Timeline.

Thoughts about what I've come across.
  • Meet The Carousing, Harmonica-playing Texan Who Won A Nobel For His Cancer Breakthrough

    20 June 2019

      

    Article

    The article is adapted from the book THE BREAKTHROUGH: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer, by Charles Graeber. It describes the journey that Jim Allison took to discover how our immune system helps (and can be supercharged) to fight cancer.

    "Until very recently we’ve had three main methods for treating cancer. We’ve had surgery for at least 3,000 years. We added radiation therapy in 1896. Then in 1946, chemical warfare research led to the use of a mustard gas derivative to kill cancer cells. Those poisons were the foundation for chemotherapy."

    "But now we have added a new and very different approach—one that doesn’t act directly on cancer, but rather acts on the immune system. And that’s the breakthrough."

    "First, the T cell needed to recognize the sick cell by its unique protein fingerprint; in other words, it needed to be presented with the antigen that matched up with its T-cell receptor. Usually it was a dendritic cell or macrophage that did that presenting. Binding to that antigen was like turning the key in an automobile ignition. The other two signals (CD28 and CTLA-4) were like the gas pedal and brake on the car. CTLA-4 was the brake—and it was the more powerful of the two."

    "The CTLA-4-blocking drug Ipilumimab, approved by the FDA in 2015, was the first of a new class of drugs called “checkpoint inhibitors” and the beginning of what researchers refer to as a tsunami of new cancer treatments."

    Read the article

  • The Revenge of History

    20 June 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Michael Weiss and Yascha Mounk about the state of global politics. They discuss the rise of right-wing populism in Europe, the prospect that democracy could fail in the US, Trump’s political instincts, the political liability of “wokeness,” the Left’s failure to re-think its support of Chavez, the dangers of political polarization, the attractions of extreme partisanship, cancel culture, and other topics.

    A very interesting discussion that highlighted and informed me about todays politics. All points discussed were done in a clear manner and it was very interesting to hear that Michael and Yasha had never talked before. We can't compare today exactly to other parts of history, but we can draw lessons from it. The title refers to 'the end of history', the falsified belief that after some years of democracy a country will not turn back to a dictatorship, but examples like Hungary and Turkey do make you believe that this is not true, thus 'the revenge of history'.

    Listen to the episode

  • Allbirds: Tim Brown & Joey Zwillinger

    10 June 2019

      

    How I Built This

    Growing up, Tim Brown discovered he was very good at two things: design and soccer. While playing professional soccer in New Zealand, he was turned off by the flashy logos on most athletic gear. He started making simple canvas shoes for his teammates, but soon discovered a better material: soft merino wool from his country's plentiful sheep. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, his future business partner Joey Zwillinger was frustrated that most companies lacked a genuine commitment to sustainability. In 2015, Tim and Joey teamed up to create Allbirds, a company with two ambitious goals: create the world's most comfortable shoes, and do it in a way that was completely carbon-neutral. Today, just three years after launch, Allbirds is worth $1.4 billion.

    One nugget from the episode is the part about turning down an investor that did make a reasonable offer, but that didn't believe in his vision. I think that you should have the same idea and that only then you can move forward with something like that. Anyways, a good episode and fun conversation. Oh another thing, sustainability (what we're also about at Queal), not a great marketing talking point (comfortable is what they chose instead), just let sustainability be a secondary thing (but it's not the main buying reason).

    Listen to the episode

  • Conscious

    09 June 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with his wife, Annaka Harris, about her new book, Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind. She is an editor and consultant for science writers, specializing in neuroscience and physics, and her work has appeared in The New York Times. Annaka is the author of the children’s book I Wonder, a collaborator on the Mindful Games Activity Cards, by Susan Kaiser Greenland, and a volunteer mindfulness teacher for the Inner Kids organization. All of her guided meditations and lessons for children are available on the Waking Up app.

    The interesting (and maybe a bit weird) part was that this conversation was with Sam's wife. But nonetheless they talked a lot about the book and it got me interested in reading (and reviewing) it somewhere in the coming months. The most out there claim/topic of discussion was on panpsychism and that Annaka could find herself in some of the ideas on consciousness that are presented from that point of view.

    Listen to the episode

  • Julie Rice — Co-Founding SoulCycle, Taming Anxiety, and Mastering Difficult Conversations

    07 June 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Julie Rice is an entrepreneur best known for co-founding the fitness phenomenon SoulCycle. Julie served as Co-CEO at SoulCycle from 2006 to 2015 before joining WeWork in November 2017.

    A good conversation that touches a lot on working together in a team (and as cofounders). I heard about SoulCycle before on the How I Built This Podcast and this gave some more insight into the company. What I really like is that they made something people wanted, and expanded from there. I think at Queal that is one of the things we should focus on, creating value for our customers (and letting them spread the word). And less on shouting to the world that we're cool.

    Listen to the episode

  • Fortnite Is the Future, but Probably Not for the Reasons You Think

    06 June 2019

      

    Article

    Fortnite has become the place to hang out online. The game is more than just shooting each other and getting that victory royale. Even I like to sometimes watch a creator NickEH30. The article is very in-depth and definitely worth the read! It's also about the unbundling/bundling strategy. Take one piece and excell at it, or bring together different pieces.

    Netflix: "We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO."

    Revenue per user per year, $97 (say what).

    "To be successful, any social network needs to start from a place of value or utility to its users – rather than the goal of being a social network. Similarly, Fortnite’s great advantage isn’t that it was built to be the Metaverse, but that it’s already a massive social square that’s gradually taking on the qualities of one."

    Read the article

  • DeepMind’s plan to make AI systems robust & reliable

    05 June 2019

      

    80000 hours

    The synopsis of the episode is also what I took away from it: "When you’re building a bridge, responsibility for making sure it won’t fall over isn’t handed over to a few ‘bridge not falling down engineers’. Making sure a bridge is safe to use and remains standing in a storm is completely central to the design, and indeed the entire project. When it comes to artificial intelligence, commentators often distinguish between enhancing the capabilities of machine learning systems and enhancing their safety. But to Pushmeet Kohli, principal scientist and research team leader at DeepMind, research to make AI robust and reliable is no more a side-project in AI design than keeping a bridge standing is a side-project in bridge design.Far from being an overhead on the ‘real’ work, it’s an essential part of making AI systems work in any sense. We don’t want AI systems to be out of alignment with our intentions, and that consideration must arise throughout their development."

    And: "For instance, Pushmeet is looking for efficient ways to test whether a system conforms to the desired specifications, even in peculiar situations, by creating an ‘adversary’ that proactively seeks out the worst failures possible. If the adversary can efficiently identify the worst-case input for a given model, DeepMind can catch rare failure cases before deploying a model in the real world. In the future single mistakes by autonomous systems may have very large consequences, which will make even small failure probabilities unacceptable."

    Listen to the episode

  • Stacy's Pita Chips: Stacy Madison

    03 June 2019

      

    How I Built This

    In the 1990's, Stacy Madison and her boyfriend Mark Andrus were selling pita sandwiches from a converted hot dog cart in Boston. They decided to bake the leftover pita into chips, adding a dash of parmesan or cinnamon-sugar. At first they handed them out for free, but soon discovered that people were happy to pay for them. So they eventually decided to leave the sandwich cart behind and launch Stacy's Pita Chips. They hoped the brand might grow into a modest regional business—but it kept growing. Roughly ten years after the launch, Stacy's sold to PepsiCo for $250 million.

    It's interesting to see how they turned a side-product into the whole business. And that a chips company can be worth this much. Most striking was the dedication Stacy had for the business and that when half the factory burned down, everyone chipped (ghehe) in and made sure that the sale and production went according to plan.

    Listen to the episode

  • Live Episode! Tofurky: Seth Tibbott

    03 June 2019

      

    How I Built This

    Seth Tibbott may be the only founder in the world who grew his business while living in a barn, a teepee, and a treehouse. His off-the-grid lifestyle helped him save money as he started to sell tempeh, a protein made of fermented soybeans. Throughout the 1980s he barely scraped by, but things took a turn in 1995, when he discovered a stuffed tofu roast made in Portland, Oregon. Knowing vegetarians had few options at Thanksgiving, Seth named the roast Tofurky and started selling it at co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. Nearly 25 years later, Tofurky sells plant-based protein around the world, and has estimated sales of $40 million a year.

    Seth was early, way early. He didn't have (or has) too much business acumen and that is great. You need to balance the books, but being a mission driven company can give so much meaning/satisfaction to life. A fun and compelling listen.

    Listen to the episode

  • Meat Grown in a Lab

    02 June 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    Imagine biting into a steak that didn’t come from a cow. Or a chicken breast that did not come from a chicken. Imagine if your favorite meat dish did not involve an animal getting killed. This is Isha Datar’s dream. She is a scientist on a mission to not only reinvent meat but the entire meat industry. If Isha’s dream comes true, we’ll live in a post-animal bioeconomy where animal products – from meat to leather and wool – are harvested from cell cultures, not animals. And we’re able to feed a growing global population sustainably, affordably and safely. But does meat grown in a lab really take animals out of the picture? And do we want to step further into a landscape of man-made, mass-produced food?

    Cultured meat is not ready for the spotlight. It's still to expensive and the scaffolding still involves an animal (a calf to be percise). And will there be a market for it if plant-based alternatives are already becoming so large. I do think so. What will be the percentages (dead-animal meat / cultured meat / plant-based) in the future, who knows.

    Listen to the episode

  • Understanding Humans in the Wild

    02 June 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Adam Grant about the social science of the workplace. They discuss how teams work effectively, the nature of power, personality types and fundamental styles of interaction, the critical skill of saying “no,” creativity, resilience, the strange case of Jonas Salk, the nature of mindfulness, the power of cognitive reappraisal, reflections on mortality, the replication crisis in social science, and other topics.

    I'm already familiar with Adam Grant from his various books, most notably Give and Take. The thing I found most interesting is that being a giver (or taker) and being confrontational (or not) are orthogonal (they don't correlate together), and that a person that is high in both, could be the best leader (a confrontational helper of sorts).

    Listen to the episode

  • The AI Delusion

    01 June 2019

     

         

    Current day AI is very good at doing very 'stupid' things. It doesn't think for itself, but is great at doing correlations. But give it the wrong instructions, trust it to do causal reasoning, well you're out of luck. A bit long on statistics, but very well grounded book. A counter-weight will be my reading of The Book of Why, in which AI today is also put in the same place, but Pearl argues for a mathematical framework for causal reasoning.

    Read the full review

  • The Longevity Diet

    31 May 2019

     

         

    Can we live forever, that is a question I'm asking actively at this time. Valter Longo gives some years extra with the longevity diet. Next to that he advocates for a Fasting Mimicing Diet (FMD) every few months. His advice is about keeping the machine clean and running well. Yet I think we still need to do repairs sometimes to keep it going at 100% (or more).

    Read the full review

  • Impossible Foods’ rising empire of almost-meat

    27 May 2019

      

    Article

    A great article about the alternatives to meat, with a focus on Impossible Foods. It is quite the long article and gives a good overview of the why (and a bit of the how) of Impossible Foods. What I like is that they recognise that the 'moral' path isn't working, so they are making something that is better in taste, perception, price (eventually). Here are two quotes from the piece:

    And like so many of its startup brethren, Impossible calls itself a platform. Livestock are just a poor nutrient-conversion device, from grain and water to meat -- "a terrible prehistorical technology," said Brown.

    "That's our secret sauce -- that unlike the cow we are going to be getting better every single day from now until forever,"

    Read the article

  • Ramit Sethi — Automating Finances, Negotiating Prenups, Disagreeing with Tim, and More

    27 May 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Ramit Sethi, author of the New York Times bestseller I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has become a financial guru to millions of readers in their twenties, thirties, and forties. He started his website, iwillteachyoutoberich.com, as a Stanford undergraduate in 2004, and he now hosts over a million readers per month on his blog, newsletter, and social media.

    The conversation between Tim and Ramit is again one in which they discuss several topics with great clarity. Some things I already knew (how to invest in index funds etc). Other things were good refreshers (do spend money on the things you love, cut out other expenses (vs saving a bit everywhere)). And other things were new (how to talk about a prenub, or similarly a living arrangement agreement).

