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Thursday, 17 October 2019

Weekly Reading: Some Interesting Stuff


1) The new marathon record, which was not a marathon!!
Like the moon landing, Kipchoge’s run was a technical achievement that required unprecedented planning and support. In fact, it was so heavily engineered that his new time will not count as a world record. Kipchoge ran the fastest time ever over the marathon distance, but for heated reasons that get at the heart of the sport, he did not run a marathon.
To sustain this blistering pace, Kipchoge ran under conditions that had been painstakingly and exclusively arranged to push him beyond the two-hour barrier. 
Challenge was not a race by any strict definition: It was simply Kipchoge, joined by a rotating phalanx of pacesetters, rocketing along the pavement against the clock.

2) We are nearing the endgame for PE funded non-businesses burning cash
Consumer tech companies, along with their venture-capital backers, help fund the daily habits of their disproportionately young and urban user base. 
But this was never going to last forever. WeWork’s disastrous IPO attempt has triggered reverberations across the industry. The theme of consumer tech has shifted from magic to margins. Venture capitalists and start-up founders alike have re-embraced an old mantra: Profits matter.
And higher profits can only mean one thing: Urban lifestyles are about to get more expensive.

3) Facing unbearable heat, Qatar has begun to air-condition the outdoors
Qatar is one of the fastest warming areas of the world, at least outside of the Arctic. Changes there can help give us a sense of what the rest of the world can expect if we do not take action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
To survive the summer heat, Qatar not only air-conditions its soccer stadiums, but also the outdoors — in markets, along sidewalks, even at outdoor malls so people can window shop with a cool breeze. “If you turn off air conditioners, it will be unbearable. You cannot function effectively,” says Yousef al-Horr, founder of the Gulf Organization for Research and Development.
Yet outdoor air conditioning is part of a vicious cycle. Carbon emissions create global warming, which creates the desire for air conditioning, which creates the need for burning fuels that emit more carbon dioxide. In Qatar, total cooling capacity is expected to nearly double from 2016 to 2030, according to the International District Cooling & Heating Conference.
And it’s going to get hotter.

4) Afternoon siesta is good for you (now I am guilt-free!!)
There is evidence to suggest that normal sleep does not consist of one block of 7 1⁄2 hours during the night. It is more likely that our biology is designed to allow us to sleep for about 6 hours during the night and 1 1⁄2 hours during the day.  Sleeping just once in 24 hours is called monophasic sleep, whereas broken sleep is polyphasic. In evolutionary terms, polyphasic animals are the most common, whereas monophasic animals have evolved more recently. Polyphasic patterns of sleep are the most common.
In an ideal biological world, napping (polyphasic) sleep might be best, as the body is never unduly stressed.

5) The US military is trying to read minds
The goal is to eventually develop accurate and sensitive brain-computer interfaces that can be put on and taken off like a helmet or headband—no surgery required.
Human skulls are less than a centimeter thick: the exact thickness varies from person to person and place to place. They act as a blurring filter that diffuses waveforms, be they electrical currents, light, or sound. Neurons in the brain can be as small as a few thousandths of a millimeter in diameter and generate electrical impulses as weak as a twentieth of a volt.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Weekly Reading - Some Interesting Stuff


1) What went wrong at Forever21
From its reign as king of the mall just a few years ago to its tumble into bankruptcy court last month, Forever 21 is a spectacular success story that seems destined for an unhappy ending.
South Korean immigrants Jin Sook and Do Wan Chang started the chain in 1984 with $11,000 that they saved from working in low-paying service jobs. Their first store was a 900-square-foot space in Northeast Los Angeles that offered cheap and trendy clothing to a young, mostly Korean-American clientele.
Their fast-fashion business model, which was based on quick-turnaround designs that could be inexpensively mass produced, proved wildly popular with young customers who didn’t have much money to spend but wanted the latest looks. By 2015, global sales peaked at $4.4 billion, with 480 stores occupying enormous spaces in malls across America

2) Look who is certifying our food
International Life Sciences Institute, a U.S. nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name has been quietly infiltrating government health and nutrition bodies around the world. Created four decades ago by a top Coca-Cola executive, the institute now has branches in 18 countries. It is almost entirely funded by Goliaths of the agribusiness, food and pharmaceutical industries.
The organization, which championed tobacco interests during the 1980s and 1990s in Europe and the United States, has more recently expanded its activities in Asia and Latin America, regions that provide a growing share of food company profits. It has been especially active in China, India and Brazil, the world’s first, second and sixth most populous nations.
After decades largely operating under the radar, ILSI is coming under increasing scrutiny by health advocates in the United States and abroad who say it is little more than a front group advancing the interests of the 400 corporate members that provide its $17 million budget, among them Coca-Cola, DuPont, PepsiCo, General Mills and Danone.

