The Grey Swan Guild News Wrap — The Week That Was February 5, 2021

Volume #1, Edition #3

These are a series of stories and headlines we are tracking in the Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers Newsroom. Here is The Great, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of what we observed this week.

February 2021 — Have we reached the month of pandemic fatigue as COVID reaches over one year …

The Great 😇

1.Sticking to the Running Game. Big Name Super Bowl Ad Brands donate ad money to COVID 19 Vaccination Efforts. In what may spell a change of heart in how companies approach, downplay and find meaning in sponsorships, some brands choose to spend that money elsewhere. Anheuser-Busch, which usually runs Budweiser and Bud Light ads during the Super Bowl, says it is donating the money it would have spent on the ads to coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts. Not insignificant, as a 30 second TV spot during the Super Bowl costs $5.5 million in media time.

2. The power of company culture, the endorsement of company innovation and the allure of Mars. Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO, transitioning to an executive chair role. After failing in previous years to bring in outside experience, the Amazon CEO is handing the reins to homegrown cloud services chief Andy Jassy this summer, who joined straight out of Harvard as one of Amazon’s first hundred employees, launching Amazon music and AWS. Even though Bezos is less operationally involved, he made it a point to stay involved in minting Amazon’s innovation efforts and spending more time on his big space venture, Blue Origin. — Washing Post (Owned by the Bezos Family)

3. Tired of being ghosted by your smartphone? Apple tests a new way to unlock an iPhone without removing a face mask. Face masks have proved problematic for Apple, which has switched most of its devices from fingerprint recognition to facial recognition over the past three years. While some accuracy can be provided by the upper half of the face, and the contours visible beneath the mask, it is not enough to allow a security system to work. — CNN

The Good 😀

1.The vaccine race is on. Four U.S. states (Alaska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Connecticut) have reached more than 10% of their populations with the vaccine. 7.2% of the total U.S. population have now officially received the vaccine as of February 3rd, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This compares to 2% of the French population, 3% in Italy, and 14% in the United Kingdom. In explaining the French lagging participation, Foreign Policy posited, “The French public hasn’t stopped believing in science. They’ve stopped .believing in the state.” — Fortune Magazine

2. Little mermaid, big power. A massive wind energy capital project is to be built by 2033 for the Danish population of 6 million. That is $4,100 per person. The cost of a cheap furnace. It seems like the right future and the type of capital project that should have used for hundreds of years. Interested parties will want to see the complete economic, operating, maintenance and renewal costs will be going forward. Energy will come from an installation on the Baltic Island of Bornholm, an artificial energy island in the middle of the North Sea. “The island to the west of the Jutland peninsula will initially have an area of 120,000 sq metres — the size of 18 football pitches — and in its first phase will be able to provide 3m households with green energy.” — The Guardian.

3. Feel the love on Valentine's Day. Kinda. We were torn whether this one should be in the good or bad pile — we decided good by a hair. A Texas Zoo will let people name large cockroaches after their exes and share a video of the insects being eaten by hungry animals at the zoo. Subscribers can donate to the zoo to name the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach after someone who might be “bugging” them. A great source of protein, the consuming animal certainly comes out as a winner. In 2020, there were 20,000 submissions and $12,000 in donations to the Zoo. Nothing says “I love you” like a heaping gulp of catharsis. Warning: Insects are harmed in this circle of life. —

The Bad 😬

1.The pandemic’s candlewick is getting shorter and shorter. A Gallup poll from the Fall that tracked social distancing habits among Americans found that the percentage of respondents avoiding small gatherings declined by 40 points since April, while those avoiding public places declined by 25 points. Public health experts term this phenomenon “pandemic fatigue” and cite it as a contributor to the increase in incidence rates being witnessed in America and Europe. What will this look like by the summer? — Scientific American

2. Just when you thought the vaccine war was being won. This week a new virus variant was detected in the U.S. for the first time. Scientists are concerned about viruses mutating, and three new strains have been found this year, one originating in the U.K., one in Brazil and now this one from South Africa. Like the ones before it, this new mutation spreads more easily and may present more challenges to the vaccines already developed by Pfizer and Moderna. — AP News

3. The Urban Real Estate Ya Da Ya Da Ya Da Blues — what becomes our cities? The New York Times reports on the malaise around the largest private real estate development in U.S. history, How the Pandemic Left the $25 Billion Hudson Yards Eerily Deserted. Hundreds of condos remain unsold. Malls are barren of shoppers. Anchor tenants are bankrupt, boutique restaurants are shuttered, and subway traffic to the Hudson Yards has been cut to one-third of the pre-pandemic rates. The main investment company is now seeking federal loans and funding to complete the project envisioned to be double the size of downtown Phoenix. Are we seeing the start of an urban property apocalypse? Or will New York recover seemingly like it always as it did after the crime-riddled 1970s and post 9/11? Recalling Jerry Seinfeld’s August’20 rebuttal to the downfall of New York here. — NYTimes

The Ugly 😱

1.Hard to watch, but it is the reality. As with other countries and communities, the impacts of COVID19 and lockdown measures are heavily impacting poor communities. The direct view of a Roma neighbourhood in Bulgaria looks at how the disease and collateral damage make for hopelessness. Not everyone’s lockdowns are equal. The video is stark and heart-rending. The city and conditions are simply medieval, with sewage issues, freshwater problems, power outages, firewood collecting and mule-drawn carts on muddy, potholed streets. — BBC News

2. Does COVID have a colour to it? Across the 23 states reporting vaccination data by race/ethnicity, there was a consistent pattern of Black and Hispanic people receiving smaller shares of vaccinations than their shares of cases and deaths and compared to their shares of the total population. Black, Latino and Native Americans are up to 3.6 times more likely than white people to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die from covid-19. Race and ethnicity data were missing for nearly half of all coronavirus vaccine recipients during the first month shots were not available, further stymieing efforts to ensure an equitable response to a pandemic that continues to unduly burden communities of colour, federal researchers reported Monday. — Washinton Post

3. Africa may be the unfortunate loser in COVID times. Despite Africa’s sunny optimism and resilience, COVID might hold Africa back as Western world nations exit Wave II stages faster, with more access to vaccines and better abilities to deploy. In part because of this, Africa is poised to become the slowest growth region in 2020 despite the youngest demography and strides made in digitizing their populations. The Economist covers The Toll on Growth — The Pandemic Could Undercut Africa’s Precarious Progress. — The Economist

Meme of the Week:

Game Stop GME and Reddit vs. Wall Street (Tweet: Paul Lawson/Visual — Harry Potter)

Sensemaking Term of the Week Explained:

“The Dunning-Kruger Effect”

“We are all engines of misbelief” — the Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Social psychologists Dave Dunning and Justin Kruger observed people with 12th percentile scores on grammar, humour and logic, assessing their performance in the 62nd percentile. Filed under: Blind fools rush in, and A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. The effect is driven by:

  1. Overestimation of their own skill levels and an over-reliance on mental shortcuts and heuristics.
  2. Failure to recognize the genuine skill and expertise of other people and an inability to ask for feedback and evaluate constructive criticism.
  3. A lack of metacognition and failure to recognize their own mistakes, and lack of skill.

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This Week’s Grey Swan News Wrap Editor: Sean Moffitt

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Prediction of The Week:

Super Bowl LV

Kansas City Chiefs 34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 — although we realize trying to accurately predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window. Enjoy the game!