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The Hustle

Did you know speeding fines in Finland are calculated based on the offender’s income? One man knows this all too well after adding a $129.5k ticket to his rap sheet. You’d think his previous tickets, costing ~$68.2k and $102k, would’ve slowed him down.

In today’s email:

  • Stairs: Do we really need so many?
  • Note worthy: Taylor-made Swift merch is paying the rent.
  • Cumin sense: The bay leaf seller who acts like it’s from the Bay Area.
  • Around the Web: Planet-spotting, AI-generated adventures, the first country banger, and more.

👇 Listen: How AI may have been behind your steak seasoning all along.

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The Big Idea

Can fewer stairs improve housing?

Europe has sidewalk cafes, great public transit, and — according to some housing advocates — the correct number of staircases. Per Slate:

  • In Europe and parts of Asia, apartments often have one staircase, and perhaps elevators for accessibility.
  • Across North America, most multistory apartment buildings are required to have two — one at either end.

This is largely done for fire safety, yet data shows residential fire deaths are higher in the US than in countries where single-stair buildings are common.

Why do people hate on double stairs?

They result in “double-loaded corridor” buildings with units on opposite sides of a hallway.

They’re often aesthetically boring and big — if you’ve gotta build two staircases, you might as well get your money’s worth.

But advocates like architect Michael Eliason say that single-stair buildings:

  • Use space more efficiently
  • Provide units with more natural light and cross-ventilation, reducing energy costs
  • Are cheaper to build, and make it cost-effective to develop smaller buildings with larger, family-sized units
  • Have more interesting architecture

But would it be a game changer?

Architecture critic Kate Wagner has a more reserved take, doubting this single change would fix problems deeper than design.

Still, we may get a chance to see. Seattle already allows single staircases for buildings up to six floors, and a new California bill could open the door for buildings over three floors by 2026.

BTW: If you’re curious about what a single-stair design looks like, Eliason frequently posts them on Twitter.

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eyeball wearing a hat

That’s dedication: A TikToker known as titanticfan97 has collected nearly 1.6k copies of Titanic on VHS and doesn’t intend to stop until he’s got 1m. Luckily, fans are happy to send him copies they find in the wild.


Chill pill: The consumer price index rose 4% YoY in May, which, while still high, was the lowest level since March 2021, when dancing was still moderately cool on TikTok.

… but we’re still taking our licks: Grocery prices continue to rise nationwide, most critically illustrated by an 8% YoY increase in ice cream costs.

RIP, presentation-giving? AI startup Synthesia, whose software turns text into videos of realistic human avatars that can give presentations in 120+ languages, notched a $1B valuation.

More bills than Bill: Oracle founder Larry Ellison claimed fourth place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $129.8B, passing Bill Gates’ $129.1B.

The leftovers: Dinner’s saviors need one of their own, as Instant Pot and Pyrex parent Instant Brands filed for bankruptcy this week and Tupperware Brands faces potential delisting.

Toyota claims its next EVs, due in 2026, will have a range of ~621 miles thanks to new batteries and sonic tech. Most automakers’ EVs currently offer 350+ miles.

Habit stacking is a powerful practice that can help you solidify new habits. Here’s how to use it to change your behavior for the better.

Note worthy
Tour vesus Ebay merch

The entrepreneurs paying rent with Taylor Swift merch

In February, 27-year-old independent photographer Holly Turner left her apartment in New York City and embarked on a long-awaited vacation.

Despite not working a single day that month, she felt financially in tune as ever.

“If I wanted to get a coffee, I didn’t have to think twice about it — that’s the first time in my life that’s happened,” she told us.

Turner usually makes her living photographing live musical performances, shooting artists like Billy Joel and Kelly Clarkson.

But she made money during her vacation because of a separate hobby: selling personally designed Taylor Swift merchandise on her Etsy store.

“Honestly,” Turner said, “running this Etsy shop has been pretty life-changing financially.”

Read the full story →
Free Resource

Take your vacation: 50 out-of-office email templates

Whether you’re calling it sabbatical, sick days, or a spur-of-the-moment getaway, we’re helping you finesse the format.

Take 50 OOO email examples for setting expectations, staying professional, and leaving like a solid office friend. These options emit positive impressions for dozens of different dilly-dallying scenarios…

… and serious ones, too — business trips, fieldwork, and bereavement all included. But hopefully, you are reclaiming what it means to slack.

50 ways to go on vacation 🏖️ →
A Big Dill
McCormick spices

AI Was Behind Your Honey Hickory BBQ Rub All This Time

In 1889, Willoughby McCormick started bottling spices in his Baltimore basement.

In 2022, McCormick & Co. made $6.35B in sales. (Cue Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”)

A striking thing about McCormick…

… beside its signature red caps and vast portfolio of flavoring goodness — e.g., French’s, Frank’s RedHot, Cholula — is how it positions itself as a tech company.

At a conference last week, COO Brendan Foley went all Tim Cook on everyone:

  • Innovation: McCormick expects 6x more new product launches YoY in 2023.
  • Focus on design: Its updated packaging preserves freshness with a new “nitrogen flushing” procedure and tighter sealing “snap” cap.
  • Iteration: Sales of McCormick’s larger spice bottles have increased 20% YoY since the pandemic started.

Because no tech company is complete without its own head-scratching jargon, Foley also hailed the company’s “category management mindset.”

None of this should be surprising…

… if only because McCormick was early to the AI party.

McCormick and IBM built SAGE — an AI system trained on decades of flavor chemistry, sensory science, and consumer data — to generate new taste combos.

Here’s the rub: SAGE-assisted products have been in supermarkets since 2019.

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🪕 On this day: In 1923, “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” by moonshiner John William Carson, regarded as the first country music hit, was recorded.

🎧 Podcast: On this episode of “Shark Tank” rewatch pod Another Bite, a revamp on parting ways, endless Zoom calls, and clunky beach chairs.

🪐 How to: Check out Venus and Mars from your yard.

🧌 Cure boredom: Choose a scenario and a character, then enjoy an AI-generated text adventure.

🐸 Aww: And now, an incredible frog house and an unexpected guest.

Monday meme

Just hang in there, bud. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Stop stair-ing” Berkley.

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