Guacamole justice is served.


January 3, 2019

After 26 years, the USDA lifts its ban on Hawaiian avocados.
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For the first time in 26 years, mainlanders can top their toast with Hawaiian avocados

Brunch will taste a little different in the Pacific Northwest this year: In December, Seattle became the first mainland city to receive a shipment of Hawaiian ‘Sharwil’ variety avocados since 1992.

Now that the USDA’s controversial crackdown on Hawaiian avocados has finally ended, the Aloha State can barely keep up with America’s appetite for avocados.

California finally Hass some competition

Since avocados only grow in Mediterranean climates, the world’s largest producers are mostly tropical countries: Mexico commands 45% of the global market, followed by the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Colombia.

But America is the world’s 8th-largest avo grower thanks to the 3 states tropical enough to produce the fatty fruits: California, Florida, and Hawaii. 

California grows 88% of avos and Florida delivers 11.6% while Hawaii accounts for less than 1%. Now, avo equilibrium could soon shift.

The bumpy history of Sharwil avocados

After Hawaiian avocados were first shipped to Alaska in 1987, they enjoyed 5 years of guacamole greatness in the continental US. 

But in 1992, the pit hit the fan, when an invasive fruit fly was discovered in a Hawaiian shipping facility. Since then, the USDA has prohibited Hawaiian producers from exporting avocados unless treated with pesticides.

Since pesticides would have spoiled Sharwils’ sweet taste, Hawaii stopped shipping them — but growers never gave up on their holy guacamole. In 2013, Hawaiian farmers and politicians finally proved Sharwils were safe, planting the seed for a reversal of USDA policy.

Hawaiian production can’t ripen fast enough

Even though Hawaii’s ‘no fly’ order has finally been eliminated, 2 decades of deflated demand have caused Hawaiian avocado production to dwindle. 

Today, Hawaii has only one avocado packing facility, and weekly 3k-pound deliveries to Seattle are already straining the state’s shipping capacity.

But the US avocado market is huge ($392m annually), and Hawaiian growers expect to eventually ramp up production to more than 5k pounds of avos per acre.

The other green rush
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After a 20-year freeze, copyright protections on classic books are finally expiring again 

Starting this week, some of the world’s most famous literary works will lose copyright protection — meaning they can be adapted into tongue-in-cheek spinoffs like ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.’

The ‘Mickey Mouse Protection Act’ has locked in publisher control over old books — and the profits they generate — for 20 years. But now, the remake floodgates are finally opening.

Ahh mmyes, of course, the Mickey Mouse Protection Act…

The first American copyright law (passed in 1790) protected creative works for terms of 14 years to let authors profit from their work. 

But publishers wanted more: Copyright law was amended 5 times to expand the terms of protection. 

After the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act (AKA The Mickey Mouse Protection Act) extended protections by 20 years, nothing new entered the public domain for the past 2 decades.

Prepare yourself for Steamboat Willie + Aliens

The original copyright law was designed to help creators put food on the table, but subsequent updates mostly benefited publishers and estates. 

When F. Scott Fitzgerald died, just 25k copies of The Great Gatsby had been sold. But today, 79 years after Fitzgerald’s death, his publisher Scribner still has exclusive rights to the 500k copies of Gatsby sold annually.

In 2019, books from Robert Frost, Agatha Christie, and Joseph Conrad are fair game, and now new titles will enter the public domain each new year. Gatsby’s copyright expires in 2021 — and you better believe someone is planning a zombie spinoff. 

» More like copy-wrong

‘Sugar Puffs or Frosties?’ How Netflix’s bet on interactive TV could pay off

After Bird Box, Netflix’s next-most-buzzworthy movie was Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a choose-your-own-adventure-style thriller that follows the main character, Stefan, as he attempts to design a video game of the same title. Meta, right?

But beyond the novelty of the gimmick itself is a massive marketing opportunity for Netflix to discover its users’ real-life preferences beyond their most “recently watched.”

‘Because you chose Frosties…’

The Verge points out that this seemingly inconsequential cereal choice at the beginning of Bandersnatch presents a massive opportunity: Programmatic product placement.

That’s right, the days of clunky Coca-Cola plugs may soon be replaced with clunky [INSERT BEVERAGE OF CHOICE] plugs — and earn Netflix valuable advertising insight that it could offer brands prior to production.

It also paves the way for tailor-made content

Netflix has already mastered the “microgenre,” and now user choices in interactive narratives could reveal viewer preferences and guide future productions (maybe 18-25-year-olds prefer more bloodshed, maybe baby boomers want romance, etc.).

It’s like a screen test on steroids: Asking viewers what they want to watch (be it a slasher or a romcom) and delivering their choice in real time. As TV enters uncharted territory, Netflix will determine which direction interactive content goes.

   @ Me Anything
Lindsey Quinn, Managing Editor at The Hustle
@LimbsySquid

What we say we want isn’t always what we actually want. Case in point: I *say* I love subtle, character-driven dramas. But I also made Stefan beat his dad with an ashtray for asking about his day in Bandersnatch. So you tell me.
Show this thread
» Meta, right?

China’s largest ride-sharing company now offers driver loans and insurance

Ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing is taking out an insurance policy against Chinese regulations that threaten to drive it off the road.

Yesterday, Didi announced that it will offer drivers lending services and health and car insurance policies (all within its app) to incentivize more workers to join the gig economy.

Right now, Didi needs drivers more than drivers need them

TechCrunch explains that Chinese regulations started requiring gig drivers to carry both difficult-to-obtain local residency permits and costly commercial driving licenses starting on Jan. 1.

Didi already offered pre-licensed vehicles to lower initial costs for its drivers, but new laws (and new competitors) have them swerving to avoid disaster: In 2019, Didi will offer additional discounts on buying and leasing “new energy vehicles” through its partners.

Meanwhile, all these incentives are eating into their bottom line

Back in September, Bloomberg reported that Didi lost $585m in the first half of 2018, due to $1.7B in subsidies such as driver and rider discounts, capping off 6 unprofitable years since its founding in 2012.

For now, Didi’s loss is drivers’ gain — but the question is: How far can Didi go before it runs out of gas?

» Jesus, take the wheel
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