Once a week.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
573 - Look Mum, No Mermaids!
Remember that guy in the Truman Show who pretends to be the protagonist’s best buddy ? Who takes him out for a few brewskis on the beach when Truman starts to suspect he’s at the centre of... something? The buddy offers Truman the proverbial shoulder to cry on, but his apparent sincerity is fake. He too is part of the conspiracy, merely part of the décor, his friendship no more than cardboard.
That’s what coffee-shop chains feel like. They’ll take your personalised order and write your name on the cup so it can be shouted out when your overpriced designer coffee is ready. But the tailor-made, name-tagged treatment is the illusion that masks a hyper-streamlined experience. Every store you enter will have the same menu and meet your expectations for the music, the snacks, the look and feel of the furniture.
Coffee chains are conveniently uniform, but uniformly bland. Hence the aromatic blend of love and hate they engender in their ‘heavy users’ - that guild of professionals born in the internet age, hooked on power sockets and Free Wi-Fi . These e-nomads, liberated by their laptops from the drudgery of static jobs, are now free to roam whole networks of ‘third places’ - all looking, smelling, sounding and tasting exactly the same.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You could step outside of your comfort zone, and take your laptop - or even, come to think of it, your coffee - elsewhere. This charming map, produced by Herb Lester Associates , locates a number of locations in Central London where you can have coffee, meet with friends or business contacts, or work on your next blog post, without having to tango with the twin-tailed mermaid.
“The creators of this guide have spent hours sitting at sticky tables having meeting or waiting for appointments, always with the niggling thought that there must be somewhere nicer to pass the time. After all, there are thousands of places to meet in London, why put up with something wretched?”
Having excluded places that are “too loud, too crammed, too smelly, too over-run with sightseers and school groups, places with bad coffee, and anywhere that requires membership, this map lists no more than two dozen “quiet spots to think, and secluded spaces to conspire”. Obviously, there are more. Don’t hesitate to add your favourites to the list. Here’s a brief overview of the ones already included:
1. The Barbican: “For anyone in search of peace, quiet and privacy, the Barbican’s notoriously confusing layout is a distinct advantage.”
2. Bermondsey Street Coffee: “The large front window, with a distracting view of the unfolding street scene, is probably best avoided by anyone with serious work to do.”
3. British Library: “Nine out of ten self-employed layabouts agree that spending a day at the British Library delivers a feeling of accomplishment out of all proportion to work actually done.”
4. Club Bar & Lounge at the Grosvenor: “[Q]uiet and tolerably comfortable, neither of which can be said of anything in the nearby Cardinal Place shopping centre.”
5. Curzon Cinema: “A convenient meeting place but perhaps not conducive to more than a brief appointment.”
Northwest quadrant, including the Wallace Collection, "remarkably off the beaten path".
6. Fleet River Bakery: “In the colder months, the woody interior is a place of refuge, warm and intimate.”
7. Garden Cafe, Regent’s Park: “[T]he service is desultory[, and] cursory, superficial, perfunctory, half-hearted and unsystematic wouldn’t be wide of the mark either.”
8. ICA: “The tiled walls and raised bar area lend a slightly disorientating swimming-pool echo to this useful but unlovely cafe.”
9. The Jerusalem: “It takes discipline to conduct business in a pub, but if you’re suitably strong-willed, this atmospheric little hostelry is a very pleasant place to do it[.]”
10. Jerwood Space: “[I]t’s easy to overlook this very pleasant cafe which sits in a covered courtyard.”
Northeast quadrant, including the "notoriously confusing" Barbican.
11. London Review Cake Shop: “Possibly rather too charming for its own good, [it] gets very crowded.”
12. Look Mum No Hands!: “For the hectic freelancer, tearing through London traffic on a bicycle, this cafe-cum-cycle shop is a haven[.]”
13. Upstairs at Maison Bertaux: “It should be utterly charmless but the effect is quite the opposite[.]”
14. National Portrait Gallery: “Throngs of tourists make it very much an off-peak meeting place, but when the time is right this underground cafe is an ideal West End bolthole.”
15. Nordic Bakery: “Not the biggest or best-equipped place, but far and away the best-smelling with the air thick with the aroma of cinnamon buns.”
Southwest quadrant, including the Serpentine Boating Lake, "for those really secret meetings."
16. Photographers Gallery: “Small, functional cafe chiefly recommended for its location, so close to Oxford Street.”
17. Poetry Cafe: “In the back streets of Covent Garden, a rare, untouristy treat.”
18. Prufrock: “Large, airy, and often surprisingly empty, this is a spot justly renowned for its coffee[.]”
19. RIBA: “The totalitarian-moderne style of this setting only adds to its appeal as a place to conspire, and there’s ample space in which to do it.”
20. Royal Festival Hall: “[A]t the RFH, you’re spoiled for choice.”
Southeast quadrant, including Bermondsey Street Cafe, "with a distracting view of the unfolding street scene".
21. Russell Square Cafe: “A modest and friendly cafe in the corner of this leafy square.”
22. Serpentine Boating Lake: “A useful place for those really secret meetings.”
23. Wallace Collection: “Despite ever increasing footfall in nearby Marylebone High Street, the Wallace Collection remains quite remarkably off the beaten path[.]”
24. Whitechapel Gallery: “Well-lit, with comfortable chairs and good food and drinks, the only jarring note is that reading material is attached to the walls by cables to thwart light-fingered art-lovers.”
25. Wild &Wood: “If Ratty and Mole from The Wind in the Willows were looking for a place to meet and work, this would be it.”
Longer descriptions on the flipside of this map, which can be found in selected bookshops, or obtained directly via the Herb Lester Associates website.
 Marlon, as played by Noah Emmerich, whose face seems purpose-built to convey disingenuity; hence often typecast as the mole, the backstabber, the dirty cop, etc.
 Not a Chinese dissident.
 A small outfit specialising in cool stationery and quirky city maps. Not associated with yours truly.
Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.
- Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
- The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
- The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Oldest Cave Art Found in Sulawesi<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a9734e306f0914bfdcbe79a1e317a7f0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/b-wAYtBxn7E?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Persian polymath and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age teaches us about self-awareness.