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Sundry · KFC, routines, erasing memories, vodka, mimes, new species

A rainbow fish identified in the Maldives in 2022

Did you know the Japanese ate KFC for Christmas. Different cultures have quite funky traditions for the winter holidays. Are the winter holidays over yet? — atlasobscura.com

Imitating the morning routines of successful people is useless. Indeed, it is not because you drink the same coffee as a superstar tech CEO that you will be gratified with tons of cash in the bank. Humans are super skilled at imitation (mimesis), and that is a key feature of our species’ growth. But high-status people are able to counter-signal: a CEO might go to work on a bicycle by choice, but if you work at McDonald’s, it might be a necessity (and that you cannot afford a car). So be cautious about imitating high-status people who can afford to counter-signal. Be wiser in the choice of who you imitate! — substack.com

There may be 7 levels of busy-ness. I’m curious where do readers of Sundry rank on this list. Are you at level 4 “at capacity” or at level 6 “crushing commitments”? — randsinrepose.com

There is a drug that can remove the pain from memories. This is about exploiting memory reconsolidation to alleviate the sting from dreadful romantic (yes) memories. It does not erase what happened to you but it changes the impact it has on your life. Still experimental, but interesting. It also raises ethical questions: should we alter memory? — nautil.us

Alcoholic Vodka based its branding on the idea that drinking is bad. And it is quite compelling indeed. Here’s an example: “This product is extremely harmful to your health and can cause a variety of serious diseases. If you for some reason have to drink it, please drink responsibly. There are many great alternatives to this hazardous beverage” — alcoholicvodka.com

To reduce lawlessness in the streets of Bogotá, the mayor resorted to mimes. People who were jaywalking were followed by professional mimes who mocked their every move. This worked well. More than 400 mimes were hired to keep changing people’s behavior in a creative way — harvard.edu

Here are 15 cool animal species discovered in 2022. All is not going to down the toilets. Apparently, we only discovered around 10% of the world’s species. We only identified 80% of mammals, the best studied species. So much to discover! Before we burn it to the ground, of course — mongabay.com

Sundry · well-being, macadamia nuts, how to argue, gut health, Borges on football, processed foods

A macadamia nut

Well-being does indeed rise with income. Remember the studies you saw on Instagram or LinkedIn. They argued: your happiness stabilizes after you earn $75,000 a year. This always sounded odd to me. Why would people want to accumulate more capital then? The dataset for these studies was not great. A new study (with better data) is showing that well-being does not plateau with cash in the bank. Au contraire. Back to work then… — pnas.org

70% of macadamia nuts come from one tree in Australia. Do you like cookies with macadamia inside? I do not. Still, 70% of the world’s production of these nuts comes from trees in Hawai’i. And all the trees in Hawai’i come from a single, chad-esque tree that originated from Gympie, Australia. Talk about winning the reproduction game. What is the etymology of macadamia you wonder? Named after the friend (John Macadam) of the guy who discovered it — atlasobscura.com

How to argue more effectively. The video is interesting throughout but it boils down to a simple idea: don’t let your identity come into play. Just like your feelings and emotions do not define you any more than the simple pleasure you get from eating cereal whilst standing in your kitchen and wearing your fav underwear, your belonging to the “idea tribe” should not prevent you from rationally arguing. Your political ideas are not you! — openculture.com

Jose Luis Borges hated football. And he’s Argentinian. He had a distaste for the aesthetics of the “beautiful game”. But what worried him most was the fans. He linked the blind support of football fans to the rise of nationalism and populism. For him, the dogmatic belief was the same. And it was dangerous — newrepublic.com

Your gut health might impact your social skills. That is in fish and mice. Research in humans has not been actively pursued yet. But it is plausible: in recent years, we have discovered that the microbiome is indeed more complex and “brain-like” than previously thought. Careful what you eat! — quantamagazine.com

Highly processed foods are as addictive as tobacco. Researchers have applied to processed food the same criteria used in the 1988 U.S. Surgeon General’s report that established tobacco’s addictive nature. And boy, it ain’t looking good. What do they mean by addictive? Why, just compulsive use and inability to quit, slow brain alteration, highly reinforcing, intense urges. Careful what you eat 2! — umich.edu