    Listen to the episode

  • Machines Like Me

    26 May 2019

     

         

    Machines Like Me is the latest novel by Ian McEwan. Although I wasn't really a fan of Solar I really got carried away with this book. The world is somewhat different from ours and if I remember it correctly it takes place in 1984. Some technology is more advanced than ours and McEwan ponders quite some interesting questions.

    Read the full review

  • Photoshop Your Voice

    21 May 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    Mike Pappas and Carter Huffman believe their invention fulfills the promise of the digital world: the complete freedom to design your identity. But what if we all used it? The human voice is a key marker of authenticity and individuality, and Modulate uses A.I to transform your voice into anything you want it to be. In real time. If you’re a woman and want to sound like a man, Modulate can help you. But he gift of free expression also comes with a price. Yes: Modulate could allow people to be their true selves and speak in a voice that represents who they are. Yes: Modulate could expose institutional vocal bias against certain sounds and accents. But it also could contribute to the world of deep faking and harassment. At what point is digitizing our real-world identity too much?

    The case they didn't discuss on the podcast, which I thought of immediately, was that of guys (older creepy guys) adopting the voice of kids/girls to develop trust and then do bad things later. It was also very interesting to hear them talk about the 'watermark' they can put in the modulator, and it's good that they are thinking about the security risks.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Rational Optimist

    21 May 2019

     

         

    The Rational Optimists takes a look back at our history (in a similar way Steven Pinker does in The Better Angels of Our Nature/Enlightenment Now). And it looks forward at the progress we can be making. The main argument is that we are always progressing/changing/improving. The main cause is specialisation and exchange (that go hand in hand). What many pundits forget is that this process hasn't stopped and by some accounts will only increase (exponentially, think Ray Kurzweil). Highly recommended book.

    Read the full review

  • The Case for Bootstrapping

    21 May 2019

      

    Masters of Scale

    Ben Chestnut knows: When you bootstrap your business, you have to make your own luck. He used a DIY ethos to grow Mailchimp to a $600M company without ever raising a dollar of outside funding. The Mailchimp story is the exception to Reid's rule (Generally: Raise more money than you think you need!). The episode explores a range of options for those who don't fit the VC-funding mold for any set of reasons.

    If you want to grow fast and have a large impact (if they need to go hand-in-hand) then VC funding might be the way to go. I think that this is the lense through which Reid frames this dilemma and that is ok. What I like about bootstrapping is that it's also a way to go slower and with less risk (i.e. you make money whist building the company).

    Listen to the episode

  • What Does the Mueller Report Really Say?

    21 May 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Benjamin Wittes about both volumes of the Mueller Report. Benjamin Wittes is a legal journalist who focuses on issues of national security and law. He is a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he is the Research Director in Public Law. Benjamin is also the cofounder of Lawfare, a blog devoted to discussion of U.S. national security choices, and a cohost of the Rational Security podcast. His books include The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones—Confronting A New Age of Threat (coauthored with Gabriella Blum), Detention and Denial: The Case for Candor after Guantánamo, and Law and the Long War: The Future of Justice in the Age of Terror.

    A good analysis of the report and also a good counterweight to Sam's pessimism (who can go overboard sometimes, but I guess not without reason). In short, no impeachment or other actions, but that is not what could have come from the report. It may lay the groundwork for later legal action and in that regard it has been useful.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Art of Learning

    20 May 2019

     

         

    The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin is a great book on how to achieve peak performance. It mixes together his personal journey in chess and push hands with frameworks he discovered during his life. In my summary, I will pick apart the principles and see how I can apply them in my own life. The main question I have is how to apply these things that are applied to the relative or very short timeframe, with learning and performing over longer periods of time without those competition moments.

    Read the full review

  • Advice to those trying to get a first job in data science

    20 May 2019

      

    Linear Digressions

    We often hear from folks wondering what advice we can give them as they search for their first job in data science. What does a hiring manager look for? Should someone focus on taking classes online, doing a bootcamp, reading books, something else? How can they stand out in a crowd? There’s no single answer, because so much depends on the person asking in the first place, but that doesn’t stop us from giving some perspective. So in this episode we’re sharing that advice out more widely, so hopefully more of you can benefit from it.

    I loved the advice they had, mostly because it's applicable in many domains. I'm thinking of doing more and more with longevity (live long and healthy) and one of their tips was to start a blog. That is exactly the first step I'm taking (and will share here soon).

    Listen to the episode

  • 23andMe

    20 May 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    The revolution in home DNA testing is giving consumers important, possibly life-changing information. It’s also building a gigantic database that could lead to medical breakthroughs. But how will you deal with upsetting news? What if your privacy is compromised? And are you prepared to have your DNA monetized? We speak with Anne Wojcicki, founder and C.E.O. of 23andMe.

    Earlier (on Science VS) I heard about the lack of good databases on ancestry (and the trouble with 'prototypical' people from country/region X). This time the focus is more on research and how 23andMe gets funding/makes money. I think we can do great things with the data from the company, but at the same time I'm sceptical until more comes out of it (and also think there may be some good things happening already with pharma companies).

    Listen to the episode

  • Belkin International: Chet Pipkin

    16 May 2019

      

    How I Built This

    Chet Pipkin was the kind of kid who loved to take things apart and put them back together. As a young man in the early 1980s, he started hanging out in mom-and-pop computer shops, where he realized he could meet a growing need by selling the cables that connect computers to printers. That simple idea became the main ingredient in Chet's secret sauce: instead of making his own computers, he would make the accessories needed to make them work. Belkin International eventually grew into a massive manufacturer of electronic goods — last year, it sold to a subsidiary of Foxconn for more than $800 million.

    Make shovels, don't dig for gold. A great story about an entrepreneur who actively found a problem, and figured out how to be the solution. One thing I also read between the lines is that the company has stayed away from the normal/scaleable parts of cables and other accesories, it could probably be profitable but then they would be competing with other companies in that space (with more scale/money), this way they can keep their own niche (and occupy that part of the mindspace for the customers).

    Listen to the episode

  • The Evolution of Culture

    16 May 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about his new book, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society. Nicholas Christakis is a sociologist and physician known for his research in the areas of social networks and biosocial science. He is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University, where he directs the Human Nature Lab. His books include Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care and Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (coauthored with James H. Fowler). He was on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009.

    Although I'm a bit late with summarising this one (5 days later), I do recall one main observation. And that is that some of our 'good' evolutionary behaviours (e.g. the distinction between ingroup and outgroup) can now lead to very 'bad' outcomes.

    Here are some observations from the subreddit that I liked: "Christakis (among others) seems to instead argue that the evolved traits are with us, and that our intentions can not override them. Instead the modern political objective becomes how to attain good outcomes (or at least not bad ones) given the constraints of traits deep within us. Christakis’ example of the Hutu and Tutsi slaughter and how culturally created super-groups are less ideal, but more realistic ways to “hack” our attraction to de-individualized thought, outlines what that might be. MacAskill and Singer (#44 and #48) could be seen as moral philosophers who attempt to expand that circle of concern in their very rational way, while accepting that moral progress is a highly constrained optimization problem."

    Listen to the episode

  • Going Critical

    16 May 2019

      

    Article

    A super interesting article about networks. About how things (from ideas, fashion, virusses) spread and what factors come into play. One of the most insightful things is the network density part (cities vs towns/rural) and that with the same virality, but with fewer connections, some ideas can live in a city and not a town.

    Read the article

  • Triggers

    15 May 2019

     

         

    I read this book again over the last few weeks and it's still one of the best (if not the best) book on behaviour change / goal-setting I've read. It's not too long, it's clear, unapologetic and based on decades of experience. I love how he uses it himself and that it gives clear guidelines on how to apply it yourself.

    Read the full review

  • Billion Dollar Whale

    14 May 2019

     

         

    This is one very interesting story. Think Wolf of Wall Street, in the year 2010, with bigger parties, more money, and one of the companies financed by this Wolf/Whale, is the production company that made Wolf of Wall Street. It's graft, corruption and the lack of a moral compass on the largest of scales. Well written and just crazy to contemplate.

    Read the full review

  • Spirited Away

    13 May 2019

      

    Movie

    Highly recommended movie that tells the story of a girl that gets lost in a spirit world. Great story arch and even better animation.

    Watch the trailer

  • The Cathedral and the Bazaar

    09 May 2019

      

    Linear Digressions

    I recently picked up this podcast again and from a few of the older episodes I especially liked this one. It's about how to build software together. They go through a paper and explain how the open software way could be the right choice. This is in line with some earlier podcasts/thinking I've done about open vs closed companies. I think some parts can be open and that this can lead to more and better innovation.

    Imagine you have two choices of how to build something: top-down and controlled, with a few people playing a master designer role, or bottom-up and free-for-all, with nobody playing an explicit architect role. Which one do you think would make the better product? “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” is an essay exploring this question for open source software, and making an argument for the bottom-up approach. It’s not entirely intuitive that projects like Linux or scikit-learn, with many contributors and an open-door policy for modifying the code, would be able to resist the chaos of many cooks in the kitchen. So what makes it work in some cases? And sometimes not work in others?

    Listen to the episode

  • Panel

    09 May 2019

      

    Xapiens at MIT

    We don't find meaning in the universe, we make the meaning (Max Tegmark). And how cool would it be if we could explore/make habitable more parts of the universe. We have to understand the principles of the brain better (Ed Boyden) before/so that we can better make (hybrid) interfaces with the world outside.

    To create the future with AI. There are 3 technical nerdy questions, 1) how can we make machines even understand our goals, 2) how can we make the machines adopt the goals (e.g. like the difference between 1 and 2 for kids), 3) how do we get them to retain the goals (e.g. like how kids get bored of LEGO as they get older) (Max Tegmark)? If we can't solve these questions before we have machines who are smart enough, we are totally screwed.

    Intelligence and consciousness are things we currently don't really understand, but that doesn't mean we can't. We actually know that we can figure it out (with time). And consciousness and competence are not related one on one.

    What about inequality? George Church repeats something I also believe/get from data, is that the meaningful gap between poor and rich is becoming smaller. Many more people will get a house above their head, no smallpox, no malaria (fingers crossed), etc. Of course there will still be the ones at the top and within countries (instead of between) there may be bigger differences (at least in wealth) than before.

    Democracy and equality go hand in hand. An article by Gilles? looked at opinion polls versus lobbyist money on voting records of US representatives. There was a deep correlation between it and lobbyists and not what the people wanted. Democracy can be bought. With regards to AI it should be prevented that this becomes the same (Max Tegmark). But George Church gives a little bit of pushback on it, that the lobyists reflect our voting (with our wallets) to corporations.

    Will we still have work in the future? We will still find meaning in work. And we will still want to get some things from humans (connection). Work might be more decoupled from pay/money, but we get more from it than that.

    If someone would come for career advice (to Max Tegmark), and that person would talk about getting cancer, being hit by a bus, etc. Well, that would be very stupid. But that is, in part, what we humans are doing (e.g. Terminator, Bladerunner, etc). It might get more clicks, but we could use some optimism too.

    Diversity between people and fields can be a great boon to research. This includes art, philosophy, and more. Focussing on one problem with one viewpoint, will be left behind.

    Watch the video

  • Ed Boyden

    09 May 2019

      

    Xapiens at MIT

    The main question Ed Boyden asks is if we 'can understand the brain, to the point of making biologically realistic, comprehensible models of neural circuit function?'. He speaks about what we are now doing and how it's related to 1) observing, 2) controlling, 3) mapping.

    One of the very interesting things is how we can use light to trigger things in the brain (of course with augmented mice). And another is how we can grow and miniaturise cells (via a polymer chain of swellable material) to better understand what is going on.

    Watch the video

  • Framebridge: Susan Tynan

    06 May 2019

      

    How I Built This

    Susan Tynan's experience in the ephemeral e-market of LivingSocial made her want to start a business that she could touch and feel. After being charged $1600 to frame four posters at her local framing store, she decided to create a mail-order framing company that offers fewer designs at lower prices. Framebridge is now five years old and still feeling growing pains, but is slowly reshaping the rules of a rigid industry.

    It's great to hear about how someone wants to build a company and has to go through several very difficult events to make it happen (I can relate in some parts). A good interview and altough the industry is not too relevant, the busines model (ecommerce) is very much alike.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Guide to Sane Parenting

    06 May 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Humans have been having kids forever, so why are modern parents so bewildered? The economist Emily Oster marshals the evidence on the most contentious topics — breastfeeding and sleep training, vaccines and screen time — and tells her fellow parents to calm the heck down.

