Weekly Roundup 26/06/21

Hello, here’s this week’s roundup of things that I’ve been reading and listening to.


📚 Books:

Play Anything by Ian Bogost (audiobook):

I’m about halfway through this book and have decided to stop reading it. My expectations going into this book were that it would have useful information about gamifying life and how to find joy in otherwise mundane and difficult tasks. It does deliver on that to a small extent, but pretty much all in the first chapter. For the most part, I found that the author is making philosophical musings about modern life, with little value to the reader.

Here are some of the notes I’ve made so far:

  • Games are fun because they contain limitations. E.g. in soccer you can’t use your hands, in Super Mario you can only jump so high, in Tetris you can only place tiles a certain way, etc.
  • Play is defined as operating within a constrained system in a gratifying way. Our ordinary sense of the word play is wrong. It’s possible to work while “playing”
  • The book talks about the story of two fish swimming in water and one fish ask the other “how’s the water?” and the other fish says “what the hell is water?”. This shows that there exists a great irony in our life – that sometimes the things we depend on most are invisible to us
  • Where can we play? Well, playgrounds. “Playgrounds” are all around us and they have two characteristics: boundaries and contents. For example for a hiker, the playground would be the mountains, for an entrepreneur the playground might be a meeting room or the office.
  • The book talks about an affliction with “Ironoia”. This stops us from appreciation things as they are and prevents us from interacting with them in a play-like state. He states that “fun can only happen when we put irony aside and see things as they are”
  • Fun is the aftermath of deliberately manipulating a familiar situation in a new way
  • Beware the pitfalls of trying to gamify everything: he likens some situations to chocolate covered broccoli: trying to turn something boring into dessert but actually making it worse. Fun is the broccoli, without the chocolate. Once we realise the broccoli itself is not an end, but a resource we can put to use
  • We simultaneously reject fun as not-serious and undesirable but at the same time want our work, chores, life to be rid of drudgery and be fun instead.
  • Joy lies beyond boredom. Not before it, not within it. Once the familiarity of facing boredom sets in, the novelty of it and settle in. He uses an example of a long haul flight. After 4 hours of sitting in boredom, he then sees the beauty and wonder of hurtling through the air in a tube. In order to find what we cannot see, we must first strip away all that we can.
  • Manual Transmission and Knitting make life fun because they bring challenges, rules and intention to an otherwise mundane activity


The Well of Ascension (Mistborn Book 2) by Brandon Sanderson (audiobook):

I finished listening to the first book in this series last month and really enjoyed it. It’s a fantasy series set in a dark yet fun world, with an interesting system of magic. It breaks a lot of typical fantasy tropes and really keeps you guessing as to what will happen next.



🎧 Podcasts:

How to Heal From Your Past with Dr. Nicole LePera — The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show


Most of us have trauma that we’ve carried with us from our past. Whether it’s a bad childhood, loneliness from being an outcast, or the darker forms of abuse. This podcast explores some methods to deal with them but also just gives a teaser to the book that she’s selling. I was glad to discover that my Daily Pages already contain some methods to identify and deal with these issues.

When having a limiting thought:

  1. Connect with your consciousness and find a hook and you can turn to, such as your breath of sense of touch to bring your mind back to the present moment.
  2. up in your conscious mind and identifying these patterns and habits that are leading to your thoughts
  3. Physical wellbeing is also key

When thinking about your own trauma from the past, make sure to cultivate compassion for yourself. Don’t sit in judgement of the trauma that you have experienced and the effect it has had on your life or people around you. Instead think of it as a jumping point to move on.


An Origin Story of the Blue New Deal — How to Save a Planet


An inside look to how something goes from being an idea, to being signed into US policy. “Executive Order On tackling the Climate Crisis At Home and Abroad” signed in by Joe Biden, lays out a plan for what the US and Biden Administration wants to do about Climate Change. The episode dives into how one line in this Order was formed, pertaining to coastal communities and the role they can play in solving the issue.

