6 min read

#69 – Spice Up Your Life

Having fun is a choice.

I'm starting this weeks newsletter with a graph.

The American Time Use Survey measures the amount of time people in the United States spend doing various activities, such as paid work, childcare, volunteering, and socializing. I would assume that these patterns are similar in other developed countries. Take a look, what do you see?

What I take with me:

  1. Time with friends and family is minimal after 30 – use it well.
  2. You spend the most time with your partner later in life – don't settle.
  3. You spend more time with co-workers than with friends and family combined – pick your workplace wisely.
  4. No matter what stage you are in, you spend the most time alone – be nice to yourself and make sure you have fun together.


Xi wants the Chinese army to prepare for war


This week, Xi Jinping told the Chinese military force, the "People's Liberation Army", to "focus all its energy on fighting" in preparation for war, according to reports from a Chinese Communist party spokesperson. While Xi also ordered the army to focus on war preparation in 2013 and again in 2017. But political analysts say he has markedly stepped up his rhetoric this time.

On Wednesday, photos of Xi in army uniform during a visit to a command centre were on the front page of the Chinese newspaper People's Daily. Xi – who recently secured a third term as party leader – said the army must "comprehensively strengthen military training in preparation for war", having warned at a recent party congress of "dangerous storms" on the horizon.

China has been transparent with its plan to invade Taiwan. Xi sees seizing Taiwan as a crucial part of his legacy and said in his opening speech at the congress: "We will never promise to renounce the use of force." United States intelligence resources have previously suggested that 2027 will be the year China has the military capacity to invade, but it could happen as early as 2024. For example, in connection to the Taiwanese election.

Also, during the 20th party congress in Beijing last month, Xi attacked the United States for its increasingly explicit support for Taiwan, blaming "foreign interference" for exacerbating tensions.

It will be interesting to see if the rest of the world takes China's war threats seriously, learning from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Similarly to Xi, Putin made clear that he was going to do it. Still, when he did, it was a massive surprise to many.

Fossil fuel lobbyists make up an increasingly large share of COP27 delegations


The number of delegates at the COP27 UN climate summit, with links to the fossil fuel industry, has increased by 25% from the last meeting. Around 35,000 people currently attend COP27 in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Among these, 636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industries registered to participate in the UN event – more than the delegations from the ten most climate-impacted countries combined.

Last time, in Glasgow, the figure was 503, which outnumbered the delegation of any single country. This year the only country with a larger delegation is the United Arab Emirates, which hosts Cop28 next year and has 1,070 registered delegates, up from 176 last year. Russia has 33 lobbyists for oil and gas in a delegation of 150.

Many environmental groups say it can be beneficial to bring private interests to the negotiating table – hoping to encourage the transition from fossil fuels. Additionally, many fossil fuel companies argue they must be part of the solution to climate change – setting net-zero emissions targets and publicising emissions-reducing programs. However, the sheer size of these delegations creates an issue and feeds suspicions that lobbyists attend the talks to slow progress rather than discuss limiting their industries.

Apple limits AirDrop feature on Chinese devices after protesters spread anti-government propaganda


After reports that some Chinese protesters were using Apple's AirDrop feature to send messages critical of the Chinese government to fellow iPhone users in the subway, Apple has now limited the use of the AirDrop wireless file-sharing function on devices in China.

iPhone users in mainland China who updated their iOS software this week must manually allow to send and receive files from non-contacts, and this feature is limited to 10 minutes. Users not in China face no time restriction and can accept files wirelessly from anyone, including people who are not contacts.

AirDrop has been one of the few relatively untraceable methods for sharing files in China, although it is usable only in close range and only among Apple devices. In 2019, AirDrop was particularly popular among anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong, using the feature to drop colourful posters and artwork to subway passengers urging them to participate in protests.

The change only affects iPhones purchased inside China. However, Apple told CNN Business they would expand this new time-limited feature globally in the coming year. This decision might make sense as an attempt to address the problem of AirDrop misuse in general. Still, Apple has been accused of appeasing the Chinese authorities before, for example, by blocking apps sharing content about the Hong Kong protests.

Double-check the headlines

Just making sure you didn't miss any major world events this week.

One long

The New York Times Magazine

In an Age of Constant Disaster, What Does It Mean to Rebuild?

Each catastrophe is a test of what kind of society we’ve built. And each recovery offers a chance, however fleeting, to build another.

Five short

1. Read

Sometimes you come across things that make it impossible to view the world as you did before. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity has been one of those things to me. The book by anthropologist and anarchist activist David Graeber and archaeologist David Wengrow has given me an entirely new view of human history and the human species. It has filled me with hope.

This book is not an easy read. You'll need a short vacation to get through its 700+ pages. But it's worth it.

2. Listen

This November, it is 25 years since the Spice Girls released their iconic second album Spiceworld. They celebrate this by releasing a new, expanded version, and I encourage you to listen. So much has happened since 1997, and this album serves as a good time stamp, as it is a relevant piece of both musical and women's history.

3. Remember

Black Friday is coming up, drowning us in cheap deals. Just remember that the evidence from several studies is striking. Buying a lot of things diminishes our well-being. While it is easy to think that buying something new adds to our happiness, it’s the opposite. It makes us unhappy. Science shows the more materialistic we are, the worse our well-being becomes. And if we improve our well-being, we become less materialistic.

4. Change

Say "Pizza" instead of "Cheese" when taking photos to make your smiles look more authentic.

5. Try

Would you like to make an effort to live more sustainably but don't know how? Calculate your personal climate budget ahead of 2023 with this interactive tool from GoClimate. Personally, I have approximately 11% left of my budget left when I calculate emissions for my current 2023 plan.

(This was certainly not the case before, the main difference is that I don't fly, and I buy little stuff that is not second-hand).