What I learned last week (#99)

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Quote I was thinking about:

If the going is easy, maybe you are going downhill.

Max Frisch

Book excerpt I enjoyed:

“I have learned over the years that the most important thing to deal with is whatever is most on your mind. The fact that you think it shouldn’t be on your mind is irrelevant.” (David Allen, Getting Things Done)

How big is space:

I’ve been big into space lately and we’ve been talking to the kids a lot about the planets, moons and stars as well. This is a cool little piece of magic.


What You Can Learn from Living in Antarctica:

Have no expectations

You have to know what your expectations are. If you expect it to be hard, it’s going to be hard. If you expect it to be amazing and filled with new and interesting experiences, you end up looking for those experiences. People who are resourceful and come up with ways of managing changing conditions personally or professionally do better over the long haul. One thing that happens to the best of us is putting a departure date on the calendar. Inevitably you don’t make it out that day because the air strip needs to be adjusted or the plane can’t fly because the weather makes it impossible for the pilot to see anything. A lot of people really suffer with that. They lose it. But people who can make plans A, B, C, and D and not be bothered by the fact that the first three plans just went out the window do well. The flexible are the ones who do best in Antarctica.


Submarine cable map:

This is pretty crazy. Most of the internet works via undersea cables shown on this map.

Why don’t companies use satellites instead?

Satellites are great for certain applications. Satellites do a wonderful job of reaching areas that aren’t yet wired with fiber. They are also useful for distributing content from one source to multiple locations. However, on a bit-for-bit basis, there’s just no beating fiber-optic cables. Cables can carry far more data at far less cost than satellites. It’s hard to know exactly how much of all international traffic is still carried via satellite, but it’s very small. Statistics released by U.S. Federal Communications Commission indicate that satellites account for just 0.37% of all U.S. international capacity.

Do the cables actually lie on the bottom of the ocean floor?
Yes, cables go all the way down. Nearer to the shore cables are buried under the seabed for protection, which explains why you don’t see cables when you go the beach, but in the deep sea they are laid directly on the ocean floor.
Of course, considerable care is taken to ensure cables follow the safest path to avoid fault zones, fishing zones, anchoring areas, and other dangers. To reduce inadvertent damage, the undersea cable industry also spends a lot of time educating other marine industries on the location of cables.


Have the old teach the young:

For humans to thrive, they must master complex skills, such as foraging, hunting, cooking, child-rearing and tool-making. Many of these skills require years of practice; typically, hunters don’t reach their peak until they are in their mid-30s at least. To learn a complex skill, you also need patient teachers who can pass on their accumulated wisdom and technique.
But there’s a catch, vividly illustrated in the work-at-home world. It’s hard to simultaneously teach someone else to do something, and to do it effectively yourself. (Sunday pancakes take twice as long when the kids help.) Gurven and his colleagues found that, mathematically, the best evolutionary strategy was to have the old teach the young. Let the peak, prime-of-life performers concentrate on getting things done, and match the younger learners with older, more knowledgeable, but less productive teachers. They analysed more than 20,000 observations from more than 40 different locations around the world, and found that this was the precise pattern in many different contemporary hunting cultures. The grandparents, in their 50s or 60s, weren’t as strong or effective hunters as the 30-year-olds, but they were more likely to be teachers.

Perhaps, in the aftertime of the virus, we can begin to appreciate the young, brilliant and fragile human learners, as well as their wise, vulnerable, older human teachers – and genuinely bring the grandchildren and grandparents back together.


Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

2 responses

  1. > If the going is easy, maybe you are going downhill.

    LOL, that’s a good one!

  2. […] (Note that this is very similar to something I shared in WILLW #99) […]

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