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The Hustle

A Japanese ice cream company’s new flavor gained the honor (?) of being the world’s most expensive at $6.7k per serving. Ingredients include rare white truffles, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and sake lees — but it doesn’t come with a waffle cone, so what are we even doing here?

In today’s email:

  • To the limit: The debt ceiling has the US one week away from possible disaster
  • The persistence of forgery: Oh-so-many Salvador Dalí fakes
  • Such revolutionaries: Boston leads the way on AI in government
  • Around the Web: Epic birding, a zombie survival game, an online exhibit of Buddhist shrines, and more
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Till debt do us part
capitol building DC

We’ve gotta talk debt ceiling — and you’re already asleep

We get it — most of the population sees “debt ceiling” and their eyes roll back so hard, it’s a wonder their peepers don’t shoot out the back of their skulls.

But with America one week out from a critical deadline, it’s time for everyone’s collective heads to get in the game.

The debt ceiling…

… is a cap set by Congress limiting how much money the US government can borrow to pay its bills.

Still awake? Great.

If the limit isn’t raised, the Treasury Department says it’ll run out of money and start defaulting on payments as soon as June 1.

A federal default hasn’t happened before. What would it mean? To start:

  • Social Security checks and tax refunds may be halted.
  • Federal employees (including active military) may not be paid.
  • Stock markets may panic.

The only time-tested way to make all that not happen? Congressional action.

Oh, them? Not good

Debt ceiling negotiations have become increasingly politicized.

The tense 2011 cap-extension standoff lost taxpayers $1B and downgraded US credit; bipartisan deal-making hasn’t exactly improved since then.

How worried should you be?

Medium worried, at least. President Biden and Speaker McCarthy continue to negotiate, but Wall Street is getting jittery.

If lawmakers can’t reach a consensus, some secondary maneuvers could temporarily extend the deadline — but in a hyperdivided Congress, those tricks aren’t certain to work.

If nothing happens and the feds default, the real-life impacts would be massive:

  • Retirement funds may plummet.
  • Medicare and Medicaid may see disruptions.
  • Credit card interest rates may rise.
  • Mortgage rates may improve…
  • … Nah, they’d somehow get even worse; just making sure you’re still awake.

In other words, debt ceiling news ain’t sexy, but it’s worth engaging with.

Can you go back to bed now?

If you can sleep after this, good for you.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Good news for loners: Twister Air is a new AR version of the party game that lets you play solo. There’s no mat; players instead match ankle and wrist bands to dots on a screen. Oh, and there’s… a song.


TodAI in AI: The Ringer’s Bill Simmons says Spotify is developing tools that use AI versions of popular hosts’ voices to produce targeted podcast ads (that we’ll all just fast-forward through, anyway).

Meanwhile, ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt warned that AI poses an “existential risk” if governments don’t take steps to protect against its misuse, including in cyberattacks.

Netflix and bill: As part of its password-sharing crackdown, Netflix will charge members $7.99/month per user outside of their household. Therapists are licking their chops as members decide if their distant loved ones are fee-worthy.

Go Figure: AI robotics startup Figure and its humanoid bots are both literally and financially standing tall after eight, uh, figures — $70m — in new funding.

Abercrombie & Rich: Abercrombie & Fitch stock surged 30%+ after a surprisingly profitable quarterly earnings report left investors sniffing out a potent blend of cologne and cash.

Robocops: Avid Telecom is being sued by 48 state attorneys general, plus DC’s, over billions of illegal robocalls, some impersonating companies or government agencies.

Virgin Obit: Two months after bankruptcy declarations, Richard Branson’s space company Virgin Orbit is officially over. Now, it will sell its assets to other space companies.



Feeling overwhelmed at work? Learn to empower your employees while reducing your workload by delegating.


“Dalí detective” Bernard Ewell shows us the difference between original and fake Dalís.

Watch: Why Salvador Dalí is the most faked artist in the world

In a career spanning 50+ years, Dalí produced a vast number of paintings, etchings, lithographs, and sculptures, along with a mustache to behold.

But in the ‘80s, amid an art investment bubble, experts believe hundreds of thousands to millions of fake Dalís began to circulate, leading to $625m-$1B in US sales. Worldwide, fraudulent sales may have hit $3B.

The fraud led to prison sentences for unscrupulous art dealers and gallery owners, sunk the value of many authentic Dalí works, and continues to have hobbyist art collectors twirling their ‘staches to this very day.

Watch our Dalí-ghtful video →

Free Resource

60 tips and examples for snappy slogans

We know you’re just gonna scroll to the Inspiration Gallery. We pulled samples from Disney, Snickers, Reddit, and plenty more.

But there’s a whole slogan-slingin’ package right here. Whip up a catchphrase that slaps, like from “Squid Game.”

How to write a slogan:

  • Why you need a banger
  • 10 tips and exercises for writing
  • 50 fresh examples

Screw AI. You got this one.

Craft a catchphrase →

Mass Appeals
Boston and AI

Liberty and AI for all

When you think of your local government, the term “high-tech” might not be the first to spring to mind (we were thinking “fax machine”).

But Boston is proving us wrong. Last week, it became the first city to introduce official guidelines on government use of generative AI, per Wired.

In addition to making Google Bard available to all city employees, the guidelines:

  • Offer example prompts and scenarios in which AI could assist city officials
  • Explain how AI can help translate between languages
  • Encourage the use of AI for summarizing long pieces of text

The documents also warn employees to fact-check all AI-generated content, disclose if they’ve used AI in their work, and not share any private information when writing prompts.

Not all cities are on the AI bandwagon

Officials in New York City, Los Angeles Unified, Seattle, and Baltimore School Districts have either banned or blocked access to generative AI tools, fearing the ramifications for plagiarism and critical thinking.

Italy even banned ChatGPT over privacy concerns, the first Western country to do so.

But some are already coming around…

… with New York City recently announcing its reversal of the generative AI ban in schools.

In a memo, NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks wrote that “the knee-jerk fear and risk overlooked the potential of generative AI to support students and teachers.”

Now back to important things: Will Boston’s next AI breakthrough speed up the line at Dunkin’?

Only time will tell.

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💫 On this day: In 1977, Star Wars (now known as Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope) debuted in the US, kicking off one of the biggest entertainment franchises in history.

🏴 That’s cool: “Sacred Spaces” is an online exhibit of Tibetan Buddhist shrines. Visit the Shrine Room to learn about objects and how they’re used in practice.

🦜 That’s interesting: Peter Kaestner’s epic quest to become the first birder to see 10k different species.

🧟 Cure boredom: Collect resources to survive the zombie hordes.

🍑 Aww: And now, an amazing feat of video editing.

follow through meme

AI can take things from here, right? (Link)

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