15 November 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.

Articles๐Ÿ“, Tweet(s)๐Ÿ“ฑ, Videos๐ŸŽฅ, Charts ๐Ÿ“ˆ all fair game with or without attendant commentary.


๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ–ฅ๏ธ Apple v Intel

Apple Processor performance versus Intel over time

Apple v Intel


๐Ÿ“HBR takes a look at how Apple is organised for innovation in it’s latest issue.


Apple Innovation


๐Ÿค Well-wishes

The world appears to have moved on…



๐Ÿฑโ€๐Ÿ’ป Phineas Fisher

Phineas Fisher is the hackerโ€™s hacker that nobody knows. In fact, nobody even knows if they are just one person, or several people (Satoshi anyone?). All we know is Phineas Fisher has hacked, embarrassed, and exposed some of the worldโ€™s most powerful spyware companies that have connections to the FBI, the DEA, and dozens of other law enforcement and spy agencies all around the world….and gotten away with it.

Motherboard’s CYBER profile him before he comes onto podcast again to make a statement denying heโ€™s an agent of the Kremlin.



๐Ÿ“‰๐Ÿ“ˆ Fortune Reversal

After an extraordinary run over the last few months, last week’s Pfizer vaccine update cratered Zoom’s stock.


YC’s Paul Graham had an interesting observation regarding the symmetric upside performance from the airlines regarding the same news.


๐ŸŽพ๐Ÿฆพ Tennis.ai

No thanks to the pandemic, Wimbledon was off this year. But that didnโ€™t stop a team of researchers from Stanford University ๐Ÿ“simulating the annual tournament with the help of artificial intelligence.

The team trained their AI using a database of annotated footage. The cyclical nature of tennis helped them create a statistical model that predicts how stars like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will play in certain situations.


๐Ÿฅ™ Olives

The routes of the olive tree. Footsteps of a civilization through the entire Mediterranean basin.



๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ“Š Historical Data

Mateusz Fafinski recently wrote a missive about algorithms, historical data and weaponizing bad science.

โ€œHistorical data is not your familiar kitten. It is a saber-toothed tiger that will eat you and your village of data scientists for breakfast if you don’t treat it with respect.โ€

Historical Data


๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿ”ฌ Cellular Detail

The most detailed model of a human cell to date, obtained using x-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance, and cryoelectron microscopy data sets (more below).

Cellular Detail

Created for Cell Signaling Technology, Inc., and inspired by the stunning art of David Goodsell, this 3D rendering of a eukaryotic cell is modeled using X-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and cryo-electron microscopy datasets for all of its molecular actors.

It’s an attempt to recapitulate the myriad pathways involved in signal transduction, protein synthesis, endocytosis, vesicular transport, cell-cell adhesion, apoptosis, and other processes. Although dilute in its concentration relative to a real cell, this rendering is also an attempt to visualize the great complexity and beauty of the cellโ€™s molecular choreography.

Interactive versions of parts of this landscape can be explored at http://www.digizyme.com/cst_landscapes.html.


๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿงผ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ’ฆโš• Greenzone


“High-frequency data show economic activity in a number of major advanced economies dropped steeply in the first weeks of November amid a stark rise in Covid-19 infections and expanding lockdown measures. The latest readings suggest the decline was particularly strong in Europe.”

Bloomberg Covid




Fewer people say they would take a COVID-19 vaccine now than 3 months ago.

Vaccine Volunteer


๐Ÿ“A survey by Frontiers, a Swiss publisher of scientific journals, asked some 25,000 researchers in May and June whether lawmakers in their country had used scientific advice to inform their covid-19 strategy.

Government Science



๐Ÿ“Last week Denmark ordered the culling of all its mink - up to 17 million animals - because of the spread of coronavirus. Danish authorities worry that a mutated form of coronavirus found in mink could potentially hamper the effectiveness of a future vaccine.


๐Ÿ’ฌ Quotes

โ€œI may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.โ€ โ€• Douglas Adams


๐Ÿ‹ Ecological Changes

An estimate of the historical population of blue whales, from the pre-whaling period up to present day. As devastating as the numbers appear it’s encouraging to see how quickly populations return without the deleterious influence of humans.

Ecological Changes


๐Ÿ  Class & Elevators

Interesting thread from @WrathOfGnon showing how Parisian apartments used to have much more diverse living arrangements - until elevators were introduced.




๐Ÿ“น๐Ÿ“Š Reading Graphs


๐Ÿ—จ๏ธ๐Ÿง’ ELI5 - Double U

Interesting question & response on an Explain It Like I’m Five post

ELI5: Why is W called “double U” when it is clearly “double V”?

  • When Old English was written, it used a mixture of Latin letters and older runes. One of these runes was Wynn, which was used to represent the wound that w gives today: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wynn

  • That runes was sometimes replaced by the combination uu - a double u - for the same sound. In german, the letter v changed in sound to be pronounced as f in most cases (it still is). In a few cases the v-sound was retained. To distinguish these cases, scribes began to write vv for these.

  • When printing was developed in what is today Germany (and to some extent Italy, but that is less relevant here), the printing press manufacturers made types for the letters that they had. Since the combination vv was very common, they made a letter for it - w. In most languages letter is called “double-v”.

  • These printing presses and the letters for them were exported everywhere, including to England. The English quickly realized that they didn’t have types for all their letters, so they made do with what they had. Since English didn’t have the w before printing, they simply reused that letter for the Wynn rune, which was missing. It is called “double-u” because it was also sometimes written as “uu”

  • Similar story for the letter Thorn, which was also missing when printing and became the “th” combination. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorn_(letter)


๐ŸŽจ Trust Your Gut

Trust Your Gut

“Trust Your Gut”, Ascendingstorm, Digital Painting, 2020


๐Ÿ”ญ๐Ÿ›ฐ๏ธ Pluto

Pluto backlit by the distant sun, captured by the departing New Horizons spacecraft.




๐Ÿ—ผ Oh…and one more thing

Eiffel Tower from below

Eiffel Tower


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