🌋 we have no idea what happens next.

on the agenda this week: a cheap vaccine, airline shopping sprees, and prince andrew's private bank.

📖 reading time: 4m 51s.

hi :) happy monday.

i hope you’re keeping well. stay safe and mask up.


tag me on instagram or follow me on twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain.

a special thank you to my paid subscribers: i appreciate the support.

👂 earworm: listen to fred again..


📚 word of the week:

zeitgeber”.

a rhythmically occurring natural phenomenon which acts as a cue in the regulation of the body's circadian rhythms.

natural light is the best-known, though not the only, zeitgeber that syncs human sleep patterns up with the earth’s 24-hour day.
the atlantic, 2015


🧠 brain candy:

🦠 much of the world, outside of rich nations like the u.s., is counting on the astra-oxford vaccine (priced at a maximum of $3 per dose) to escape the crisis, their stage 3 results are due soon.

✈️ indigo, india's no-frills airline, has bucked airline trends by going on a $10 billion shopping spree.

🇺🇸 americans like to think of the us as the “land of the free”. however, research by cato shows that a majority are now afraid to speak their minds. strong liberals feel least intimidated. 40% think twice before expressing an opinion.

🇮🇳 in rural india and other places where tuberculosis is rampant, doctors are using apps that analyse lung x-rays. the combination of machine learning and clinical expertise is proving to be powerful.


🤪 mildly humorous:

💡 longer reads:

🏦 prince andrew’s bank.

it isn’t much fun these days being prince andrew, eighth in line to the british throne. last year he was grounded by his mother, the queen, after a disastrous tv interview about his links to the late money manager and convicted pedophile jeffrey epstein. the prince rarely leaves the confines of windsor great park, where he lives in a 30-room house, and he hasn’t made a public statement in months. when he does communicate, it’s through lawyers sparring with u.s. prosecutors who want to question him.

but epstein is only the most infamous wealthy financier the prince has had dealings with. there’s another one the public knows less about. for years, andrew acted as an unofficial door opener for david rowland and his private bank in luxembourg, banque havilland sa, according to a trove of emails, internal documents, and previously unreported regulatory filings reviewed by bloomberg businessweek, as well as interviews with 10 former bank insiders. his royal cachet and his role as the u.k.’s special representative for international trade and investment until 2011 helped the rowland family pitch their services to potential clients from the ranks of the world’s dictators and kleptocrats.

then in 2011 a photograph published in the daily mail drew unwanted scrutiny. it showed the prince with his arm around a young woman in epstein’s entourage as ghislaine maxwell, epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged co-conspirator, looked on. andrew would later claim that the photograph may have been doctored, but the image came at a bad time for the rowlands: jonathan, david’s son and banque havilland’s then-chief executive officer, was planning a trip to cameroon, equatorial guinea, and gabon to scout for business, and he wanted andrew to join him.

the previous year the rowlands had accompanied the prince on an official visit to china, where andrew had given them access to some of his meetings. in other countries and on other occasions, they introduced themselves as investment advisers to the prince and the royal family when wooing clients. but andrew never went on that trip to africa. “disappear for a while,” jonathan advised the prince in an email obtained by the daily mail, which has reported on some aspects of andrew’s dealings with the rowlands.

andrew’s relationship with the family was mutually beneficial. it afforded him a lifestyle beyond the reach of his reported $320,000 annual stipend, including trappings such as the use of the rowlands’ $45 million jet. he had a private bank account at banque havilland and a credit card in the name of andrew inverness, a pseudonym that’s an apparent nod to one of his many titles, earl of inverness. for the rowlands, andrew’s involvement brought some class to a tiny financial institution they’d purchased on the cheap in 2009 from the ruins of iceland’s kaupthing bank.

👉 read more via bloomberg business week.


🌋 we have no idea what happens next.

to grasp how hard it is to predict what will happen after the world is thrown upside down – as it has been this year – you have to know the absurd story of how one of the most important agricultural developments of modern history came to be.
it started in 1815 when the volcano mt. tambora in indonesia erupted.

tambora was an utter disaster – the more you read about it the more you realize few adjectives suffice. it was the largest volcanic eruption in human history, 100 times more powerful than mount st. helens. ten thousand locals died instantly. most of those who survived the blast went on to die of starvation after nearly all vegetation on the island of sumbawa was destroyed.

then came the real catastrophe.

the volcanic eruption column surged 26 miles into the sky, pushing debris deep into the stratosphere – one of only a handful of times it’s happened in human history. and there was an epic amount of debris: tambora ejected enough ash to cover the equivalent of california two-feet deep.

ash then drifted around the globe, where it caused havoc. you’ve probably seen pictures of san francisco this summer when smoke and ash from wildfires temporarily turned the sky dark crimson. tambora did that to much of the world. and it did it for several months.

thus began what became known as the year without a summer.

the sun blocked by ash, global temperatures fell an average of 1.5 degrees in 1816, marking the coldest year of recorded history. europe saw snow through july, much of it coming down not white but greyish orange, mixed with ash. new york saw frost in august. new englanders began referring to the year as eighteen hundred and froze to death.

👉 read more via the collaborative fund.


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👋 read one of my last 3 posts:

🦀 vaccine supply chains.

🇺🇸 history is made.

🧻 wastewater watchdog.

or click to see them all.