Sunday Reads: Anti-regulation AI founders, Brangelina’s grip

Plus: The world’s most confusing office jargon
Sunday Reads: Anti-regulation AI founders, Brangelina’s grip
Image: Vicky Leta / Shutterstock

Hi Quartz members!

No country has a monopoly on workplace jargon, but certain phrases are more confusing in some places than in others. If you want to know “where blue-sky thinkers overcome flagpole-runners, or where needle-movers beat out ocean-boilers,” as Quartz’s Gabriela Riccardi puts it, read on. And let us know the business expressions you find to be the most vexing.

5 things we especially liked on Quartz

🚫 Ready or not. The Sam Altmans and Sundar Pichais of the world claim they’re ready to embrace regulation of artificial intelligence, but some AI entrepreneurs aren’t even pretending to be open to it. Michelle Cheng talks to the AI startup CEOs who say it’s way too early for broad restrictions on an industry still in its infancy.

⏸️ ESG reset. If the controversies over impact investing have given the markets pause, well what’s wrong with that? The Aspen Institute’s Judy Samuelson argues in Quartz that ESG could use a breather to sort out its marketing and regulation issues—because ESG can only do the important job it’s meant to do if it is, itself, sustainable.

💷 The case for yet another UBI trial. Is giving away money an effective economic policy? In the US, more than 100 pilot programs since 2017 have aimed to find out. As a new trial gets underway in the UK, Tim Fernholz looks at what we’ve learned so far about universal basic income and talks to UBI advocates about why local data is vital to the cause.

🗣️ The world’s most confusing office jargon. Headwinds. Tailwinds. EOD. Herding cats. Gabriela Riccardi rounds up the idioms and corporate bureaucratese stumping workers around the globe. See which countries are most perplexed by which abbreviations and phrases.

🏳️‍🌈 Taste the rainbow. Anti-LGBTQ activists seem to have been successful in overthrowing Bud Light as the king of American beers, after the Anheuser-Busch brand involved a transgender influencer in a marketing campaign. Annalisa Merelli was curious: Do the Bud Light boycotters realize the company behind Modelo Especiale, which they possibly helped to become the top-selling beer in the US last month, is an even bigger supporter of LGBTQ representation?

5 great stories from elsewhere

⚖️ The slavery precedent next door. Law professor Justin Simard had a hunch that American lawyers on either side of the Mason-Dixon line are still citing cases based on long-ago court decisions involving slavery in one way or another. So he did some research. By his sampling, almost 20% of all US legal cases are at most two degrees from a slavery case. NPR profiles Simard’s Citing Slavery Project, which aims to notate all such cases in hopes that lawyers will actively consider how they’re being used.

🍷 Rosé’s thorns. Superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s relationship ended the same way it started—amidst high drama and explosive media coverage. But it was the in-between times, when the couple bought a French chateau and vineyard, where the story really played out. Vanity Fair’s Mark Seal sends readers searching for the moment when they first realized their fascination with celebrity gossip has turned them into unhappy witnesses to the pain and abuse of a troubled family.

🥯 Internet outage. It started out as wholesome fun: A New York City resident with a big online following posted a bagel sandwich with a joke about how he’d never reveal where it was from. Another person with an even bigger following sussed out the source and convinced the shop to name the sandwich after him. Both men laughed about it to each other. GQ illustrates the pitfalls of going viral, even for a good gag, as the subsequent and totally pointless harassment of the former (who is Black) by fans of the latter (who is white) who either didn’t—or wouldn’t—get the joke.

🤫 The everything place. As The Walrus points out, public libraries used to have one specialty—books. When technological advancements threatened to jeopardize the usefulness of a place that lent out hard copies, institutions began to pivot. Now, in addition to offering packed schedules of programming and classes, they’ve become the “last public space” without the training or funding to keep up with a population struggling with homelessness, mental health, childcare, and access to social services.

🍙 The other everything place. Japan’s famously comprehensive convenience stores reflect a lot about Japanese culture, like the necessity of a clean pair of underwear and a fresh snack at 3am for an overworked employee. Their near ubiquitousness in the country is thanks to a big-box workaround to zoning laws originally intended to protect small business owners. While the sheer variety of items on offer, both packaged and fresh, may delight tourists and locals alike, the amount of still-edible food wasted to keep the selection interesting is information that may not go down easy, according to One from Nippon.

What to watch for this week

These are some of the events our newsroom will be paying attention to in the week ahead.

  • Tuesday: The latest data on new homes being built in the US will be released. FedEx, a bellwether for the global economy, is scheduled to report earnings.
  • Wednesday: Nikola founder Trevor Milton will face sentencing on his fraud convictions. It’s also the Summer Solstice.
  • Thursday: The NBA draft kicks off. More data on US homes will be out, this time about sales.
  • Friday: Tune into the World’s Ugliest Dog contest
  • Saturday: Sierra Leone has a general election…
  • Sunday: …and Guatemalans will go to polls in their general election

Thanks for reading! Here’s to the week ahead, and don’t hesitate to reach out with comments, questions, feedback, LGBTQ-friendly beers, and good bagel sandwiches. Sunday Reads was brought to you by Heather Landy, Susan Howson, and Morgan Haefner.