Sunday Reads: Risky water, Disney’s cricket disaster, Gen Z’s social skills

·6-min read

Hi Quartz members,

Welcome back to Sunday Reads. Last week, last week, we warmed you up with an easy question: What breakfast items do you enjoy best with Sunday Reads? Ken gave a shoutout to Kodiak pancakes with eggs, kefir, and blueberries. Tee made a pitch for gluten-free coconut cookies from Trader Joe’s. Walt didn’t list any items but thanked us for the good read. (Thank you, Walt!)

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This week, our question is more personal (for us, at least): What’s your favorite topic to read about on Quartz? Let us know.

5 things we especially liked on Quartz

🌊 Water views available. The physical risk of water is increasingly a financial one, especially in the age of climate change. John Engen reports on Wall Street’s rising concern over floods, droughts, and pollution, and the wellspring of new frameworks and filters meant to help them measure their portfolios’ exposure.

📘 ​​Throwing the book at Sam Bankman-Fried. Nate DiCamillo interviews Brady Dale, author of SBF: How the FTX Bankruptcy Unwound Crypto’s Very Bad Good Guy. Dale shares his thoughts on how the crypto exchange founder captured the attention of mainstream media and why FTX’s implosion ultimately shouldn’t have been a surprise.

💊 Why Italian exports to China are suddenly surging. The dramatic 62% year-on-year increase to a new monthly record can be entirely explained by one product: a generic drug that treats gallstones and liver issues. Annalisa Merelli examines the data—and the small study from December that suggested ursodeoxycholic acid also might help protect against covid infections.

👀 Can Gen Z learn to make eye contact? It’s not just in-person conversation skills that the Zoomers are lacking. Gabriela Riccardi talks to communications expert Dustin York about the nonverbal cues that the newest generation of workers are missing. The tips she got from him, however, are useful regardless of your age or experience level.

🏏Hot mess. That drop in Disney+ subscribers last quarter? Much of it was attributable to India, where the Disney+ Hotstar service lost the rights to stream the Indian Premier League cricket championship. Mimansa Verma sorts through the sticky wicket in the House of Mouse’s latest earnings report.

Reads for your ears

Illustration:  Vicky Leta
Illustration: Vicky Leta

Last week, the Quartz Obsession podcast asked key questions about two tech hot topics. Will the West ever succeed in its quest to make a superapp like WeChat? And will AI ever stop making things up?

Join host Scott Nover with guests from our newsroom, as they discuss the tech that promises to change our world.

📱 “Superapps: There can be only one” featuring tech and breaking news reporter Ananya Bhattacharya

😵‍💫 “AI hallucinations: Turn on, tune in, beep boop” featuring emerging tech reporter Michelle Cheng

✅ Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher | YouTube 

5 great stories from elsewhere

🥤 Canned secrets. Coca-Cola famously guards its flagship recipe, but there’s another secret formula the company keeps under wraps. Bloomberg tells the tale of Shannon You, a chemist laid off from Coca-Cola, who, in her final days at the company tried to pilfer critical information about the fabrication of Coke’s can lining. You then flew back to Beijing, aiming to start her own venture—until the law caught up with her.

🕊️ Wing watcher. Peter Kaestner wants to be the first person in the world to see 10,000 different species of birds. If you look at his record on eBird, a birding observation database, he tops the rankings with 9,796 successful sightings. But setting his eyes on the final couple hundred will be no easy task. Reporting for Outside, ornithologist Jessie Williamson travels to remote corners of Peru to join the former foreign service officer on his winged quest.

🤑 Home McHome. The McMansion: Many love to hate it, and many would love to have it. Kate Wagner, author of the blog McMansion Hell, is an expert on the grandiose, all-American symbol. Writing for The Baffler, Wagner gives an architectural and anthropological look at the supersized home, marking the 2008 financial crisis as a key point in its history. The question now is: Who’s living in these sprawling abodes, and what needs to change?

🎵Pollution tunes. Big Oil and agriculture are usually singled out when talking about climate change, and for good reason. But not many would seriously examine the music business. In fact, mass musical consumption has never been more damaging to the planet. A story from Atmos looks at the evolution of music listening, starting with the invention of recordings, up to the present era of streaming, and the current push for greener practices within the industry.

⏰Time twist. A popular trope in time travel movies involves the protagonist going back in time, changing something, and then jumping to the present, where lo! Everything is different! But that doesn’t actually make causal sense, says philosophy professor Ben Burgis. On his Substack, Burgis revisits popular films that use time travel as a plot device, and also manage to hold together consistent models of causation (spoiler: the list is pretty short).

Surprising discoveries

Each weekday in our Daily Brief newsletter, we share five surprising discoveries, taken from all over. In case you missed them, we’re showcasing our top five favorites from the week. Check out this week’s picks (which include King Charles’s thrifted duds, investors distracted by the sun, and koalas being saved from chlamydia).

What to watch for this week

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

  • Monday: The EU is expected to clear Microsoft’s $69 billion of Activision Blizzard. Protests are also likely in Israel on the 75th anniversary of Al-Nakba, which displaced most Palestinians in 1948

  • Tuesday: We’ll hear from arguably two of the most influential CEOs at the moment, Elon Musk and Jamie Dimon, at Tesla and JPMorgan’s annual shareholder meetings, respectively

  • Wednesday: It’s a day of earnings alliteration with Tencent, TJX, Target, and Take Two all tallying their totals

  • Thursday: The largest bitcoin conference, Bitcoin 2023, starts in Miami, and we’ve got a lot of lingering questions about MiamiCoin; then two of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart and Alibaba, will report earnings

  • Friday: Fast X premieres, the 10th movie in the Fast & Furious franchise, and yes, Vin Diesel is starring (maybe that’s why the Miami Vice reboot never happened). It’s also the premiere of the G7 summit, which is in its 49th iteration, this time in Hiroshima

  • Saturday: World Bee Day is a-buzzin, so thank a bee for, you know, giving us an ecosystem

Thanks for reading! Here’s to the week ahead, and don’t hesitate to reach out with comments, questions, feedback, good bad guys, or eye contact tips. Sunday Reads was brought to you by Susan Howson, Morgan Haefner, Heather Landy, and Julia Malleck.

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