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.
Subscribe now | Learn more

Study the role of hubris in nations’ COVID-19 response

We’re certainly not in need of more monocausal explanations for anything coronavirus-related, but this is an interesting aspect to consider: «The pandemic provides a natural experiment on the public-health effects of hubris. […] Many countries that see themselves as distinctive have handled the pandemic badly.»

Published in Weekly Filet #317

    «I Have Blood on My Hands»: A Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation

    «Most of the world outside the West was effectively the Wild West with myself as the part-time dictator» — writes a former Facebook employee tasked with identifying and fighting attempts to use the platform for undermining elections. In a damning memo, she describes how Facebook knew of such malicious activity around the world, from India, Ukraine, to Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador — and was slow to act. It’s not an easy issue to deal with, but it’s also an issue the company with yearly profits of $25 billion chooses not to spend more resources on.

    Published in Weekly Filet #317

      The meaning of Moria: what we must learn from the refugee camp’s fires

      For one thing, the refugee camp in Moria is a symbol for Europe’s hypocrisy (as pointed out in an earlier issue). In the age of Covid-19, however, it also symbolises something that goes beyond Europe. «In the early weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak», Jeremy Cliffe writes in the New Statesman, «it seemed like the pandemic might serve as the definitive illustration of humanity’s interdependence.» As it stands now, he concludes, the pandemic hasn’t been «the wake-up call the world needed, much as it should have been.»

      Published in Weekly Filet #317

        This Doctor Wants to Humanize Death

        This short documentary from The New York Times is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It profiles Dr. Nadia Tremonti, who made it her mission to help families cope with the worst that can happen to them: losing a child to an illness.

        Published in Weekly Filet #317

          Woman Who Popularized Gender-Reveal Parties Says Her Views On Gender Have Changed

          When I read this week that one of the big wildfires in California was apparently sparked by a gender-reveal party, I immediately remembered this story (maybe because I rolled my eyes so hard that I gazed directly into my brain). The woman who «invented» gender-reveal parties now has a genderqueer kid and urges others to stop. «Let’s just have a cake.»

          Published in Weekly Filet #316

            America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral

            Not that I’d want that, but if I could travel back in time and start 2020 again, I would commit to getting all my information on the pandemic from Ed Yong’s pieces in The Atlantic and nothing else. His latest, again, is so clarifying. He explains how the pandemic messes with our intuition, and lists 9 errors of intuition that people keep making during the pandemic (he focuses on the US, but trust me, no matter where you live, you’ll recognize all of them). Thanks to this piece, I now know where the term «death spiral» comes from, and no, that’s not what I needed.

            Published in Weekly Filet #316

              How Will Language Change if Humans Travel the Stars?

              Here’s a mind-bending issue you probably never thought of (maybe because humans travelling beyond the sun isn’t your primary concern, but hear me out). One day — the story assumes around 2300 — a group of humans might embark on a space travel to another planetary system. It would take a cool 200 years, and the message that they finally arrived would take another ten years to reach earth. And then: Earth humans might no longer understand galaxy humans — because that’s how language works.

              Published in Weekly Filet #316

                20 Million Trees

                A great episode from Gimlet’s new How to Save a Planet podcast. It revolves around the question of how to get people involved in fighting climate change who might not think of themselves as climate activists. The protagonist: a 22-year old YouTuber with dozens of millions of subscribers, who they describe as a «2020’s version of Jackass, but slightly more wholesome and with a much bigger budget»

                Published in Weekly Filet #316

                Use this tool to overcome the biggest decision-making mistake

                How many people live in the Tokyo metro-area? What is Germany’s per-capita GDP? What portion of Kenya’s electricity is generated from hydropower? This story comes with an interactive quiz to teach you a lesson about overconfidence. Fun and insightful. Channel your inner Fermi and try it now.

                Published in Weekly Filet #316