Morning Brew - ☕ Fear and loathing

British Columbia embarks on a controversial experiment...

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Green comet streaking through the sky

The fabled green comet. Dan Bartlett/AFP/NASA/Getty Images



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The wackiest headlines from the week as they would appear in a Classifieds section...


DELI SLICERS WANTED: As part of its turnaround plan, Subway wants to start slicing its meat in front of customers to give them a “better perception of seeing the nice, fluffy meat,” according to CEO John Chidsey. Those machines are oddly satisfying…

CHELSEA SEEKING HR SPECIALIST: Chelsea FC could use onboarding support after spending a breathtaking amount on new players in January. Under new American ownership, the Premier League club forked over $370+ million for talent last month—that’s more than every team in the top Spanish, German, French, and Italian leagues spent combined.

Real estate

EX-PRESIDENT LOOKING FOR FLORIDA SUBLET: Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro, who’s already been chilling in Florida since late December, applied for a visa to stay six months longer. He’s not exactly rushing back to Brazil, where he’s facing multiple investigations.

BRITISH MONARCH SEEKS NEW BANK-NOTE HOME: Australia has decided to replace an illustration of Queen Elizabeth on its A$5 bank note with an indigenous design.


ISO COMPANION TO PARAMOUNT+ WITH SHOWTIME AND CHILL: Yes, it’s a mouthful, but that’s not our fault. Paramount Global said this week it’s folding Showtime into Paramount+ and rebranding it to “Paramount+ With Showtime.”

CHESS APP DESPERATELY SEEKING SERVERS: So many people are playing chess on, its computers can’t keep up. The app recently notched 10 million active users and is currently the No. 2 free gaming app on the App Store.—NF

Apollo Global Management



Photo of the week

Sky art from the last 747 Flightradar24

There are two ways to announce your retirement: 1) post a video on Instagram or 2) create an epic piece of sky art.

The Boeing 747 chose the latter. The final 747 that will ever be delivered departed Everett, WA, for Cincinnati on Wednesday, but took a two-and-a-half hour detour over eastern Washington to craft one final goodbye message.

The image of the crown is an homage to the 747’s nickname: “the queen of the skies.”




Dept. of Progress

Hey Arnold saying Hey Arnold!/Paramount Global

Here are some illuminating scientific discoveries from the week to help you live better and maybe even channel your inner Mulder and Scully.

Your friends are good for you. Since the days of Freud, we’ve known that talking helps you feel better, but new research shows that even a single conversation with a friend per day is enough to boost your happiness and lower stress. While the conversation needs to be “quality” to improve your day, that can mean anything from deep discussions to just catching up or joking around. And if you need some motivation to leave the house: The study determined in-person interactions were better for well-being than yakking it up in the TikTok comments.

🫦 Virtual temptation might help your IRL relationship. Here’s a use case for the metaverse even Zuck probably hasn’t thought of yet: A research team in Israel found that flirting with a seductive VR character can help fend off infidelity. The team conducted experiments where participants strapped on a VR headset, entered a virtual bar, and chatted up the (simulated) bartender. The researchers observed that a little bit of virtual temptation works like an anti-cheating vaccine, inoculating you against IRL threats to your relationship.

The truth is out there, and AI is looking for it. An international group of scientists has begun to use AI to hunt for aliens—and not by asking ChatGPT “Tell me where aliens are located in the style of Pulp Fiction.” Instead, they’re using machine-learning algorithms to sift through huge quantities of data to detect alien transmitters on distant planets. So far, the tech has helped researchers home in on eight signals with possible extraterrestrial origins (though they disappeared when scientists tried to find them again—those little green creatures are wily).—AR




No more fear and loathing in British Columbia

Canadian flags on a building Bloomberg Creative Photos/Getty Images

In an attempt to stem its opioid crisis, British Columbia is testing something that may at first seem counterintuitive: decriminalizing those drugs. The Canadian province started a three-year hard drug decriminalization trial run on Tuesday.

While it will still be unlawful to sell and traffic these drugs, as well as to bring them into airports and schools, possessing small quantities (less than 2.5 grams, or one-tenth of an ounce) for personal use won’t be penalized.

  • Adults carrying that amount of opioids like heroin and fentanyl, as well as cocaine, meth, or ecstasy, will no longer run afoul of the law.
  • Police will not seize the drugs, and users will be informed about resources for substance abuse recovery.

But as they went into effect this week, the new rules stirred up questions about whether they’ll actually work.

Good intentions, but mixed responses

The law aims to move toward treating drug abuse as a public health issue rather than one that requires handcuffs. BC’s government hopes that the new approach “will help reduce the barriers and stigma that prevent people from accessing life-saving supports and services.”

Many activists welcome the reform, arguing that it’ll relocate drug use to safer spaces and make it easier for users to seek recovery care. Groups like the international HIV advocacy organization UNAIDs have long advocated for decriminalization as a way to reduce the spreading of the disease via needle sharing.

