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 —

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 —

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 —

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 —

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 —

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 —

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) —

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 —

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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 —

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 —

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

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 —

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 —

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 —

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 —

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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 —

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

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) —

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 —

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 —

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

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

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


Special announcement

Say hello to Kurkuma! A new newsletter about the tech industry, user experience (UX) and everything in between. It’s aimed at PMs/designers but if you are curious to see the tech world through the eyes of a customer-obsessed designer, do subscribe!

And, as always, thank you for reading!

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 —

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 —

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 —

The state and history of elite competitive whistling —

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 —

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

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

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 —

Akira Kurosawa lists his 100 favourite

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 —

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

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” —

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 —

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 —

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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 —

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

More on building Estonia as a digital nation —

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 —

Metro logos of the world —

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).” —

Martin Scorsese, on the difference between movies and cinema —

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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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