Weekly Newsletter

January 25, 2015

Human Potential

Natural Born Heroes
Sometimes, when I read an article, I think it would be great for the newsletter because it calls into question a widely-held belief or delves deep into an esoteric topic in a profound way. This isn’t one of those articles – this is an article that you read and think “this is awesome.” The article covers a few different groups reviving or creating new uses of the human form.

A circus of the senses
Surveys scientific studies on synaesthesia. Argues that synaesthetic abilities exist on a spectrum rather than as a binary.

Future of the Economy

This Twenty-Something Hopes to Unleash the Next Green Revolution
Profiles John Kempf, a mid-twenties Amish farmer, Kempf, who favors a results-based approach to agriculture which synthesizes modern and traditional farming techniques. This article stood out to me because Kempf’s techniques don’t require farmers to abandon GMOs or reduce their yields. Kempf, instead, forgoes the rhetoric of the organic farming movement in exchange for a more pragmatic approach. This quote exemplifies why Kempf deserves the praise he’s receiving:

“I was taken seriously,” Kempf says, “because I was able to ask really intelligent questions and I didn’t tell anyone how old I was.”

Small is Bountiful
Argues that small businesses can exploit large corporations’ blind spots in order to find their niche. Paints an optimistic picture of our economy as a dynamic entity. This article contrasts last week’s article, which convincingly argued that entrepreneurship (as opposed to innovation) is on the decline in the United States. Unfortunately, last week’s article makes a more compelling case, utilizing a more rigorous statistical approach. That being said, this article shows how, in certain sectors, small businesses’ are growing and thriving.

Debate: McDouble, Cheap and Nutritious?
Summarizes a debate over whether McDonald’s McDouble is a good low-cost food option.

Technology

Where Cellular Networks Don’t Exist, People Are Building Their Own
Profiles Rhizomatica’s work to bring cellular networks to rural villages in Mexico. I view this project as a prime example of an effective aid program.

Will online anonymity win out?
Questions whether internet activists will win their fight for total online anonymity. Proposes that online anonymity should be preserved in most cases. Although I take a harder stance on the rights of internet users than this author, I thought he did a good job of conveying both sides of the argument and discussing their relative merits.

History

The Gay Capital of the Nineteenth Century
Reviews the gay rights movement that began in late 1800s Berlin. I enjoyed this piece because it covers German history without falling victim to the trap of portraying everything before Nazism as connected to its rise.

Foreign Policy

How Isis Rules
Provides an inside look at life under the rule of ISIS. This is the most comprehensive article on ISIS I’ve found so far.

Perception

Spot the Sniper
Displays panorama images that contain camouflaged snipers. The challenge is to spot the sniper in the image. While I mostly included this because I think it’s fun, I also enjoyed the comparison made between these images and Apple advertisements.

Discussion, links, and tweets

I'm a software developer currently working at UberEats. I keep a low social media presence, but, if you enjoy what I have to say or want to rant at me, you should email me at stephenmalina@gmail.com. If you're interested in what I'm currently programming, check out my Github. I occasionally rant on Twitter as well.