Is Hexclad cookware a scam? Maybe it’s just me (probably), but I am seeing a lot of ads online for this pan that brings the durability of stainless steel with the convenience of non-stick. In a video, the co-author of Modernist Cuisine reviews the stuff. As always, the truth is not black or white. However, if you’re not too fussy about cooking these pans could still be a good deal — youtube.com

Sundry · evolution, truffles, Scorsese, parasites, wildfires

A Japanese website today (source: sabrinas.space)

Some animals, such as the cool-looking platypus, have barely evolved. Some species do not need to alter their form because they already fit with their environment quite well. With less variations than land, the marine world usually yields more stable animals — popularmechanics.com

Truffle oil is not made with truffles. It is synthetic flavoring. The bits inside are fake too. The shower of truffles you get on your dish sometimes aren’t actual truffles. They are cheap tubers that have nothing to do with the real deal. Today I learned: not two truffles are the same — tasteatlas.com

Ever heard of Scorsese’s 1973 little-known masterpiece, Goncharov? No? That would be normal. This film was entirely made up by the Tumblr community. This includes posters, soundtracks, and fan fiction. You guessed the lead actor: Robert De Niro — theguardian.com

Why are Japanese websites designed so differently? When Westerners think of Japanese culture, they think of minimalist design. But Japanese websites are very compact, colorful, and text-heavy. Investigator Sabrina Cruz studied this question for 2 months. One of the main findings is that Japanese consumers are more risk-averse: they need a lot of precise information before buying a product — sabrinas.space

Can a parasite infection increase risk-taking behavior? Wolves infected with Toxoplasma gondii (the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis) are more likely to either disperse or become pack leaders, which are risky moves. It is interesting to note that parasites can have effects on social dynamics beyond mere infection — nature.com

The US is funding Ukraine to defeat Russia at a smaller cost. Since the beginning of the war, I have been wondering about US motives for the tremendous military aid they are giving Ukraine (almost $70B in November, ~5% of the yearly defense budget). A satisfactory argument is that of the proxy war. They are waging an active war against Russia, they are winning and they don’t even have to put American boots on the ground. It’s a win-win scenario against your oldest enemy — cepa.org

Rain is a startup that fights wildfires. Their claim is that they operate a network of autonomous water-carrying, drone-like helicopters that activate within 10 minutes of ignition. Could this be an example of how technology can help solve problems exacerbated by climate change? — verticalmag.com

Sundry · Vienna, walking, doctors, Dostoevsky, sleep

Vienna, Austria

When producing new ideas, people systematically “add” rather than “remove”. For example, when building a Lego structure to represent a spaceship, people will usually add more components rather than subtract them. But it’s not always the best strategy. In design, removing the superfluous is often what leads the user saying “this is simple”. Beware of that bias — psyarxiv.com

Why Vienna regularly tops the rankings of “most livable cities”. In the early 20th century, Vienna, one of the capitals of the rich Austro-Hungarian Empire enjoyed a population of 2 million people. 100 years later, and the population is the same, the buildings are mostly the same and have strong architectural unity. The combination of a stagnating population and a rich country creates a nice city to live in — econlib.org

Doctors are being replaced by over-the-counter drugs. Some people think that it is AI that will replace medical practitioners. But in reality, a simpler force is at play. If over-the-counter medicine did not exist, it is estimated that another 56,000 full-time doctors would be needed to accommodate the visits of patients with self-treatable conditions — futurehealth.live

Dostoesvsky’s love life is as dramatic as his books. I shall not try to summarize it. So do click on the link if you want to be dazzled. Maria and Fyodor’s story involves frequent trans-Siberian trips and Werther-like passion. True grit. A homage to (what I imagine to be) 19th century Russia — themarginalian.com

Can we radically reduce the human need for sleep? And can we do so without significant negative side effects? It might be possible thanks to something called orexin. It is naturally produced by the brain and helps regulate wakefulness and appetite. Looks promising? — lesswrong.com

Need inspiration? Talk a walk. For years, the tech people of Silicon Valley, such as the cultish Steve Jobs, have taken meetings while walking. Now we have a study that shows that walking does increase the production of novel ideas. I think it is pretty nice that such a simple, affordable, and convenient physical activity helps you be more creative — apa.org

