Good morning, Quartz readers!
Voters—such fickle creatures. Just ask Theresa May. She campaigned against Brexit, then had to reinvent herself as a true believer in it when the British unexpectedly revolted against the EU and she was thrust into the prime ministership. Thinking she could solidify her majority, she held a snap election this week—but the public that had voted for Brexit turned on her and took away the Conservatives’ majority in Parliament.
Scotland, meanwhile, voted against independence from the UK in a referendum in 2014. The following year, in a general election, it gave the pro-independence Scottish National Party a landslide victory. Emboldened, the SNP campaigned for this week’s election on a promise to hold a second referendum. Result: It lost a third of its seats—most of which, adding insult to injury, went to May’s Conservatives.
Across the channel, meanwhile, consider Emmanuel Macron, who had never held elected office before winning the French presidency last month against established party grandees and the far-right’sRussian bot army. This Sunday, his brand new party looks set to sweep the first round of parliamentary elections, defying predictions that a centrist message wouldn’t resonate across hundreds of diverse local races.
It seems our desire for instant gratification has conquered politics. Voters are channel-hopping, snacking on ideologies and political styles, moving on as soon as they’re bored. In that light, Donald Trump is a political genius: His slippery, shifting positions on just about everything command attention and perfectly reflect the restless mood of the times. People are eager for something—anything—different, and damn any concerns about consistency.
There is something to admire in this increased ideological flexibility, given how quickly our world is changing and how stale many parties’ platforms have become. But gratification isn’t satisfaction, and entertaining politics isn’t good government.—Jason Karaian
FIVE THINGS ON QUARTZ WE ESPECIALLY LIKED
The cryptocurrency gold rush. The tech world is going mad for “initial coin offerings”—a sort of cross between a Kickstarter campaign and an IPO, which allows people to buy shares in a new technology as it’s being developed, bypassing venture capitalists. Joon Ian Wong reports on how ICOs could create a new business model for internet startups.
How corporations are wrecking America’s health—and what to do about it. Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs and Lown Institute president Vikas Saini dissect the impact of corporate prerogatives on the health of the American public. Access to healthcare is too expensive; the American lifestyle is unhealthy; and despair over the first two conditions is taking hold and stifling hope. But Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act, while deeply flawed, could be a chance to make changes that will help people and also unify the country.
The United States of Zuckerberg. The Facebook CEO has set a goal to visit 30 American states—all those he has never been to—by the end of 2017. Groundwork for a political campaign, or just getting to know Facebook’s users as people instead of data? ThisZuckerberg tour tracker by Annalisa Merelli and Christopher Groskopf will, as he travels, follow the demographics, economics, and issues of the places he visits.
The days and nights of Elon Musk. In a recent TED talk the Tesla and SpaceX founder casually revealed that he spends about 2-3% of his workweek on his latest venture, the Boring Company. Michael Coren went digging through transcripts and profiles to piece together how Musk divides up his day while still managing to get a respectable six or so hours of sleep a night.
How to explain anything to anyone, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Katherine Foley interviews the American astronomer, who offers excellent and timely advice on communicating science—and more broadly, about how to improve your communication in general. Check out his answer to the question: “What’s your favorite data set?”
FIVE THINGS ELSEWHERE THAT MADE US SMARTER
Brazil’s incredible corruption machine. Construction giant Odebrecht’s “Structured Operations Division” had hundreds of millions of dollars in budget and hundreds of politicians up and down Latin America in its pocket. Michael Smith, Sabrina Valle, and Blake Schmidt in Businessweek tell the tale of what may have been the world’s biggest corporate bribery operation, and how a rat in a barbecue grill brought it all crashing down.
Is the US headed for divorce? Americans are increasingly dividing themselves into “culturally and ideologically homogeneous enclaves,”David French writes in the National Review—living in separate locations, consuming separate media, and believing in different ideologies. One of the few things “red” and “blue” tribes have in common is how much they dislike and distrust the other team. To preserve the union, he suggests, Americans need to embrace tolerance, a virtue that’s out of favor today.
How spiders think with their webs. Two biologists have put forth the controversial idea that spiders may outsource cognitive tasks to their webs, much as objects from grocery lists to iPhones have been theorized as extensions of the human mind. Writing in Quanta Magazine, Joshua Sokol explores the meaning of cognition and the interplay between the brain, the body, and the greater mind in humans and animals alike.
The Korean megachurches’ succession problem. As South Korea industralized and urbanized in the 1970s and 1980s, Protestant megachurches sprang up. In time, several used their members’ tithes to add hospitals, schools, and media outlets to their real-estate fortunes, much like the country’s chaebol conglomerates. But as their aging founders now tap their offspring as successors,Ben Jackson writes in Korea Exposé, many followers are fearing for the survival of their religion.
Road-trippin’ with Frank Lloyd Wright. Cross-country road trips are the stuff of American legend. When helmed by an actual American legend, they’re the stuff of dreams. For over 20 years Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most revered architect, led a bi-annual road trip through the southwest. He traveled like he created—with radical style, a passion for the landscape, and a DIY attitude. Patrick Sisson weaves together accounts from Wright’s apprentices of life on the road for Curbed’s week-long celebration of his 150th birthday.
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