Top Reads: August 2022

This month's top reads features historic climate legislation, the cost of homeownership, and accessible AI image generators.

Top Reads: August 2022

Did a friend forward this your way? I read a bunch of articles on tech and social impact trends and curate my favorites for you each month. If you're into it, please subscribe!

1. The Difference Between Busy and Non-Busy People

Becoming Minimalist | 8 minutes

Source: Becoming Minimalist
“Recognize the inherent value in the word no. Learning to say no to less important commitments opens your life to pursue the most important. Overcome your fear of saying no by reminding yourself, What my family, friends, and world need most is the best version of me that I can possibly be, accomplishing the most good with the one life I’ve been given.”

Wise words about choice, focus and rest. Not everyone has these luxuries, but everyone is striving for a fulfilling, happy life.

2. This group's wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt, and it's just getting started

NPR | 8 minutes

Source: Juan Diego Reyes for KHN and NPR
“RIP buys the debts just like any other collection company would — except instead of trying to profit, they send out notices to consumers saying that their debt has been cleared. To date, RIP has purchased $6.7 billion in unpaid debt and relieved 3.6 million people of debt. The group says retiring $100 in debt costs an average of $1.”

Medical debt can be crippling and regressive. It's great to see this initiative helping people live more financially stable lives.

3. Mapped: The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities

Visual Capitalist | 3 minutes

Source: Visual Capitalist
“As of the time of this data (Q1 2022), the national yearly fixed mortgage rate sat at 4% and median home price at $368,200. This put the salary needed to buy a home at almost $76,000⁠—the median national household income falls almost $9,000 below that.”

Buying a house is inaccessible for most Americans. The definition of the American Dream depends on where you live. And if you aren’t a homeowner, the rent is too damn high.

4. Inflation Reduction Act’s climate tech

CTVC | 9 minutes

Here's a nice pretty picture of a wind farm at dusk with the type of vibrant and colorful sunset that only the Pacific Northwest can produce. These turbines are as tall as a 30-story buildings--it's hard to believe how big they are until you get up close. I've driven through this farm many times but tonight I had to stop and take a few quick pictures with that amazing backdrop. Please enjoy this picture for your stock photo needs or simply if you're a fan of clean air and protecting the environment.
Photo by Dan Meyers / Unsplash
“The $370B surprise bill dropped a goodie bag of climate tech provisions across a mix of direct investment, tax credits, and research funding - putting the US back on track to ~80% of the way to meeting our Paris obligations.”

Regardless of its namesake, this legislation retains many of the climate measures proposed in the initial Build Back Better bill. With hundreds of billions in incentives, the federal government has set the nation back on track with Paris Agreement GHG reduction targets. In doing so, it has taken steps toward international competitiveness, energy resilience and equitable growth.

5. When Coal First Arrived, Americans Said ‘No Thanks’

Smithsonian Magazine | 8 minutes

Source: Illustration by Kotryna Zukauskaite
“One obstacle was technological: Burning coal required metal ovens, which were still expensive and rare. But a more complex barrier was cultural: Many people hated the aesthetics of stoves because they were enclosed, and you couldn’t see the flames within as you could in a traditional fireplace. In articles and speeches, prominent citizens protested, denouncing stoves as, essentially, un-American.”

History is cyclical. People shouldn’t get enamored with any single energy source, and instead focus on a balance between energy demand and the collective need to create a better world for posterity.

6. Starbucks to unveil its web3-based rewards program next month

TechCrunch | 5 minutes

Source: Starbucks
“Currently, customers earn Stars with purchases in the app or at Starbucks stores, which can then translate into tangible rewards — like free drinks. It appears that the new NFTs will now be incorporated into part of this loyalty program, somehow. If customers were to “earn” the collectibles through everyday purchases, perhaps, that could potentially onboard more people to the web3 ecosystem.”

This NFT project from Starbucks could complement their successful loyalty program. With NFT trade volume down significantly, this initiative could most certainly flop. Maybe Starbucks should get its head out of the metaverse and support employees instead of pushing them away from unions with ugly tactics.

7. The DeSci Guide: Is Decentralized Science the New Web 3.0 Trend?

Hacker Noon | 6 minutes

“DeSci is betting on DAOs – stand-alone, autonomous organizations that will solve individual research challenges. And the variety of tools that blockchain provides will help make science more independent.”

Decentralized science could help make scientific research more accessible. The cure for cancer or the next nutrition breakthrough may come from a group of independent scientists rather than a big corporation.

8. “An Engine for the Imagination”: The Rise of AI Image Generators

The Verge | 12 minutes

Prompt: “A community of a million humans, their imagination augmented by AI.” Image: The Verge / Midjourney
“This week, though, Midjourney is expanding access to its model, allowing anyone to create their own Discord server with their own AI image generator. “We’re going from a Midjourney universe to a Midjourney multiverse,” as Holz puts it. And he thinks the results will be incredible: an outpouring of AI-augmented creativity that’s still only the tip of the iceberg.”

Fascinating interview about Midjourney, a community built around AI image generation. This cutting edge technology is still expensive, but artists and hobbyists alike can explore its enormous potential thanks to this project.

9. Serena Williams Says Farewell to Tennis On Her Own Terms—And In Her Own Words

Vogue | 9 minutes

Source: Vogue
“I started investing nine years ago, and I really fell in love with early stage, whether it’s pre-seed funding, where you’re investing in just an idea, or seed, where the idea has already been turned into a product. I wrote one of the very first checks for MasterClass. It’s one of 16 unicorns—companies valued at more than $1 billion—that Serena Ventures has funded, along with Tonal, Impossible Foods, Noom, and Esusu, to name a few. This year we raised $111 million of outside financing, from banks, private individuals, and family offices. Seventy-​eight percent of our portfolio happens to be companies started by women and people of color, because that’s who we are.”

Serena Williams is a stellar athlete and thoughtful investor. As she says in this article, the venture world needs more people like her writing checks. I’m excited to see what her future has in store.

10. The architect who became the king of bank robberies

The Hustle | 10 minutes

Source: The Hustle
“Leslie began to gain recognition in criminal circles around the country and was soon enlisted as a bank robbery consultant, charging a fee of $20k (~$500k) to look over other outfits’ plans and make suggestions. In the meantime, he continued to charade as an upstanding member of society, socializing with well-respected members of the gentry class.”

Fascinating story about the most successful bank robber in US history. I’m surprised this tale isn’t streaming as a miniseries yet.


An AI model created this video based on text. The future is near!

Source: Twitter

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That's it for this month! Best of luck with everything you have coming up this Fall.


ODESZA. Forest Hills, Queens, NY. The tiny orange dot near the light post is Saturn.