General artificial intelligence is still far away. General AI is similar to Jarvis in the Iron Man films — it can do anything you ask and is not limited to specific applications, such as the recent image generation AIs. In a thought-provoking essay, Alexey Guzey compares the current state of AI (planes) to the fantasy of general AI (birds). He argues that planes are still decades away from displacing most bird jobs — guzey.com

Sundry · Secularism, nanoplastics, obesity, AI chatbot, sleep tourism, obesity

Is Christianity the origin of secularism? That’s a bold statement, and the one Tom Holland (the author, not the actor) makes in his book Dominion. The idea is that we perceive and value the greco-roman world as the origin of much of our social progress, whereas people at the time despised the weak and the downtrodden. Today we share less with the greco-romans than we may be ready to acknowledge. According to Holland, it is Saint-Augustine’s ideas that were the root for secularism — theopolisinstitute.com

Nanoplastics can travel through plants to insects to fish. So the problem with these bits of molten petrol is even harder to solve. I read about alternatives to plastic in fungi and algae. But when or how will these alternatives be as convenient as plastic? — newatlas.com

Millions of people converse daily with an AI to relieve anxiety and feelings of loneliness. You can call the AI and it talks back to you in a computer-generated voice. Since loneliness is rampant and anxiety the curse of our generation, can this a good thing? To note: Replika.ai was built by Eugenia Kuyda when her friend Roman died tragically. She used text messages and all the data she could find to create a bot to “memorialize” him — every.to

Food photos on Instagram are looking less perfect. We have entered a “laissez-faire” era where the production value of food pics has greatly decreased. Why? First there is a democratization of foodie content. Secondly, the desire for authenticity™ increases by the day. And newer generations have entered the fray — eater.com

Human inability to forecast the past has no impact on our desire to forecast the future. This is because society values certainty a whole damn lot — and certainty about the future is priceless. How hard it is to accept that models that predict the economy are mostly invalid? Or that economic forecasters are akin to astrologists? One day we might be able to accurately simulate, say, the American economy with its millions of nodes and trillions of interactions. Today, it might be only hubris — oaktreecapital.com

Sleep tourism is increasing throughout the Western world. That is because we are sleep-deprived, people. For example: the Park Hyatt in NYC has opened a large suite with sleep-enhancing amenities (e.g auto-adjusting bed and climate controls). Book now? — cnn.com

Do you know what causes the obesity epidemic in the USA? Do you think it’s because of diet? Or behaviour? Food quality? Think again argues the author of this blog. Don’t feel like reading 50,000 words about it? The thesis is that there are environmental contaminants that beget obesity, and that this weird hunger is chemically-induced. Extraordinary investigation and a must-read, for when you are really bored — slimemoldtimemold.com

Sundry · Incense, cognitive control, child painter, bicycles, QR codes

You may now remember loved ones by burning incense in the shape of their favorite hobby. Such as surfing or hiking. The products are called Incense of Memories and are made by Japan’s oldest incense maker, Kameyama — spoon-tamago.com

Working hard all day makes you want to watch Netflix at night. It’s science. Behavioral activity that cannot be dealt with on auto-pilot, such as creative or complex work, is costly to the brain. The more you do it, the lesser the quality of your decisions at night. This is tangential to the idea of “decision fatigue”, which has however never been properly replicated in research — cell.com

There’s a 10 year old kid selling paintings for more than $125,000. His name is Andres Valencia and I must say some of his stuff looks quite good? — nytimes.com

Physical buttons outperform touchscreens in new cars. Physical buttons have a precious advantage over touch buttons: felt feedback. This is why you can turn the AC temperature knob without looking, you “feel” how much you’ve turned it. Touchscreens require attention and are thus dangerous. Who thought putting screens everywhere in cars were a good idea? Is everything the iPhone? — vibilagare.se

A significant amount of economic activity happens not because it is optimal, but because it is easy. People are hardwired for convenience, and that sometimes goes against their long-term interests. This is what Bob Dylan can teach us about economics, from his 1986 song Brownsville Girl: ‘People don’t do what they believe in / They just do what’s most convenient, then they repent’ — spectator.co.uk

