Hi Quartz members!
It was a busy week for Elon Musk news—when isn’t it—but this week’s haul was especially bountiful.
Musk is battling a bill in California that would force social media companies to fork over lots of data about their content moderation policies. As Scott Nover reports, it comes down to a free speech issue, with the government arguably overreaching for details about the companies’ decision-making and enforcement.
In other Musk news, the US government has mounting evidence that he violated Twitter’s data privacy agreement.
And then there’s that Musk biography that dropped this week from best-selling author Walter Isaacson. More on that in a moment. Meanwhile, if you have any feedback for us about Sunday Reads, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
📖 Hardcore. The biographer who chronicled the lives of Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, and Jennifer Doudna spent two years shadowing Elon Musk. Walter Isaacson speaks with Quartz’s Heather Landy about his subject’s approach to business and whether we all should be as fearful of artificial intelligence as Musk is. They also unpack a thought-provoking question posed by Musk’s son Saxon, and how it connects to the Tesla Cybertruck.
🤰 Gates goalkeeping. The Gates Foundation’s annual Goalkeepers report dropped this week, assessing progress on global development goals. Maternal mortality rates were a focus this year, not only because of an alarming backslide in progress made over the previous decade, but because of the plethora of solutions now within reach. Catherine Arnst reports on the innovations and medical procedures that could easily reverse recent trends.
🇨🇳 Pushing on a string. Between cutting interest rates and lowering reserve requirements for banks, China is trying to lend its way out of a possible recession. Nate DiCamillo explains why it’s a risky strategy, and the one that Beijing is stuck with.
🏈 Glassdoor, but for football. In Quartz at Work, Anna Oakes writes about the team scorecards compiled by the NFL players’ union, measuring sentiment about working conditions around the league. There’s a lot to learn here about how simple improvements can help boost morale. Also, you might want to steer clear of Jacksonville’s locker room until the Jaguars call an exterminator.
📺 Speaking of sports. It’s getting increasingly expensive to be a sports fan. Diego Lasarte connects the financial dots to streaming platforms, and their cash grab for live-sports licensing agreements. The recent dust-up between Disney and Spectrum Cable was just the beginning, he warns.
👃 Sniff sniff. Durian has an infamous stink, but it’s the taste that prompted Chinese consumers to buy $4.2 billion worth of the spiky fruit in 2022, importing most of it from Southeast Asia. As the Wall Street Journal explains, Chinese farmers in the tropical province of Hainan are now seeking to create a homegrown industry, with the help of some outside expertise.
📖 “A must-read!” As readers, a review from our favorite author can convince us a book is worth our time. So we’re offered blurbs, the mini-reviews on a book’s exterior that entice us to read within. Presumably the reviewer reads the work and writes an honest reaction—but it turns out the blurb business is not as simple as it seems. Esquire delves into the anxiety-inducing process (and nepotism) to get that “unputdownable!” on the jacket.
🧽 Soak it in. Sea sponges present a head-scratching mystery: They possess the genes for a brain, but they lack the organ altogether. Kenneth S. Kosik, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Santa Barbara, writes for Nautilus about what sponges can reveal about the evolution of the brain.
💅 Just girly things. Girls are doing it all on the internet these days: eating “girl dinner,” going on “hot girl walks,” meeting up with the “girlipops.” But it’s often Gen Z and Millennial women, not actual girls, who are claiming these phrases and driving the trend. A story from the New York Times discusses the cultural moment and decodes the linguistic aspects of the word “girl” that make it an appealing label.
🎻 Gamerscore. Going against stereotype, gamers may represent classical music’s largest audience in contemporary times. Music professor J. Aaron Hardwick writes in The Conversation about how the symphonic scores for video games are making classical music more accessible, and delivering the experience of listening in a unique, meaningful way.
Here’s what our newsroom will be keeping an eye on:
- Monday: World leaders gather for the UN General Assembly in New York City; Manhattanites brace for bumper-to-bumper traffic
- Tuesday: Instacart is set to debut on the Nasdaq (we’ve got some questions but the latest economic data bodes well)
- Wednesday: Amazon hosts its “Devices & Services” event at its second headquarters in Virginia where it’ll release some new hardware
- Thursday: Microsoft holds a “special event” in New York, and is expected to drop some new hardware
- Friday: Nikola founder and felon Trevor Milton is scheduled for sentencing
Thanks for reading! Here’s to the week ahead, and don’t hesitate to reach out with comments, questions, feedback, climate disaster photos, and unique hotel site reviews. Sunday Reads was brought to you by Heather Landy, Julia Malleck, Susan Howson, and Morgan Haefner.