Good morning, Quartz readers!
Exhausted yet? As the year draws to a close and thoughts turn to holiday plans, there’s one place where the business is very much unfinished: Washington, DC. The past week has been one of the most uproarious of the 10-month-old Trump presidency. On the first day of December major issues like the future of the US tax system, Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, and North Korea’s nuclear threat were still hanging in the balance.
It’s hard to keep it all straight, much less figure out what’s worthy of serious attention. Should you focus on Congress’s tax reform vote? What about Donald Trump’s Twitter harassment of Muslims around the world, and mocking of heads of state from Teresa May to Kim Jong-un? Or Congressional indiscretions, and when #MeToo will start laying low the rest of government? What about former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s pleading guilty to lying to the FBI?
That’s not counting the rumors: Who the next target is in special counselor Robert Mueller’s probe. That US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will soon be replaced. That the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital next week. That North Korea has robust nuclear capabilities.
Such a flood of news begets a uniquely modern affliction: paralyzing information overload. Take a deep breath and a closer look, however. While it may seem chaos has been unleashed at the heart of the world’s most powerful government, many of the revelations are coming from campaigns of rectification: Mueller’s investigation to figure out what happened in 2016; the #MeToo movement to expose and bring justice to an epidemic of sexual harassment.
Trump’s first Christmas as president (which will almost certainly be spent at Mar-a-Lago and not the White House) will not be a peaceful one. But many people are trying hard to fix wrongs of the past, even in Washington, DC. So, this too shall pass.—Caitlin Hu and Heather Timmons
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
China isn’t taking over the world. Some see Chinese Communist Party chairman Xi Jinping’s many regional development initiatives as a blueprint for global domination—a modern-day Marshall Plan. But they’re really just perpetuating China’s imbalanced growth model writes Gwynn Guilford. By adding wasteful investments abroad to the balance sheet, Xi is compounding the already huge risk of a financial catastrophe or a long, painful period of readjustment.
We get the economic policies we deserve. In an era of deep mistrust of experts and elites, economists are struggling to educate a skeptical public largely ignorant of economic fundamentals, while articulating policies that will improve their lives. Eshe Nelson interviews Nobel laureate Jean Tirole on what is lost when populism replaces sound policy—and the perils of “Nobel syndrome.”
“Queen Bee” is a toxic term used mainly by women, against women. For true workplace equality, Lianna Brinded explains, women need to stop sabotaging one another. That means dispensing with customs that demonize those who make it—and distract women from questioning why there are so few senior positions available.
Awkward eye-contact can make you a better co-worker. Especially when such eye-contact takes place in your therapist’s waiting room, writes Leah Fessler. The context of being at therapy forces us to see those around us as multidimensional and imperfect, and to accept and respect them for their complexity. We could benefit from extending this mindset to our colleagues, whose personal lives and emotions we too often overlook.
Watch: A giant sphinx was unearthed in California. After nearly a century of being buried three hours north of Los Angeles, a dig uncovered it in November. Erik Olson documents the preservation of the last of 21 of them, which were part of legendary director Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical epic, The Ten Commandments. “It’s a significant find,” said Doug Jenzen, head of the excavation. “There’s nothing else like it anywhere in the world.”
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
Peter Thiel is Silicon Valley’s preeminent power broker. Stanford student journalist Andrew Granato looked at Thiel’s controversial past and how the billionaire backer of President Donald Trump has turned the libertarian campus newspaper he founded, the Stanford Review, into a power center for figures in Thiel’s image.
Why impeachment in America is all but off-limits. Potentially worse than electing an unfit president is the inability or unwillingness to remove them, writes Ezra Klein at Vox. In an essay examining the constitutional roots of impeachment, Klein argues the evolution of the modern US political system has made impeachment sacrosanct, perversely undermining one of the most important protections the US has against dangerous demagogues.
Battlefield tactics bring recruiting victories on the homefront. The mindset behind counterinsurgency moves designed to win over civilians in Afghanistan war zones are proving to be crucial to US Army recruiters who aim to win hearts and minds in New Jersey, where aggressive transparency yields new inductees, Adam Linehan reports in Task & Purpose.
Japan’s lonely deaths. “The way we die is a mirror of the way we live,” says an 83-year-old resident of a government apartment complex outside Tokyo that has become a haunting symbol of the isolation gripping the world’s most rapidly aging society. For the New York Times (paywall), Norimitsu Onishi records the searing loneliness of lives reaching their close in one quiet housing complex.
How to solve science’s replicability crisis. In recent years, an inability to reproduce some of the most widely accepted findings in the social sciences has thrown suspicion on the entire field. Largely, the blame has fallen on bad statistics. Nature asked five top statisticians how they would solve the problem. They all offered different solutions, but there was a clear theme: it’s not the data, it’s how scientists explain them and how readers, therefore, perceive them.
Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, buried Sphinxes, and bipartisan articles of impeachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day, or download our apps for iPhone and Android.