Weekend edition—Brexit hangover, Airbnb racism, the Panama Canal fiasco

Good morning, Quartz readers!

There are good reasons to leave a marriage—constant conflict, deep differences, a deranged partner. There are also less good ones—conversation’s a bit dull, the sex isn’t great, or you have the same thing for breakfast every morning.

British voters just called it quits on their 43-year-long marriage with the EU. The 52% who voted “leave” may have believed they did so over deep-seated and long-held grievances with the status quo: They were on average older and poorer (paywall) than the population at large. Yet their poverty was long-entrenched, not necessarily connected with growing economic inequality or foreigners taking jobs, and the regions that voted to leave were those that most depend on trade with the EU. Dull, passionless, and repetitive it may have been, but theirs was a boring marriage, not a bad one.

The Brexit campaign made a simple but alluring appeal to them: “Take back control.” And it worked. But some Britons are already realizing the grass isn’t magically greener. More than 80 pro-Brexit parliamentarians urged pro-EU prime minister David Cameron to stay in his job for stability’s sake; he promptly resigned. The “leave” campaign suggested that divorce proceedings with the EU needn’t be too hasty, but Brussels isn’t in the mood for delays. As the pound tanks and stocks tremble, it’s getting harder for the Brexit camp to maintain the claim that warnings of an economic wipeout were anelaborate EU plot to bully British voters.

Even nationalist leader Nigel Farage admitted one of his side’s key campaign pledges—to redirect funds from the EU budget to the national health service—was “a mistake.” And though Boris Johnson, the face of the Brexit campaign and now frontrunner for prime minister, rebuked those such as Farage “who play politics with immigration,” the “leave” campaign played plenty of that politics itself, and Johnson may find it hard to put that genie back in the bottle.

Divorce can be thrilling, but in the cold light of the morning after, freedom isn’t always such fun. When you “take back control,” there’s nobody left to blame when things go wrong.—Jason Karaian


Racist hosts are the greatest threat to Airbnb. Its advertising campaigns frequently feature heart-warming stories of connection, but some users are complaining their race or gender has been used to discriminate against them. Alison Griswold describes how this, more than fights over regulation, data use or affordable housing, riskspoisoning the popular home-sharing platform from within.

Spinning a loss into an opportunity. Sree Sreenivasan, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first-ever chief digital officer, didn’t lick his wounds after he heard his job was being cut, writes Jenni Avins. Instead, he shared the news on social media, soliciting advice andproviding a master class in how to turning a public firing into a masterpiece of personal branding.

Why millennials all love the “side hustle.” Gigs worked in addition to day jobs aren’t just about the extra cash, argues Catherine Baab-Muguira. They provide a psychology benefit, helping younger workers avoid feeling stuck, dull and pigeonholed in their careers.

After Brexit, eyeing the next exit. “Grexit.” “Beljump.” “Retireland.” “Outaly.” Britain’s stunning vote has us mulling over what the next campaign to leave the EU might be called. Meanwhile, the vote leaves its mark on Cassie Werber, who describes the sense of lossfelt by a younger generation that voted overwhelming to remain. (And we wrote a lot, lot more on Brexit.)

Inequality in San Francisco isn’t just bad for California. Silicon Valley may be yielding unprecedented prosperity in the Bay Area, but studies suggest San Francisco’s overpriced housing could prove an precursor to widespread class warfare, argues real-estate broker Frederick Kuo.


Behind Brexit: Inequality in the UK. The vote to leave the EU was more than just about the financial crisis and increases in immigration, argues the Resolution Foundation’s Torsten Bell. Long-standinggeographic inequality had a strong hand in guiding people’s voting choices, and the country’s failure to address it should be a lesson for the future.

The Panama Canal fiasco. The New York Times investigates the$3.1 billion expansion of the world’s most important artificial waterway and finds dodgy construction quality, huge cost disputes, and an uncertain economic future. Featuring riveting drone footage, the piece drives home the wide-ranging consequences if the canal’s expansion fails.

Driving and texting isn’t the worst thing you could be doing.Federal data show that a surprising number of accidents in the US are caused by drivers talking to passengers, the Washington Post writes. While a campaign getting drivers to put down their phones is important, they also need to be taught to focus in general.

Peer behind the bars of a private US prison. Mother Jones’ Shane Bauer spent four months as a private prison guard toinvestigate the industry that holds 9% of America’s prisoners. In a five-part story, Bauer details his experience working alongside overworked guards and encounters prisoner neglect, lapses in security, and daily struggles for survival.

Secularism began with the first “how-to” books. The belief system isn’t new, and it didn’t develop as a rejection of religion, history professor William Eamon writes for Aeon. Rather, it grew out of a recognition that our experience and understanding of the material world are useful. Practical manuals that began appearing six centuries ago not only bolstered technical literacy but also helped establish more open and tolerant views.


The perfect post-Brexit beach read. Lionel Shriver has written novels on everything from mass murder to obesity, but her latest really nails the are-we-facing-imminent-economic-collapse zeitgeist. In The Mandibles, the year is 2029, the dollar is plummeting, and the US government is printing money and vowing to default on its debt. All this turmoils proves quite inconvenient for the Mandibles, a wealthy family whose anticipated inheritance just went up in smoke. The Independent calls it “distinctly chilling.”

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, Brexit beach reads, and medieval how-to books to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.



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