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Interesting Finds: Issue #5
The Godfather, forced surgery and preventing nuclear war with a butcher knife
Each week, I publish this short newsletter curating some of the most interesting content I come across. Welcome to Issue #5!
Mario Puzo vs Himself 📖
What is little known, is that prior to this, Puzo had never written a screenplay before. After writing the screenplay for both The Godfather and The Godfather II (which both won Academy Awards for Best Picture), he bought a book to learn how to improve his screenwriting craft. The book’s first chapter ironically recommended “study Godfather” and it was “the model of a screenplay” 😂.
Here’s the except from Puzo’s interview by NPR in 1996 where this Interesting Find was sourced:
PUZO: Yeah, I mean, it was a cinch because it was the first time I'd ever written a screenplay, so I didn't know what I was doing. You know, it's - and it came out right. And the story I tell is that after I had won two Academy Awards, you know, for the first two "Godfathers," I went out and bought a book on screenwriting because I figured I'd better learn...
PUZO: ...You know, what it's about because it was sort of off the top of my head. And then the first chapter - the book said, study "Godfather I." It's the model of a screenplay. So I was stuck with the book.
You can read the full transcript or hear the full interview over at NPR.
Leave your Appendix Behind 👩⚕️
(Photo credit: Daniel Berehulak from the New York Times)
Villa Las Estrellas is a small town in Chile and research station within the Chilean Antarctic claim. This outpost was founded in 1984 when Chile was fortifying its territorial claims in the Antarctic. Fewer than 200 people live at the outpost where there are 14 homes, a post office, a school, a gym, a church and even a “modest souvenir shop” (source). The town is so isolated, it’s been the home to a host of experiments surrounding family isolation and extreme conditions.
Perhaps most interestingly, is that to live in this town, they require you to remove your appendix as a precaution against any related medical emergency since the nearest hospital is 625 miles away.
From the BBC:
“Imagine that you had to remove your appendix to live in your hometown – and your family had to do the same.
That’s the only option for long-term residents – even the children – of Villas Las Estrellas, one of the few settlements in Antarctica where some people live for years rather than weeks or months.
Appendix removal is a necessary precaution for the handful of people who stay longer-term because the nearest major hospital is more than 1,000km (625 miles) away, past the tip of King George Island and on the other side of the Southern Ocean’s icy swell. There are only a few doctors on base, and none are specialist surgeons.
While the settlement of around 100 people is mostly populated by a rotation of scientists and personnel from Chile's air force or navy, those on longer-term stints with the military often bring their families.”
This Interesting Find made me dive down a rabbit hole on other isolated towns and found this list to be fascinating.
Science vs Breast Milk 🍼
There’s an active set of companies racing to create human breast milk in a lab to tackle the product of infant nutrition. Only 37% of infants are breastfed at 6 months without supplementation.
“Now, the pipeline of alt-food companies includes Biomilq, a North Carolina-based start-up that’s targeting infant nutrition by attempting to reproduce mother’s breast milk in a lab.
While that may seem like a moon shot, Biomilq has just earned the backing of the world’s top investors, raising $3.5 million in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Bill Gates’ investment firm focused on climate change.”
“Singapore’s Turtle Tree Labs is also working to bring cultured breast milk to market. Biomilq’s founders say their mission is to reach more working women, and they hope to have a product on store shelves within five years.
“We can provide better nutrition for the 84% of babies in the U.S. who are switched to formula either partially or exclusively in the first six months of life and reduce the impacts of animal agriculture on our Earth,” Strickland said.”
From a business perspective, the addressable market is obviously huge. However, more importantly, the benefit globally to children across the globe may be immeasurable if one of these companies is successful. The benefits of breastfeeding are very well documented and accepted to improve infant health and create stronger immune systems, with a reduction in childhood obesity, diabetes and several forms of cancer.
Math Wins 🔢
Dividing 1 by 998001 will generate all three digit numbers from 000 to 999, except 998, in order.
If you want to dive in and nerd out a bit more on this, check out this 10 min video.
Nuclear Weapons vs Butcher Knife
This is one of the craziest Interesting Find I’ve come across in awhile. Roger Fisher (1922-2012) was a professor of Law at Harvard and the director of the Harvard Negotiation Project. His work in negotiation and conflict is world renowned and was the co-author of the international best-selling book Getting To Yes.
One of the things he was most well known for was his “unique” idea on deterring nuclear war. In 1981, he published an article in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that proposed the following:
My suggestion was quite simple: Put that needed code number in a little capsule, and then implant that capsule right next to the heart of a volunteer. The volunteer would carry with him a big, heavy butcher knife as he accompanied the President. If ever the President wanted to fire nuclear weapons, the only way he could do so would be for him first, with his own hands, to kill one human being. The President says, "George, I'm sorry but tens of millions must die." He has to look at someone and realize what death is—what an innocent death is. Blood on the White House carpet. It's reality brought home.
When I suggested this to friends in the Pentagon they said, "My God, that's terrible. Having to kill someone would distort the President's judgment. He might never push the button."
Savage but effective? You can read the full original article here.
Other Interesting Finds 🔎
🐉 There’s a weird location on Google Maps in the middle of the ocean just above the Artactic named “El kraken” and categorized as a hospital.
🤦♂️Behold, an actual job description for an Executive Assistant at a VC firm. Oh. My. God.
⏳The Dune trailer just dropped a few days ago. It’s directed by Denis Villeneuve, who directed Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, Sicario and Prisoners. I’m so damn excited.
🐴 The first ever cloning of a Przewalski horse was successful on August 6, 2020. It was cloned from DNA that was cryopreserved by a zoo in 1980. They named him “Kurt”.
🔥 It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Hot Ones. They cleverly use hot wings as a way to have disarmingly candid interviews with celebrities. If you need a pointer of where to start, you can’t go wrong with the episodes featuring Charlize Theron, Shia LeBrouf or Margot Robbie. You’re welcome.