The Weekender, May 17, 2019

1) “The Man Who Brewed Beer Inside His Body” (The Now I Know YouTube Channel, 4 minutes and 41 seconds, May 2019). Most people drink beer to get it into their stomachs. Meet the guy who skipped the “drinking beer” part and just brewed some in his belly.

2) “Kindness Can Be Taught. Here’s How” (NPR, 31 minutes and change, May 2019). This podcast/radio show features my friend and work colleague, Jen, but it’s something I would have shared anyway. Promise. There’s a very short article on the page; here’s the core part.

“Here’s what to remember:

  • Children are born to be kind — but also unkind.
  • Kindness requires courage.
  • To build kindness, practice mindfulness.
  • Teach real apologies, and frame forgiveness as a gift you give yourself.
  • Practice gratitude to ‘raise the capital’ of everyday kindness.
  • Kindness is a habit; rituals, chores and service can all help.”


3) The Now I Know Week in Review:

Monday: A Brief History of Self-Destructing DVDs — This one took me months to write; a lot of false starts and redrafts later, it turned out okay.

Tuesday: 1968: A Space, and Financial Services, Odyssey — Martian insurance.

Wednesday: The Second Life of Crayons. A really touching story… or, at least, I think it is.

Thursday: When Restaurants Declared War on Water — H2… no.

4) Let’s try something a bit different this week. Below is a rebus — “a puzzle in which words are represented by combinations of pictures and individual letters; for instance, apex might be represented by a picture of an ape followed by a letter X,” per Google.

Can you figure out what it says? (Click here for the answer.)

5) “Who to Sue When a Robot Loses Your Fortune” (Bloomberg, 6 minutes, May 2019). The subhead: “The first known case of humans going to court over investment losses triggered by autonomous machines will test the limits of liability.”

Robots are getting more humanoid every day, but they still can’t be sued.

So a Hong Kong tycoon is doing the next best thing. He’s going after the salesman who persuaded him to entrust a chunk of his fortune to the supercomputer whose trades cost him more than $20 million.

The case pits Samathur Li Kin-kan, whose father is a major investor in Shaftesbury Plc, which owns much of London’s Chinatown, Covent Garden and Carnaby Street, against Raffaele Costa, who has spent much of his career selling investment funds for the likes of Man Group Plc and GLG Partners Inc. It’s the first-known instance of humans going to court over investment losses triggered by autonomous machines and throws the spotlight on the “black box” problem: If people don’t know how the computer is making decisions, who’s responsible when things go wrong?

6) “Does This Dress Make Me Look Guilty?” (New York Times, 6 minutes, April 2019). The subhead: “This week Anna Sorokin, Elizabeth Holmes and Cardi B all provided a visual brief on how to use clothes to communicate in court.”

Have a great weekend!