Written by

Chris Gonzales

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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📸🐠: The winners of the this year’s “Underwater Photographer of the Year” contest have been announced, and they’re as beautifully ethereal as ever. I like that they included videos of the photographers themselves talking about how they got their respective shots, it really humanizes the whole thing.

🤯: Benjamin Skuse of Wired recently shared the research and theories of Andrzej Dragan, a multitalented photographer/music composer/filmmaker who happens to also be a quantum physicist (?!?) that believes the two distinct and fundamental pillars of our understanding of the universe — that is, general relativity and quantum mechanics — are more mathemetically compatible than previously believed:

Dragan and [fellow researcher Artur Ekert] argue that these critics miss the point. “We’re not saying there are any objects that travel faster than light; there might be, but that doesn’t enter our arguments,” Ekert says. “What we are saying is that you can look on the world from a perspective that is beyond light speed.”

From this faster-than-light vantage point, you can swap the order of cause and effect. This is a key result because the underlying physics must remain the same regardless of whether you’re watching events unfold above or below the cosmic speed limit. And if this is true, the pair argue that the order of events no longer plays a fundamental role in the theory.

Look, I don’t claim to truly understand any of this, but if nothing else, the article seems to do a great job breaking down these complex schools of physics into “explain it to me like I’m [insert young age].”

🤐: Speaking of math (but in a different sense), David Kinney published a piece for Psyche on the mathematical case against blaming people for their misfortune:

According to one school of thought, when these sorts of bets don’t pan out, only the gambler is to blame. That might sound callous, but it’s indeed the attitude that many of us seem to hold, at least in the United States: a 2014 Pew Research report found that 39 per cent of Americans believed that poverty was due to a lack of effort on poor people’s part. When ‘effort’ includes an inability to properly weigh up the risks inherent in a decision, this suggests that, in the end, many of us think that people are responsible for their own bad luck.

I disagree with this view. But my reasons aren’t solely political or moral in nature. Rather, insights from complexity science – specifically, computational complexity theory – show mathematically that there are hard limits on our capacity to make accurate and precise calculations of risk. Since it’s often impossible to get a reasonable sense of what will happen in the future, it’s unfair to blame people with good intentions who end up worse off as a result of unforeseen circumstances. This leads to the conclusion that compassion, not blame, is the appropriate attitude towards those who act in good faith but whose bets in life don’t pay off.

Something to keep in mind the next time you find yourself armchair-critiquing another person’s well-intentioned decisions when they happen to go south. (I’ve been guilty of kneejerk judgments a lot myself, so I’m not saying this from atop a high horse. I need this reminder as much as anyone.)

📺💭: One more math/physics thing and I’ll stop (for this week, anyway). If you want your mind expanded a little, watch Carl Sagan’s basic explainer about the fourth dimension:


🐙✂️: MKBHD’s recent Twitter thread on “content creators as octopi chopping their own arms off as they get bigger” is a lot less weird than it sounds. The analogy really works, somehow.

He expands on the analogy further in his interview with The Verge — here’s one example (underlining mine):

So, your inbox is full of sponsorship offers from other companies. You say, “Okay. I think this is appropriate.” Who makes the deal? Who writes the contract? Who negotiates the rate?

I negotiate the rate. The contract is usually built by my agent. I work with WME. And so, their lawyers will look over the contract and negotiate the terms, so I’m not literally reading the contracts. That’s an arm I chopped off. I used to do that, too.

🌶🔥: If you’re anything like me, Tim Chin’s Serious Eats guide on making your own fermented hot sauce will have you salivating long before you reach the end:

While vinegars are great tools for preservation, their use is akin to choosing a sledgehammer in place of a small mallet: One method (vinegar) is brutally effective, while the other (lacto-fermentation) shows finesse. Vinegar-based hot sauces tend to be one-dimensional in their flavor, and a bit harsh up front; the pepper flavor is raw—especially if you use it right away.

Fermentation, on the other hand, brings complexity and depth. It’s funk. “If you look at the classic Sriracha, and the Tabasco sauces—those are actually all fermented sauces, and they’re fermented for a minimum of one year, up to five,” says Mara Jane King, a fermentation expert based in Colorado. The flavors of these fermented sauces are subtler and often more interesting than those in their vinegar-based counterparts—the slow, plodding work of lacto-fermentation transforms and tempers that raw spicy flavor over time, adding sour pungency and eventually contributing fruity esters and other organic compounds. Fermentation also takes some of the edge off harsh, aggressive spiciness, which can be a good thing.

⚙️🪚🚫: You will never see me testing this for myself, but this table saw that detects contact with skin and causes an aluminum brake to spring into the blade to stop it from spinning within 5 milliseconds is insane.


You can read more about the technology here.

🎞🧶: I have learned (to my delight) that there is an entire world of people dedicated to reverse-engineering knitwear from pop culture, and now you get to know it too. I found out about this whole thing from a Twitter…moment? event? Ugh I sound like such an old guy right now.

🖼: In the course of my daily writing duties here on T&T over the years, I’ve made extensive use of reverse-image searches via Google (hit the camera button in the search bar) and TinEye. I mainly do this because finding hi-res images of products can be much more difficult than you’d expect.

Anyway, Jacob Jackson’s newly launched (and very much still in beta) website Same Energy is image search of another variety. Rather than trying to find exact copies of whatever you put in, this visual search engine attempts to find other images of a similar vibe. That’s the best way I can describe it.

Right now, the site uses a fixed index rather than scraping the web, so the results are a bit limited — if you can call over 19 million images taken from Reddit, Instagram, and Pinterest “limited” — but even so, it’s a very intriguing tool.

  + Also of note, the site is home to a tool for finding tweets of a similar style. Pretty fun to play with.

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