Can you draw a bicycle? Most people, and especially non-cyclists, will struggle to place the frame, pedals, and chain correctly. The assumption is that we use a lot of visual shortcuts to create models of objects inside our head so as not to have too many things to remember — road.cc

Did you know QR (Quick Response) codes were invented by Toyota? That is because barcodes could not be read at certain angles and they needed something to track parts across the manufacturing process — typefully.com

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Sundry: The 10,000 steps myth, exporting blood, juice ads, restaurant of airplane food


Everybody knows about how walking 10,000 steps a day is good for your health. But did you bother to check why this particular number is right? Neither did I, and apparently it was chosen when a Japanese pedometer manufacturer noticed that the symbol for 万, meaning 10,000, looks like someone walking. The number was in fact never backed by actual research — theatlantic.com

AirAsia, a Malaysian airline company, is opening a restaurant. Apparently, people love the food they serve on their planes very much — whdh.com

How do we make juice commercials? You know, the ones where an orange is dunked into orange juice and it splashes around beautifully? A video shows the behind-the-scenes and it’s pretty amazing — twitter.com

People in America, usually those less fortunate, are being paid to sell their blood. It is a flourishing business as well, as blood exports surpassed soy or corn. The United States are one of the only developed country which allows this practice. Most countries banned it on medical and ethical grounds — mintpressnews.com

A brief, animated history of alcoholopenculture.com

Deliveroo shares the 100 most popular dishes in the world. A big trend for 2020 onwards is grilled food. It’s more authentic?deliveroo.news

A lunch lady in Sweden was told to stop making food so tasty. She baked fresh bread and offered a rich veggie menu. She was told that this practice was unfair to students in other schools. The limits of equality? — thelocal.se

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Sundry: Taxes, rain, the magic of chess, knots, natural selection


Taxes on the wealthy do not diminish their purchasing power. The rich and powerful usually argue that tax increases will prevent them from buying what they want. Especially special, rare items. Turns out, this is an illusion. Yes, disposable income will diminish if taxes increase. But relative purchasing power will not. Because taxes would be applied to all rich people, no other, richer person, will be more able to afford a “special item” than you. Fascinating read — behavioralscientist.org

Researchers have managed to use rain to generate renewable energy. Next: find practical applications — engadget.com

Rules, a restaurant in London, has been opened continuously since 1798. It kept open during WWII (the owners used wood planks to reinforce the structure during the blitz). It’s not hip, ster or hipster by any standard but I’m sure there must be something unique to its ambiance — atlasobscura.com

Elementary school students explain why they like chess. This video is magical. These kids are something else (filed under sentences I never thought I’d write) — youtube.com

A new material may reveal the physics and mathematics of knots. A lot of people are into it — quantamagazine.com

Utah sends employees to Mexico for lower prescription prices. I mean, I know about the free market and how it regulates itself, etc. Surely we can do better than this invisible hand? — apnews.com

The simplest, most concise explanation of evolution by natural selection. Here it is: “in populations of organisms, each individual is a bit different from every other; the differences may give that individual a bit of a survival advantage; that individual is more likely to pass on the traits that helped it survive; that trait becomes more widespread; rinse; repeat.” So simple and powerful — scientificamerican.com

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Sundry: Placebo, Tarkovsky, parking, the key to love, Dalí meets Freud, loss aversion


The Netherlands doesn’t want to be called Holland anymore. Holland is home to three of the most visited cities in the Netherlands: Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. The government is rebranding to reduce overtourism — qz.com

What if the key to love was understanding? No, like real understanding. Here’s a metaphor, courtesy of Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk: “If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform — brainpickings.org

Parking in NYC’s Upper West Side might experience a steep price increase. By making parking prohibitive, the administration hopes to encourage alternative methods of transportation — ride.tech

Dalí meets Freud. In 1938, the Spanish painter met his longtime idol. How did it go? Well, we can argue that the master of mind games out mind-gamed a more novice mind-trickster:On being shown the painting, Freud supposedly said, “in classic paintings I look for the unconscious, but in your paintings I look for the conscious.” The comment stung, though Dali wasn’t entirely sure what it meant. But apparently, Freud opened his mind to surrealists since then — openculture.com