The oceans will be an incredibly important part of helping us through the climate crisis. It is helping us absorb carbon, keeping it out of our atmosphere to prevent even further warming. But at the same time it is suffering tremendously through coral bleaching, increased acidity (makes it hard for crustaceans to gather shells as they dissolve) and melting ice from underneath itself. It needs to be part of solution because there are opportunities like offshore wind generation and regenerative kelp farming that can be made use of.

The “Blue Economy” also supports 2.3 million jobs in the U.S – for livelihoods ranging from fishing, offshore wind farms, tourism etc.



📃 Articles:

BioNTech Now Aims Its mRNA Technology at Cancer


mRNA COVID vaccines were only the beginning. Despite what some people might think, it’s a technology that has taken decades to go from a lab study to mainstream consumption. In another step towards science fiction, BioNTech is now aiming the technology at cancer.

What’s interesting is that the COVID vaccine was only “a minor detour” for BioNTech. The beauty of mRNA technology is that it’s quick to produce and can easily be tailored, since the mRNA can be coded as soon as a genome is sequenced, without requiring the actual virus itself. These advantages led to the speedy development of the COVID vaccine in the first place.

The idea behind these cancer vaccines is that it teaches the body’s immune system to attack cancerous cells, just like it can teach your immune system recognise COVID viruses based on the spike protein and attack them.

“By evoking a strong immune response against these antigens, FixVac candidates help the body target cancerous cells that overexpress these antigens.”

Facebook Aims to Take on Clubhouse With ‘Live Audio Rooms’ – MacRumors


Facebook proving, once again, that no social network is safe from being copied. I hope that Clubhouse doesn’t end up going the way of Snapchat – there must be some point where the Facebook app gets too bloated, right?

These Facebook Audio Rooms do have a notable advantage over Clubhouse, in that there’s no limit to the amount of people who can enter a room. They’re also planning on new features that Clubhouse doesn’t currently have, like notifications when friends join a room and live captioning.

Beware Tractability Bias | Scott H Young


As humans, we naturally have a bias towards doing things that show an immediate reward or sensation of progress. Scott likens it to sieging a castle: you can try the front gate, fail, then try the side gate etc. and keep failing. It will seem like you’re getting nowhere. But one day, you might discover a hidden trap door, or an underground tunnel, and eventually make your way in. Progress seems non-existent, but it’s there.

The same can happen with our work: we might fail at building multiple businesses, learning new things every time. Eventually, if we keep trying at it, our 6th one might be the runaway success, but only because we’ve discovered 5 ways not to run a business.

But our natural tendencies will tell us to pillage the countryside for immediate rewards instead. Even though the real revolution only occurs by trying to siege the castle.

Starlink Says It Can Provide Continuous Global Coverage By September


This is an exciting development and cool to see that’s they’ve got a focus on rural Australia for their service. Even in urban areas, the internet service in Australia is generally lacklustre. Hopefully as this rolls out more it gives more people in rural areas, not just in Australia but in developing countries.

As always with any timeline given by Elon Musk, we should take it with a grain of stardust. It’s good to be ambitious and optimistic, but when it comes to timelines he’s usually overly so. I would expect to tack on an extra 6-12months to this estimate.

An insect-like drone that could help pollinate crops


This article gave me some seriously concerning Black Mirror vibes, if you’ve seen the series on Netflix. After that initial gut-reaction, this is actually a very promising technology that will be important. Climate change continues to decimate bee populations, which will ultimately affect our food supply as flowering crops can’t receive the vital pollination they need to reproduce.

Tesla Shows Off Its Brand New AI-Training Supercomputer


I wonder how much it would cost to build a supercomputer like this today, with GPU shortages everywhere? Imagine having to buy the 5760 GPUs that are in this thing, from scalpers on eBay 😂..

Let’s hope this brings our future of self-driving cars that much closer.

Chinese web giant Baidu unveils Level 4 robo-taxi that costs $75k to make • The Register


Baidu producing autonomous L4 cars for a third of the average cost is astounding. It speaks to their economies of scale and progressive nature of their tech industry.