Things I learned this week #17

It’s time of year again: Spotify have released their Rewind - showing you what you listened to throughout this year. After the year (or decade, or complete non-year, whatever helps you) that 2020 has been, I think a lot of people have looked to music for a bit of refuge, or good news, or distraction. Go and check yours out, it’s a cool little use of data, presented in a really nice way. In other news, the UK has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the first people should receive their doses in the next couple of weeks. Things are starting to look up, we may be over the hump of this.

  • These Different Ingredients: I remain a staunch defender of the Brussels Sprout. They’re a seasonal, nutritional, deeply flavoured winter ingredient that goes beautifully fried in butter with garlic, baked in roast tins, or as part of any winter curry. They get a bad wrap, but there’s a chance that even over the last 5-20 years we’ve bred our sprouts to have different (e.g. stronger, or less bitter) flavour profiles than we had before. So the sprouts that gave a bad name to their brethren may no longer be around. Go on - give them a go. (source)
  • These COVID-affected Amazon Reviews: One of the symptoms of COVID-19 is a loss of smell and taste. One consequence of this, especially in the US which is handling this pandemic quite badly, is that people can’t smell their scented candles. This is causing an increase in low-scored reviews of scented candles on Amazon, with more people mentioning that the candle has no scent. Whereas, in reality, people could be losing their sense of smell but not recognising it as a COVID symptom. (source)
  • These Best Mince Pies: Over the past couple of years I’ve become increasingly aware of the competitive, and critically important, world of Mince Pie judging. Mince pies taste of Christmas, and I’m personally a fan of having them hot (though I’ll have a cold pie if the mood takes me). The real question we want to answer every year, though, is “which supermarket does the best mince pie?“. Well, this year ASDA and Iceland are both leading the charge for both quality and value for money. Avoid Sainsbury’s, though - they’re not great and overpriced. (source)
  • This Cartoon Trivia: You know how, in Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast his castle is oddly full of weird grotesque sculptures? Like, inside and out? Anyway, a lot of those sculptures are actually based off of previous concepts for Beast that the animators and artists created before arriving on how he would actually look. (source)
  • This Origin Story: Fun fact: snow globes are man-made, they don’t just grow in the wild. I mean, I didn’t think they grew on trees but I can imagine that someone would. Again, that someone definitely wouldn’t be me. Snow globes were invented in Austria in 1900 by Erwin Perzy, a medical repair man who was trying to invent a brighter light, for use in medical settings. He experimented with water-filled bulbs, in the hope that maybe if he filled it was water and a reflective material - more light would be reflected in the operating theatre. What he actually stumbled on was something that resembled snow, and so he gave up all hope of helping the medical profession and started selling gimmicks.

What I’ve had on rotation

  • Something New: in Florescence (EP) by half•alive (Indie). This little EP is four orchestrated versions of some of half•alive’s previous songs - and it’s really great. It’s light and magical, the vocals really shine through, and the original tone of the pieces is still there. (links)
  • Something Old: Yesterday’s Gone by Loyle Carner (Hip Hop). I’ve been really getting into Carner’s music over the past couple of months - his unique mix of British and American influence is pleasing to me. He’s right on the lyrical, poetic, and melodic end of hip hop, and this whole album strikes as very true to himself and his upbringing. His mum has a track on the album, which is just so great. (links)

Cool articles

  • Why Religion Is Not Going Away and Science Will Not Destroy It by Peter Harrison for Aeon. This is an interesting piece which looks at how a fanatical belief, in either secularism or religious-ideals, are not conducive to finding a middle ground. Instead they can lead to further conflict and bad-opt
  • The UK has approved a COVID vaccine — here’s what scientists now want to know by Heidi Ledford, David Cyranoski, and Richard Van Noorden for Nature. The past month has been abundant with really great vaccine news for COVID-19. This is a massive step towards getting us closer to our pre-2020 lives. There’s a still a lot we’re uncertain of with the vaccines, like if people can still transmit the disease if they have been vaccinated; how long do people remain immune for?; or exactly effective are they in certain demographics (primarily age and gender)?