Author Jim Zellmer

The calculus of contagion In the battle against disease, the difference between a raging epidemic and a passing fever comes down to a single number

Ad Kucharski:

When Ronald Ross tipped over the water tank outside his bungalow in Bangalore, it began a lifelong battle against mosquitoes. It was 1883 and Ross, only two years out of medical school, was the British Army’s new garrison surgeon. Overall, he was happy with the posting – he considered the city, with its sun, gardens and villas, to be the best in southern India.
 
 He was less enthusiastic about the mosquitoes. Having arrived to find his room filled with the sound of buzzing wings, he decided to hunt down and destroy their breeding ground in pools of stagnant tank water. The ploy worked: as he drained the tanks, mosquito numbers fell

The Slow, Inevitable Death Of Cable TV

Adam Singer:

I have long predicted the demise of cable TV (the dumb pipe). With services like Netflix, Amazon Instant, Google Play and more there is absolutely no reason to view content on someone else’s timetable.
 
 It’s also arrogant of anyone to think their content is so important or special users should have to watch at a specific time on a specific device or screen. Timeshifting is the new default and content should be available on whatever device a user prefers. Not via some archaic set of arbitrary rules because someone “says so.” The technology exists so that control is in the hands of users.
 
 More than that, cable providers have long provided awful customer service, ignored / lied to the market, held people hostage and clung to dated technology and trends that support their (ever-weakening already lost) grasp on content.

Innovations in payment technologies and the emergence of digital currencies

Robleh Ali, Roger Clews & James Southgate:

Modern electronic payment systems rely on trusted, central third parties to process payments securely. Recent developments have seen the creation of digital currencies like Bitcoin, which combine new currencies with decentralised payment systems.

 
 Although the monetary aspects of digital currencies have attracted considerable attention, the distributed ledger underlying their payment systems is a significant innovation.
 
As with money held as bank deposits, most financial assets today exist as purely digital records. This opens up the possibility for distributed ledgers to transform the financial system more generally

Paris Time Lapse

via Eric Reagan:

Paul Richardson spent three weeks in Paris recently and tried to capture the city’s classic sights as well as the modern business side. While he captured some fantastic scenes, his editing really made this timelapse stand out.
 
 He spent three weeks shooting, followed by 5 weeks of editing the images and footage for a grand total of about 400 hours on this project. That is 2.5 hours for every second of this video, which was entirely self-funded an

On the Jaguar e-type

LJK Setright:

My elder daughter has just passed her 16th birthday, and she never notches up another year without recalling my original E-type Jaguar. A month before she was born, her mother was taken into hospital for observation; and on that same day the car was sent down from Coventry for me to test. I was on my own, free to go wherever I fancied and at whatever hour. To take me, I had the car that was the sensation of the early ‘60s, the car that, even two years after production had begun in 1961, could still turn more heads than a platoon of poachers in a poultry farm. It fitted like a glove, went like the wind, looked like a million dollars, and sold for a little more than a couple of thousand pounds. Even though it might be doomed in some hands to idle its life away in a top-gear London loiter, it carried about itself everywhere the immense and unquestioned authority of a car that was known to be capable of 150mph.
 
 It was time for me to fulfil a long-cherished ambition, to see the dawn from the top of Worcester Beacon, to watch the sun come upon the 12 counties within the purview of that loftiest of the Malvern Hills. From my home then in Hampton it was a moderately long drive, but it should not feel long, or take long in an E-type; and in any case I was free to set off whenever I liked.

Sugar: the evolution of a forbidden fruit

John Allemang:

weetness was meant to be irresistible.
 
 We are born with a sweet tooth. Babies drink in sugar with their mother’s milk. Sweetness represents an instant energy boost, a fuel that kept our ancestors going in a harsher world where taste buds evolved to distinguish health-giving ripeness and freshness from the dangers of bitter, sour, toxic foods. Sugar gives us drug-like pleasures – lab rats deprived of their sugar-water fix exhibit classic signs of withdrawal. When things are going well, we blissfully say, “Life is sweet.”
 
 And now sweetness is linked with death and disease. Sugars are themselves toxins, some researchers suggest, that cause obesity, diabetes, hyper- tension and Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar has joined salt and fat on the list of dietary evils. Governments and health experts are urging people to cut back their daily intake.

British Government Picks Illumina to Sequence 100,000 Genomes

Antonio Regaldo:

The British government says that it plans to hire the U.S. gene-sequencing company Illumina to sequence 100,000 human genomes in what is the largest national project to decode the DNA of a populace.
 
 In a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Illumina said it had been picked as the “preferred partner” for the £100 million project.
 
 Genomics England confirmed that it had chosen the California company to carry out the sequencing project. “We’ve been through the ‘bake-off’ process to find the right company to do the sequencing, and will now be entering detailed negotiations,” says Vivienne Parry, a spokesperson for Genomics England.

How has Restaurant Behavior Changed in 10 years?

A New York Restraunt:

Like most restaurants in NYC we have a surveillance system, and unlike today where it’s a digital system, 10 years ago we still used special high capacity tapes to record all activity. At any given time we had 4 special Sony systems recording multiple cameras. We would store the footage for 90 days just in case we need it for something.
 
 The firm we hired suggested we locate some of the older tapes and analyze how the staff behaved 10 years ago versus how they behave now. We went down to our storage room but we couldn’t find any tapes at all.
 
 We did find the recording devices, and luckily for us, each device has 1 tape in it that we simply never removed when we upgraded to the new digital system.
 
 The date stamp on the old footage was Thursday July 1 2004, the restaurant was real busy that day. We loaded up the footage on a large size monitor, and next to it on a separate monitor loaded up the footage of Thursday July 3 2014, the amount of customers where only a bit more than 10 years prior.

The future photograph

Sam Gerstanzang:

When an expensive thing becomes free, new behaviors emerge. When a private thing becomes public, new behaviors emerge. Below, some thoughts on the swirling cloud of photographs that we are creating together.
 
 We are in the middle of a redefinition of what constituents value in a photograph. On one hand, photographs are cheaper, which should lower the received value necessary to justify the taking of the photograph. On the other hand, abundance creates scarcity of attention and we now have always-on instant access to the best photographs, which devalues the amateur. Going forward, personal photographs will have two purposes: 1) memory of personal circumstance and 2) personal expression. What kinds of photographs will be taken when we have perfect information? The future photographer will ask themselves, what are the odds that this picture, but better, doesn’t exist already?

Federal Reserve & Financial Bubbles

Jeffrey Snider:

The only way any of this makes sense is if you buy the primordial orthodox premise that monetary policy is neutral in the long run (or even intermediately). Taking that line will lead you to believe asset bubbles are just markets gone insane of their own accord. Then again, Yellen has largely been hostile to “markets” since her academic career brought some notice, so this is really no surprise. But to experience, right now, the repo market collateral shortage and QE’s direct impact and to still blame markets for lack of resilience is either inordinate impudence or targeted public relations.
 
 I cannot overstate this enough, the selloff last year was a desperate warning about the lack of resilience in credit and funding. That repo markets persist in that is, again, the opposite of the picture Janet Yellen is trying to clumsily fashion. Central banks cannot create that because their intrusion axiomatically alters the state of financial affairs, and they know this. It has always been the idea (“extend and pretend” among others) to do so with the expectation that economic growth would allow enough margin for error to go back and clean up these central bank alterations. That has never happened, and the modifications persist.