March 16, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Bad news: Omega 3s don’t confer any significant health benefits; good news: They’re mostly harmless

But a wide-ranging, careful meta-analysis published in JAMA-Cardiology found no meaningful link between Omega-3s and reduced risk of heart disease. As Lifehacker points out, this joins reviews that show no benefit from taking Omega-3s for "dementia, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, or age-related macular degeneration."

There may be a small improvement in breast cancer, and a small increased risk for prostate cancer, and if you're seriously Omega-3 deprived, the supplements may be a good idea.

[Source: Boing Boing]

January 3, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read

Foster Kramer wrote a hell of a piece explaining why we ought not to trust Facebook with the stories we see appearing on the newsfeed. Here are two tidbits but please read the whole thing:

And as smart as you think the people who run Facebook are, trust us when we tell you that they are far, far, far smarter than you could imagine (and if not the people, then definitelythose algorithms). 

They understand human psychology to a stunning degree, which is how they've been able to capitalize on it for the last few years. It's why Facebook is filled, mostly, with the things you agree with, or are seemingly helpless against clicking on. But because you're a human being, something about it probably rubs you the wrong way. As it should! You're a human, and not a hamster doing a stupid pet trick, which is what Facebook has turned both readers and publishers into. Credit where it's due: They're that good. And yeah, fake news is a problem—but before we learned about it being a problem, where Facebook was concerned, it was a feature.


So! Facebook created the newsfeed, and then turned to publishers/media outlets, and said: Guess what? Everyone's on Facebook. You want a piece of the action? You're gonna play ball with us. You'll put share buttons on all of your stories. You'll participate in our Facebook Instant Articles program. You'll advertise with us! When we tell you that we're going to start promoting video over articles, you're going to start making video. And then when we tell you what kind of video, you'll make that video too! And if you don't want to play ball, fine. Your competition will.

[Source: The 2018 internet resolution everyone should have: Bring back your browser bar]

January 3, 2018Comments are off for this post.

The Hardest Workers Don’t Do the Best Work

At the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, the U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley put up a statistic that wowed folks back home: He ran further than anyone else. Through three games, Bradley had covered a total of 23.4 miles, according to a micro-transmitter embedded in his cleat, while his team finished tops among nations in “work rate,” a simple measure of movement per minute otherwise known as running around.

Left unmentioned was the fact that the lowest work rate of the tournament by a non-defender was recorded by its most valuable player, Argentine goal machine Lionel Messi.

Yup, work smart, not hard. 

[Source: The Hardest Workers Don't Do the Best Work - Bloomberg]

November 29, 2017Comments are off for this post.

14 + 7

June 30, 2017Comments are off for this post. too


This is a description

June 30, 2017Comments are off for this post.

One of our analysts decided to move to Brooklyn and had to figure out what to do with her apartment in Manhattan.

December 4, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Doctors can save you by filling you up with cold water

The joys of modern medicine — hat tip to the think-outside-the-box people who thought about that… “why don’t we just freeze ‘em?”. From Kottke

When this patient loses his pulse, the attending surgeon will, as usual, crack his chest open and clamp the descending aorta. But then, instead of trying to coax the heart back into activity, the surgeon will start pumping the body full of ice-cold saline at a rate of at least a gallon a minute. Within twenty minutes (depending on the size of the patient, the number of wounds, and the amount of blood lost), the patient’s brain temperature, measured using a probe in the ear or nose, will sink to somewhere in the low fifties Fahrenheit.

At this point, the patient, his circulatory system filled with icy salt water, will have no blood, no pulse, and no brain activity. He will remain in this state of suspended animation for up to an hour, while surgeons locate the bullet holes or stab wounds and sew them up. Then, after as much as sixty minutes without a heartbeat or a breath, the patient will be resuscitated.

December 4, 2016Comments are off for this post.

From God to big Data, the many sources of authority

Authority. Used to come from God and other religious entities. Some enlightened folks told us we had a moral compass within ourselves. So we had the power to make the best decisions. Now? Facebook. 

Yuval Noah Harari for the FT

Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data. This novel creed may be called ‘Dataism’.

December 4, 2016Comments are off for this post.

What is the future?

Here’s an idea from Farnam Street

Key point number one in this memo is that the future should be viewed not as a fixed outcome that’s destined to happen and capable of being predicted, but as a range of possibilities and, hopefully on the basis of insight into their respective likelihoods, as a probability distribution.

December 4, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Your willpower might be unlimited

The common idea is that willpower is limited. After 4 hours studying mathematics, you  are likely to feel like entering a coma-like state on your couch and binge on Netflix. 