Akira Kurosawa tells the story of his visit on Tarkovsky’s set for Solaris. With the maestro himself — cinephiliabeyond.org

Loss aversion, an important idea in behavioural design and psychology, might be a fallacy. This is the idea that people experience more displeasure from losing something than they experience happiness from gaining something. “People do not rate the pain of losing $10 to be more intense than the pleasure of gaining $10. People do not report their favorite sports team losing a game will be more impactful than their favorite sports team winning a game.” — scientificamerican.com

Simply carrying a placebo analgesic, like a fake Panadol, reduce perception of pain. So you don’t even need to swallow the placebo in order to benefit from its effect. Isn’t that amazing? For a quick thought experiment: last time you were very hungry and went to buy a sandwich, didn’t you feel slightly less hungry the moment you bought it and knew that in the near future you would eat it? — springer.com

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Sundry: Parasite, the feeling of disgust, sexting, sunstone, Zuckerberg's notebooks


Thanks to the film Parasite, the authorities in Seoul will improve living conditions for semi-basement apartments. 1500 apartments will receive funding for heating, floors and air conditioning. Art at its best — koreaherald.com

Half of young adults practice sexting. Defined as the sharing of sexually explicit messages, photos, and videos via electronic devices, a meta-analysis found that nearly half of emerging adults (age 18-29) have either sent or received sexts. About 15% of people suffer from non-consensual sexting — springer.com

The sunstone was a mineral used by Nordic seafarers around the 14th century to locate the Sun in a completely overcast sky. It was to be found in Iceland and to be used for navigation purposes. To this day, we still do not know how it worked exactly — wikipedia.org

The world population stands at 7.8 billion people. We will reach 9 billion by 2037. Within 30 years, Europe’s population will decrease by 37 million while Africa’s will increase by 1 billion — yale.edu

The inventor of Cut, Copy, and Paste has passed away. This pattern is used by billions every day and has improved our lives. We can safely say that. He coined the terms while building a word processor called Gypsy in the 70s at Xerox PARC — gizmodo.com

Mark Zuckerberg detailed Facebook’s future in handwritten notebooks, including one named “The Book of Change”. As biblical as it gets. In a new book, Steven Levy explores the story of Facebook (which, turns out, really is Zuckerberg’s story). After reading this excerpt, I think we still underestimate how ambitious Mark is — wired.com

What is this feeling that we call disgust? Is it the result of thousands of years of evolution, a transformation towards what is social of our natural aversion to harmful substances? Perhaps it’s more. Perhaps it results from “a tension between the desire to explore and consume new things and the dangers of doing so”. Indeed some people are attracted to disgusting things (like horror films) — nautil.us

Bonus: last week, I linked to an article explaining that raindrops will soon be used to generate electricity. Turns out they cannot be used to create any meaningful amounts of energy. My apologies — eighteenthelelphant.com

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Sundry: 3D exes, virtue-signalling, Brad Pitt, polarised politics, Domino's v. Pizza Hut


People are having sex with 3D versions of their exes. And celebrities too. What about the law? Apparently, it’s still a whole new world — vice.com

Do you often find yourself stuck in endless political debates with people who do not share your point of view? To tackle the distasteful nature of polarised political discussions, try adopting a “mechanistic” approach: ask for an explanation of how the policies that are being so fiercely pushed would work. Policy, not ideology, makes for smoother evenings — behavioralscientist.org

Anthony Hopkings interviews Brad Pitt. They discuss alcohol, death, and cinema. Recommended — interviewmagazine.com

Is virtue-signalling (VS) a perversion of morality? First, a primer: “Accusing someone of VS is to accuse them of a kind of hypocrisy. The accused person claims to be deeply concerned about some moral issue but their main concern is – so the argument goes – with themselves. They’re not really concerned with changing minds, let alone with changing the world, but with displaying themselves in the best light possible.” The authors make the claim that telling someone they are VS is itself VS e.g I am showing that I am authentic when pointing out that someone else is hypocritical. This might indeed be true. However, they compare VS in humans, essentially a moral behaviour, to natural signalling, like peacocks wagging their tails. Both kinds of signalling serve different functions: for animals, survival of their species, and for us, group acceptance. This cheap comparison I do not like — aeon.co

