What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#81)

Learned last week: What a winglet is for, the anatomy of a fake news headline, you don’t need 8 glasses of water a day, and more!

Quote I was thinking about this week:

The enemy of life is middle age.

Orson Welles

Another from Orson that might go with the above:

I started at the top and worked my way down.

Orson Welles

What’s in a winglet:

The idea of turning a wingtip up (or down) dates back to the 19th century. In 1897, English engineer Frederick W. Lanchester patented the placement of end plates vertically at the tip of a wing to control wingtip vortices.

Generally only visible in high moisture conditions, clouds, or fog, vortices appear as twisting ribbons of air behind the wing, almost like mini tornadoes turned sideways. As air flows over the wingtip of a conventional airplane, it tends to roll upward from the high pressure area under the wing to the low-pressure area above it. At speed, airflow over the tip of the wing is also forced backward. This backward flow combines with the upward roll from under the wing to form a vortex.

They may look cool, but they’re a major drag, literally. Vortices cause lift-induced drag, lowering the efficiency of the wing.

What it’s like to be an auctioneer:

That morning, like we did every day, we warmed up with tongue twisters and number drills, our forearms outstretched like a droning choir of capitalists. “You need to have hands out, asking for money,” Jones said on the first day. “That’s your number one job. No lazy arms. Put your hands out.” We needed to appear natural, moving one hand out in the direction of a possible bidder. Where is the bidder? What’s your current bid? What’s the bid you want after that and the one after that? Where are your hands? How’s your rhythm? Are you projecting from the diaphragm? Is your chant melodic? Quit swaying from side to side! And smile!

Keeping track of our mouths, the movements, and the increasing numbers was more stressful than I’d imagined it would be. It was like rubbing your stomach and patting your head and reciting the alphabet backwards to a beat. Though the room was freezing, I was sweating. I could use a beer, I thought. It was 10 a.m.

You do not have to drink 8 glasses of water a day:

Water is present in fruits and vegetables. It’s in juice, it’s in beer, it’s even in tea and coffee. Before anyone writes me to tell me that coffee is going to dehydrate you, research shows that’s not true either.

Although I recommended water as the best beverage to consume, it’s certainly not your only source of hydration. You don’t have to consume all the water you need through drinks. You also don’t need to worry so much about never feeling thirsty. The human body is finely tuned to signal you to drink long before you are actually dehydrated.

No, You Do Not Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day

A mathematicians guide to how contagion spreads:

WIRED: What’s an example of a data set that those companies might either have access to now or could easily collect and would be particularly useful for combating the pandemic?

AK: I’m not at this stage suggesting that companies should be handing over data—but more that in our lives we have the infrastructure and we have that data bouncing around. One feature of a lot of these outbreaks is how important location can be. And a lot of tracing efforts in places like Japan and Korea focus very much at the cluster level. So it’s: What was the nightclub? What was the workplace? Obviously, having information on location and where people have been and where people visited is very useful in that respect and can speed up tracing and an ability to get people to go and get tested. Certainly also countries like Thailand and New Zealand have floated getting people to check into venues with QR codes and that sort of thing.

The anatomy of a fake news headline:

An interesting and scary account of how a satirical article can be spread by algorithims and be interpreted as fact.

But Facebook had other ideas: Its algorithms chose to show the “antifa supersoldiers” ad overwhelmingly to people over 55 years old, according to Facebook’s published data about ads that it considers political. Undoubtedly, many of those viewers ignored the ad, or weren’t fooled by it, but the demographic Facebook chose is a demographic that a recent New York University study showed tends to share misinformation on social media more frequently.

This choice by Facebook’s algorithms is powerful: An academic paper showed that Facebook evaluates the content of ads and then sometimes steers them disproportionately to users with a particular gender, race, or political view. (The paper didn’t study age.)

Facebook also doesn’t make it possible to know exactly how many people saw SmartNews’s antifa supersoldiers ad. The company’s transparency portal says the ad was shown between 197 and 75,000 times, across about 75 variations (based on Android and iPhone and number of counties). Facebook declined to provide more specific data.

More watercolor painting last week:

Book quote I enjoyed:

“We must be prepared for imperfection. If we rely on having no nerves, on not being thrown off by a big miss, or on the exact replication of a certain mindset, then when the pressure is high enough, or when the pain is too piercing to ignore, our ideal state will shatter.” (Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning)

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