3) Disinformation for hire
The staples of Russian misinformation campaigns—fake news and social media propaganda—are turning up in a new place: the private sector. For a small fee, companies can pay Russian operatives to boost their image or smear their competitors, employing some of the same tactics used by the Kremlin to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The range of services offered by the Russian PR firms is startling. Not only do the firms deploy fake accounts on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, but they offer a service to plant news articles in English-language media outlets.

4) Mental toughness is the key to success
Research is starting to reveal that your mental toughness — or “grit” as they call it — plays a more important role than anything else when it comes to achieving your goals in health, business, and life. That’s good news because you can’t do much about the genes you were born with, but you can do a lot to develop mental toughness.
Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked to grow and develop. If you haven’t pushed yourself in thousands of small ways, of course you’ll wilt when things get really difficult.

5) How Fogg came to dominate the deo market and displaced MNCs
An old article on how Fogg went about dominating he market and overtook HUL, ITC, Nivea and others. The domination continues even today.
The answer lies in the brand’s ability to reinvent itself, constantly. From being a newbie pitching product attributes such as ‘No Gas, Only Perfume’ to a brand talking to youngsters as well as the older generation, Fogg has done it all in a bid to stay relevant to its consumers.
Patel admits his strategy has been to expand the toehold that Fogg initially gave him. ‘No Gas, Only Perfume’ was all about how the fragrance of the deo lingered on the body rather than vaporising into thin air, which was a flaw in most deodorants back then.
Fogg also advertised this proposition heavily in its early days, comparing number of sprays of average deos versus its own ability to do so. The consumer was clearly excited. 

Friday, 4 October 2019

Weekly Reading - Some Interesting Stuff


1) Thomas Cook, which pioneered the concept of packaged holidays, is now officially bankrupt
The bankruptcy of Thomas Cook Group Plc, the company whose founder is credited with inventing the modern tourist industry, is being blamed on Brexit, a series of bad management decisions and an unsustainable debt level. Perhaps, however, it’s worth looking at Thomas Cook’s failure as the beginning of the end of the tourism model the company helped create.

2) How our memories work against us
Our memories are not an accurate recording of the past. They are constructed from imperfect perception filtered through our beliefs and biases, and then over time they morph and merge. Our memories serve more to support our beliefs rather than inform them.
There is no easy way to develop a deep understanding of a topic. In-depth research requires that we consider a variety of perspectives. One way to reduce the risk of memory contamination is to inform ourselves with facts before exposing ourselves to the tabloid version. When we have a fully informed opinion and a broad understanding, sensational headlines have less of an emotional impact.
Personally, I don’t think it’s healthy to read too many sensational headlines. I find that these exaggerations can get mixed into my memory and mess things up.

3) How technology disrupts in unpredictable ways
In 1978, Head got one of his new oversized rackets into the hands of a talented 16-year old named Pam Shriver. Although Shriver entered the U.S. Open unseeded, she ended up beating Martina Navratilova in the semifinals. Pros took notice: by 1984, composite rackets had taken over the tour.
This is a portrait of technological disruption.
Why were composite rackets so hard on the oldest players? Head, after all, invented the composite racket to help old guys like himself hit good shots; it was supposed to level the playing field. And yet, his invention ended up doing the exact opposite, tilting the competitive balance in favor of youth. 
While Howard Head was trying to create a bigger sweet spot for amateurs, professionals didn’t really need a bigger sweet spot. Instead, they used these new rackets to give their shots more topspin.

4) We are all ignorant & confident idiots!
In many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.
An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous.

5) Brazilian football is dying (of corruption)
If football is a religion in Brazil, a prayer might be in order. A conspiracy of blunders and malfeasance by professional football’s elite handlers has squandered talent and left the cherished national institution in shambles. As a result, Brazil’s signature sport has suffered a drought of trophies (Brazil’s last World Cup title was in 2002), empty bleachers and abandoned stadiums, not to mention the dreaded “foot drain” that sends the game’s most promising players abroad in their prime.
Without thorough reform, the football system that put ballet on grass and captured five World Cups with marquee stars from Pele to Ronaldo is headed for an international reckoning and almost certain insolvency.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-10-03/brazilian-football-is-on-the-brink-of-self-destruction