Sundry: East Timor, the invention of the bicycle, mosquitoes, sleep + a new tech section!

Why did we wait so long for the bicycle? Turns out inventors had to stop trying to create a four-wheeled carriage without a horse and had to conceptually think about replacing the horse-with-rider paradigm. Also, materials and technology — rootsofprogress.org

Who is humanity’s greatest enemy? Think about it for a second. Did you guess mosquito? It’s mosquitoes. They’ve been killing us for a long time. And now, Timothy Winegard wrote a book about it — newyorker.com

Genome-wide association studies spitting polygenic scores are mired in statistical problems. The idea that we can understand why Northern Europeans are taller than Southern Europeans from a large pool of genomic data is not so evident. Sure, we can make plants that yield larger fruits but when the genetic traits become complex (height or disease), it gets very complex. Please always beware of people telling you that some populations have higher IQs than some other populations and base that idea in genetics — quantamagazine.com

Cells in the reward system of the brain fired more energetically in response to rewards that had cost more effort, possibly reflecting effort justification, inferring greater liking from having worked harder for something — nature.com

Campaign rally songs of the 2020 candidates. A nice piece of journalism by the NYT — nytimes.com

How enjoyable is it to go through a museum and get information from Google Lens (vs. you know, reading the little notices or using the audio guide)? Lauren Goodie is puzzled — wired.com

What happens to your body and brain if you don’t sleep? All sorts of depressing shit, delightfully animated in an instructive video — openculture.com

I’ve never understood why people used the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” until I read this article about what happened when Australians sent teddy bears en masse to recently-independent East Timor — behavioralscientist.org

Nigerian teenagers make quality-looking special effects for short films with rudimentary equipment — kottke.org


Curated technology links

Slack is 911 when your company’s tools and processes fail. This is the best take on what Slack is in 2019 — kwokchain.com

How to build good software, courtesy of Singapore’s Civil Serve College. Might seem obvious in some ways but interesting for everybody — csc.gov.sg

All 166 (!) startups from Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 demo day — techcrunch.com (day 1) and techcrunch.com (day 2)

In praise of fast software, the best kind of software (speed is a proxy for efficiency) — craigmod.com

Why these social networks failed: in which are dissected the lives and deaths of lovely networks such as Friendster, Vine, Myspace, Path and more — gizmodo.com


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Sundry is a list of unrelated but interesting links, about 7 of them, sent every week. It is a distillation of what I read (80+ hand-curated blogs through RSS, for the last 12 years). 

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