    If I ever decide to have kids I think I will pick up her books. One nugget from the episode is that parents want to prevent killing their baby by sleeping in bed together (and this is a good thing of course), but they do sit on the couch together and try and not fall asleep there. And this is way more dangerous (you fall over on something more soft, instead of rolling over on a harder bed). So if you're very tired, put the kid in their own bed and don't fool yourself.

    Listen to the episode

  • Amanda Palmer on Creativity, Pain, and Art

    06 May 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Amanda Palmer is a singer, songwriter, playwright, pianist, author, director, blogger, and ukulele enthusiast who simultaneously embraces and explodes traditional frameworks of music, theatre, and art. She first came to prominence as one half of the Boston-based punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, earning global applause for their inventive songcraft and wide-ranging theatricality.

    This was a very personal conversation and Amanda shares her story freely.

    Listen to the episode

  • Adam Savage on Great Tools, Great Projects, and Great Lessons

    05 May 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Adam Savage has spent his life gathering skills that allow him to take what’s in his brain and make it real. He’s built everything from ancient Buddhas and futuristic weapons to fine-art sculptures and dancing vegetables.

    Keep a beginners mind and always keep experimenting (failure is always an option)!

    Listen to the episode

  • The Invisible Paw

    05 May 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Humans, it has long been thought, are the only animal to engage in economic activity. But what if we’ve had it exactly backward?

    We like to believe that humans are unique because we do X, Y, or Z. But almost everything including economic behaviour is also being done by other animals (or plants). One thing to not forget is to not mistake competence for comprehension. I like how the episode ends: "The one thing that makes humans human? Our obsession with asking and answering this question. As far as I know we’re the only species so concerned with distinguishing ourselves from other animals. Of course, research could prove me wrong."

    Listen to the episode

  • For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

    03 May 2019

      

    Radiolab

    Today, we bring you this story, first published on Radiolab in 2013, plus an update: a spot on planet Earth, newly discovered, that - if it holds true - has the potential to tell us about the first three hours after the dinos died.

    I didn't know that the extinction went so fast, but the evidence sounds very reasonable (and it's just a great listen too).

    Listen to the episode

  • Open or Closed?

    03 May 2019

      

    Masters of Scale

    Joi Ito knows: No organization that’s entirely closed – or entirely open – can scale as successfully as an organization that combines both. Joi has spent his career championing radically open systems, from Creative Commons to cyber currency. Now as Director of the famed MIT Media Lab, he's focused on facilitating open conversations so we can keep pace with the shifting challenges we face in our companies, our institutions, and our societies.

    I took from this episode that you should balance both open and closed systems (duh). What I think is true for closed systems is that you can better capture value (LinkedIN/Facebook). But open systems may provide more value for the world (internet, open source software). For a company I think it's important to have some open parts and to engage with a community (e.g. for Queal to ask input for a recipe, but that the company decides what it will be exactly).

    Listen to the episode

  • Gene Drives

    02 May 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    Kevin Esvelt knows the stakes are high. As a geneticist at the MIT Media Lab, Kevin discovered a technique called a gene drive, which gives humans a power we’ve never had before: to change the DNA of entire species in nature. Used successfully for good, a gene drive has the potential to save millions of lives by eliminating diseases like malaria. But in the wrong hands – or even in well-intentioned hands – the results could be catastrophic. How do we weigh the potential for enormous good against the terrifying unknowns?

    One of the things I learned from this episode is that they are also developing interventions that can stop a gene drive. And although there are risks, if someone would ask me to choose to develop this for malaria, I would say yes. We've been messing with nature long enough and although this is a bit more extreme, I don't see why we would draw the line here.

    Listen to the episode

  • Mental Models

    02 May 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Shane Parrish about some of the mental models that should guide our thinking and behavior. Shane Parrish is the host of The Knowledge Project podcast and the founder of Farnam Street blog (highly recommended), which aims to help others develop an understanding of how the world works, make better decisions, and live a better life. Shane was previously a cybersecurity expert at Canada’s top intelligence agency, Communications Security Establishment, a division of Canada’s Defense Department.

    I really like Shane's website and his way of looking at the world. In the podcast they discuss several mental models and take a look at how it could influence your life. It's not so much at being better in the moment, but knowing to take a step back and calculation/putting something in a model and knowing what to do. One of the models is concerned with thinking about second order effects, in many cases they are the opposite of the immediate thing you see in front of you.

    Listen to the episode

  • Poor Charlie's Almanack

    03 May 2019

     

         

    Poor Charlie's Almanac is a collection of wisdom from Charlie Munger, the second head of Berkshire Hathaway. The formatting isn't optimal and many short pieces are intertwined with the chapters, but the lessons are present and great. I love how he tries to make a knowledge map of the world and they apply it to investing. I hope I can do the same for life and in a while figure out where I can then apply this broad knowledge.

    Read the full review

  • George Church

    02 May 2019

      

    Xapiens at MIT

    George Church talks about the things that are possible in biology. He starts with a great argument and that is that we already are augmented, that we have overcome many of our ancestral limits. We can see the whole visible light spectrum, hear everything from very soft to very loud, our memory goes back 5000 years, etc.

    He also talks about 'SynNeuroBio' and the possibilities here. Of course there is enough mention of CRISPR and genome engineering of organs. Very interesting ideas of which many are becoming reality.

    Watch the video

  • The Death of The Calorie

    01 May 2019

      

    Article

    What if counting calories is not the end all we think it is? This article goes deep into the history of the calorie and argues that we can do better. The only thing missing (and I don't see this changing soon), is a better alternative (for tracking). One truism? is that we should eat more whole foods, less processed sugar, etc.

    Read the article

  • Live Episode! Peloton: John Foley

    01 May 2019

      

    How I Built This

    John Foley started climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder at a young age, first as a fast food server and eventually as an e-commerce executive. Still, at 40, he couldn't climb out of bed fast enough to make it to his favorite spin class. John couldn't understand why there wasn't a way to bring the intensity and motivation of a boutique fitness class into the home. Having never worked in the exercise industry, he teamed up with a few friends to create a high-tech stationary bicycle called the Peloton Bike. Today, Peloton has sold close to half a million bikes, with a valuation as high as 4 billion dollars.

    In some parts this is about a struggling entrepreneur who had to keep convincing others that his idea wasn't that crazy. At the same time it's about someone who is already really connected and can use that to further his startup. Nonetheless I found the episode very inspiring and it showcased an entrepreneur with a vision who had the perseverance to see it come true.

    Listen to the episode

  • How to have a big impact in government

    30 April 2019

      

    80000 hours

    In today’s interview, Tom shares his experience with how to increase your chances of getting an influential role in government, and how to make the most of the opportunity if you get in.

    A bit shorter summary than usual, I liked the interview and Tom Kalil was very good in explaining what he did. But I don't see myself in this type of role, so not too much to take from it at the moment.

    Listen to the episode

  • Various Episodes - Science VS

    20-30 April 2019

      

    Science VS

    Here are some more notes from some more episodes of Science VS

    • Lyme disease is real and you should do your best to not get it (ticks, red spot), but the chronic version is a myth/other things people have.
    • The agricultural impact of all milk alternatives are better on the whole (and don't need a suffering animal), see a report here
    • DNA kits are all the rage, but the datasets of non-Caucasians is bad (5-10 people for a large part of Asia), and the idea of a 'prototypical' X country person is quite odd and man-made.
    • Vitamins and minerals are good for you, and some supplementation might help in selected cases, but for most people (a multi-billion dollar industry) there are no benefits. Eat balanced/varied etc.
    • Artificial sweeteners research is inconclusive and some point to bad effects (e.g. messing up your ability to recognise what really is sugar and have the right response), others can't find the same effects.
    • The fertility cliff is more of a slope and starts for women at around 33, for men around 40ish. You can also just be very unlucky (producer on the show, both were physically fine).
    • Race can be seen in the DNA, but is in the 0,01% difference and even there the diversity is larger in populations within Africa than between those and Westerners. What you can find in DNA doesn't divide among the stereotypical cultural? lines we as humans have made.
    • Human lab rats were the prisoners in the 60's and 70's in America. Ethics were left at the door and it's a dark part of science's history.
    • Vaccines work and have saved countless lives. As side-effects, you can get a mild fever, but not much else. Misinformation (even Russian interference) has messed up America and beyond.
    • Birth control is to be done in the right way. Pulling out at the last moment is not that. Taking the pill is very safe, but you do need to do it right. A spiral is the most effective. And a male birth control would be an injection and not a pill (the stomach would break it down).
    • Chiropracters base their profession on quite the amazing story and bad/no science (and many recognise it). There may be a small effect on neck pain, the rest is placebo (makes me think of essential oils all over again).

    Listen to the episodes

  • Max Tegmark

    29 April 2019

      

    Xapiens at MIT

    Max Tegmark talks about the future of humanity in an interesting talk about AI. I've previously read his book Life 3.0.

    In the talk he compares AI to a rocket. We need to be careful about the power (exponential growth of computing power), the steering (how can we control/manage it), and the destination (where are we going and what future can we imagine).

    Watch the video

  • Kevin Systrom — Tactics, Books, and the Path to a Billion Users

    29 April 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Kevin Systrom is an entrepreneur and the co-founder (with Mike Krieger) of Instagram. While at Instagram, Kevin served as the CEO, where he oversaw the company’s vision and strategy and daily operations. Under his leadership, Instagram grew to over one billion users and launched dozens of products including video, live, direct messaging, creative tools, Stories, and IGTV.

    I loved how Kevin keeps on learning and wants to develop himself, even after having this large success already. Now that their departure is in the news it looks quite sudden, but they actually have been with Facebook for 6 years. They talk about feedback (360 degrees feedback) and how it becomes more difficult to get honest feedback once you climb the ranks of a company / the ranks grow under you.

    Listen to the episode

  • Men's Warehouse: George Zimmer

    26 April 2019

      

    How I Built This

    In 1970, George Zimmer was a college graduate with no real job prospects and little direction. That's when his father, an executive at a boy's clothing company, asked him to go on an important business trip to Asia. It was that trip that propelled him into the world of men's apparel. In 1973, the first Men's Wearhouse opened in Houston with little fanfare. But by the mid-80s, George Zimmer managed to carve out a distinct niche in the market – a place where men could buy a good quality suit, at "everyday low prices," along with all the shirts, ties, socks, and shoes they need. With George as the face of the brand, Men's Wearhouse became a multi-billion dollar empire with hundreds of stores across the U.S. But then, in 2013, a bitter battle forced him to give it all up.

    I didn't get too much from this episode. I found it less compelling because maybe it's more difficul to take actionable lessons from a story in a different time and business. Not sure.

    Listen to the episode

  • What do Jihadists Really Want (2019)

    26 April 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris reads from an issue of Dabiq, the magazine of ISIS, and discusses the beliefs and goals of jihadists worldwide.

    What Sam tries to drive home is that there is no negotiating with people in the extremes. They believe there is an after life and that they are fighting a holy war (this is one of the things that makes religion so terrible). He also notes that the production quality of Dabiq is better than magazines in the US, which should worry you. Many of the people who are fighting this war (and a war it is) are well-educated and have opportunities, but they choose to fight for this. I highly recommend listening to this episode to better understand what someone on 'the other side' is thinking.

    Listen to the episode

  • Possible Minds

    24 April 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris introduces John Brockman’s new anthology, “Possible Minds: 25 Ways of Looking at AI,” in conversation with three of its authors: George Dyson, Alison Gopnik, and Stuart Russell.

    It's great hearing different perspectives on AI and getting a better feel for what is coming. Stuart Russell was the most allarming (and still very knowledgeable), and I've put the book on the to-read list.

    Listen to the episode

  • Aubrey de Grey

    22 April 2019

      

    Foresight Institute

    Allison Duettmann challenges Aubrey De Grey with the top objections against longevity to be debunked and debated before opening up the floor to the public.

    In all honestly it's preaching to the choir here for me. But I might go back to this talk again if I ever hear objections if I speak with others about this and need to find good arguments.

