Flannery, reviewing two books for the New York Review, proposes a counter-narrative: In their interactions both with each other and with us, animals’ emotional states are a lot more like ours than perhaps we’re even comfortable acknowledging.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, kinky couture designs, and Richard Nixon aphorisms to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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