What caught my attention – week of 30 March 2020

1. HeartMath

Title: THE HEARTMATH EXPERIENCE – Connect with the Heart of Who You Truly Are
Link: HeartMath

HeartMath does fantastic research and they recently made their flagship online course available free of charge. I’d invite you to take a look.

This effective 90‑minute interactive learning experience, which has been featured at film festivals, provides insights into the power of your heart’s intelligent guidance. You will learn 5 scientifically validated HeartMath techniques designed to help you reduce stress and anxiety while increasing inner security and emotional poise. Research has also shown that these techniques for balancing the mind and emotions along with practicing compassionate care especially enhance our immune system and boost our resilience.

2. Protests

Title: Leaderless rebellion: how social media enables global protests
Link: FT

This was an article from last year which I recently re-read.

In Lebanon, the trigger for protests was a tax on WhatsApp messages. In Chile it was a rise in metro fares. In France, the gilets jaunes protests that began last year were set off by a rise in petrol taxes. Elsewhere, the roots of popular revolt are more clearly political. In Hong Kong, it was an attempt to allow extradition of criminal suspects to China. In Algeria, where mass protests have been going on for most of the year, it was an announcement that Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the ailing president, intended to run for a fifth term.

The mass protests that have broken out during the past year in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East share other important characteristics. They are usually leaderless rebellions, whose organisation and principles are not set out in a little red book or thrashed out in party meetings, but instead emerge on social media. These are revolts that are convened by smartphone and inspired by hashtags, rather than guided by party leaders and slogans drafted by central committees.

Social media also allows a movement in one place to take inspiration from news of revolts in another. The occupation of the airport in Barcelona last week was a tactic borrowed from Hong Kong. Hong Kong demonstrators have been seen carrying the Catalan flag. The Sudanese and Algerian uprisings this year borrowed each other’s imagery and slogans — in a similar fashion to the Arab Spring revolts of 2011.

3. Global economy

Title: Coronavirus: The Finance and Banking Guide
Link: Zeihan on Geopolitics

We chose to have the coronavirus recession. We chose to separate ourselves from one another. We chose to not interact or travel or go to work or restaurants or malls. The nature of this recession makes it no less serious – in fact, it is likely to prove more impactful in terms of economic activity lost than the 2008 financial crisis – but it does mean any changes to America’s underlying economic structure are unlikely to be as disruptive or long-lasting as a financial recession would be.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has already injected more liquidity into the American financial system during the coronavirus crisis than it did during the entirety of the 2008 financial crisis. In just the past week it declared it would commit unlimited funds to purchasing securities to prevent market freefalls, and in just a week expanded its balance sheet by a half trillion dollars. That’s nearly as much distressed debt as than the Fed purchased during the three-month nadir of the 2008 crisis.

4. Technology

Title: Formula 1 comes up with a breathing machine for covid-19 patients
Link: The Economist

The seven Formula 1 teams in Britain have high-tech engineering centres stuffed with the latest production equipment. And they employ hundreds of staff with the talent to use this gear to design, test and manufacture parts rapidly, in the days between races. With the season suspended, they have been collaborating on ways to help produce ventilators, which are needed urgently to treat patients suffering from covid-19. This week one team, Mercedes-amg, obtained approval for a device which it can quickly manufacture by the thousand.

5. Environment

Title: Shutdowns have unintended climate benefits: cleaner air, clearer water
Link: NBC News

In Venice, the often murky canals recently began to get clearer, with fish visible in the water below. Italy’s efforts to limit the coronavirus meant an absence of boat traffic on the city’s famous waterways. And the changes happened quickly. Countries that have been under stringent lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus have experienced an unintended benefit. The outbreak has, at least in part, contributed to a noticeable drop in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in some countries. Although grim, it’s something scientists said could offer tough lessons for how to prepare — and ideally avoid — the most destructive impacts of climate change.

+1 Book of the week

Author and title: Michael Moss – Salt, sugar, fat

It’s another “Hooked” type book (i.e. Nir Eyal’s Hooked) but this time it’s not about your attention (well, partially…we do think about food a lot) rather your diet and health.

The content of the book can be summed up in this question: “Why does it feel so good the way those Pringles crunch, and how the food industry tricked our brains into eating it?”

While of course this is simplified the book, written by an investigative journalist, does a superb job in exploring the three foundations the processed food industry is based on: salt, sugar and fat. This is of course not news to anyone but when it came out in 2013 it was still a relatively unexplored space, at least in the mass public. After reading the book you’ll be more careful to read the labels and (most likely) change your diet.

Few notes for that I took:

  • Companies spend a lot of time on the creation of a “bliss-point” where the level of sugar in a particular processed food or snack isn’t overbearing but keeps consumers coming back to the product
  • Similarly, creating a “mouth-feel” looks very much like a science project
  • Eating more sugars from an early rage raises the tolerance of sugar for kids, hence kids more more sugary products or products that are designed for kids (think cheese stuffed pizza crusts…mhmhm sounds like something nature would intend) to satiate
  • Fat packs twice as much calorie as sugar/carb thus and it is almost invisible by consumers so food companies use it a lot
  • When fat is combined with added sugar the brain loses all orientation (creates craving…ie you are hooked)