    Watch the video

  • Eric Schmidt - Lessons from a Trillion-Dollar Coach

    22 April 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Eric Schmidt is Technical Advisor and Board Member to Alphabet Inc., where he advises its leaders on technology, business and policy issues. Eric joined Google in 2001 and helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology. He served as Google’s Chief Executive Officer from 2001-2011, and Executive Chairman 2011-2018, alongside founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

    A great conversation that once again showed the interviewing skills of Tim. Eric was also very clear and expanded on the need for coaching within software companies, Silicon Valley, or even everywhere. I think at Queal we can do more with this and I hope that in the future I will find a great coach.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Most Interesting Fruit in the World

    20 April 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    The banana used to be a luxury good. Now it’s the most popular fruit in the U.S. and elsewhere. But the production efficiencies that made it so cheap have also made it vulnerable to a deadly fungus that may wipe out the one variety most of us eat. Scientists do have a way to save it — but will Big Banana let them?

    In the episode we are presented with a solution, GMO (and I think is the right solution), but the industry insider seemed more concerned about the public image, so we will see where it goes.

    Listen to the episode

  • 3DR: When Your Invention Becomes a Weapon

    14 April 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    What do you do if your invention becomes a weapon? This happened to Chris Anderson, who launched DIY Drones, an open source community that helps anyone build their own flying machines. Now, drones are used by everyone, from conservationists to contractors. But, they’re also used by ISIS to drop bombs on civilians. So, what is Chris’ responsibility? Did he foster innovation for a community of like-minded do-gooders or democratize a weapon for a terrorist group across the globe?

    We get a few different perspectives but overall this episode was lacking a bit in depth for me.

    Listen to the episode

  • God is not Great (book 20)

    14 April 2019

     

         

    God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens takes reason to religion. It's a deep dive into a terribly important topic. Not only because it has shaped (and for the foreseeable future will shape) our lives. Whilst some will argue that we're already living in the next Enlightenment (or hope so, Steven Pinker), Christopher Hitchens is more militant and political, if we need an Enlightenment, he will be one of the horsemen of it.

    Read the full review

  • Why Rent Control Doesn’t Work

    13 April 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Daniel Ek, a 23-year-old Swede who grew up on pirated music, made the record labels an offer they couldn’t refuse: a legal platform to stream all the world’s music. Spotify reversed the labels’ fortunes, made Ek rich, and thrilled millions of music fans. But what has it done for all those musicians stuck in the long tail?

    I guess this was the 4th episode/podcast in which Ek could be found in my feed in the past few months. It was a good conversation and made me think of Stratechery, an awesome blog which also analysed Spotify a few times.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Blank Slate

    13 April 2019

     

         

    In this epic of a book, Steven Pinker one again tackles a very large topic without sparing any words. He argues for a mind that already is pre-wired (genes) in a certain. Of course there are effects from the environment, but we are far from a (reprogrammable) blank slate.

    Read the full review

  • Moneyland

    13 April 2019

      

    Planet Money

    I still enjoy listening to Planet Money and don't recommend it here too often, mostly because they do so many small stories (about 2 per week, and 5 more via The Indicator). This one is a two-part episode about economists, Chile, dictators and more.

    Listen to the first episode

    Listen to the second episode

  • Chez Panisse: Alice Waters

    11 April 2019

      

    How I Built This

    In the 1960s, Alice Waters studied abroad in France – and discovered a culinary world far from the processed food popular in America. When she returned to California, she tried to find restaurants to recreate her experiences abroad, but she couldn't. In 1971, she opened a small restaurant in Berkeley called Chez Panisse, where she focused on serving fresh, local ingredients. Just a few years later, Chez Panisse was named one of the best restaurants in America, and became one of the hottest locations for fine dining in the Bay Area. Despite her success, Alice chose not to turn Chez Panisse into a restaurant empire. Instead, she continued to insist on cooking with food raised locally, sustainably, and ethically. Today, most chefs agree Alice Waters and Chez Panisse sparked the farm-to-table movement in the restaurant industry.

    Another great episode of the HIBT podcast. I loved the passion of Alice and just to learn about her story. One thing I plan to do is to buy more foods from places where I know the supply-chain is better than it is now. But one thing I do want to keep in mind is that I've already opted out of buying some of the worst products (meat). So another place to start is with cheese and to see if I can find better cheese where you can be more certain of the humane?/better treatment of the cows making it. (and I still want to learn more about consciousness soon and write more about being vegetarian).

    Listen to the episode

  • Various Episodes - Science VS

    05-08 April 2019

      

    Science VS

    I recently rediscovered the podcast Science VS. Each episode deals with another scientific question and the hosts consult various experts to get to the buttom of the questions. I won't be posting the results of all of them, but here are some conclusions I draw/remember from the episodes I've listened to so far.

    • Emotional support animals don't do anything much and can be a sign of wrongful attachments if anything.
    • A 7 minute workout can be good, but it doesn't have to be that specific type of workout.
    • Essential oils don't do much if anything (and as mentioned a month or so ago, they suck because they are sold in a MLM structure).
    • Vegans have the moral high-ground, and you don't need milk (read: calcium) to have strong bones, the opposite might be true (you still get enough calcium in other ways). Fasting diets don't do much.
    • Alchol is bad for you (with regards to cancer), even at one drink a day.
    • In nuclear war the effects of the blast are larger than the radiation effects, and only with lots (thousands) of bombs will we wipe out humanity (or most of it).
    • CBD might have some positive effects, but of course things are overblown in marketing/media.

    Listen to the episodes

  • Why Rent Control Doesn’t Work

    05 April 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    As cities become ever-more expensive, politicians and housing advocates keep calling for rent control. Economists think that’s a terrible idea. They say it helps a small (albeit noisy) group of renters, but keeps overall rents artificially high by disincentivizing new construction. So what happens next?

    Most economists say that rent control is a bad idea, as is just about any form of price control. They believe that markets work best when supply and demand are allowed to find a natural equilibrium, with price acting as the referee. "It’s not a good way of allocating scarce space. It’s not a good way of helping the downtrodden. It’s a way that freezes a city and stops it from adjusting to changes, a way that freezes people in apartments and stops the motion that is inherent in cities."

    Although it sounds like a great idea (and one you can sell politically), reality shows that it's a very bad idea. What really took it home for me is that you're just helping people already living there (if at all), and by that preventing other people from also living in the city (and preventing innovation/improvements/etc).

    Listen to the episode

  • The team trying to end poverty by founding well-governed ‘charter’ cities

    04 April 2019

      

    80000 hours

    Governance matters. Policy change quickly took China from famine to fortune; Singapore from swamps to skyscrapers; and Hong Kong from fishing village to financial centre. Unfortunately, many governments are hard to reform and — to put it mildly — it’s not easy to found a new country.

    "If we look back at the last, the greatest humanitarian miracle in the post-war era has been China, which lifted about 800 million people out of poverty. What they did was urbanization combined with special economic zones."

    Starting afresh with a new city makes it possible to clear away thousands of harmful rules without having to fight each of the thousands of interest groups that will viciously defend their privileges. Initially the city can fund infrastructure and public services by gradually selling off its land, which appreciates as the city flourishes. And with 40 million people relocating to cities every year, there are plenty of prospective migrants.

    Maybe a bit outside the direct Effective Altruism (EA) area, it is interesting to see their take on building new cities for innovation. I hope to hear about the success of their efforts in some years.

    Listen to the episode

  • Neil Gaiman — The Interview I’ve Waited 20 Years To Do

    04 April 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Neil Gaiman is the bestselling author and creator of books, graphic novels, short stories, film and television for all ages, including Neverwhere, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The View from the Cheap Seats and the Sandman series of graphic novels. His fiction has received Newbery and Carnegie Medals, and Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and Will Eisner Awards, among many other awards and honors.

    I was already a bit familiar with Neil from reading The Graveyard Book and reading (and watching season 1 of) American Gods. I really liked the latter. The former was very good but didn't hit the right snares for me.

    In the interview Tim explores what it takes to be a good writer, about Neil's collaboration with Terry Pratchett, and more. The episode didn't have too many new insights for me, but I really loved how they connected and talked about everything from fountain pens to adoption something for the screen.

    Listen to the episode

  • Springfree Trampoline: Keith Alexander & Steve Holmes

    04 April 2019

      

    How I Built This

    In the late 1980s, a New Zealand engineer named Keith Alexander wanted to buy a trampoline for his kids. After his wife said they were too dangerous, Keith set out to design his own — a safer trampoline, without metal springs. He tinkered with and perfected the design over the course of a decade. But he was daunted by the challenge of bringing his invention to market — and he almost gave up. At that point Steve Holmes, a Canadian businessman, bought the patent to Keith's trampoline, and took a big risk to commercialize it. Today, Springfree Trampoline generates over $50 million in annual sales and has sold over 400,000 trampolines.

    Quite different than other episodes, this one features both the inventor (with one heck of a long breath), and investor/entrepreneur who work togehter to find and make a new type trampoline business work. It is less of a Silicon Valley/unicorn story, and more of the hard work and persistence type. Still it involves quite a lot of investment upfront.

    One interesting thing I learned about was the loans that you can take if you have an order from a large company. The terms were not good, but it was what got them started/growing.

    Listen to the episode

  • For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

    01 April 2019

      

    Radiolab

    This was an interesting episode that touched on the subject of discrimination, nationhood?, identity, and more. What if someone is being a pain in the ass (the Dutch women living in Switzerland), when do you say that she is not welcome? And what about people you don't like (but haven't done anything wrong).

    The episode does a great job of showing different perspectives and really makes you think.

    Listen to the episode

  • The age of genetic wonder

    01 April 2019

      

    TED Talk

    Gene-editing tools like CRISPR enable us to program life at its most fundamental level. But this raises some pressing questions: If we can generate new species from scratch, what should we build? Should we redesign humanity as we know it? Juan Enriquez forecasts the possible futures of genetic editing, exploring the immense uncertainty and opportunity of this next frontier.

    Instead of reactive, let's do proactive biology. Examples include the redesigning of yoghurt (plant-based), cows, and even humans (e.g. Huntington disease). It's complicated, exciting, challenging, and amazing. And at the end, what about a gene-drive that will kill mosquitos (I lean towards yes). And at the very end, "We may be only a decade or two away from creating life from scratch".

    Watch the TED Talk

  • Public Commitment 2019 Update

    01 April 2019

      

    Article

    A look back at the progress of my 2019 goals over Q1 and a look forward toward the rest of the year.

    Read the article

  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

    30 March 2019

     

         

    This is a very fun sci-fi story about, well, Bob. He is on a crazy adventure, has to save Earth (who doesn't) and learn to be an AI (and in quite a novel way). The story doesn't really 'close' like I would like it to have, but I will see in the sequels what will come.

    Read the full review

  • The Trouble With Facebook

    28 March 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Roger McNamee about his book Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe. Roger McNamee has been a Silicon Valley investor for thirty-five years. He has cofounded successful venture funds including Elevation with U2’s Bono. He was a former mentor to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and helped recruit COO Sheryl Sandberg to the company.

    Roger really has some good points about privacy and how Facebook isn't doing well on these points. He also talks about Google a lot and that we're not the consumers, and not the product (any more), but that we are the data stream. And that the (future) customers are advertisers and insurance companies who will want to/are harvesting this data. Really worth the listen.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Return of Supersonic Flight

    28 March 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    For all of human history, we’ve wanted to fly – and to fly fast. Blake Scholl, Founder and CEO of airplane startup Boom, is about to make happen. He has created a new supersonic jet, which could be the biggest disruption to air travel since the Jet Age of the 1960s. But progress always has a price. And Boom could have a big one.

    Things I like: Connecting people faster can be better. And making this technology doesn't necessarily mean more bad things (CO2 emissions etc).

    Things I worry about: Not too much, but mainly about the why. With better and better video technology, do we really need to move around quicker. One story during the podcast is about that other airlines cut costs and did other things, whilst Concorde focussed on speed (and was funded by the government with not too commercial goals), but is that really what people want, we will see.

    Listen to the episode

  • Michael Pollan — Exploring the Frontiers of Psychedelics

    25 March 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Michael Pollan is the author of seven previous books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to The New York Times Magazine, he also teaches writing at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley where he is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Science Journalism. In 2010, TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    In this episode, Michael and Tim talk about his latest book How to Change Your Mind. They talk about the psychedelics and a lot about the research that is being done at the moment. They talk about the sensitive political landscape and the possibility that things can go wrong (but they are both optimistic).

    A lot more research has to be done and we will see that coming over the next years. It's very exciting and I hope these types of therapies will be able to help many.

