🌎 Apple of discord

Plus: The power of the blank sheet of paper
🌎 Apple of discord

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

Elon Musk picked a fight with Apple. The spat was originally about ad spending, but Musk then raised the prospect of a bigger battle over Twitter’s availability on the Apple App Store.

BlockFi filed for bankruptcy. The crypto lender is the latest in a string of platforms in the digital assets market that have crumbled following FTX’s collapse.

The White House called on Congress to avert a rail strike. President Joe Biden, who once touted himself as pro-union, now wants to force rail workers and operators to accept a tentative contract negotiated in September.

A woman accused billionaire investor Leon Black of rape in a new lawsuit. Black, who left Apollo Global Management, the company he co-founded, over ties to Jeffrey Epstein, is now accused of assaulting the woman at Epstein’s home in 2002.

Literary agents showed support for HarperCollins workers’ strike. More than 150 agents vowed to suspend submissions to the publisher until it accepts its staff’s demands for better pay and working conditions.

Chinese universities sent students home. The move seeks to prevent mass demonstrations, as anti-government protests spread abroad (see more below).

The WHO recommended monkeypox be called “mpox.” The agency cited concerns over racism and stigmatization as reasons for renaming.


What to watch for

The US football team needs to beat Iran today to qualify for the knockout stage of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup. For Iran, a draw under the right circumstances (i.e. England soundly defeating Wales) would be enough, but whether the team proceeds in the tournament or not, their presence at the global sporting bonanza has already successfully raised international awareness of the anti-government protests that have rocked the country since September.

Captain Ehsan Hajsafi openly expressed support for protesters, and the team refused to meet the country’s president Ebrahim Raisi before the tournament, as well as abstained from singing the national anthem in their opening match against England.

The government’s crackdown on protests, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police detention, has resulted in the death of more than 380 people and the imprisonment of thousands more. Tehran reportedly released about 700 prisoners on Friday (Nov. 25) after Iran’s win against Wales.


If you ◻️, you ◻️

Elsewhere, protestors from Beijing to Shanghai are demonstrating against China’s covid restrictions by holding aloft sheets of blank, white paper.

The now-dubbed “White Paper Revolution’’ (白纸革命) was sparked by an apartment block fire in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, which killed 10 people on Nov. 24. The incident sparked protests in the region, and eventually spread nationwide following a vigil in Shanghai this weekend. The white square has now become a ubiquitous symbol of dissent across China.

In stark contrast to today’s protests, throughout the 20th century, words played a big role in Chinese political movements, typically in the form of a “big character poster” (大字报). But now, amid a highly censored environment both online and off, Chinese citizens have ditched words altogether, saying “nothing” to both play by the authorities’ rules while also reshaping that blankness into a tool of resistance.


The origin of “gaslighting”

Merriam-Webster has its word of the year, and it’s clear a lot of people are feeling manipulated.

The winner, “gaslighting,” has “emerged as a word for our time,” the US publishing agency said. A single event didn’t spark interest in the term, such as two of Merriam-Webster’s other contenders for word of the year: oligarch and omicron.

Rather, the proliferation of ‘“fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes” has sustained a curiosity for the term. Maybe even more curious is how the metaphorical interpretation of the word, which literally means to light street lamps, came to be. As Quartz reporter Ananya Bhattacharya explains, it’s quite theatrical.

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Surprising discoveries

The “quietest place on Earth’’ may not be as disquieting as you think. According to one account, it’s like a trip to the spa, only more pricey and less comfy.

We’re one step closer to making R2D2-style holograms. A new modulator device can manipulate light, but thankfully not in a Darth Vader way.

Band-Aids have gotten a hi-tech upgrade. Smart wireless bandages” monitor wounds and apply electrical stimulation to speed-up healing.

Coffee could make a splash in your next bath… A Japanese company makes single-use coffee sachets to brew up your soaking time.  

… And at last someone’s invented a splash-free urinal. The “Nauti-loo” takes inspiration from nautilus shells.


Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, espresso bath bombs, and hologram messages to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Ananya Bhattacharya, Susan Howson, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.