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Things I learned this week #15

"Isn't it getting dark early ?" - how I've started at least half of the conversations I've had this week.

  • This thing that spreads like a disease: Look, I was a germaphobe before it was cool. I was very aware of how one thing can spread from person to person. However this contagious model of disease doesn't just apply to problems caused by bacteria/virus/any other vectors. Obesity can spread like disease, where if your friendships mostly comprise of obese people who normalise a sedentary lifestyle, or poor diet, you're nearly about 170% more likely to be obese than if you weren't in these friendships. (source)
  • This gossip circle: In Europe and North America in the 1800s-1900s we used to have a tradition called 'Telling the Bees' where people saw it as incredibly important to keep the bees up to date with what's going on in your little provincial circles. Were there any deaths, marriages, children, etc. Though especially they were seen as a sign of mourning, with some people even bringing bees to a funeral. I'm glad that we've stopped doing that bit, but anything which helps us pay more attention to the wonders of bees is good - they're adorable and useful - how many of us can say that?. (source)
  • This obligatory Covid thing: I took some time this week to ask why and how Covid actually spreads and how we trace that. Given the criticism of the track-and-trace system here in the UK, I wanted to know more about what they're trying to do, and why it's hard. It turns out the majority of new Covid cases are caused by a minority of people. A study in India found 8% of people with covid cause 60% of the secondary cases, with 70% of people not passing it on to anyone. Since the beginning of the pandemic we've been focused on Super Spreaders and this kind of evidence suggests we should continue to maintain that focus. Well done to the 70% who effectively isolate, let's bump that number up. (source)
  • These rules for artists: In 1960s America Sister Corita Kent, a teacher and artist, taught a creative class. She brought these ten rules to the classroom and encouraged students to internalise them. They're not just good for students, or young people - they're wonderful reminders about how to live, and ended up being very popular among artists. They contain little wisdoms we'd all benefit from: "Consider everything an experiment" and "Be happy whenever you can manage it". These rules were later attributed to John Cage, so go and read them and attribute them to Sister Corita Kent. (source)
  • This old meaning: Did you know eye rolling was once a flirtatious gesture? Now it's used to express sarcasm or exacerbation, but go back a hundred years or so and all of a sudden you're making bedroom eyes 🙄 (source)

What I've had on rotation

  • Something New Detroit 2 by Big Sean (Hip Hop). I've been a little late in listening to Big Sean - he got a shoutout from Eminem in Kamikaze - the album where not a lot of other artists got positive attention. This album is packed full of collabs and features - it's a big production hip hop album. It's definitely not my normal kind of Hip Hop but I've been bumping it this week. (links)
  • Something Old: Angles by Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip (British Hip Hop). This, alongside Em, was one of my first introductions to hip hop/spoken word/poetry in music. It showed me that music can be serious and fun at the same time, that it can be British, and can teach something. Being 16 when this album came out I learned some things from it but, you know, you've not done a lot when you're 16. Re-listening to it now (as a 28 year old) throws me back, but still speaks to me - which speaks to how truthful and personal the music is. (links)

Cool links

  • MYSTICAL by Neil Burnell (photo gallery). Burnell is a photographer, and this project is all about the beauty and mystery of ancient woodland.
  • When Christmas was Cancelled: a lesson from history by Martyn Bennett for The Conversation. With a very different Christmas and New Years on the horizon for a lot of us, which we've got the chance to really mishandle, this article takes a little look at how this might not be entirely unprecedented.
  • UI Coach by Nero. This neat little site for improving your design skills generates you a challenge (e.g. "Design a goal management and sharing app"), provides you with a colour palette, font pairing, and icon/illustration set. I firmly believe (past the complete novice stage) we learn the nebulous design skills by doing. This is a great idea.
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