I hope you have had a lovely summer. With it being the first Saturday of the month, here’s an update from me including some recommendations for your eyes and ears.
Things in Denmark are pretty stable
New rules came in that it’s mandatory to wear face masks on public transport, but otherwise people seem to be getting on with their day to day life as normal. It’s common to use hand sanitiser when entering a building, though that seems more out of courtesy rather than any consideration that one might get coronavirus (this differs from when I was in the UK a few weeks ago and people were actively avoiding the underground train).
Textbook summer holiday
I had a nice summer break on the Danish island of Bornholm. Even the sturdiest Danes I talk to melt a little at its mention, such is its place in the hearts of Danes. In fairness, it was incredibly charming: quaint villages, lots of ceramics/ glass makers, and opportunities for outdoor swimming.
Focusing on releasing my new podcast
Now that I’m back in work mode my main focus is to launch this podcast about things that seem peculiar as an outsider in Denmark. I’ve been setting it up for ages, and now just want to get on with it! I’ve got various “stories” that I’m working on which are all quite interesting, and so once I’ve got 6 or so all recorded, the team and I can start promoting it.
Now on with some thinks and links…
The two sides of coronavirus and the environment: beyond the human tragedy of Covid-19 there have been some relatively unprecedented effects on the natural world, both positive and negative.
- For example, mountain ranges in India have suddenly become visible as the fog clears. This may have long term effects (argued here) as it makes Indians reconsider whether cities can in fact be liveable (and pressure politicians to act)
- The flip side is that the drop off in tourism (and hence money entering the local economy) in areas of natural beauty puts pressure on people living close by. For the first time in a decade, Uganda saw one of its gorillas killed by a poacher
The importance of local employment near environmental “assets”: Felix Byamukama (the Ugandan poacher) won’t, I don’t think, have killed the gorilla because of boredom, but because he needed money. With the national parks in Uganda being closed there simply aren’t income opportunities in the surrounding areas.
- I’m all for initiatives that place an economic value/ regulations on natural resources however it’s important to consider the livelihoods of those living nearby, who don’t often see lush forest as an environmental resource, but one of few available income sources
- In times of hardship the incentives change which it more attractive to seek private gain over whatever environmental protection laws are in place
- I’d be interested in learning more about (or one day starting?) initiatives that provide income generating opportunities en masse (e.g. food processing factories, virtual office hubs) near to areas of natural beauty so that the temptation never needs to arise
People who are against a coronavirus vaccination: as most of the world waits eagerly for a coronavirus vaccination so that “normality” can resume, it’s been interesting to learn about those who oppose it (more in depth here)
- I always thought the “anti-vax” movement (mainly in the US) was derived from a misunderstanding that vaccinations would lead to e.g. autism, and a general distrust of “science” vs anecdotal evidence
- When it comes to the havoc wrought by Covid-19 though, I thought this would subside, and people would be glad for the opportunity to get immunity from it
- If anything, it has spurred on those who actively resist the idea of being vaccinated through a combination of mistrust (“Government will let Big Pharma make poor quality vaccines”) and also an imposition of individual freedom (“It’s my right to choose if I do/ don’t get it”)
- This seems a classic case of where the line between government and individual is drawn. America leans more on there being certain areas where governments cannot interfere with individual choices, whereas in other parts of the world, getting a vaccine to protect your fellow citizens seems part of the deal of living in society (plus, why would you not trust an approved vaccine?)
I’ve begun compiling some good podcasts in a public playlist on Spotify. You can “follow” it, if you like
Some that are on there:
- What does Putin want? | The Inquiry: concise backstory on Vlad. Russia’s economy is smaller than Italy’s, yet they exert outsized power on the world stage, almost all down to Putin’s leadership and, perhaps, his training in judo
- How modern life is changing our feet | The Compass: interesting exploration of how modern shoes can have a negative impact on evolution’s finetunement of the human foot
- Professor Sarah Gilbert | Profile: brief back story on the person leading the Oxford vaccine for coronavirus. Fun fact: she has triplets.
- Norah Jones | Inheritance Tracks: I really like the format (and, if I’m honest, the name) of this podcast. Guests talk about one piece of music they inherited from family/ friends, and one they will pass on to the next generation
Not all podcasts are on Spotify (none from NPR, it seems) however Romeo & Juliet in Rwanda on Hidden Brainwas really interesting about how a radio soap opera in Rwanda was used to change people’s perceptions after the genocide.
- The Culture Map | Erin Meyers: I read this as a homework for understanding Danish culture more, but have found myself recommending it to lots of people. The author puts a framework around how and why different cultures do business differently (e.g. Germans give direct negative feedback whereas that grates in Mexico; why Chinese employees hate that their Danish boss tries to be an equal footing with them). Lots of “Ohhhh” moments.
- The Sovereign Individual: this is a book written in 1997 that essentially predicted the future of remote work, Bitcoin and all kinds of other things. Its libertarian thesis is that the rise of technology with expose the inefficiencies of centralised government causing individuals to demand more freedoms. Whilst the logic makes sense, there were certain aspects that didn’t play out (e.g. they speculated Bill Gates would be a trillionnaire by now; instead he has given away a lot of his wealth). Whilst interesting, it was a bit dense, and so after several attempts to get into it, I instead read this summary
- High Fidelity | Nick Hornby: a novel about a man in North London going through a mid-life crisis. According to the friend who gave me the book “It taught me everything I knew about men”. Aside from his tribulations with finding love/ meaning in his life, he runs a record store and has lots of good recommendations throughout. I made a note to try and find all of the songs but thankfully Spotify user pollycromada had already done it.
- The Four Quadrants of Conformism | Paul Graham: interesting essay on how people interact with conventional ideas. It makes you question whether you would have opposed slavery when it was happening.
- A Founder’s Guide to Writing Well | First Round Review: the articles on FRR are almost all very high quality and beyond generic advice. This one covers getting to the point whilst writing.
- What happened when we paired up thousands of strangers to talk politics | TED: about an initiative in Germany (subsequently spread to other countries) about arranging meet ups between people who have opposing political views. In short, they reported it as a big success story. The insight I liked best was giving people space to form their own opinions without anyone else listening
- The Godfather Parts I & II: we had these “on the list” to watch for ages and got around to doing so last weekend. Both times (first by chance, second by intention) we ate Italian food which was a nice extra. We might try and combine international films/ cuisines in the future to give some direction to “What shall we cook/ watch tonight?”
- “God I hate this app” | Twitter
- “Wanna feel old?” | Twitter
- What movie could’ve been over in 10 minutes if the main character wasn’t such a fool? | Reddit
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