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The Hustle

The Lunar Codex is a time capsule full of art, poetry, music, film, and books that’ll live on the moon. By the end of 2024, the codex expects to house works from 30k creatives spanning 157 nations, and we know what your next questions are: No, “Smooth” by Santana (ft. Rob Thomas) isn’t on it. And yes, its exclusion ruins the moon for us, too.

In today’s email:

  • Pic trick: A new tool hopes to stop malicious AI photo edits.
  • Rat race: Who’s winning NYC’s pricey war on rodents?
  • Digits: The world’s on fire and so is HVAC, feed your EV a footlong, and more newsy numbers.
  • Around the Web: Daily doodling, a weird way to flirt, a cooler in a cooler, and more.

👇 Listen: Many millions later, the success of NYC’s rat-mitigation investment is… still inconclusive.

podcast media player
Pixel Madness

How to make photos confusing to AI

AI image generators are fun to play with, but the problem with generative AI is, well, it’s generative. It absorbs information from the internet and spits out content influenced by that info.

If you’re an artist or photographer, you probably don’t appreciate AI “learning” from and copying your art without compensation. If you’re someone who appears in a photograph, you probably don’t want AI reimagining your likeness doing something weird.

To that end, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) developed a new tool called “PhotoGuard” to protect images from malicious editing, per Engadget.

How it works

The smallest unit of information in an image is called a pixel. PhotoGuard changes certain pixels in a way that’s imperceptible to humans, but that throws off AI.

There are two methods:

  • The Encoder attack makes it so AI can’t understand what it’s looking at.
  • The Diffusion attack makes AI see an image as something else, rendering all edits unrealistic and unusable.

Here’s a video demo.

It’s not foolproof…

… per MIT doctoral student and lead author Hadi Salman. But Salman suggested that the companies that make AI models could offer APIs to protect — or “immunize” — other people’s photos.

And that might not be a bad idea, considering the numerous lawsuits regarding models trained on the work of authors, musicians, and other creators without consent.

For example, Getty Images is suing Stability AI, alleging it copied 12m+ images without permission or pay. Yikes.

BTW: If you want to play around with PhotoGuard yourself, the code is on GitHub.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Whoa: Absolut Vodka will test selling its spirits in paper-based bottles in the UK this summer. The bottles, made from 57% paper and recyclable plastic, are 8x lighter than Absolut’s traditional glass containers and may mark a huge turning point in the long, vicious rivalry between paper and liquid.


NASA hasn’t even debuted its new streaming service yet, but it’s already our favorite: no subscription fees, no ads, live launch coverage, and 24/7 space goodies. The showcase of human ingenuity launches later this year — just, unfortunately, with a name that showcases the opposite: NASA+.

Cheat fresh: So many things are wrong about Subway’s viral contest — the one in which sandwiches are “free for life” for one winner who legally changes their name to “Subway” — but here’s one to snack on: The prize is actually $50k in gift cards meant to cover a lifetime. That’s one rosy view on inflation.

No toying around: Two weeks in, Barbie has already passed $750m in global box-office receipts. Plus, Barbie got a social media shoutout from Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Ex-Uber test driver Rafaela Vasquez was sentenced to three years of supervised probation for a fatal crash that killed a pedestrian in 2018. Her job was to monitor the self-driving car, but she was watching TV on her phone.

X marks the absolutely not: Neighbors of X’s San Francisco HQ  are now being blasted with a giant X-shaped strobe light. The building’s landlord is suing X (formerly Twitter) for not paying rent.

Meanwhile, X opened an ad revenue sharing program that allows eligible creators — i.e., Blue subscribers or verified organizations with 500+ followers and 15m+ impressions in the last three months — to claim a piece of a $5m payout.

That’s a lot of wind: The biggest wind turbine in the world is now spinning at an offshore wind farm near China’s Fujian province. It’s 500 feet tall, and each 403-foot blade weighs 54 tons.

Kid around: Apple acknowledged a bug in its Screen Time feature, meant to help parents limit usage on kids’ devices — except the limits aren’t always sticking.

Locker up: Parents doing back-to-school shopping say they’re twice as likely to seek secondhand school supplies this year than last, according to Morning Consult.