But many drug users and recovery advocates see the BC law as a “half measure”: Various stakeholders (including the provincial government itself) believe the 2.5-gram threshold is too low to accommodate heavy drug users and those who buy in bulk. Experts also point to a lack of access to safe drugs and a shortage of spaces in treatment programs, with many provincial officials acknowledging that more needs to be done.

So, how has decriminalization fared before?

British Columbia isn’t the only place to try “decrim,” as the approach is known. Portugal, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic have all adopted some form of it. It’s even being tried in the US: In 2021, Oregon became the first (and so far the only) state to decriminalize all drugs after the policy passed as a ballot measure.

Portugal is the standard-bearer for decrim success: Instituted in 2001 amid a devastating heroin epidemic, the country has seen drug-related deaths plummet. Though fatal overdoses have since risen, drug death rates remain below the EU average.

Oregon, meanwhile, has posted mixed results, and the measure remains controversial. Despite its expansion of resources for those with substance abuse disorders, the state experienced a faster-than-nationwide-average rise in overdose deaths for the year 2021, and some observers point to low uptake of treatment programs.

Zoom out: Other Canadian provinces and governments abroad have their notepads out, preparing to watch BC’s experiment closely. But even decrim proponents acknowledge that the strategy can’t work on its own and must be paired with shifting resources toward healthcare and fighting addiction.—SK




Sunday to-do list

The Brew’s resident tastemaker, Jamie, compiles her favorite recs to help you live your best life.

Meal prep: If you’ve never made bread (or are feeling lazy), this focaccia is a great place to start.

Workout: Downloadable CrossFit workouts you can attempt (key word: attempt).

Book club: The Expanse series and its recent TV adaptation are hailed by astrophysicists as being more realistic than their sci-fi peers.

Streaming binge: Physical: 100 is “Squid Game meets Gladiator.”

Playlist: If you like a certain DJ, try listening to the songs they like with these DJ-curated playlists. And if you’re out on electronic music, Bedroom Pop is all-time.

Productivity tip: Decide what your top three priorities are; you’re only going to be “very fit,” for instance, if fitness is one of them. (h/t Hank Green)

Life hack: If your apartment feels dim and cramped, try strategically placing some mirrors.

Tech tip: How to use ChatGPT, the AI writing tool, and seven “goals” to refine its output.

Love at first bite: New ButcherBox members can get 3lbs of organic chicken wings for FREE in every box for the life of their subscription. Now that’s a good first impression. Sign up here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.




Place to be: 10 miles west of Boston

a screenshot of The Last of Us depicting a setting 10 miles west of Boston The Last of Us/HBO

It’s a big world out there. In this section, we’ll teleport you to an interesting location—and hopefully give you travel ideas in the process.

In last Sunday’s episode of The Last of Us, the HBO drama got Massholes even more riled up than usual by claiming this mountainous landscape was located 10 miles west of Boston. New Englanders called BS by pointing out: a) that is not what eastern Massachusetts looks like and b) the only thing wild about the place is the logos on quarter-zips.

Plus, the show was primarily filmed in rugged Alberta, Canada, which seems much more likely to be the setting for the shot.

So what actually is 10 miles from Boston? Well, it’s Massachusetts, so a cluster of college campuses, including Boston College, Wellesley, Brandeis, Bentley, and Babson. That area is also home to the very lovely and very Massachusetts-sounding suburbs of Waltham, Watertown, and Newton.

Sound like a nice place to live? Sure is, but it’ll cost you: The median sale price for a home in Newton was $1.2 million in December, according to Redfin.—NF




Crowd work

Last Sunday, we asked readers how the IRS should recruit new talent as it faces a wave of retirements. Our favorite responses:

  • “With the promise of their very own Cayman Islands tax haven instead of the usual 401(k) employees get.”—AK from Chicago, IL
  • “Ask MrBeast to make a video titled ‘I gave FREE jobs to my most gracious and mathematically gifted followers’ and have them compete for jobs.”—Pranaad K. from Laredo, Texas
  • “New employees can go on raids of celebrity homes to collect items to auction for back taxes.”—Wendy from Knoxville, TN
  • “Come work for us and get a 10% employee discount on your income tax!”—Doug from British Columbia

This week’s question

With Netflix preparing to crack down on password sharing, we’re going to hold a contest: Who thinks they have the most distant connection to the holder of the Netflix account they use?

If you have an extremely distant connection to the account holder, share it here.




Enroll in Biz 101

Enroll in Biz

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Getting into investing can be intimidating, but Money with Katie is here to help. Her free Investing 101 series has everything you need to get started.

IT Brew has the scoop on the biggest trends in cybersecurity, from AI to “zero trust.” Check it out.




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Written by Neal Freyman, Abigail Rubenstein, Sam Klebanov, and Jamie Wilde

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