The Weekly Filet brings you the five best links of the week, every Friday. Making sense of the big issues of our time (with a healthy dose of serendipity and nerdiness). Brought to you by journalist David Bauer. Trawling the web for hidden gems since 2011.
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The Chinese coronavirus cover-up

China Media Project

As the Wuhan coronavirus started to spread, the Chinese government made sure news about it didn’t. A thorough investigation of the early days of the virus the whole world now talks about, by a Chinese journalist in Wuhan, the quarantined epicenter of the virus. If you read one more piece about the coronavirus, make it this one.

Published in Weekly Filet #287

Why We’re Polarized

Simon & Schuster

As the trial against Donald Trump enters its final stages, and as the selection of the Democrats’ contender is about to start, this new book offers a sharp lens for understanding the current state of the United States. Ezra Klein, founder of Vox.com, does an excellent job in compiling evidence and forming it into a narrative that is easy to read and easy to understand. His key argument: «America’s political system isn’t broken. The truth is scarier: it’s working exactly as designed.» And while the book focuses on the USA, since it is strongly based on findings from social science, it can be applied to other countries, too. Get it now (you can read and listen to an excerpt on Vox.com)

Published in Weekly Filet #287

You want to reduce the carbon footprint of your food? Focus on what you eat, not whether your food is local

Our World In Data

This is a very personal struggle with climate change I have: How much restraint do I impose on myself when I know that most emissions are caused by a few megacompanies, and when I see friends fly all over the globe? For one, there’s a moral imperative to do something. Also, changes in behaviour are contagious, and small changes add up. Then again, you want to be smart about your actions: Restrain yourself where it has the biggest effect. That might not always be where you think it is. This article gives a good overview of how food choices impact the climate – buying local doesn’t matter all that much, sometimes it’s even more harmful to the climate than buying imported food.

Published in Weekly Filet #287

Tech in 2020: Standing on the shoulders of giants

Benedict Evans

If you’re interested in technology and where it’s headed next, there’s no way around Benedict Evans. Every year, he does a big presentation on the state of technology. The focus of the latest one: What’s the next big thing after the smartphone revolution?

Published in Weekly Filet #287

Animated New Yorker covers

The New Yorker is known for its iconic covers. What’s less known is that in recent times, they have created animated versions of quite a number of their covers. And they are a thing of absolute beauty.

Published in Weekly Filet #287

A Live Climate Scoreboard for the World

Bloomberg

How many million tons of greenhouse gases is the world emitting? How many soccer pitches of forest were lost this hour? By how much is the planet warming? How much money is invested in renewable power worldwide? Bloomberg has created a dashboard with the most recent data on climate change indicators (our planet’s KPI, if you will). The dashboard is the centre piece of Bloomberg Green, a new product launched this week. Its mission: «Become an indispensable guide to anyone who wants to understand this great transition [to a sustainable economy]».

Published in Weekly Filet #286

Could mega-dams kill the mighty River Nile?

Al Jazeera

Ethiopia is building one of the largest dams in the world, leaving Sudan and Egypt further downstream the Nile at serious risk of water shortages. If Ethiopia fills the dam within three years, Egypt would lose half of its annual water supply. Al Jazeera has produced a compehensive visual piece on the project and its ramifications. (Also, did you know that the Nile flows very slowly? 65 times slower than the Amazon).

Published in Weekly Filet #286

The Future of Work in Developing Economies

MIT Sloan

I tend to be wary of studies on work automation. There are many unknowns and the definition of automation has a big impact on how many jobs will be automated by when. Nonetheless, this paper highlights an important, mostly overlooked aspect: That developing countries will be hit hardest by work automation.

Published in Weekly Filet #286

    The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

    The New York Times

    This is one of those tools that take the «magic» out of Arthur Clarke’s famous quote: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from…dystopia? Here’s what Clearview.ai does: It can analyse a face (let’s say: your face) from a photograph or surveillance feed and instantly connect it to other publicly available images of you. And since some of those other images are connected to your name (say, a profile image on Facebook or Linkedin), it knows who you are. It claims to have 3000 million faces in its database already. The New York Times has all the details.

    Published in Weekly Filet #286 In collection: The Future Is Now

    Night Trains

    Night Trains

    I have recently recommended this ode to train travel – this site is the perfect complement to it. A directory of night train lines all across the globe, with beautiful maps illustrating them.

    Published in Weekly Filet #286