Bone appetit: Eating high-quality, whole foods is not just for the fitness influencers anymore. New subscription services are slinging human-grade pet food to lucky four-legged friends.

Rat pack
rat sightings NYC over time
Olivia Heller

NYC’s pricey rodent revolt may finally be working

You’re paying $3.5k per month for that one-bedroom New York City shoebox, but Pizza Rat is living inside Mayor Eric Adams’ head rent-free.

New York’s rat problem isn’t anything new, but progress on it sure is. And progress is appearing to be made.

  • Rat complaints to the city’s 311 hotline are down 20% YoY in recent months and 45% in the city’s focused mitigation zones like Harlem, where the mayor recently invested $3.5m into new rat-fighting ammo.

This all comes after:

  • The city paid McKinsey & Co. $1.6m for a study on, uh, “The Future of Trash” with street cleaning and rat deterrence being the key focuses (see page 78 for a rat wheeling a suitcase).
  • The recent appointment of rat czar Kathleen Corradi, who beat out ~900 applicants with her “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor, and general aura of badassery” — actual requirements for the job (and its $155k salary).

It’s too early to tell if we’re out of the woods

Rats have long been an issue. Way back in 1982 — yup, 1982 is “way back” — the UN estimated rats destroyed 42m+ tons of food worldwide, worth $30B. More recent estimates have pegged rats’ worldwide economic damage between 1930 and 2022 at $297.4B.

In New York, Mayor Giuliani once tossed $8m at the issue. Mayor Bloomberg created a “rodent academy” for public employees. Mayor de Blasio committed $32m in 2017, but covid snagged efforts.

And that’s just the money. Cases of leptospirosis in NYC have been on the rise, and studies have connected rat infestations to anxiety and depression.

All that’s to say, the rat race may be showing signs of weakness, but it ain’t over yet.

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Free Resource

10 classic marketing email templates

We didn’t reinvent the wheel right here.

We just curated a collection of useful samples for all the startups and small-biz specialists hustlin’ out there.

These timesaving templates are frameworks for events, testimonials, announcements, win-backs, and more.

Smart marketing emails →
By the Numbers

Digits: Coolheaded investors and more newsy numbers

1) Stock pickers must be glistening (sweating?) with excitement as they witness the HVAC Index climb up the charts, not unlike the temperatures outside. The index, which tracks HVAC manufacturers, is up ~20% since June, versus the S&P 500’s ~9%. This is not investment advice, nor do we want it to be, but it appears betting money on rising temps is a surefire strategy at the moment.

2) Could the ultimate meal combo be feeding yourself… and your electric car? With EV charging taking more time than filling up with gas, franchised restaurants with large geographic footprints are well-positioned to serve up a new item on their menus: battery juice. Subway, for instance, with 20k stores in the US, is planning to build Subway Oasis charging parks with car chargers, WiFi, picnic tables, and more.

3) The elderberry industry (which consists of nutritional supplements, flavoring, and coloring) is now worth $320m annually in the US. That’s according to the American Botanical Council — which, despite our hopes, is not a group of wise plants sitting around an old wooden table.

4) New York City is considering closing 20 acres of Van Cortlandt Park to house a temporary 34k-seat cricket stadium for six games of the 2024 T20 World Cup. The International Cricket Council estimates hosting the games would generate $163m for the city, including $129m for the Bronx, which seems a tad optimistic — and that isn’t how many locals feel. They are not thrilled by the idea.

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🔍 On this day: In 1975, labor leader James “Jimmy” Hoffa was reported missing after disappearing from a restaurant parking lot in Detroit. Despite numerous conspiracy theories, what really happened to him remains a mystery to this day.

✏️ Cure boredom: Daily Doodle offers daily drawing prompts. Doodle one yourself, then look at other submissions.

🎧 Podcast: On this episode of Another Bite, products that protect in all shapes and sizes — squirrels-be-gone, cooler in a cooler, and butterlike tape for athletes.

💕 That’s interesting: In 1920s Berlin, nightclub patrons flirted by sending messages through pneumatic tubes.

🐶 Aww: And now, three buddies just hanging out.

LinkedIn meme

Comfort’s only real enemy: people who don’t take naps in the middle of a workday. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Solve the rat problem by putting a giant chef’s hat over NYC” Berkley.

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