jimseven #23 - It's a mood thing

Writing this newsletter is an interesting moment to summarise the articles I've read, and how they've
jimseven #23 - It's a mood thing
By James Hoffmann • Issue #23 • View online
Writing this newsletter is an interesting moment to summarise the articles I’ve read, and how they’ve shaped my thinking, my mood or my week. 
In the past, I’ve covered topics that aren’t… fun. I don’t necessarily think the more difficult material is indicative of a lower mood (though some bits are difficult to remain chipper throughout. I’m trying something different this week, with a little rant in the middle of the newsletter. Let’s start where we always start: 

All Things Coffee
The main story that appeared everywhere in coffee was solid, 100% perfect proof that drinking coffee will let you live forever. That or the media blew a pretty inconclusive study way out of proportion, but I can’t image they’d ever do that….
I continued to make videos, which varied from the relatively serious to the slightly absurd.
- Q&A Volume #1 (In a future edition of this newsletter, I’d like to solicit questions from you, the reader, if you have them…)
- Product Review: Kruve Sifter (I feel like I’ve done a few videos like this recently, they may be put on hiatus for a while or at least reduced in frequency)
- 60 Second Review: The Puqpress. Something, short and quite silly.
Just two pieces this week, which means I’m probably not reading widely enough here right now.
- Somerdale to Skarbimierz. This is a very long, but undeniably excellent article from the London Review of Books about a Cadbury’s factory moving to Poland. (This article is what services like Instapaper were built for!)
 - Press The Button. This piece from Lucky Peach is about the growth in automated ordering in restaurants. In coffee we’ve often thought of the front of house as sacred, as inevitably human - regardless of whether a machine or a human is making coffee. That’s probably worth giving further thought to…
Given job creators’ distaste for organic employees, it’s easy to see how automation might play out in Quick-Service Restaurants
A short rant
In the Puqpress video I make a joke that, while robots are coming to take our jobs, they’ll at least start with the bits of our jobs that suck. The article above reminds us of the wider aspirations of those looking to weave technology into retail. Robots are going to take away a lot of jobs. There’s always been job destruction and, with it and because of it, job creation. However, we’re now contending with the distinct possibility of those scales becoming markedly unbalanced.
- My own private basic income is an excellent article that got me thinking about Universal Basic Income (UBI) again (I haven’t highlighted as many things in an article for ages!). I’ve mentioned UBI in the past in this newsletter. As an idea, I like a lot about it. I don’t believe we should spend our lives defined by our work. I think it will be a more seriously considered option in the near future, the idea of life just coming with a salary. 
More recently I’ve been concerned about the motives of those who champion it. Mostly this comes from Silicon Valley, and I think you can see the motives of those in how they talk about it. An income is not enough. If they’re not advocating free universal healthcare, if they’re not advocating for solutions to housing alongside it then you’d be fair in cynically thinking they just want UBI to act as a sedative, as jobs go away, as people are replaced by those who need no wage. UBI would do nothing to close income disparity, especially in a situation where things like healthcare and rent aren’t meaningfully regulated. What do you think UBI would do to rents in London? I doubt very much that it would be seen as anything other than an opportunity for the rentier or landlord to make more money.
It seems such an idealistic, egalitarian ideal. I can’t help but see it being proffered by those looking to pacify, to placate those whose opportunities may be further stripped away. Instead of being reassured by more focus on UBI in tech, I’m increasingly unsettled. 
Five Things to Read
- Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change - Read this, if you read anything this week.
- Made With ARKit. The launch of Apple’s ARKit is a much bigger deal than most people think it will be. I think AR is going to seem normal very quickly, to the point that we probably won’t notice how widespread it has become.
- The Rise of the Thought Leader. In the past, I’ve been uncomfortable being described this way when introduced to give a talk. Having read this, I’d now be mortified.
- Proof That Americans Are Lying About Their Sexual Desires. This isn’t to pick on America, we’re all lying. They just have better data for the US!
- The Steel Man Argument. If you enjoy debate, rather than just yelling at people who don’t think the same thing as you, then this piece is for you. Essential reading if you actually want to change minds, and are open to changing yours.
As always, thank you
Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing this newsletter, and thanks for emailing so many things (especially you Tony!)
Feedback is welcome, as are things I should probably be reading…. Have a great week!
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James Hoffmann
By James Hoffmann

Coffee, business, technology, food and that place where they all intersect.

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