Links and notes for the day - 15th June 2018

Heads up. Change incoming:

One thing that I've noted during the day is that I have lots of little thoughts or comments on somethings that I don't necessarily feel are big enough to expand into an entire blogpost. Generally these end up as tweets. I've been wondering for a while now how I can incorporate it into my blog. And then I realised I sometimes run a Links of the day blog post (which I need to go back and tag properly). Why not add to that? Sometimes I have just two links, but a lot of thoughts. Just keep this as a running open tab and keep adding to it! So now it's Links and notes for the day as opposed to just Links of the day.

What is Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons might very well carry a permanent place in human culture. A niche position. But permanent. I've seen a lot of videos talk about DnD from a "here's what this game is about" perspective. But this video takes it to the next level and really puts out the essence of what makes DnD so loved. One of Vox's best videos I've watched recently. I cannot recommend this enough.

Related link - Podcast interview of a guy who's run a single campaign for 34 years

The rise of the mesopredator

This video is fascinating for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, I did not know about this idea of the rise of mesopredators. I guess I'm going to add this to the backlog of things to look into during my free time.

Second, and more important, the use of music with simple lyrics and animation to convey an urgent topic in such an accessible way is amazing. I'm continuously trying to find ways to convey dense, or niche topics to people in such a way that they might find it interesting. Right now my tool of choice is sketchy drawings done in Photoshop as slides.

The way this video has been done goes beyond that. It has a viral component to it. It's shareable. There's an element of fear in the form of "will I come across as preachy?" when one shares information like this across their networks. This generally leads to self censorship. The video above can be shared just as way of sharing fun. And I can't help but wonder how this could be applied to other areas which are in desperate need of awareness such as climate change.

As an FYI, I recently learned that there's an entire field of study dedicated to the last point I made. My friend informed me of it over dinner recently. It's called science communication (sci-comms for short).

When the next plague hits

Bill Gates, whose foundation has studied pandemic risks closely, is not a man given to alarmism. But when I spoke with him upon my return from Kikwit, he described simulations showing that a severe flu pandemic, for instance, could kill more than  33 million people worldwide in just 250 days. That possibility, and the  world’s continued inability to adequately prepare for it, is one of the  few things that shake Gates’s trademark optimism and challenge his  narrative of global progress. “This is a rare case of me being the  bearer of bad news,” he told me. “Boy, do we not have our act together.”
Preparing  for a pandemic ultimately boils down to real people and tangible  things: A busy doctor who raises an eyebrow when a patient presents with  an unfamiliar fever. A nurse who takes a travel history. A hospital  wing in which patients can be isolated. A warehouse where protective  masks are stockpiled. A factory that churns out vaccines. A line on a  budget. A vote in Congress. “It’s like a chain—one weak link and the  whole thing falls apart,” says Anthony Fauci, the director of the  National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “You need no weak  links.”

Posted on June 15 2018 by Adnan Issadeen