Week of December 23, 2019

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Internet Adventure

An incredible adventure involving Netflix, a lot of disparate adapters and converters, and hours Googling for arcane answers on the Internet. My favorite part is the pile of adapters that keeps getting more and more tangled as the story progresses.

I’m looking forward to watching some new movies, and I think it’s annoying that Netflix makes it so difficult to see if you’re getting what you pay for.

I realise that this makes things much easier for customer support: They don’t have to field calls from customers saying “I’m on the 4K plan, and I’m watching a Star Wars movie, but the bitrate says 6Mbps”. Understandable! But if you sold a product in a different arena, and made it virtually impossible for any normal customers to check whether you get what you’re paying for, then there’s be consequences. Perhaps?

Perhaps not.

Oudh

The fabulous and fabulist story of the eccentric royal family of Oudh. This will definitely end up as a Netflix Original (that's funny if you read the article preceding this one).

“Everything is a lie,” Khalida said. “They are dead. Just leave them. God forgives them, so we should also forgive them.”

Exponential

Globalization and the march of technology continue to shrink the world; a wonderful thing for humans and pandemics alike. This essay explores the question of how to track and monitor diseases as they spread around the globe and the lessons that can be learned from the spread of Spanish flu and invention of steamships.

An official military report on the voyage described the scene: “Pools of blood from severe nasal hemorrhages of many patients were scattered throughout the compartments and the attendants were powerless to escape tracking through the mess, because of the narrow passages between the bunks.”

The real horror of the outbreak aboard the Leviathan, though, was that it wasn’t an isolated event. Around the world, the same scene was playing out among soldiers and civilians, from isolated islands to teeming metropolises, from North America to Auckland, New Zealand. A horrifying flu had hit eerily fast and hard, striking the healthiest of people.

I thought this was a remarkable sentence:

The Russian flu [1890] killed around 300,000 (maybe more) people worldwide, which wasn’t enough to create a public health stir.

There is only one conclusion: cruise ships and other marine vessels are the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of terrible illnesses.

A 2016 study in Nature declared the obvious about the health risks posed by these floating apartment buildings: “Long-term personal contact, complex population flows, a lack of medical care facilities, and defective infrastructure aboard most cruise ships is likely to result in the ship becoming an incubator for infectious diseases.”

Broken

One of the better podcasts I've listened to recently. Laura Arnold is an incredible interviewer and Meek Mill has a unique perspective as a celebrity, activist, and victim of an incredibly broken criminal justice system. After you're done listening, take a few minutes to read about Arnold Ventures and read this Wired article.

Mill began his fight for probation and parole reform after receiving a multi-year prison sentence for minor probation violations, including popping a wheelie on his dirt bike. He is one of more than 350,000 people sent to prison each year for probation and parole failures, which can include infractions as minor as improper paperwork or missing a curfew.

Cool Ideas

This compilation from David Perell has a lot of really interesting facts and ideas. For example, Kobe Bryant’s reading habits:

I made a point of reading the referee's handbook. One of the rules I gleaned from it was that each referee has a designated slot where he is supposed to be on the floor. If the ball, for instance, is in place W, referees X, Y, and Z each have an area on the court assigned to them.

When they do that, it creates dead zones, areas on the floor where they can't see certain things. I learned where those zones were, and I took advantage of them. I would get away with holds, travels, and all sorts of minor violations simply because I took the time to understand the officials' limitations.