However, Carol Dweck and team believe otherwise:

It appears ego depletion may be just another example of the way belief drives behavior. Thinking we’re spent makes us feel worse, while rewarding ourselves with an indulgence makes us feel better. It’s not the sugar in the lemonade that produces the sustained mental stamina, but rather the placebo effect at work.

Maybe willpower is an emotion?

Michael Inzlicht, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the principal investigator at the Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience, believes willpower is not a finite resource but instead acts like an emotion. Just as we don’t 'run out' of joy or anger, willpower ebbs and flows based on what’s happening to us and how we feel. Viewing willpower through this lens has profound implications.

November 14, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump


So no one told you life what gonna be this way...

Disclaimer: this post contains the word “fuck” multiple times. Also a lot of links.

Frantically refreshing Twitter at 4am, I thought to myself: “Is Florida going to do it again?”

Looked like it: 91% in and Trump was 100 000 votes ahead.

Crap cake! I woke up and the NYT's headline was all: Trump Triumphs.

What the fuck happened?

What can we understand from that? how can we prevent such people to rise to the top in other countries? (I'm talking to you, chère France).

We'll first get an overview of the situation by analysing how some people/institutions/ideas have changed in status. I'll then try and summarise a few lessons and predictions for the future. Finally, I rounded up some interesting articles and very succinctly summarised them.


  • Women — a sexist can become President
  • minorities — a racist can become president
  • global warming — looks like coal is coming back, Tesla is going down
  • Anti-establishment — from the Tea Party in the US to Dieudonné in France, it looks like anti-establishment types do not realise they are a necessary part of the system and that they're not substantially changing anything. An illusion, really. Radically changing things will require blood/violence and Trump/Brexit is not what they're looking for (You Are Not So Smart)
  • the democratic party — Hillary was a bad candidate, at least badly timed; mired in scandals, a technocrat/establishment figure (I believe Bernie would have won, he was a guy and a populist)
  • liberal democracy — Fukuyama's End of History... maybe one of the most tunnel-visioned idea of all time is now officially (and thankfully) dead; the FT still published a piece by Francis though
  • experts, pundits — they failed to predict Brexit,  Trump, the FARC vote in Colombia... what's next?
  • pseudo-intellectuals — West Wing-watching, glasses-wearing, Sciences Po-attending people have lost a lot of political relevance (that includes me)
  • Good as in Good vs. Evil — thinking that Clinton was “good” and Trump “evil” is a very relative/ambiguous notion that has little substance. The world is a multifaceted gem and not a binary, black and white system.
  • Pollsters and Nate Silver — his model was flawed, see Nassim Taleb's rebuttal (that I don't understand but a lot of mathematicians seem to agree with him, including this blogger). Only 10% of people responded to polls. Polls are flawed.
  • the Truth — lying will not prevent you from getting elected, we truly live in a post-factual world + in the social media world, truth is irrelevant for filter bubbles rule over the content you consume (NiemanLab)


  • White rural voters — the most important demographic in US elections
  • Twitter — losing users and cash, yes but increasing in relevance (Slate)
  • Facebook — people are starting to realise that instead of being a reflection of the complex world we live in, Facebook serves opinions that reinforce your world view. The revelation will weaken Facebook in the short term but my guess is that we enjoy scrolling through the News Feed more than we dislike this fact (TechCrunch)
  • conservative politics — a Republican-controlled Congress is going to make things much less liberal
  • The Republican party — the media narrative was that the Republican party was undergoing a civil war, turns out it's okay
  • the peculiar American democracy — so only 25.5% voted for Trump, 45.6% did not vote and 25.6% for Clinton... only in America the third most popular person can be elected. And that's thanks to this beautiful thing named the electoral college
  • Peter Thiel — the Silicon Valley VC who supported Trump will be part of the transition team and help prioritise policies (Bloomberg)
  • Russia — to take with a pinch of salt for Putin said mending relations is going to be hard and long (Washington Post)
  • China — Trump's purported isolationism could pave the way for a new hegemon
  • racists — a racist can become President
  • sexists — a sexist can become President

Lessons and predictions

Why Trump won, the succinct edition

Trump won thanks to his anti-establishment message that appealed to the most important demographic: white rural voters (an op-ed by Bernie Sanders in the NYT). Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were blue states in the past elections. Hillary didn't even campaign in Wisconsin.

There is a growing (and now critical) discrepancy between said white rural voters and urbanites. The media reflects only the life of the latter. Globalisation and multiculturalism don't sit that well for that key demographic. So take that, add increasing economic inequality and a clever electoral strategy and you have President Trump.

