23 August 2020

Welcome back to the Week That Was series where I highlight a few things from the interwebs which I thought were interesting, noteworthy and probably worth your time.

Articles📝, Tweet(s)📱, Videos🎥, Charts 📈 all fair game with or without attendant commentary.


🎨📊 Tesla Stock

$TSLA just keeps on going

Tesla Stock



📈🔀 Child Mortality

(Title edit: 1900 - 2016)

[OC] The relationship between child mortality and the number of babies per woman), 19002-2016, where each dot is a country. from r/dataisbeautiful


🤕🧱 Problem Structures

Here are a few examples of the structure of problems from Spencer Greenberg’s freewheeling thread:

  1. Smashed Watch: There are so many issues at once that fixing one has no benefit unless you fix others too.

  2. Leaky Pipe: Fixing one problem causes the others to intensify. If you plug up one leak in a pipe leaking in multiple places, that increases the water pressure causing the other spots to leak more.

  3. Shark Laser: A proposed solution is not aiming at a meaningfully important problem, so it doesn’t matter how well you get it to work or how much you enhance it.

  4. Oil Land: A big problem is so close to being solved that the benefits will accrue to whoever first bothers to put a little effort into it.

  5. Lead to Gold: A problem is so hard that humans aren’t even close to being smart enough or technologically advanced enough to being able to solve it. We toil away pointlessly at trying to solve it.

  6. Booby Trapped Garden: A problem is really hard to solve for reasons that are not at all apparent from the outside, leading to lots of attempts to solve it, all of them miserable failures.

  7. Feature Creep: The problem keeps growing in scope. It cannot be solved because attempts to solve it keep increasing the definition of what the problem is considered to be.

  8. Sleeping Horror: The problem is not that likely to happen, but if it does, it will be horrible. Nobody bothers to try to solve it because they assume it probably won’t happen, and plus, there are more immediately pressing concerns. The horror wakes up eventually.

  9. Middle Court Shot: A problem could be solved pretty easily, but it falls between multiple people’s responsibilities. Hence nobody takes responsiblity for it, assuming someone else will do so.

  10. Will-o’-the-wisp: A problem that nobody can solve because nobody understands what is causing it.


🧶 Hands



📹🔢 Video Views

Tom Scott heads to the White Cliffs of Dover to explore the story of how he made this video (whose title changes with time) possible.


The theme of the video reminded me of a 2019 Alex Danco essay which made the point about how the modern internet experience has become characterised by dependencies.

📝Everything is Amazing, But Nothing is Ours

“My website made of files carried on, chugging along. This isn’t me saying that things were better in the old days. I’m just saying that years ago websites were made of files; now they are made of dependencies.


🔴 Dependencies

XKCD captures the sentiment even more succinctly.



📸🌅 Underwater Sunset

Underwater Sunset



🦠🧼🖐💦⚕ Greenzone


📝STAT take a checkpoint to ask what we now know and what questions still remain regarding Covid-19 seven months later.

The piece explores the topics below.

What we know:

  • Covid and kids - It’s complicated
  • There are safer settings, and more dangerous settings
  • People can test positive for a long time after they recover. It doesn’t matter
  • After the storm, there are often lingering effects
  • ‘Long-haulers’ don’t feel like they’ve recovered
  • Vaccine development can be accelerated. A lot
  • People without symptoms can spread the virus
  • Mutations to the virus haven’t been consequential
  • Viruses on surfaces probably aren’t the major transmission route

What we don’t know:

  • People seem to be protected from reinfection, but for how long?
  • What happens if or when people start having subsequent infections?
  • How much virus does it take to get infected?
  • How many people have been infected?
  • It’s not clear why some people get really sick, and some don’t

The two most prominent and popularly cited pieces of hindsight are the initial hyperfocus on fomites / disinfecting surfaces and the initial reticence by health officials to promote broad usage of non-medical masks.



ICU Heroes “ICU Heroes” - Qiang Huang, Oil, 2020


Maskissing “Maskissing” - Johnson Tsang, Digital, 2020


🧠↕️💬 Stretched

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


☄️ Meteors

Snap catches exploding meteor over Rattlesnake Lake in Washington, USA. Zooming in shows the exact moment it explodes in two.




🗺️🌡️ Oh…and one more thing

[OC] Two thousand years of global temperatures in twenty seconds from r/dataisbeautiful


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