    Listen to the episode

  • How can policy keep up with AI advances?

    24 March 2019

      

    80000 hours

    In today’s interview Jack Clark, Policy Director at OpenAI, explains that from a computational perspective using a hand and playing Dota 2 are remarkably similar problems. And more broadly, what does this imply for policy. What can governments and organisations do. And when should they figure it all out?

    I’d say from my perspective that the politicization of AI, the realization among people taking part in AI, that it is a political technology that has political effects, has been very significant. We’ve seen that in work by employees at AI organizations like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to push back on things like AI being used in drones in the case of Google or AI and facial recognition in the case of Microsoft and Amazon. And that’s happened alongside politicians realizing AI is important and is something they should legislate about.

    This episode was an interesting take (from different perspectives/guests) on the AI policy questions. One thing I took away was that the distinction between short- and longterm is overblown. In many cases we should be taking/developing the same frameworks and precautions now, as in the future.

    Listen to the episode

  • Away: Jen Rubio

    22 March 2019

      

    How I Built This

    In early 2015, Jen Rubio was racing through an airport to catch a flight when her suitcase broke, leaving a trail of clothing behind her. She tried to replace it with a stylish, durable, affordable suitcase — but she couldn't find one. So she decided to create her own. In less than a year, Jen and her co-founder Steph Korey raised $2.5 million to build their dream travel brand: a line of sleek, direct-to-consumer suitcases simply called Away. Jen's hunch that the brand would emotionally resonate with young, jet-setting customers paid off. Today, Away has become a cult luggage brand that has sold more than one million suitcases.

    This story is about building a successful brand. A lot of preparation has gone into kickstarting Away and having it be both a great product and have a great story (that the customer can tell to him/herself). Although I think the problems of having a suboptimal suitcase are not the end of the world, it is so for many people and Away got in there and made them improve the story they could tell.

    Listen to the episode

  • Why You Shouldn't Open a Restaurant

    21 March 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Kenji López-Alt became a rock star of the food world by bringing science into the kitchen in a way that everyday cooks can appreciate. Then he dared to start his own restaurant — and discovered problems that even science can’t solve.

    This was the follow-up to the episode I listened to in September 2018. It followed up on the troubles of opening a restaurant. This felt most like a conversation between friends and probably has some good value for someone contemplating starting a restaurant (which isn't me).

    Listen to the episode

  • Safi Bahcall — On Thinking Big, Curing Cancer, and Transforming Industries

    20 March 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Safi Bahcall is the author of Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. Loonshots describes what an idea from physics tells us about the behavior of groups and how teams, companies, and nations can use that to innovate faster and better. Safi received his PhD in physics from Stanford and his undergrad degree from Harvard. After working as a consultant for McKinsey, Safi co-founded a biotechnology company specializing in developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years.

    There were many great lessons in this episode. Safi uses heuristics/lists/processes to manage his life. He looks at the higher-level reasons for his actions and what he (or in his business) could do it better next time. For instance, if you moved your pawn to capture a rook, and it turned out that was a bad move. You could think of not to make that move anymore. But you could also take one step back and see why you made the decision, and change that (so you can do better in the future).

    He had fun advise on finding a life-partner. You should be able to have a great dinner together (because that is what you will be doing a lot of later in life). Instead of looking only at how cool you could be on the first date.

    Safi also argues to push through (vs fail fast and pivot) sometimes. If you know the underlying logic is correct (again thinking of the system instead of the specific action/outcome), you should be able to endure negative outcomes at first and succeed in the end.

    Listen to the episode

  • Will We Destroy The Future?

    19 March 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nick Bostrom about the problem of existential risk. They discuss public goods, moral illusions, the asymmetry between happiness and suffering, utilitarianism, “the vulnerable world hypothesis,” the history of nuclear deterrence, the possible need for “turnkey totalitarianism,” whether we’re living in a computer simulation, the Doomsday Argument, the implications of extraterrestrial life, and other topics.

    A great conversation with someone I know about a bit (Nick is one of the founders/early enthousiasts for Effective Altruism). I've also read Superintelligence, a book about the dangers of AI/ASI/AGI. It's great to hear them talk and get into the papers mentioned.

    Find the papers here

    Listen to the episode

  • Check Your Blindspot

    18 March 2019

      

    Masters of Scale

    Sallie Krawcheck knows: Companies dominated by one type of person run the risk of tunnel vision. You might move fast – but you'll often drive straight into traps. Truly scalable companies need a diverse portfolio of viewpoints to see the opportunities others miss. From her Wall Street years to her new startup Ellevest, Sallie makes the business case for diversity of all kinds.

    Being different can have great benefits. What I think wasn't discussed much, and didn't need to here, was the need for a co-founder/employees who do share your mission. If you have that aligned, then you can be as diverse as possible on the execution/viewpoints/backgrounds/etc.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Gods Themselves

    18 March 2019

     

         

    The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov consists of three consecutive stories. I like that he started this book as an explanation why plutonium 186 can exists (it can’t, but a friend of his mentioned it and he decided he could write a story about it).

    Read the full review

  • Turning The Flywheel

    16 March 2019

     

         

    Well, not actually a book, a monograph. One that accompanies Good to Great. Turning the Flywheel by Jim Collins goes deeper into the concept of the flywheel. In the review I will define the flywheel and give two interpretations of it, for Queal and for myself.

    Read the full review

  • How to Fail Like a Pro

    15 March 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    For years, Gary Cohn thought he’d be the next C.E.O. of Goldman Sachs. Instead, he became the “adult in the room” in a chaotic administration. Cohn talks about the fights he won, the fights he lost, and the fights he was no longer willing to have. Also: why he and Trump are still on speaking terms even after he reportedly called the president “a professional liar.”

    Quite interesting to hear, but also a bit difficult. He doesn't want to speak about everything and seems to have an interesting view of the world. I do like how Stephen interviewed him and was both respectful and pushed the points when needed.

    Listen to the episode

  • Affectiva: Software That Detects How You Feel

    15 March 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    What if your computer had an “emotion chip” – AI that could read the expression on your face (or the tone in your voice) and know how you’re feeling? This is the question Rana El-Kaliouby asked when she built an AI tool that examines every micro-muscle in the human face to detect universal emotions – happiness, fear, grief, disgust. Through her company Affectiva, Rana wants to make technology more human. But in the wrong hands, could this emotion-reading engine take advantage of us at our most vulnerable moments? What might happen?

    Things I like: Just like last episode, this one is about human emotions and computers taking a role there. I like how could help us with theraphy and with helping people deal with their emotions.

    Things I worry about: I worry that the 'emotions' you see on your face aren't complex enough, that they don't give away your real inner voice. But at the same time, what if that is good enough in 99% of the cases. Should we prevent this from spreading everywhere (e.g. for theraphy in remote/poor areas) because it isn't 100% accurate (as doctors are not too). Of course in the hands of governments etc it can also do much harm/enable control.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Map of Misunderstanding

    15 March 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Daniel Kahneman at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. They discuss the replication crisis in science, System 1 and System 2, where intuitions reliably fail, expert intuitions, the power of framing, moral illusions, anticipated regret, the asymmetry between threats and opportunities, the utility of worrying, removing obstacles to wanted behaviors, the remembering self vs the experiencing self, improving the quality of gossip, and other topics.

    To be honest, there wasn't much I didn't know already. You can hear that Kahneman isn't that optimistic (something I heard earlier in The Undoing Project). But I do highly recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow.

    Listen to the episode

  • Effective Altruism Discussion Evening #7

    13 March 2019

      

    Effective Altruism

    During the evening we discussed both the good and the bad of what artificial intelligence will bring us. We both talked about what is happening today and what could happen in the future. Luckily we had an AI expert there and the three tables gave awesome presentations of their viewpoints at the end.

    More notes from the evening

    Be there at the next meetup

  • The Dawn of Artificial Intelligence

    13 March 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with computer scientist Stuart Russell about the challenge of building artificial intelligence that is compatible with human well-being.

    In preparation of the Effective Altruism evening we organised around Artificial Intelligence, I listened to this episode again. It highlights dangers and possibilities. Within the EA community, many are working on the safety problem. The biggest open question for me (and for everyone else I guess) is the speed at which we will develop AGI, and if this is 10 years, 100 years, or maybe much later.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ubik (book 15)

    11 March 2019

     

         

    A very strange and mind-bending sci-fi mystery that didn't pan out exactly how I thought it would. In the full review I will look at some more online reviews to figure this one out.

    Read the full review

  • Logic: Logic & Chris Zarou

    11 March 2019

      

    How I Built This

    In 2010, Logic the rapper, born as Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, released his first official mixtape titled "Young, Broke & Infamous." At 20 years old, Logic certainly was young and broke, and while crashing on a friend's couch, he poured himself into his music. Logic's career could have fizzled if it wasn't for Chris Zarou, a young college athlete-turned-manager who had no more experience in the music business than Logic. Undeterred, the two decided to work together, continuing to use free music and social media to build Logic's reputation as a talented, fast-flowing rapper with a hopeful message. In 2012, Logic signed to Def Jam Records and in 2014 dropped his debut album "Under Pressure," which shot to number 4 on the Billboard charts.

    This story is about investing for the future and not 'cashing-out' too early. First giving, giving, giving, and only then taking/enjoying the rewards whilst giving more (e.g. a concert/merch). And one about trust and alignmnent of goals.

    Listen to the episode

  • How to Fail Like a Pro

    10 March 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Today, we’ll hear about a part of the creative process that everyone can relate to — even if you don’t think of yourself as a “creative person.” This is something we all do, probably more than we’d like to admit; it’s something that almost no one enjoys; but it’s an inevitable, and absolutely essential, component of any success.

    And that is failure. Many successful people fail, it's about getting back up again and improving.

    Listen to the episode

  • Graham Duncan — Talent Is the Best Asset Class

    08 March 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    "Everyone’s genius is right next to their dysfunction." - Graham Duncan. Graham Duncan is the co-founder of East Rock Capital, a multi-family office investment firm that manages $2 billion for a small number of families and their charitable foundations.

    Another good episode about talent and how to manage/incubate it. It's about finding who is better than you at something and/or knowing how to empower someone to become this person. Why does Graham know something about this? Finance is an industry that lives on talent, of creativity (sometimes too much), and people are thus the greatest asset.

    Listen to the episode

  • Build a More Human Internet

    07 March 2019

      

    Masters of Scale

    "It was an online community. The reason that they called it social media is because you can sell media. You can sell column inches, you can sell broadcast hours. You can advertise against it, but it was not social media. That’s not what it was. It was an online community.."

    In this episode, an interview with Caterina Fake, Venture Capitalist, host of 'Should This Exist', and founder of Flickr, talks about online communities and how this can/should be the core (versus advertising/media).

    Listen to the episode

  • Building a Storybrand

    07 March 2019

     

         

    A very good read on how to tell your story, your customer's story to be exact. With heavy inspiration from the book/film industry, Donald takes you on a journey and through the steps you have to take your customer through. I found the book to be very insightful and will use his recommendations to better tell the story of our customers.

    Read the full review

  • A Good Idea Is Not Good Enough

    07 March 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Whether you’re building a business or a cathedral, execution is everything. We ask artists, scientists, and inventors how they turned ideas into reality. And we find out why it’s so hard for a group to get things done — and what you can do about it.

    To conclude: It's all about execution. And there are many ways to execute, pick one and do it.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Problem of Addiction

    07 March 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Sally Satel about addiction. They discuss whether addiction should be considered a disease, the opiate epidemic in the U.S., the unique danger of fentanyl, the politicization of medicine, PTSD, and other topics.

    Depending on the perspective (helping, family, law, etc) the 'sticker' of disease might not be the best way to describe addiction. It's not just brain science, it's also a lot about environment and support. In the end they discuss organ donation and make strong case to get this going legally. One thing that surprised me was that organ donations from dead people (where there is the opt-in or opt-out debate), not many people leave good organs behind (i.e. bad organs), which makes sense, but does up the urgency of needing to get more from alive people (before we 3d print them etc).

    Listen to the episode

  • Can journalists still write about important things?