What’s the difference between Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut? It’s quite fundamental: Pizza Hut usually make pan-fried pies whereas Domino’s make ’em in the oven. The more you know — quora.com

Instagram is anti-web. By limiting the ability to share and click on hypertext links — “link in bio” — Instagram, and its parent company, Facebook, show that they are afraid of businesses and influencers using their platforms without their oversight — anildash.com

Belief in luck makes people unhappy. But believing in your own personal star is often a sign that you are on the path to happiness — springer.com

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Sundry: Purpose, wikiHow, negotiations, the illusion of transparency, cannabis


Neoclassical economics finds its roots in equilibrium thermodynamics. And it’s outdated. More simply put, the concept of equilibrium (which dominates current economics thinking) comes from 19th century findings on physics. But the economy never returns to a state of equilibrium, argues Ole Peters. The exponential growth of GDP we have been witnessing since the 80s resembles more closely an explosion, namely the nuclear chain reaction of nuclear explosions. Capital creates more capital. Equilibrium thinking must be updated — ergodicityeconomics.com

Do smokers of cannabis get dumber or do dumb people smoke cannabis? Apparently, the latter — marginalrevolution.com

The illusion of transparency is the idea that people can “read” us when we undergo strong emotions. They can’t, or perhaps they could, but most people do not care about you (and it’s a better thing than you imagine) — fs.blog

Algorithmic entertainment is standardising content. The Web gave us an avenue to be creative and original. But algorithms, such as Spotify’s recommendations, are normalising creativity to make people more engaged. In addition to delivering content, platforms are shaping it to foster engagement. Damn — kottke.org

This is the story of wikiHow. It’s an open platform to learn anything (and that was useful to me many times). It’s a beautiful story. There’s still hope for the Web — theatlantic.com

Purpose in life is not to be necessarily found in grand achievements. Sometimes, just achieving very basic goals is enough — sagepub.com

Choosing the right words can make or break negotiations. This is why diplomats are diving into semiotics — economist.com

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Sundry: family dinners around the world, the friendzone, Christianity, whistling, yellow


Special announcement

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A new breed of apps scan your texts to detect romantic interest. Not sure if he/she is flirting? Perhaps about to enter the dreaded (but untrue) friendzone? Feed these apps your WhatsApp log and their algorithms will analyse the conversation to spot interest. Apparently, a good indicator for amorous intent is the use of words such as “night” or “dream”. To your phones — wired.com

Weeknight dinners around the world: what families from Thailand to Peru, from Australia to Saudi Arabia, have for dinner on a good old Wednesday night — nytimes.com

Citizens need to be more familiar with statistics. Numbers don’t have meaning in and of themselves, we give them the meaning. So they are used to spin or move opinion one way or another. This issue is even more relevant now that we only have the care to read headlines, because there is so much noise. Remember the big-red-NHS-we-give-the-EU-£350M-a-week-bus? The issue is not simple. Also: Bayesian statistics; this article changed my life — aeon.co

The state and history of elite competitive whistling — melmagazine.com

What if the woke generation, that is usually atheist and progressive, owes its existence to Christianity and the values it carried? This, and the thesis that Western liberal ideas exist because of this religion (e.g even the weak and poor have intrinsic value or helping others is made through self-sacrifice) is Tom Holland’s argument in his book, Dominion — newstatesman.com

If you live in a world with rare sunshine, you might associate the colour yellow with joy — sciencedirect.com

Who would I be without Instagram? Asks Tavi Gevinson who goes on analysing her life without sharing photos — thecut.com

Sundry: Kurosawa's favs, motivation, conspiracy theories, Cuttlefish, dating


Giving, as opposed to taking, has a direct and positive impact on brain activity. Although sociologists see both as sides of the same coin (exchange), most people perceive giving as the true social interaction. And for us social animals, it feels real’ good — sciencedirect.com

