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5 stories from Quartz we really like
🤒 Scientists are getting closer to understanding long Covid.
🇨🇳 A Chinese property giant is a $300 billion time bomb for Beijing.
🔑 Financial firms are the new gatekeepers for the creator economy.
✊ Abortion rights are a workplace issue.
😮💨 Philip Morris wants to sell you inhalers for your asthma.
Why are electricity bills so high in the UK and Europe?
Prices for electricity in the UK and Europe reached record highs this week, with average household bills for the month of August expected to be at least 20% higher than normal. The spike was caused by a combination of rising carbon credit prices, low output from wind farms, transmission infrastructure outages, and skyrocketing prices for natural gas.
The risk of natural gas price volatility will grow the more Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world rely on the energy source as a bridge away from coal. Frans Timmermans, the EU Commission’s top climate official, says the way to break the cycle is to accelerate the build-out of renewables like solar and wind.
Meet the cloffice
The term may be new, but the “cloffice”—essentially a workstation that can be tucked away in a closet—has routinely been used to lampoon poor, low-rung employees doomed to work in a windowless storage room. (Remember Ryan’s demotion to the Dunder Mifflin janitor’s closet on The Office? Higgins’ super-tight supply closet arrangement in Ted Lasso? Milton’s humiliation in Office Space?)
But scroll through the range of enviable compact home offices today and there’s good reason to retire this comic trope. “The cloffice is here to stay!” Mélanie Berliet, SVP of Dotdash’s lifestyle site The Spruce, declared this week at the “Future of Home” conference. She predicts that the lockdown decorating trend—a nifty solution for remote workers living in tight quarters—will become a standard fixture as more organizations embrace hybrid work.
They’re reminiscent of classic space-saving home office solutions like the under-the-stairs work nook, the homemaker’s kitchen office, or even drop-front secretary desks. Save for their regretful portmanteau, the 2021 cloffice need not be droll or demoralizing. With planning, paint, organizing boxes, maybe a scrap of wallpaper, they can be clever solutions for remote employees who want to close the door on any reminders of work at the end of the day
Reading through the Booker shortlist
The finalists for the prestigious Booker Prize for English-language novels were announced on Tuesday, and readers everywhere updated their wishlists. The winner, to be announced on Nov. 3, will not only get a cash prize but a veritable guarantee that sales will go through the roof. (That is, if printers can keep up.)
The 2021 Booker shortlist titles:
📚 A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam
📚 The Promise by Damon Galgut
📚 No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
📚 The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed
📚 Bewilderment by Richard Powers
📚 Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Our latest How To email is all about optimizing your reading strategy so you can turn your own short list into a long list.
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We’re obsessed with social bonds
An investment in good? The staid bond is undergoing a social makeover as the financial sector becomes keener on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) label. Social bonds are a key way to hit the “S” in that acronym, with their proceeds funneled into everything from access to clean water to pandemic unemployment aid. But are the bonds’ claims legit or just savvy marketing? Get ready to invest in the Quartz Weekly Obsession.
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