Weekly Digest 12
Mar 28, 2021
6 minute read

World News

Is that ship still stuck?

It ‘Might Take Weeks’ To Free Ship Stuck In Suez Canal. Meanwhile, shipping traffic is quickly backing up at both ends of the canal, which normally sees about 50 cargo ships transit each day. Several dozen vessels, including other large container ships, oil and gas tankers and bulk carriers, are creating what is being described as one of the worst maritime traffic jams in years. Meanwhile, an Evergreen truck is blocking the highway in Taiwan too.

Bribery on the Suez Canal

Old story from 2013.

“The Egyptian government endeavors to require as many people as possible to be involved in a single ship’s passage through the Suez Canal. Over the course of ten hours and a mere 200 kilometers, we had seven different pilots come on board the CC Rigoletto. They worked in pairs but it seemed that one pilot did all the work while the other was only present to argue, talk loudly over their walkie-talkie, take personal calls and generally create significant noise.”

Watching Anthony Fauci on Fox News makes people more willing to engage in pandemic reducing behaviors, study finds

In an initial survey of 415 individuals, the researchers found that those with warmer feelings towards scientists were more concerned about COVID-19 and engaged in greater preventative behaviors, such as social distancing. This was true even after controlling for cognitive ability, education, gender, income, and political ideology.

Science & Tech

TSMC: How a Taiwanese chipmaker became a linchpin of the global economy

China’s companies have been unsuccessful in their bid to match TSMC’s manufacturing prowess, but the US has also started to struggle: Intel is set to outsource some production of processors, its crown jewel, to the Taiwanese company. In Washington, the Pentagon has been quietly pressing for the US to invest more in advanced chipmaking so that its weapons are not dependent on foreign manufacturers.

Bilingual brains are more resilient to dementia cause by Alzheimer’s disease

This elegant study provides new evidence that people who are fluent in more than one language have some protection against dementia. Brain scans showed that lifelong bilinguals have stronger connections between certain brain areas compared to those who only speak one language – this appears to allow their brains to cope better with damage before they start to show outward signs of dementia.

[Video] Metric Paper & Everything in the Universe

Folding A4 paper to quarks and back again to all of the observable universe.

Despite being far more selective, women still match more frequently than men on Tinder

“Women match with 36% of those they like while men match with less than 2%”

Human penises are shrinking because of pollution, warns scientist

Penises are shrinking and genitals becoming malformed because of pollution, an environmental scientist has warned in a new book detailing the challenges facing human reproduction. Her book, titled Count Down, examines “how our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development, and imperilling the future of the human race”.

Disease outbreaks more likely in deforestation areas, study finds

The researchers examined the correlation between trends for forest cover, plantations, population and disease around the globe using statistics from international institutions such as the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the Gideon epidemic database. Over the period of study from 1990 to 2016, this covered 3,884 outbreaks of 116 zoonotic diseases that crossed the species barrier and 1,996 outbreaks of 69 vector-borne infectious diseases, mostly carried by mosquitoes, ticks or flies. The paper shows outbreaks increased over time, while plantations expanded rapidly and overall forest cover declined gradually. By itself, a correlation is not proof of causality because other factors may be involved, such as climate disruption.

Scientists discover why the human brain is so big

When compared with our closest primate relatives, we have incredibly large brains. The researchers went on to identify a gene that is crucial to the process. Known as Zeb2, it switches on later in human tissue, allowing the cells to divide more before they mature. Tests showed that delaying the effects of Zeb2 made gorilla brain tissue grow larger, while turning it on sooner in human brain organoids made them grow more like the ape ones.

A study shows that harsh parenting practices in childhood have long-term repercussions for children’s brain development.

Repeatedly getting angry, hitting, shaking or yelling at children is linked with smaller brain structures in adolescence, according to a new study published in Development and Psychopathology.

Software & AI

Inside ‘TALON,’ the Nationwide Network of AI-Enabled Surveillance Cameras

Little-known company Flock has expanded from surveilling individual neighborhoods into a network of smart cameras that spans the United States. The cameras, which are sold to law enforcement, homeowners associations, and businesses, can automatically record when a “non-resident” vehicle drives into a community, and alert police to cars on a hotlist. Communities have created “virtual gates” around their neighborhoods, with cameras capturing each vehicle driving in and out of the area. Through a program called TALON, this little-known company is allowing police officers to track cars—and by extension, specific people—outside of their own jurisdictions.

Vercel Serverless Functions vs Cloudflare Workers

I use Vercel to host my foundation website. “Vercel provides a good solid solution for Serverless Functions and makes the process of their creation seamless and hassle-free. Cloudflare Workers offer more functionality out-of-the-box (e.g. key-value data store, CRON) and look more mature and sophisticated.”

The S in IOT is for Security

Todd Weaver pwns an IoT lamp.

In 2020, Two Thirds of Google Searches Ended Without a Click

77.2% of Google mobile search ends with zero click. Google is reaping the rewards but depriving websites of the valuable visits.

Business

The 2021 Early-Retirement Update

Six years update from someone who retired early at 38yo with a $1m asset.

Sovereign Writers and Substack

How some of the top independent writers are making more than $78,400/month on Substack.

John O’Nolan of Ghost ($3.3M/year) talks creators, decentralization, no-code

The non-profit blogging platform Ghost is now doing over $3 million a year. That’s up from $1.5 million this time last year, and the company’s never received any funding. Moreover, that’s annual recurring revenues from the subscriptions!

Culture & Fun

No life, no hobbies, burnout, lost childhood — the price students pay for a prized IIT seat

Last year, 1.5 million students took the JEE to qualify for 13,000 seats in 23 IITs across the country – in other words, for each seat there were 115 aspirants. So intense is the pressure and so gruelling is the preparation required that students as young as 14 start the process, often missing out on the simple joys of adolescence. Most give up extra-curricular activities, relationships with friends and peers, and all forms of entertainment to achieve the goal. By the time they achieve their aim, if they do, many realise they have lost out on social skills, ability to communicate easily with others (an attribute now known as soft skills), and of course, some part of their youth.

Whisper of the Heart

An underrated family movie from the geniuses at Studio Ghibli. A love story between a girl who loves reading books, and a boy who has previously checked out all of the library books she chooses.

The UX on this Small Child Is Terrible

How UX designers describe children.

‘Salmon chaos’ in Taiwan as people change their names to get free sushi

The temporary deal from “Taiwan Sushiro” offered free all-you-can-eat sushi to anyone with “gui yu” — the Chinese characters for salmon — in their name.


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