Weekly Digest 11

Mar 21, 2021
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Science & Technology

A new study suggests that the unequal division of household and childcare tasks within partnerships may reflect men’s and women’s actual preferences. For example, the study found that women enjoyed childcare tasks more than men did and also reported a greater desire for responsibility for these tasks compared to men. Men enjoyed tasks to do with outdoor labor and home maintenance more than women did. Women preferred cleaning, food prep, family scheduling, and home decorating. Moreover, this pattern mirrored the way the participants wanted these tasks to be divided — women tended to prefer men to take care of home maintenance tasks and men preferred women to take care of home decorating tasks.
This research is an expansion of an earlier study showing that a vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/ml) may raise the risk of testing positive for COVID-19. In the current study, those results were further supported, finding that individuals with a vitamin D deficiency had a 7.2% chance of testing positive for the virus. A separate study recently found that over 80% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient.
Generalists vs specialists is not a new debate. There are areas where specialists have an advantage. Specialists do well in fields where there is one clear path to success. The world often hands us what are called “wicked problems”. These are settings where the rules of the game are unclear or incomplete. The patterns do not repeat and feedback is often delayed or misleading. The world is increasingly beginning to sound close to that description.
It took nearly twelve years to collect enough data for this high resolution gigapixel class mosaic image of the Milky Way. Total exposure time used is around 1250 hours between 2009 and 2021.
More than fifty published studies have documented meditation-induced mental health problems, including mania, dissociation, and psychosis. In 2012, leading meditation researchers in the United Kingdom published a set of guidelines for meditation instructors, noting “risks for participants,” including depression, traumatic flashbacks, and increased suicidal ideation.
Decline in the system underpinning Gulf Stream could lead to more extreme weather in Europe and higher sea levels on the US east coast. The Atlantic Ocean circulation that underpins the Gulf Stream, the weather system that brings warm and mild weather to Europe, is at its weakest in more than a millennium, and climate breakdown is the probable cause, according to new data.

Software & AI

A gaping flaw in SMS lets hackers take over phone numbers in minutes by simply paying a company to reroute text messages. “Looking down at my phone, there was no sign it had been hacked. I still had reception; the phone said I was still connected to the T-Mobile network. Nothing was unusual there. But the hacker had swiftly, stealthily, and largely effortlessly redirected my text messages to themselves. And all for just $16.”
Imagine turning a 10-megapixel photo into a 40-megapixel photo. The term “Super Resolution” refers to the process of improving the quality of a photo by boosting its apparent resolution. Enlarging a photo often produces blurry details, but Super Resolution has an ace up its sleeve — an advanced machine learning model trained on millions of photos. Backed by this vast training set, Super Resolution can intelligently enlarge photos while maintaining clean edges and preserving important details.
The company’s AI algorithms gave it an insatiable habit for lies and hate speech. The Cambridge Analytica scandal would kick off Facebook’s largest publicity crisis ever. It compounded fears that the algorithms that determine what people see on the platform were amplifying fake news and hate speech, and that Russian hackers had weaponized them to try to sway the election in Trump’s favor. Everything the company does and chooses not to do flows from a single motivation: Zuckerberg’s relentless desire for growth.
Given the state of technological advancement these days, one can never really believe what they see online all the time. The man reportedly said that nobody wants to see an “uncle”, and so, he turned himself into a “beautiful woman” so that his photos would be popular.
The author started at the City of Boston with a simple yet comically broad mandate: Get rid of paper forms and PDFs. Over the course of two years, they identified 425 forms and moved 122 of them online. Using a conservative estimate, moving those forms online saved Boston residents just under 10,000 hours. They also made government services much more accessible.
Amazon was equipping all delivery vehicles with AI camera systems called Driveri, manufactured by a company called Netradyne. The cameras are always on and scan drivers’ body language, the speed of the vehicle, and even drowsiness. The system then uses “automated verbal alerts” to tell drivers if a violation has been detected.
They send all visited websites to an analytics server. Once when the page starts loading, and another time when it finishes. And the Xiaomi blog post explains why this code exists: “The URL is collected to identify web pages which load slowly; this gives us insight into how to best improve overall browsing performance.” Are you convinced by this explanation?

Business & Finance

  1. Bond markets offer ridiculously low yields.
  1. The economics of investing in bonds (and most financial assets) has become stupid.
  1. The world is a) substantially overweighted in bonds (and other financial assets, especially US bonds) at the same time that b) governments (especially the US) are producing enormous amounts more debt and bonds and other debt assets.
And many more reasons.
It’s 2021—it would be shocking if the New York Times wasn’t A/B testing headlines. The findings are very interesting.
If you are a line manager, your most important responsibility is to ensure the people you line manage are happy, engaged and are working as effectively as they can. One of the best ways to achieve this is to have quality one-on-ones with your line reports.

Culture & Fun

Around 3,500 gorillas have been adopted by Reddit’s WallStreetBets (WSB) community in six days. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, a charity for the protection of endangered mountain gorillas, has also received more than $350,000 (£252,000) in donations.
Zoom Escaper is a tool to help you escape Zoom meetings and other videoconferencing scenarios. It allows you to self-sabotage your audio stream, making your presence unbearable to others.
And related Reddit discussion with the usual jokes.
I liked the Netflix show and loved the book even more.
Eight year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she’s competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as she hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting. Engaging and fast-paced, The Queen’s Gambit speeds to a conclusion as elegant and satisfying as a mate in four.
Once considered crazy by fellow villagers, Indonesian eco-warrior Sadiman has turned barren hills green after 24 years of effort. Some even thought he was a madman because he bartered saplings for the goats he reared. Sadiman also funds his work through a nursery of plants such as cloves and jackfruit that he can sell or barter.
Diana Trujillo immigrated to the United States from Colombia when she was 17. “My parents got divorced when I turned 12. After that happened, my mom had nothing. No money. We didn’t even have food. We’d boil an egg and we’d cut it in half, and that was our lunch that day,” she said. To put herself through community college, she secured a housekeeping job, and was able to transfer to the University of Florida, where she majored in aerospace engineering.
Ten people place the horsehairs of their bows atop their strings and pull. They are all playing the same note. Their violins are the same size–or are they? They are almost the same size, but not quite; the margin of error in manufacturing is small, but greater than zero. The violins are made of different wood from different trees, each with its own voice. Each performer is pulling their bow at a slightly different speed. Their fingers are all placed expertly on the exact spot they need to be placed on their fingerboards, but as the violin is a fretless instrument, each finger is placed very slightly differently to all the rest, offering a barely discernible difference in pitch.

© Victor Augusteo 2021 - 2024