Trump did not want to be President 

Trump is fucking clueless as to what a President does. Actually, he didn't want to be President. He doesn't even want to live in the White House (NYT). And he suddenly loves Obama and longs for his wise counsel (CNN on Facebook).

Now, he has to become a politician.

Being anti-system is great for the campaign. But once you're elected and they give you the CIA file thanks to your newly-acquired security/intelligence clearance, you realise that this whole shit is a bit more complicated than you originally thought.

(By the way, if you're interested in America's “deep secrets” with regards to intelligence, this piece casually published in the Washington Post probably won't relax you (it's a spine-chilling experience, how can they write that the CIA topples governments so shamelessly?)).

Will Trump aggressively pursue his campaign pledges? 

I don't know but let's venture some guesses for the fun of it.

Based on the transcript of his 60 Minutes interview (CBS News), Trump's campaign persona is being replaced by a more subdued and serious discourse. He appears to be willing to compromise greatly (with regards to gay marriage or prosecuting Hillary for instance). To my eyes, it looks like he's realising now what it means to be President and he naively feels like he wants to do well. He was saying all these fucked up things to get elected.

When he talked to Obama about the Middle East, he noticed the U.S. paid 6 trillion dollars in the last 10 years there. To Trump's eyes, this is too much and he's saying “look at our roads and our bridges”.

If by any chance, Trump decides to use this kind of money to rebuild America and stop militarily intervening across the world, that would be nice, wouldn't it? Am I being too naive myself?

On the the other hand, Paul Ryan is now strengthened to carry out the Republican agenda. Who will impose his will on the other?

Also, Trump's chief of staff will be Reince Priebus, the head of the RNC. An establishment figure who will probably soften some of the strongest Trump ideas. The Cabinet will set the tone for Trump's administration and here's the NYT's shortlist. Since the NYT can't predict shit, it's a non-binding read.

So will he build the wall, repeal Obamacare or ban muslims from entering the United States? Very, very hard to say, despite all that we've read about that already and what Trump is saying right now. It's not as if he could simply click on some buttons and watch the magic operate. My personal bet is that none of these dramatic things will take place, the institutional homeostasis being too strong (crash course on homeostasis).

The liberal reaction

There's California wanting to secede from the Union (TechCrunch). An isolationist and privileged response coming from a supposedly open-minded community. Although the electoral college, two-party system is not particularly democratic, this ain't either. Doing exactly what Texas wanted to do when Obama was reelected in 2012. They truly do live in a bubble.

Then you have people from major cities across the U.S who are protesting. Oddly enough, Trump won fair and square: did he cheat? He is a fucked up human being. A liar, a sexist, a racist. Protesting against him is an understandable short-term move but how will you prevent him from being reelected in 4 years? Why was he elected in the first place? Let us understand the problem and only then, we'll find a solution.

Short-term problems

Short-term problems that may become long-term are the vindicated crazy, criminal people of the United States who are going to feel free to do whatever comes across their minds. Trump is their president and so they're going to have the license to do all kinds of fucked up things to people they don't like. You can check out Shaun King's Facebook Timeline for info.

What can we do? 

A quick word about sharing news on Facebook. Please stop sharing “dramatic” news events on Facebook to voice your outrage. The more you share, the more media outlets will produce clickbait dramatic news for you to share. Anyway, the people who follow you on Facebook already have the same opinions as you! It'll make you feel better but it's a sterile, vicious cycle (Read Nicky Case's post about that, she's got some great insight).

Instead: act politically. Volunteer. Experiment. Do something concrete.

Trump took advantage of the economic and cultural situation. The narrative must be reversed. There must be a way for a liberal platform to reach white people's hearts and minds without sounding naive or weak. Sanders 2020?

The situation in France

Marine Le Pen has slimmer chances of being elected because of the nature of the French electorate as well as the political system. However, Hollande, Juppé, Macron and Valls are representative of the unease white rural voters feel. Quite cleverly indeed, Sarkozy positioned himself as the more legitimate candidate on the right. His anti-establishment message is inspired by Trump (whom he congratulated) and he's not on the Front National so he's a better choice than Marine for most French people. Marine will have the best macroeconomic timing imaginable so the political offer must be at least as appealing as she is. Today, it looks quite dire.

Further reading

My former professor shares some insights as to what lies have been demolished since Trump was elected: Sick Chickens.

Why pollsters were wrong [spoiler: low response rates]: Harvard Business Review.

Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit [favouring of the elite by institutions, accurately analysed by Glenn Greenwald]: The Intercept.

