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Weekend edition—Terror in context, India’s floating doctors, loving sleep

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Good morning, Quartz readers.

Last month, Orlando; last week, Dallas; this week, Nice. Acts of mass murder by lone attackers make for compelling drama and are particularly terrifying in their unpredictability—any of us, anywhere, could be a victim. No wonder we pay attention.

It’s harder to get sucked in by the very different kind of drama unfolding in the South China Sea. Many of us will never go near there, and you can go cross-eyed trying to keep track of the squabbles by a fistful of nations over bits of rock and coral with names like Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal. Yet the slow maritime dance for control of the sea has long had the potential to blossom into a serious Asian conflict that might also suck in Western allies. And after a UN ruling this week roundly dismissed most of China’s territorial claims in the sea, the government may feel obliged to step up its aggression to save face with its indignant citizens, whom it has long been telling the sea is theirs.

This is not to belittle the attacks in Nice, Orlando or anywhere else; they are unspeakable tragedies, and more frightening because of their apparent randomness. But our horrified fascination with them—and our desire to always explain them as part of a larger narrative, about race or guns or the clash of civilizations—can distract us from what may be greater threats to geopolitical stability, and with even greater death tolls.—Gideon Lichfield

Five things on Quartz we especially liked

The case for Brexit. The economic design of the EU favored capital at the expense of labor, destroyed southern Europe’s economies, and could yet push the world into another Great Recession. Gwynn Guilford offers a hard-nosed economic history lesson on where the EU went wrong and how Britain’s departure might—just might—be the shock that fixes it.

The ultimate guide to Pokémon Go. It’s been a week of terrorism, coups, and geopolitical saber-rattling, but perhaps the biggest global phenomenon has been millions of people stumbling around staring at their phone screens trying to catch imaginary creatures. If you haven’t yet joined the craze, Nikhil Sonnad and Alice Truong’s primer will show you how.

A look inside the code that took America to the moon. The software for Apollo 11 was published online, and it’s like a time capsule of the 60s, replete with programmers’ jokes and political and pop-music references. Keith Collins unpacks a 50-year-old marvel of technical prowess.

The floating doctors of the Brahmaputra. Millions of people live on the saporis, or riverine islands, of one of the world’s largest rivers. The MV Akha, a ship that travels the river offering free medical checkups, is the only health care some of them get. For Quartz India, Devjyot Ghoshal spent some time aboard, and reports from one of the country’s most neglected regions.

Motherhood without children. Actress Jennifer Aniston caused a minor storm with an article defending her childlessness. Meredith Bennett-Smith agrees: Mothering takes many forms, and no woman should be made to feel less than complete because she chooses not to get married or to have kids of her own.

Five things elsewhere that made us smarter

Olympic athletes on life after the Games. The singular dedication that gets you to the highest level in sports also takes a toll long after the medals have been won or the races lost. Vox’s Eleanor Barkhorn interviewed eight former Olympians about their struggles to find purpose in life when the competition is over.

Technology has disrupted the truth. Social media and the internet have led to media innovation, democratization—and misinformation. To rescue truth, Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner argues, a civic-minded press must do a better job of balancing what readers want to read with what they need to read.

LED light bulbs are an existential problem for capitalism. The New Yorker’s J.B. MacKinnon explores the age-old tactic of planned obsolescence, starting with light bulbs that were designed to burn out. New bulbs could outlive the consumers who buy them—but there’s no business model for that.

The statistical reality of police racial bias in the US. The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery surveys studies showing that yes, even adjusting for other factors, black Americans suffer police violence more than white Americans. But a New York Times data analysis reveals an interesting twist: This is true for all forms of violence except shootings.

How to fall back in love with sleep. Eight hours of shuteye feels like a selfish luxury in contemporary times, but history shows that we were once better bedmates with sleep. As Rubin Naiman explains for Aeon, the best cure for our broken relationship with it is to stop treating it as an inconvenience and give it the attention (and time) it deserves.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, 1960s computer code, and spare LED bulbs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.qz_email_list_425047646_post_message

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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