Akira Kurosawa lists his 100 favourite moviesopenculture.com

Bertrand Russell, philosopher and Nobel laureate, believes there are four fundamental human desires. Acquisitiveness: the desire to accumulate more of everything or “satiety is a dream which will always elude you” ; rivalry or the desire of the other’s ruin ; the love of power, that is very well known ; but also the love of excitement, which drives “progress”, however you want to define this last term. That was a long sentence — brainpickings.org

30% of US adults have used online dating. And 12% found a committed relationship from it — techcrunch.com

Do you usually feel excited at the start of a project, only to lose most motivation as you pursue it? Most people do. This phenomenon is known as Kanter’s Law: “everything looks like a failure in the middle” — medium.com

Why do Facebook content moderators start to believe conspiracy theories? If a fact tastes good and you are repeatedly exposed to it, you will start to believe it — fs.blog

The memory of cuttlefish is extraordinary. They will adapt their hunting activities based on their analysis of available prey. This shows the extent and the complexity of their cognitive ability — royalsocietypublishing.org

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Sundry: Antibiotic resistance, Estonia, metro logos, the next dot com bubble, Jamaican sprinters


Why are Jamaicans the fastest runners in the world? Is it genes? What if it’s social factors: pre-existing role models; national competitions that foster excellence; the Jamaican diet, among other things — marginalrevolution.com

In some countries and contexts, antibiotic drug resistance is due to crop irrigation, not bad prescriptions or patient behaviour — nautil.us

More on building Estonia as a digital nation —managers.org.uk

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness… so begins Ginsberg’s masterpiece, Howl. The same can be thought of the people running two of the biggest ad businesses in the world namely Facebook and Google. Did we ever stop and ask ourselves whether online ads were really more effective—because they can now be measured—than ads from the Mad Men era? Are the best minds of our generation creating lasting value? Jessie Frederik and Maurits Martijn wrote a piece about that for The Correspondent and it is fascinating. They call it the next dot com bubble — thecorrespondent.com

Metro logos of the world — mic-ro.com

What is free speech in the Big Tech era? Remember when Facebook decided not to fact-check politicians who made ads on their products, to the dismay of most liberal media/people? Ben Thompson, of Stratechery, says that free speech is merely the idea that the government can’t arrest you for what you say. He writes: “Frankly, I find it deeply concerning that I might have any trepidation in writing that Facebook made the right decision. The unquestioned assumption of the media world in which I live is that Facebook is uniquely guilty of all manners of crimes, first and foremost the election of one Donald Trump as president. Never mind the questionable campaign choices of his opponent, or the unrelenting focus on emails by the mainstream media (emails in general being the far more impactful Russian intelligence operation).” — stratechery.com

Martin Scorsese, on the difference between movies and cinema — openculture.org

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Sundry: praise, tuna, glass, chickens and the pandemic, grammar, chess


Insights on the psychology of praisepsyarxiv.com

A Japanese app leverages AI to help people choose good raw tuna. Japan’s tuna markets have always included inspectors who were able, after 10 years of practice, to judge the quality of a tuna from the tail cut. But less and less people know how to practice this arcane yet useful skill. Today, a phone with a camera can do the job. The app creators fed thousands of images to a deep learning algorithm which can successfully identify great tuna 90% of the time — reuters.com

Why is glass rigid? I am told it looks liquid at a microscopic scale, which is surprising. Rigid materials usually have rigid microscopic structures — quantamagazine.com 

An animated primer on why Noam Chomsky’s 1950s ideas on language were both essential and not entirely accurate. The first idea is that there is a universal grammar common to every language. The second idea is that humans have a genetic, innate ability to acquire language. Although he was never able to prove that languages shared even a similar principle, the innateness theory fatally challenged “behaviorism”, which was the then dominant paradigm. Behaviorists argued that all we learn is through experience (kind of like a blank slate theory). Researchers never found that there is a specific faculty for language acquisition as Chomsky posited. But we discovered that there are biological factors affecting learning, and cognition more generally. This was when we veered towards cognitive science, and apply the scientific method to the study of the mind — openculture.com

A 28 year old guy without any degree became an influential writer about the economy. The subscribers to his newsletter include members of the Fed — bloomberg.com

