Good morning, Quartz readers!
Hillary Clinton this week became the first woman ever to clinch the nomination of a major US political party in a presidential election. One the one hand, that this should be treated as unusual is slightly ridiculous; after all, to borrow a sentiment from Canada’s Justin Trudeau, it’s 2016. On the other hand, I, no doubt like many other American women, never felt fully confident I would see this in my lifetime. So when I watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination this week, I sobbed.
Beyond the symbolism, though, what would it mean to have a woman in the White House? What would she get done? The easy argument: Not much. Congressional Republicans have now spent eight years honing their talent at obstructing efforts of a Democrat-held White House. They could see fit to block any of her attempts to introduce reforms, including those that bring women more equal treatment in society and the workplace. But as a legislator, Clinton had a record of reaching across the aisle, especially to her female peers in the Senate, and frequently succeeded in finding bipartisan compromises. Who’s to say she couldn’t do the same from a perch at the White House?
The first time a major US party put a woman in any spot on the ticket was 1984, when Democrat Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro as his vice-presidential running mate. I was only nine, but watching the news and overhearing the grown-ups’ discussions, I could sense how transgressive it all seemed, as though the women’s movement in the US had somehow gotten ahead of itself. Even the American feminist Gloria Steinem was said to be shocked. As of this week, there finally is a woman at the very top of a major party ticket. And the shock is only that it took this long. —Heather Landy
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
Why every baby you know chews on the same giraffe. If you have children, or really, are anywhere near them, you’re probably acquainted with Sophie the Giraffe. Corinne Purtill tracks the success of the ubiquitous $24.99 rubber teether, which has become the go-to gift for the US upper middle class.
American Muslims lost a hero this week. “Ali made being Muslim cool. Ali made being a Muslim dignified… Ali put the question of whether a person can be a Muslim and American to rest.” Nushmia Khan attended the boxing legend’s funeral in Louisville, Kentucky this week, and spoke with American Muslims there about the example he set for the community.
Life lessons from the pitch. Europe’s football teams are popular expressions of national identity. At the same time, football matches are often a symbolic tableau of national inclusion. International affairs professor Tony Karon describes the potential of soccer to unify Europe around a vision of multiculturalism once again.
Is AI going to turn our kids into brats? Parents are concerned that Amazon Echo’s tolerance to peremptory demands from children is turning them into little devils. Alice Truong examines the perplexing question of how to teach your children social graces in an age of machine interaction.
The framers of a Martian constitution. Martian colonies may be years away, but they’re going to need laws, and those laws are already being drafted. As Michael Coren writes, researchers are offering Silicon Valley blueprints for good governance in space—from how space can benefit humanity to principles for a future Martian government.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
The woman fighting Nike’s hegemony in athletics. Sally Bergeson started her company, Oiselle, to make good-looking running apparel for women. She wound up becoming an Erin Brockovich for track and field, confronting Nike’s iron grip on athletes and brand endorsements. Elizabeth Weil describes the power dynamics at work for Outside.
Why the poor make bad decisions. Constantly worrying about how to make ends meet literally saps your intelligence. And the best way to help poor people climb out of poverty is simply to make them less poor to start with—in other words, with handouts. Rutger Bregman writes in Medium on recent studies that make the case for a politically unpopular policy.
A town that runs on Twitter. One of the world’s most active tweeters is Jun: not a person, but a town in southern Spain with a population of 35,000. Mark Scott of the New York Times describes how the residents use Twitter as a primary form of communication, from sending out the local school’s lunch menu to alerting police of suspicious behavior.
The new economics of cybercrime. Why go through all the bother of siphoning money out of credit cards and bank accounts when you can just hack into someone’s computer, lock it up, and demand a ransom to unlock it again? Josephine Wolff in the Atlantic explains the technological shifts fueling the rise of a new, lucrative, and terrifyingly easy form of extortion.
How Ciudad Juárez came back from the dead. In the Mexican border town that was once a byword for drug crime and murder, children now play in the streets again. Sam Quiñones, who has been visiting Juárez on and off for 20 years, explores in National Geographic how determined local businesspeople and officials pulled off a stunning transformation.
And a book that made us smarter too
In economics, as in life, it’s a man’s world. Adam Smith may be capitalism’s founding father, but he also lived at home with his mom. In her new book, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Swedish writer Katrina Marçal unpacks the economic value of what history would consider “women’s work”—mothering, cleaning, cooking—and makes a case for rethinking how we look at the global economy. Margaret Atwood calls it “smart, funny, and readable.”
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