    06 March 2019

      

    80000 hours

    Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and given very little editorial direction, Vox’s Future Perfect aspires to be more or less that. Competition in the news business creates pressure to write quick pieces on topical political issues that can drive lots of clicks with just a few hours’ work. But according to Kelsey Piper, staff writer for this new section on Vox’s website focused on effective altruist themes, Future Perfect’s goal is to run in the opposite direction and make room for more substantive coverage that’s not tied to the news cycle.

    Not too many points to change your mind about here, but good to listen to the background of Future Perfect and get a small peak into journalism.

    Listen to the episode

  • Squarespace: Anthony Casalena

    05 March 2019

      

    How I Built This

    Like many classic technology stories, Sqaurespace started in a college dorm room. In 2003, 21-year-old Anthony Casalena created a website-building tool for himself. But after hearing some positive feedback from friends, he decided to put the tool online and start a business. For years, Anthony ran Squarespace almost entirely on his own but the stress took a toll and he reached the limits of what he could accomplish by himself. The journey to hiring a staff and scaling the company had its own set of growing pains for Anthony, including difficulty letting go of control, and learning how to manage other people. Today, Squarespace has grown to more than 800 employees, and valued at $1.7 billion.

    At various points this story could have failed (as many start-up stories might). It's good that Anthony recognizes these and also the very good upbringing he had (he could borrow 30k from his parents!). Anthony shows that he is open to learning and that making mistakes isn't the end, it is just another place to learn more again.

    Listen to the episode

  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century

    04 March 2019

     

         

    A very interesting book that asks some hard questions about money, capital, wages, inequality, and more. The very best thing is that the focus is on using historical data to prove a point and to make an argument. In all cases Piketty is very good at presenting the data. This is also the difficulty, as in too much data and text. But if you get through the parts that interest you less/you know the conclusion to, it's very much worth the read.

    Read the full review

  • The Reid Hoffman Story

    28 February 2019

      

    Masters of Scale

    "Great leaders make everyone they enlist a hero in their own story."

    I love how Reid Hoffman understands how stories are important and how they should empower a hero's journey for everyone (and put the company in the yoda role).

    Listen to part 1

    Listen to part 2

  • Woebot: A Virtual Therapist Powered by AI

    27 February 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    Woebot is a mobile app that gives one-on-one therapy and gets 2 million messages a week. But Woebot isn’t a person – it’s a chatbot. It was invented and developed by psychologist Alison Darcy and it uses AI to guide users through a session, anytime, anywhere. Darcy hopes that Woebot will help break down the stigma of therapy and help provide services to underserved communities. But what happens when we remove the human therapist from therapy?

    Things I like: It will stay as good or get better each time (no bored therapist, appearently 50% of CBT practicioners don't actually do CBT). It can learn from the data. People feel more comfortable/less self-consciousness when talking to it. It's empowering and can give access to therapy around the world at a fraction of the cost.

    Things I worry about: People retreating from society. Dependency on the bot/app (but how is that different from current therapist, and can be built as not to be so). Data (but can be made so no personal things are stored/shared).

    Listen to the episode

  • Where Do Good Ideas Come From

    24 February 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Whether you’re mapping the universe, hosting a late-night talk show, or running a meeting, there are a lot of ways to up your idea game. Plus: the truth about brainstorming.

    Some structure is best. Or maybe put differently, a lot of structure, around the right parts. Have time to do nothing, but protect that time. Make a routine, but be free in what concepts you connect. Etc.

    Listen to the episode

  • Jim Collins — A Rare Interview with a Reclusive Polymath

    24 February 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. He has authored or coauthored eight books that have together sold 10+ million copies worldwide, including Good to Great, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, Great by Choice, and his newest work, Turning the Flywheel.

    I've been familiar with Good to Good to Great and Built to Last. It's great to hear Jim talk about his work and his dedication to learning more and more about management and the underlying principles that drive great businesses. I will take a look at his newest book.

    Listen to the episode

  • Enlightenment Now

    22 February 2019

     

         

    What progress have we made as humans? Where are we now? And where might we be going? These and more answers in the second book I read by Steven Pinker (before I read Better Angels of Our Nature). Instead of only focussing on violence and war, this book looks at many more aspects of development. It ties in with quite some other books I've been reading and in the full summary I will shed some more light on this. And I will focus on some critique that the book has gotten and my personal interpretation of this.

    Read the full review

  • Halo: A Headset That Makes You Learn Faster

    21 February 2019

      

    Should This Exist

    Neuroscientist Daniel Chao created a headset that hacks your brain with electricity so you can learn as fast as a kid again. It’s called Halo, and it helps you learn motor skills faster. Athletes use it; musicians too. But we’re not far from a future when Halo could help anyone master anything. Where will that take us? Host Caterina Fake leads the journey, joined by Comedian Baratunde Thurston and Quartz Editor in Chief Kevin Delaney, who help Daniel future-cast, and see his invention through the future best for humanity.

    This was my first episode listening to this (also new) podcast after hearing her speak on Tim's podcast (a few below here). It was a good experience, but I will have to see after a few more episodes if it's really worth the listen. For this specific episode, the Halo is an interesting device, but I think very limited in the scope (i.e. what AI also is at the moment).

    Listen to the episode

  • An updated view of the best ways to help humanity

    20 February 2019

      

    80000 hours

    If you want to do as much good as possible with your career, what problems should you work on, and what jobs should you consider? This episode features Rob Wiblin, director of research for effective altruist organization 80,000 Hours, and the host of the 80,000 Hours podcast. Julia and Rob discuss how the career advice 80,000 Hours gives has changed over the years, and the biggest misconceptions about their views.

    This episode was cross-posted from the Rationally Speaking podcast and gives a more high-level overview of EA and 80,000 Hours. What I liked most was that Rob reiterated that 80k has changed their focus to be 1) more on the long-term, and 2) more on doing good directly (vs earning to give).

    Listen to the episode

  • Hardcore History On Fire

    19 February 2019

      

    Hardcore History

    Dan and History on Fire host Danielle Bolelli do a crosscast together about Nazis, political spectrums, U.S. Presidents they want back and some other stuff. Basically it's a typical phone call between these two guys that an audience gets to hear for once.

    Very interesting to hear these two great podcasters speak. And once again, listen to Hardcore History (this was from the addendum/extra podcast)

    Listen to the episode

  • Burt's Bees: Roxanne Quimby

    18 February 2019

      

    How I Built This

    In the 1970s, Roxanne Quimby was trying to live a simpler life – one that rejected the pursuit of material comforts. She moved to Maine, built a cabin in the woods, and lived off the grid.By the mid-80s, she met a recluse beekeeper named Burt Shavitz and offered to help him tend to his bees. As partners, Roxanne and Burt soon began selling their "Pure Maine Honey" at local markets, which evolved into candles made out of beeswax, and eventually lip balm and skin care products. Today Burt's Bees can be found in nearly every grocery store and drugstore around the U.S.

    It's interesting to hear Roxanne's story. What I liked most was her reluctance to be an entrepreneur and how they did it their way. Also without much (if any) marketing and a focus on the product. Funniest moment: when they hired a 14 year old kid to do their bookkeeping in the beginning.

    Listen to the episode

  • Caterina Fake — The Outsider Who Built Giants

    18 February 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Caterina Fake is a long-time Silicon Valley pioneer. She is a co-founder of Yes VC, a pre-seed and seed-stage fund investing in ideas that elevate our collective humanity. Previously, she worked at Founder Collective as a founder partner, served as chair of Etsy, and was a co-founder of Flickr. At Flickr, Caterina and her team introduced many of the innovations — newsfeeds, hashtags, “followers,” “likes” — that have become commonplace online. Caterina went on to found several more startups (Findery, Hunch) and became an active investor, advisor, and board member, helping to build companies like Etsy and Kickstarter from their beginnings. (Other investments include Stack Overflow, Cloudera, and Blue Bottle Coffee.) Caterina is an early creator of online communities and a long-time advocate of the responsibility of entrepreneurs for the outcomes of their technologies.

    A good interview from Tim that really dives deep into diversity (of thought) and how this can help a company. I like how they connected and also talked about the lesser times (melancholy/depression) and how this is also part of the human experience. Definitely worth a listen.

    Listen to the episode

  • Artemis

    17 February 2019

     

         

    I liked this second book by Andy Weir quite a lot. It's a great vacation read where the pages just flow away. Like The Martian (his debut novel), it's full of science and interesting twists. See the full review for spoilers and my take on the storyline.

    Read the full review

  • The Future of Meat

    16 February 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Global demand for beef, chicken, and pork continues to rise. So do concerns about environmental and other costs. Will reconciling these two forces be possible — or, even better, Impossible™?

    Hmm interesting, a story I really like. And at the same time one which made me think about if I want to be part of that industry. Is there something I can do, or is the basic science already there? And what will be the best/dominant strategy (plant-based or cultured-meat)? It's very interesting and I look forward to learning more.

    Listen to the episode

  • Legendary Flexibility (book 10)

    13 February 2019

     

         

    What can we learn about flexibility? How can we apply it in our daily life and what is the best routine to get very flexible. Jujimufu takes on this challenge in his ebook.

    It's very interesting to read but now is the time (in the coming weeks) for me to make my own routine and incorporate the lessons in my own life.

    Read the full review

  • Solar

    12 February 2019

     

         

    Hmm, this book was recommended by a friend and I did like it. But it was not among the other fiction books that I liked better. That being said, there is some very fun dark humor in there.

    Read the full review

  • Radical institutional reforms that make capitalism & democracy work better

    11 February 2019

      

    80000 hours

    Today’s guest, freewheeling economist Glen Weyl, won’t have it, and is on a warpath to reform liberal democratic institutions in order to save them. Just last year he wrote Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society with Eric Posner, but he has already moved on, saying “in the 6 months since the book came out I’ve made more intellectual progress than in the whole 10 years before that.”

    He believes we desperately need more efficient, equitable and decentralised ways to organise society that take advantage of what each person knows, and his research agenda has already made some breakthroughs.

    Despite a background in the best economics departments in the world – Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the University of Chicago – he is too worried for the future to sit in his office writing papers. Instead he has left the academy to try to inspire a social movement, RadicalxChange, with a vision of social reform as expansive as his own.

    Another very good and intellectually challenging episode. I will have to pick up his book and two that are mentioned in the near future. For now, do read the episode notes.

    Listen to the episode

  • Tobi Lütke — The Oracle of Ottawa

    08 February 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Tobi Lütke is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shopify. In 2004, Tobi began building software to launch an online snowboard store called Snowdevil. It quickly became obvious that the software was more valuable than the snowboards, so Tobi and his founding team launched the Shopify platform in 2006. He has served as CEO since 2008 at the company’s headquarters in Ottawa, Canada.

    I heard before from Tobi when he was on the Farnham Street podcast. A new thing I learned is that he (and you can too) used data from the companies that use Shopify to see new trends develop. You can't predict the future, but you can see some trends coming and prepare yourself and your company to be ready when/if they come.

    Listen to the episode

  • This Economist Predicted the Last Crash

    07 February 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    In 2005, Raghuram Rajan said the financial system was at risk “of a catastrophic meltdown.” After stints at the I.M.F. and India’s central bank, he sees another potential crisis — and he offers a solution. Is it stronger governments? Freer markets? Rajan’s answer: neither.

    Of course the title triggered me to think about his prediction if there would be another crash. He didn't stay much about the topic but did see that for instance businesses have more loans than before (where first the home-owners had too much leverage). We will see how it goes.

    Listen to the episode

  • Jack Dorsey

    05 February 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Jack Dorsey about how he manages his dual CEO roles at Square and Twitter, the role that Twitter plays in journalism, how it’s different from other social media, what makes a conversation healthy, the logic by which Twitter suspends people, the argument for kicking Trump off the platform, Jack’s practice of meditation, and other topics.

    I think Sam did a good job of asking tough, but considerate, questions to Jack. He didn't stay away from the controversy and I think Jack was honest in his apologies and his want to do better. I'm not active on Twitter and I don't know how bad it really is, but I think they do want do fix it and make it a place to have good conversations and change someone's mind.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ken Block — The Art of Marketing with a DC Shoes and Gymkhana Legend

    04 February 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Ken Block is a co-founder of DC Shoes and a professional rally driver with the Hoonigan Racing Division. His rally career began in 2005, and he won Rookie of the Year that season in the Rally America Championship. Ken has accumulated five X Games medals and achieved global fame through his wildly successful viral series of Gymkhana videos. Gymkhana videos (including all associated edits) have racked up more than 500 million views, landing the franchise in Ad Age’s top-10 viral video charts. In January 2010, Block formed the Monster World Rally Team (later renamed to Hoonigan Racing Division) and signed with Ford to pursue his dreams of racing in the World Rally Championship and in doing so, became one of only four Americans to ever score points in the WRC. His latest project is The Gymkhana Files, which takes viewers behind the scenes of GYMKHANA TEN: The Ultimate Tire Slaying Tour, a video that, as of this writing, just went up and already has nearly 20M views. It’s all complete insanity.