The media's epic fail [Trump and Brexit as entertainment, the media chased clicks and gave him a lot of free coverage]: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Donald Trump Victory: how to tackle the new “nationalist international” [create a progressivist international]: Newsweek

Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there [American liberals are complacent and thought this was going to be an easy win/took the ethical “higher ground” that backfired]: The Guardian

October 31, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Are you addicted to your cell phone?

A superb illustrated read about your (and mine) smartphone addiction. You should read it all, it's on Nautilus


Pro tip: reward yourself “variably” when doing an analog (i.e not tech) activity such as seeing friends or walking outside. By variably I mean don't reward for a 1:1 ratio. The deal with Facebook is that you scroll aimlessly and then at some point you're going to get a notification but you don't know when. This motivates you to scroll more than if they gave you a reward (notification) every time you scrolled. 

October 31, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Most people can’t give a convincing alibi if accused of a crime

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This excerpt is from this paper and was tweeted by Rolf Degen

October 31, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Soylent halts sales of its powder as customers keep getting sick – LA Times

Paresh Dave for The LA Times

Backed by more than $20 million in venture capital, Soylent has emerged as one of several popular start-ups hoping to change what and how people eat. Meant to be mixed with water or other liquids, the powder has enough fats, carbohydrates and other nutrients to replace a traditional meal, according to the company. People looking for a quick fix, such as software programmers in Silicon Valley, have become devotees.

Eat real food people? 

October 31, 2016Comments are off for this post.

How to make someone fall in love with you

Eric Barker from a June 2014 Time article

Two factors appeared to exercise the greatest influence on personal relationships: the location of the apartments and the distances between them. The most important factor in determining who would be emotionally close to whom was the distance between their apartments.

What underlies this? Obviously, you have to meet, but there’s something else going on: repeated exposure.

As marketers know very well (and anyone looking for love should learn about marketing), repeated exposure makes us like almost anything.

October 20, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Open your door the Dutch way and save a cyclist’s life


Here's a simple lifehack that could save some lives or injuries.

Open the door with the opposite hand instead of the one closest to the door. That way, your body will be forced to turn and your gaze will meet the road and any incoming cyclist. 

October 20, 2016Comments are off for this post.

How FIFA affects real-life football


Ibrahimovic said that he would ‘often spot solutions in the games that I then parlayed into real life’ as a young player. Mats Hummels, the Bayern Munich and Germany defender, has suggested that ‘maybe some people use what they learn in FIFA when they find themselves on a pitch.’

And this is from Jason Kottke. You'll find more references on his post


October 20, 2016Comments are off for this post.

The battle of Aleppo is creating a disgusting future for war

Not that war is pretty anyway...

Usually, I try to keep it chill on the Sundry Letter, but as history unfolds, one must take note. 

The Battle of Solferino that took place in June 1859 left 40 000 Italian, French and Austrian soldiers dead or wounded. Henry Dunant was there and he spent his time tending to the wounded. The reflections he wrote then led to the founding of the Red Cross.

Paul Mason for The Guardian

Solferino inspired the principle that hospitals and army medical personnel are not a legitimate target in war. Today, with the bombing of hospitals by the Russians in Syria, the Saudis in Yemen and the Americans in Afghanistan, those who provide medical aid in war believe that principle is in ruins.

October 13, 2016Comments are off for this post.

You’re actually a terrible lie detector, but here’s how to get better

Art Markman for Fast Company:

So if you're in a high-stakes situation, it makes sense to try and be more vigilant about whether you're hearing the truth. But even then, many of us look for the wrong signals. In fact, researchers have found that when we consciously try to catch someone in a lie, we get much worse at it. Our unconscious lie-detection instincts are more reliable than our conscious ones.

Oddly enough, I really thought the inverse was true. 

October 12, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Land ownership and digital products

Maximum geek alert. Here's Rebekah Cox, original designer of the News Feed pattern for Facebook and Quora, using the image of physical land ownership to explain the digital platform wars: 

Land ownership couldn't exist without violence. Violence to take the land and violence—or at least the threat of violence—to keep the land. Systems have been created to keep that violence to a minimum: courts, property lines, rules, regulations, police, lawyers, deeds, sales, etc. New laws are created to compensate for new abuses: height restrictions, offsets, building permits, etc. But where lawyers fail, sheriffs are there with guns for enforcement.

There is no digital land equivalent. Products like Facebook and Twitter are platforms and the foundation on which you build your parcel is your profile but for the most part it grows without harming others. Your gaining friends and followers and likes and retweets should not detract from other’s opportunity to do so. By and large, the ‘battles’ are between the major platforms themselves. Snapchat innovates, Facebook-owned Instagram clones. Actual violence is avoided entirely.