Good morning, Quartz readers!
With the northern hemisphere hurtling toward the start of another summer, it’s a natural time to think about breaks—and why some of us seem unable to take one.
What does it say to the people around us when we forgo trips to the beach or slink off to the side at the backyard barbecue to check in with work? And what are we saying to ourselves? That we are doing this because we have to? Or maybe because we want to?
Either way, there’s a growing body evidence suggesting it isn’t just drive that’s keeping us chained to our work; there might be more humbling clinical factors involved. A recent study of more than 16,000 workers in Norway found a correlation between workaholism and a host of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression. And if we’re using work as a distraction from, or salve for, our other problems, our methods for doing so may be making things worse. In a study on students at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that the notifications and other interruptions pinging us from our smartphones make people less attentive and more hyperactive, mimicking the symptoms of ADHD.
It’s easy to blame technology for exacerbating the plight of the workaholic. Our gadgets and apps indeed make it easier for our bosses and colleagues to track us down, while making it harder to resist whatever temptation exists to tether ourselves to our work. But workaholism existed before the reign of the smartphone or the age of email, and it will likely outlive both.
In the meantime, technology’s intrusion on seemingly everything else in modern life offers a bit of cover to the workaholics among us. We may be the only people at the swimming pool this weekend negotiating deals or finishing projects, but we certainly won’t be the only people on our smartphones. —Heather Landy
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The future of software rests on one question. Keith Collins explains a question that coders and non-coders alike struggle to comprehend—let alone answer. The legal version, put before a US federal court presiding over a case between Google and Oracle, is especially thorny but it essentially boils down to this: Does code deserve the same copyright protections as a novel or a work of art? Maybe not, according to the jury’s finding this week in the case.
Cuba’s new revolution. As the Communist grip over Cuba’s economy loosens ever so slightly, a new class of consumers is forming, and they need their pets groomed. In an island nation still grappling with poverty, homegrown businesses have started peddling newly discovered luxuries from spinning classes to nail polish for dogs. Ana Campoy reports from Havana on the rise of the American Dream, Cuban-style.
The hardest words to spell in the English language. Psoriasis. Stromuhr. Scherenschnitte. Every year, the US Scripps National Spelling Bee throws English-language word nerds into a frenzy—and eventually crowns one or two particularly gifted teenagers the nation’s master spellers. What makes some words so tantalizingly hard to spell? Thu-Huong Ha looks back at the deciding words of spelling bees past.
A design solution to an obesity epidemic. America’s Nutrition Facts label is an important and underappreciated piece of graphic design—not to mention a legal requirement for many food products. But does the 20-year-old label, reintroduced by regulators this month with a handful of subtle typographic tweaks, help shoppers make healthy choices? Anne Quito quizzes its original designer on public health, the clarity of labels, and the eternal question: Why Helvetica?
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A television drama’s worth of intrigue at Viacom. Nonagenarian media mogul Sumner Redstone changed a few details in the trust that will one day control his Viacom-CBS empire, and launched an epic power struggle between the Redstone family and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. Steven Davidoff Solomon, writing in the New York Times, reveals a conflict between Viacom’s charter and bylaws that may tip the scales.
Global capitalism makes good soup. Pho, the beef-based noodle soup from northern Vietnam, has a surprising origin story. As Andrea Nguyen recounts for Lucky Peach, a meeting of beef-loving French occupiers, hungry Chinese merchants, and competitive Vietnamese street hawkers 100 years ago gave rise to the globally popular dish we know today.
Wired ❤ Thiel. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel was recently revealed to be funding former wrestler Hulk Hogan’s potentially ruinous defamation suit against Gawker. In a wickedly funny parody, Wired’s Brian Raftery highlights the near-Shakespearean heights of Thiel’slong vendetta against the gossip site.
There’s a black market for dissertations in Russia. More than 1,000 elite and respected Russians have recently been caught with plagiarism in their academic pasts, and the allegations run all the way up to the Putin administration. For Slate, Leon Neyfakh examines Russia’s boom in advanced degrees, its academic fraudsters, andthe vigilante group using digital analysis to hold them accountable.
America has given up on manifest destiny. Americans today are less likely to change jobs, move, and start new businesses than just a few decades ago. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson investigates this mysterious decline in moxie, and identifies a nationwide problemdriving US workers away from the very jobs and opportunities they once sought out.
Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, hard-to-spell words, and plagiarized dissertations to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.