    This was another fun episode where he Tim speaks to a fellow life-experiencer. Ken Block has done many things (see above) and it's great to see that he uses curiosity and learning to keep on evolving and having success.

    Listen to the episode

    Watch Gymkhana 10

  • The Dream / Sounds like MLM but OK

    31 January 2019

      

    The Dream / Sounds like MLM but OK

    I started devouring episodes of these two podcasts after doing some more research for a friend who is involved in a MLM. And with doing research I mean helping her understand (if that is possible) that the company she 'works' for is doing some very bad things and selling a product that does not do better than placebo.

    The production value and 'information per minute' isn't as high as the other podcasts here (they could definitely have done some more editing). That being said, I think these are both great resources if you want to inform yourself about MLMs and the damage they do. And there are some pretty crazy stories in there. I would recommend starting with The Dream, or pick a specific episode from Sounds like MLM but OK if you want to learn about a specific company.

    Listen to The Dream

    Listen to Sounds like MLM but OK

  • Canva: Melanie Perkins

    30 January 2019

      

    How I Built This

    When she was just 19 years old, Melanie Perkins dreamt of transforming the graphic design and publishing industries. But she started small, launching a site to make yearbook design simpler and more collaborative. Her success with that first venture — and an unexpected meeting with a VC investor — eventually landed her the backing to pursue her original idea, and the chance to take on software industry titans like Adobe and Microsoft. Today, Melanie's online design platform Canva is valued at over $1 billion, joining the list of Australia's "unicorn" companies.

    I guess that offering great value is key here. I'm doing an exercise around pricing and the power of 'free', and this is a great story around that. She offers free tools to many, and you can pay for something extra (e.g. printing that design). With almost zero marginal costs Canva can help you design something beautiful, and so the company can both help itself and help you!

    Listen to the episode

  • Ending factory farming as soon as possible

    30 January 2019

      

    80000 hours

    Politics in rich countries seems to be going nuts. What’s the explanation? Rising inequality? The decline of manufacturing jobs? Excessive immigration? Martin Gurri spent decades as a CIA analyst and in his 2014 book The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, predicted political turbulence for an entirely different reason: new communication technologies were flipping the balance of power between the public and traditional authorities.

    According to Gurri, trust in society’s institutions – police, journalists, scientists and more – has been undermined by constant criticism from outsiders, and exposed to a cacophony of conflicting opinions on every issue the public takes fewer truths for granted. We are now free to see our leaders as the flawed human beings they always have been, and are not amused.

    The main observation I took away from this episode was that people rally 'against', but (maybe just like before) there is no plan. They don't know what to do when in power (of don't even want to be). I can understand the frustration but I also feel that it's very bad that you can't even think one step further and think about what you want after that (and how you will govern that).

    The podcast also has a positive note about direct democracy and the system in Estonia. Who knows, we might be in a valley (of how good democracy works) and we might see new technology help us (instead of divide us).

    Listen to the episode

  • Susan Cain — How to Overcome Fear and Embrace Creativity

    29 January 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Susan Cain is the author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, the latter of which has been translated into more than 40 languages. Quiet is in its seventh year on The New York Times Best Sellers list, and it was named the number one best book of the year by Fast Company magazine, which also named Susan one of its Most Creative People in Business.

    I was already familiar with Quiet and liked the conversation between Tim and Susan. It's very interesting to see that she hit a snare and has been successful with her book and speaking resulting from it. Also a mention of what Tim will do in the future, write more about mental health and the ways we can (with psychedelics) become better (period).

    Listen to the episode

  • Stephen Fry

    29 January 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Stephen Fry about comedy, atheism, political correctness, meditation, ambition, empathy, psychedelics, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen’s experience of manic depression, and much else.

    Stephen Fry is just a great pleasure to listen to. He is skeptical (in a good way) and asks some good questions about meditation. I wasn't/am not so familiar with Christopher Hitchens, but after the conversation I do want to check him out.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ross and Carrie and the Homeopathic Overdose: The Watered Down Edition

    28 January 2019

      

    Oh No Ross and Carrie

    While Carrie is out of town, Ross and his cohorts at the Independent Investigations Group set up a test to see if the Earth is flat, or a lumpy, bumpy globe. And they invite their old friend Mark Sargent, and a cadre of flat earthers to join them. Arriving at the Salton Sea with some PVC pipe, balloons, and a magical camera that recovers ships lost on the horizon, these globeheads and flatties devise a fair and simple test of the Earth's shape. We'll let you guess how that turns out.

    I listened to this episode and some more. It's great fun. Nothing much to say about the flat earth people, just very bad reasoning and cognitive dissonance.

    Listen to the episode

  • Let My People Go Surfing

    25 January 2019

     

         

    What if you don't want to be a businessmman? And what if you want to do things different? better? That is the story of Yvon Chouinard. The book is a great read and lays out Patagonia's vision very clearly. Although I don't agree with all the solutions proposed, I do agree with the pressing need that he puts forward and align with his vision about trying to do the least amount of harm.

    Read the full review

  • The Intelligent Investor

    23 January 2019

     

         

    The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham can be summarised in one sentence: Buy a portfolio of stocks, hold on to them. Ok, this, of course, is too much of an exaggeration but that is one of the lessons I took away from the book.

    Passive over active, investor over speculator, index funds for the win!

    Read the full review

  • Bonobos: Andy Dunn

    21 January 2019

      

    How I Built This

    When Andy Dunn was in business school, his housemate Brian Spaly created a new type of men's pants: stylish, tailored trousers that fit well in both the hips and thighs. Together, they started the men's clothing company Bonobos, which became an instant hit due to the pants' signature flair and innovative e-commerce experience. But within a few years, Andy hit challenging roadblocks, including a struggle with depression and a falling-out with his co-founder and friend. Despite many moments of crisis, Andy steered Bonobos to massive success, and in 2017, it was acquired by Walmart for a reported $310 million.

    What I took away from this story is that having a good insight for an industry can make you right whilst doing many things wrong. The cofounders broke up (but in quite an ok way), they had a divide within the company, they needed a lot of external money, etc. But if you can be ahead of the curve (and not by too much, think Lisa from Apple), you can make great things happen. In this case it was the hybrid model between ecommerce and offline retail. The podcast is a great listen!

    Listen to the episode

  • Peter Mallouk — Exploring the Worlds of Investing, Assets, and Quality of Life

    20 January 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Peter Mallouk is the President of Creative Planning, one of the largest independent wealth management firms in America. Creative Planning provides wealth management services to clients, manages over $36 billion for clients in all 50 states and abroad, and has been featured as the number one independent wealth management firm in America by Barron’s (2017). Peter is featured in Worth magazine’s Power 100, featuring the most powerful men and women in global finance, the only financial planner on the list (2017 and 2018). Creative Planning was featured in Forbes in 2016 as the number one RIA for growth over the last 10 years.

    Again a very interesting conversation. Maybe also one where I'm remindered that I might be taking in way too much information and not have enough time to process it. But that is a thought to maybe cristallise another day.

    Investing better than 'average' is not possible. Just buy the SNP500. That is what Peter says, what Benjamin Graham says. What I found new in Peter's perspective is the view on private markets. Places where you can have an informational advantage, might have more risk, might be stuck longer with an investment (e.g. if you buy into the development of some houses).

    Peter talks about Bitcoin and argues that there (and also with gold) there isn't much/or any intrinsic value to it (and my current opinion is that it's also not the best of the crypto coins and will trend toward zero in the long-term).

    He also talks about the time-frame you're investing for. And that even when you're 67 you want to still have a part of your money in stocks vs bonds. You don't only need that money today (low risk), you will also need it in 20 years (so you can have more varience, aka stocks, now, with a higher yield).

    Listen to the episode

  • The Beginning of Infinity

    20 January 2019

     

         

    In some books I'm searching for a philosophy of life. Some guidelines, if you can call them that, that direct you to a better life. One that is more 'true', makes you happy, adds positive things to the world. This book is definitely one where I think I've found a piece of the puzzle.

    This book could very well become one of my top recommendations for 2019.

    Read the full review

  • Free Solo

    19 January 2019

      

    Documentary

    Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite's 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.

    I was on the edge of my seat for about the whole experience. Awe, wonder, and WTF, are some of the words I would use for this feat. It's crazy, and although it's somewhat understandable from a 'go to the maximum of human experience' perspective, it's still so crazy that he does this. It's dangerous and no-one should have to do it, but at the same time it's amazing to see as a spectator.

    Watch the trailer

  • Think Like a Winner

    18 January 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Great athletes aren’t just great at the physical stuff. They’ve also learned how to handle pressure, overcome fear, and stay focused. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be an athlete to use what they know.

    A lot of the difference between different top athletes is what happens in their brain. It's the self-talk they engage in. It's about calming yourself, have focus, have confidence, trust the automaticity of what you've learned (not 'think' too much), and remember to breath.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ending factory farming as soon as possible

    18 January 2019

      

    80000 hours

    Every year tens of billions of animals are raised in terrible conditions in factory farms before being killed for human consumption. Despite the enormous scale of suffering this causes, the issue is largely neglected, with only about $50 million dollars spent each year tackling the problem globally.

    This was a great (reuploaded) episode of the 80000 hours podcast. It looked at what ways animal advocacy is making progress. There are some surprising results there. One is that campaigning companies can be very effective (versus campaigning individual choices). It showed that pressuring one industry after another can have a great positive impact on animal welfare.

    There is some discussion about which animals are conscious and I would love to dive deeper into that (and better find out what I think is where the 'line' of consciousness lies).

    Listen to the episode

  • Generation Wealth

    17 January 2019

      

    Documentary

    Lauren Greenfield examines materialism, celebrity culture, and social status and reflects on the desire to be wealthy at any cost. This visual history of the growing obsession with wealth uses first-person interviews in Los Angeles, Moscow, Dubai, China and around the world to bear witness to the global boom-and-bust economy, and to document its complicated consequences.

    I found this a very interesting take on the addiction to money and status. The focus is on America and I guess that country has gone the furthest. It's good as a refreshed and to be reminded to be really be a minimalist and wanted to live (very well) within my means.

    Watch the trailer

  • Digital Capitalism

    17 January 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Douglas Rushkoff about the state of the digital economy.

    Douglas believes (I think quite correctly) that there is something special about human connections and the interaction between us. It's something we can't bring back to algorithms that are the ones that Facebook runs. He also states that neuroscientists don't fully know what consciousness is and I think that is also true. Yet at the same time I do believe that many of our human behaviours are not that special. I think we understand a larger and larger part. But that doesn't justify that we (read, large corporations) hack our biological system for their gain. I think I have quite the agency (not to be confused with free will) over what I want/do, but I can understand that even I'm influenced by my environment.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Punchline

    16 January 2019

      

    Radiolab

    John Scott was the professional hockey player that every fan loved to hate. A tough guy. A brawler. A goon. But when an impish pundit named Puck Daddy called on fans to vote for Scott to play alongside the world’s greatest players in the NHL All-Star Game, Scott found himself facing off against fans, commentators, and the powers that be. Was this the realization of Scott’s childhood dreams? Or a nightmarish prank gone too far? Today on Radiolab, a goof on a goon turns into a parable of the agony and the ecstasy of the internet, and democracy in the age of Boaty McBoatface.

    Sportmanship, fighting the large institution and fandom, this episode has it all and you will not regret listening to it.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ross and Carrie and the Homeopathic Overdose: The Watered Down Edition

    16 January 2019

      

    Oh No Ross and Carrie

    In this episode, Ross and Carrie together take 280 homeopathic pills live on the air, chase them with wine, and discuss their first visit to a combination homeopath and Ayurvedic practitioner. Will Ross and Carrie survive the overdose? Will Ross’ fatigue be cured? Will Carrie’s headaches go away? And will Ayurveda permit hot drinks?! Find out in this one-of-a-kind episode!

