đź“° Noteworthy stories for today #20

How deep is the deepest place on Earth? A mother's call from the mountain top & ahead of the curve with corona virus.

This week has been a strangely busy one but none the less here is this weekend’s long reads round-up, enjoy. (And if you do enjoy it, share it!)


Dive: Original

Amazingly, 80% of the ocean is still unmapped, it’s one of the last great unexplored mysteries of our planet and to me the most alluring discovery is The Mariana Trench. This enormous contour runs along the archipelago of the Mariana Islands in the Pacific as one tectonic plate grinds above the other creating a lip where the two meet.

Towards the south is a gap between the two plates called the Challenger Deep - the deepest place discovered in the ocean, named after the ship that the discovered it. So how deep is it?

The Art of Suffering

As someone who has never scaled a mountain I don’t think I’ll ever know the allure and pull of doing something so dangerous even though I find it intensely inspiring and exciting. What does the call of the mountain and the ice sound like - sometimes it sounds like the voice of your mother. Read on Victory Journal about a son’s journey to get closer to his mother the famous Alison Hargreaves who died after scaling K2.

Ahead of the Curve

One of the interesting micro-industries around elections is forecast modelling or in layman’s terms trying to predict the future. Millions of people click through to try and understand which way and election might swing, how a county might vote or in the case of Covid-19 - how many people might die. It’s a morbid obsession that’s become a big part of our lives these days and in 2020 there was a scramble to create the most accurate covid forecast. Enter stage left, one guy with no experience in medicine or viruses who built a forecast model that beat out every hundred-dollar-backed institute to predict deaths due to corona virus with in 5 cases. Read how he did so on Bloomberg Businessweek.

đź“° Noteworthy stories for today #19

Does richer always equal more democratic? Zip-lining the Nu & KAWS and effect.

Are Richer Countries Always More Democratic?

My old haunt The Economist released its annual Democracy Index last week, I was fortunate enough to work on a few animations and Instagram assets for the release of the 2019 report the results of which are always really interesting. This year a question popped into my head - are richer countries always more democratic?

To answer this I whipped open R-Studio and plotted out the 2020 EIU Democracy Index against the 2019 World Bank GDP stats. If you want to see how I created this Data Visualisation I’m planning to start writing Behind The Scenes posts available for Paid Subscribers where I’ll walk through my process (and mistakes!). You can subscribe now for only £5 a month to see these posts and later other Data experiments.

Back to the Index, the EIU (The Economist Intelligence Unit) measures a country’s democracy on a scale of 0–10 based on 60 indicators grouped into 5 categories - the Electoral Process and Pluralism (the diversity of a political body), Civil Liberties, the Functioning of Government, Political Participation and the Political Culture. Based on these criteria the Democracy Index aims to rank each country. GDP maps a country’s Gross Domestic Product, for us layman that essentially means it is a measurement of the size and health of a country’s bank account.

So when we plot this against the EIU report we get our answer above. From this we can see a subtle correlation to the size of a country’s GDP and its Democracy - but - there are some clear outliers. For example Botswana rates higher than Greece despite Greece having roughly $190 billion higher GDP, whilst unsurprisingly China rates very low on the Democracy Index even with it having the second highest GDP out of the all countries indexed only a few decimals points above Eritrea that has a fraction of China’s GDP. You can check out the full report and see where your country lands on the index here.

Behind the Photograph

A quick read here, from one of National Geographic’s story and photograph series. Fritz Hoffmann recounts the scenes he shot in Southwest China along the Nu River where locals used to scale the enormous river between the villages on zip line. Human ambition, madness and ingenuity all in one. Continue reading on National Geographic.

KAWS and Effect

Back in the day I was obsessed with Street Art, I tried to make a go at it my self and tagged a bus stop I think but nerves got the better of me and I retired (Michael 1, cops 0). I remember reading about KAWS and his bus stop screwdriver that allowed him to break into the panels and paste his own designs up and I think that’s probably where I first saw his work too. As time went on I grew different interests and kind of ignored the Street Art world but every now and then one name kept popping up in my periphery. Like now, read how KAWS, shunned by the art world is now finding himself at the very centre of it on The New York Times.

If you haven’t yet consider subscribing via a paid membership to gain access to the premium and behind the scenes posts I will be work on semi-regularly, I appreciate everyone that subscribes to the newsletter it’s a lot of fun to make and I have some ambitious plans for it in the future. See ya


đź“° Noteworthy stories for today #18

Leon Spinks Obituary, Not Sorry to Bother You & Rioting for Journalism

Leon Spinks Obituary

This morning I woke up to the news that the boxer Leon Spinks aged 67 had died, a name probably not too familiar too most but he holds recognition for being the unranked underdog that beat Muhammad Ali and striped him of his title - an underdog so, so under that bookmakers didn’t even bother taking bets on him. In a twist of circumstance reminiscent to Ruiz versus Joshua, Spinks found himself in the ring with the biggest name in boxing and pulled it off, smiling all the way through. A happy-go-lucky guy who was hard not to like with his missing teeth and relaxed attitude, he was an every-man champ that will be missed. Read his obituary on The Guardian.

Not Sorry to Bother You

It’s estimated that $3.5 billion was stolen from people in 2019 through scam calls. An industry that largely targets elderly and vulnerable people, working on their confusion about their finances and online banking. The Youtube channel Jim Browning (not his real name) lifts the lid on these scams, and tracks down the fraudsters, worked with Yudhijit Bhattacharjee of The New York Times to confront these scammers and see why they do what they do. You can also check out Jim Browning’s channel here.

Rioting for Journalism

Last year I completed a book that had been in the making for about 5 years on Protest Art, attending as many marches and protests as I could find in my free time. It was exciting to be part of movements I believed in that were happening even movements that I didn’t believe in - there was a certain energy about sneaking into them unknown to my political opponents. There was always a line though, I knew when to duck out and not get swept up and maybe I missed an amazing photo but earlier on I had to make peace with the fact that I was going to miss things, I wasn’t going to be able to capture everything and to be ok with that. Reading this kid John Sullivan reminds me that there is a fine line between spectator, partaker and journalist and one that needs to be internally respected. Read about John Sullivan and how he ended up in the Capital Riots on The Atlantic.

See ya - M

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