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


Insights on the psychology of

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 —

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

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 —

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 —

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? —

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

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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 —

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

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? —

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

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 —

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 —

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

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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) —

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) —

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

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 —

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

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 —

How intensive care units were

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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 —

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! — — 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

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 —

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

Mapping olive trees in the Mediterranean

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

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