Chess and religion have a conflictual relationship. There are many instances of religious authorities banning chess throughout geographies and time. Perhaps it has something to do with the inherent tension between the deceitfulness of playing games and the ethical aspects of religion? — chess.com

A warning from the chickens, or how the globalization of big farms fosters pandemicsthewalrus.ca

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Sundry: Instagram captions, flying snakes, smashing plates, creativity and ethics


Khruangbin gets its profile in the New York Times. It is a band that makes chill music from a cow barn in Texas. Listen to their album “Con Todo el Mundo”, if you wish. The name means airplane in Thai — nytimes.com

Did you know that snakes could fly? Fly might be an exaggeration but you will not be disappointed — youtube.com

The Gen Z will help you write your Instagram captions. And the price they ask is not steep. What wouldn’t we do to appear cool on social media? — restofworld.org

Breathtaking, weird photos of insects in Los Angeles. They are pretty hairy  — atlasobscura.com

Are creative people more unethical than others? This study suggests it might be the case. It seems to confirm something I believe we all experience: the amazingly creative care much less about social norms and thus are deemed unethical — apa.org

Dinnerware smashing in slow-motion. Accompanied by Bach’s most famous toccata. Are you having a bad day at work? Watch this, it is oddly relaxing — kottke.org

Practical tips to cope with a panic attack. The general idea is to recognise the associated catastrophic thoughts and breathe calmly — psyche.co

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Sundry: bees, storytelling tips, giant ships, science of dreams


To counter the attacks of giant hornets, honeybees cook them alive. How? They form a “beeball” around the hornet and they vibrate to increase the temperature (reaching a cozy 46°c) — nytimes.com

Treating a person to a meal never fails. The object you’re looking for is at arm’s reach of where it was last seen, 95% of the time. Read 66 other unsolicited advice from Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired Magazine. I loved that list because it’s non-linear but wise (what I would like Sundry to be) — kk.org

“But and therefore”, not “and then”. Storytelling advice from the creators of South Park — nathanbweller.com

Why do our brains tune out the outside world when we dream? To protect the underlying and ever-mysterious mechanisms linked to dreaming! It is well-known that when we are asleep, our brains keep recording everything that goes on around us. But when we start dreaming (REM phase), stimuli from the outside world (such as a conversation) are not recorded so as to let dreams do their important jobs: emotional balance and consolidation of the day’s learnings — sciencedaily.com

How giant ships are built. Beautiful photo essay in the NYT — nytimes.com

What do the words “spongle” and “teaguely” have in common? They are both the invention of a word-generating algorithm. The AI defines them too. For instance, spongle means to move steadily and delicately. Discover your own fictitious words on this aptly named website — thisworddoesnotexist.com

How intensive care units were inventedbbc.com

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Sundry: tequila, olive trees, toilet paper, Nietzsche on dance, Tilda Swinton


Good morning dear reader, I have missed you greatly.

Thank you for being here. I hope you’ll find this issue interesting!

Curated tequila cocktail recipes, courtesy of Unemployed Magazine. Summer is here and we all need a break — unemployedmag.com

Even though Nietzsche’s work cannot be summed up, dance is the simple and beautiful thread that underpins it all. Dancing is an affirmation of life because saying “yes” to life is not an intellectual endeavour, but a physical one. And those who dance free themselves from anger, despair, or bitterness. Let’s dance! — aeon.co — complement with Mary Schmich’s life and dance advice in the Chicago Tribune columns (there’s a funk video of her essay directed by Baz Luhrmann).

The mysterious history of toilet paperatlasobscura.com

As a parent, should you tell your kids to “live the dream”, or play it safe? Here’s the testimony of Bert Stratton, father of Vulfpeck (Madison Square Garden headlining funk band) founder, Jack Stratton — washingtonpost.com

Tilda Swinton directs a weird music video starring her dogs. The music is “Rompo i lacci”, composed by Handel, for his opera “Flavio” — classicfm.com

Mapping olive trees in the Mediterranean bassinvividmaps.com

A Japanese toy brand makes drunk figurines (yopparai) to remind you of your bad decisions. Click to see these beautiful representations of drunken people — spoon-tamago.com

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