    What I liked is that they did take the session very seriously and at the same time were vigilant about what they we're being told. Again I don't believe there is much more to this than 'normal' medicine and that advice like eating garlic is legit, but I think (know) you don't need a certain Vata type for it.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ross and Carrie Cure Clubfoot: Essential Oils Edition

    16 January 2019

      

    Oh No Ross and Carrie

    When we started getting requests for investigations, we had no idea how many we would get for the quaint world of essential oils. But after about two dozen requests, we finally checked into this smelly enterprise, attending an oil party (not how it sounds), and learning which oils to use to cure lupus, whooping cough, club foot, and more. Listen as we use oils to treat Carrie for her headaches and broken arm, Ross for his acne and sore shoulder, and special guest star and comedian Drew Spears, for his cerebral palsy. Is everyone cured? Maybe, maybe not, but they sure stink.

    As mentioned below, a dive into essential oils. Alas, Drew still has cerebral palsy.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ross and Carrie Vape Essential Oils: MONQ Edition

    16 January 2019

      

    Oh No Ross and Carrie

    Sure, essential oils smell nice and cure clubfoot when applied topically (or so we’ve been told)… but what if you atomize the oils and pass their tiny molecules through your nasal passages? Ross and Carrie enlist the help of Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris to see if vaping with the MONQ Therapeutic Air Device can make them healthy, vibrant, zen, happy, sleepy, and bashful.

    Conclusion: It smelled nice, but it didn't do anything. There is no pathway for it to 'work', except placebo. As a side-note I wrote a very long email to a friend who is involved with such a company and I hope that it helped her think critically about her choice to promote such a product (not only focussed on the effect, but also on the MLM aspect of the company).

    Listen to the episode

  • Backdoors to Glass Houses

    14 January 2019

      

    Common Sense

    Experts have said that we are heading towards a future where privacy is dead. Do humans have any say in the matter? Dan talks encryption, personal security vs collective security, and dreams he has.

    Say goodbye to privacy, public security has taken the lead. It's interesting to hear Dan talk about it and to listen to his considerations, real-life examples and to then ponder on what you yourself can do (you can do some personal protection, but it's pretty bad). The example he used his also very good, here is the setup: A thousand of the most powerful/influential people get all their data exposed, will this change the balance?

    Listen to the episode

  • This is Marketing (book 5)

    14 January 2019

     

         

    This book brings together the lessons that Seth has been teaching in his course 'The Marketing Seminar'. He stresses that you need to see the customer, to understand him or her, and to intelligently serve them better.

    There are no lessons about which program to use, how to do analytics or anything like that. The lessons revolve around understanding who you are serving, why, and what. I think it can be summarised as on the back of the book "People like us do things like this." Seth has a deep understanding of human psychology and this book is a perfect example of how he uses this to make marketing better.

    Read the full review

  • Supernova in the East II

    14 January 2019

      

    Hardcore History

    The Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945 has deep roots. It also involves a Japanese society that’s been called one of the most distinctive on Earth. If there were a Japanese version of Captain America, this would be his origin story.

    Just wow, another great episode. And since I've not mentioned Hardcore History here before, it's the best history podcast out there. Dan is a fan of history, an amateur historian (in the best way possible). His storytelling skills are unbelievable and the research is also at another level. Please take a listen to this episode or another one from earlier.

    Listen to the episode

  • Power Moves

    13 January 2019

     

         

    This 'book' was made for Audible (Amazon) and I think I can best describe it as 5 long-form podcast episodes mashed together. A bit of Tim Ferriss and a bit of Masters of Scale. The stories are good, but I don't think it dives very deep.

    One lesson from it is that power is moving down, that people get more of a say. And I might agree with this, but at the same time there is still a lot of power at the top and money still moves most things. But if I look at it optimistically, then yes, I can see the power moving.

    Read the full review

  • Greg McKeown — How to Master Essentialism

    12 January 2019

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Greg McKeown is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and the founder of McKeown, Inc, a company with a mission to teach Essentialism to millions of people around the world. Their clients include Adobe, Apple, Airbnb, Cisco, Google, Facebook, Pixar, Salesforce.com, Symantec, Twitter, VMware and Yahoo!, among others. Greg is an accomplished public speaker and has spoken to hundreds of audiences around the world, and in 2012, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

    “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” — Greg McKeown

    One thing I took away from this episode is that you need (at least according to Greg) a bold vision. One that encompasses not only your life, but one that looks forward into the future. Your grandkids might (probably) not remember your name, but can they recognize the world you will leave behind. And with this bold vision, then you can decide what is essential. And stop doing the things that are bad, and also the things that are merely good.

    Listen to the episode

  • Hacking the World Bank

    12 January 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    Jim Yong Kim has an unorthodox background for a World Bank president — and his reign has been just as unorthodox. He has just announced he’s stepping down, well before his term is over; we recorded this interview with him in 2015.

    It's great to listen to this humble man speak about his life, career, and vision for the World Bank. I don't know anything about why he is stepping down from the World Bank at this moment, but I can agree with most, if not all, things he says in this positive and encouraging interview.

    Listen to the episode

  • Why Is This Man Running for President?

    10 January 2019

      

    Freakonomics

    In the American Dream sweepstakes, Andrew Yang was a pretty big winner. But for every winner, he came to realize, there are thousands upon thousands of losers — a “war on normal people,” he calls it. Here’s what he plans to do about it.

    It's interesting to see what Andrew has to say. I won't go into the episode too deep, but one thing I took away was a line about his candicacy, that he might be going for Vice President if he doesn't become the President. I think that's a good view (especially if your odds are 4000 to 1). And it will be interesting to see what will happen in America at that time, yet I also feel like I shouldn't bother myself too much with it (because it's outside my control and will also not directly influence me beside things I will know about later anyway).

    Listen to the episode

  • Let Your Customers be Your Scouts

    08 January 2019

      

    Masters of Scale

    Eventbrite's Julia Hartz knows: The constant roar of customer feedback holds all the secrets to your success – if you learn how to read the signs. Julia made rapid response to user feedback the driving force behind Eventbrite’s strategy, as it grew from a simple ticketing app to a full-service platform for event creators.

    Listen to customers (duh), and learn (by doing) how to find what is really actionable and could improve your product. Julia went extreme and talked with most customers in the beginning. This let Eventbrite find what other things they could do (e.g. physical products to help events move people in faster). And now she gets together different parts of the company (e.g. customer service and technical team) and process feedback together so they can keep on improving.

    Listen to the episode

  • LSoulCycle: Julie Rice & Elizabeth Cutler

    08 January 2019

      

    How I Built This

    Before Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice met, they shared a common belief: New York City gyms didn't have the kind of exercise classes they craved, and each of them wanted to change that. A fitness instructor introduced them over lunch in 2005, and before the meal was done they were set on opening a stationary bike studio, with a chic and aspirational vibe. A few months later, the first SoulCycle opened in upper Manhattan. Today, SoulCycle has cultivated a near-tribal devotion among its clients, with studios across the United States and Canada.

    This story is a bit different from others. One, they had (at least from one side) had more investment than I think regularly come with the founders themselves. And two, the product is really a luxery product. You don't need an expensive cycling class but it can of course really make your life even more enjoyable. The story is about building the tribe, about working together, and about doing some things that aren't scaleable.

    Listen to the episode

  • Sophie's World

    05 January 2019

     

         

    What a book! Written for children (of all ages) and a great way to learn more about philosophy.

    Together with Sophie, you take a journey through history. You learn from the Greeks, from Kierkegaard, and most of all from the conversations between Sophie and her mysterious philosophy teacher.

    Read the full review

  • The Messy Middle

    05 January 2019

     

         

    Although I liked his conversation on the Tim Ferris Show, the book didn't really entice me.

    Read the full review

  • The Black Cloud

    04 January 2019

     

         

    A good sci-fi book that explores both human politics and another way a consciousness can be. One thing I was most suprised by were the strong characters and how the interaction between the human 'factions' played out.

    Read the full review

  • The Information War

    03 January 2019

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Renée DiResta about Russia’s “Internet Research Agency” and its efforts to amplify conspiracy thinking and partisan conflict in the United States.

    And it's bad, very bad. With zero strategy on the side of the United States and social platforms amplifying messages and groups that are made to grow people apart, it seems that the goals of the IRA were achieved. Also listen to this earlier episode with Anne Applebaum.

    Listen to the episode

  • 2019 Yearly Themes

    02 January 2019

      

    Cortex

    Grey has a theme for 2019, Myke has two themes for 2019, and they both discuss why Yearly Themes are important to them.

    It was fun listening to them talk about their themes and how it has helped them get some guidance. And of course it was fun listening to this after having just made my own theme and goals.

    Listen to the episode

  • Public Commitment 2019

    02 January 2019

      

    Article

    A look forward to 2019 and the goals I've set for the new year

    Read the article

  • Algorithms to Live By

    01 January 2019

     

         

    Algorithms to Live By is a very enjoyable and applicable book by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths that explores how we can use knowledge from computer science to guide decisions in our lives. I finished the book a little while ago, but plan to make headway today on the review.

    Read the full review

  • Recap of 2018

    01 January 2019

      

    Article

    Here I look back to 2018 and reflect on the year and the goals I set for myself.

    Read the article

  • Patrick Collison — CEO of Stripe

    29 December 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Patrick Collison is chief executive officer and co-founder of Stripe, a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet. After experiencing firsthand how difficult it was to set up an online business, Patrick and his brother John started Stripe in 2010. Their goal was to make accepting payments on the internet simpler and more inclusive. Today, Stripe powers millions of online businesses around the world.

    “If people around you don’t think what you’re doing is a bit strange, maybe it’s not strange enough.” — Patrick Collison

    It was great listening to this episode where you really get a look into the mind of a great entrepreneur. See the below for the many books mentioned in the episode. One fun fact from the episode is around naming your company (says a person who named his company Queal), Stripe first was named SlashDevSlashFinance and although it wasn't good (it was bad) they did business and there is always time later to find the perfect name.

    Listen to the episode

  • Winning at the Great Game

    29 December 2018

      

    The Knowledge Project

    Today on the podcast I welcome author, educator, and hedge fund advisor, Adam Robinson. If you don’t know who Adam is, let me give you a little background. He is the man who cracked the SAT before co-founding The Princeton Review and in fact, wrote the only test preparation book to become a New York Times best seller.

    One of the problems with self-help books is they rivet your attention on exactly the one thing it ought not to be focused on: yourself. You look at any of the great religious traditions, and the great philosophers, and the great poets, they all had the same message of focusing on others, and being of service to others. I think the people who are going on search to “find themselves,” will never find themselves. You find yourself only in the midst of others.

    Hmm, this was a long conversation that did contain value, but I think it wasn't the perfect one for me.

    Listen to the episode

  • Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies

    29 December 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Benedict Dohmen and Santiago Nestares of Benitago Group, both 21, met as computer science students at Dartmouth College. Both worked very long hours in the library and suffered from back pain. They began collaborating on a prototype for a product that ended up being called the Supportiback, gathering feedback from members of the Dartmouth community, including a local hospital president and professors and students studying engineering and medicine. They launched the product on Amazon in the UK, and when it seemed their first small order was in danger of selling out quickly, they arranged financing from their supplier and were off and running. Since then, they’ve entered the US market on Amazon, and are on track for nine-figure revenue in 2019. They have introduced 120 consumer products, and are trying to become an alternative to big consumer products companies through a strategy of applying their successful scale-up strategies to brands they acquire.

    Pff, sometimes you hear the story of someone else and think "They are just at another level." I'm inspired by the story of these entrepreneurs and how they have been able to use customer feedback, good processes and some computer science to build a very succesfull business. One lesson I took away (again) was to focus on The One Thing that matters.

    Listen to the episode

  • Feed 8 Billion People Through a Nuclear Winter

    29 December 2018

      

    80000 hours

    “If a nuclear winter or asteroid impact blocked the sun for years, our inability to grow food would result in billions dying of starvation, right? According to Dr David Denkenberger, co-author of Feeding Everyone No Matter What: no. If he’s to be believed, nobody need starve at all. Even without the sun, David sees the Earth as a bountiful food source. Mushrooms farmed on decaying wood. Bacteria fed with natural gas. Fish and mussels supported by sudden upwelling of ocean nutrients – and many more.”

    “I am quite optimistic, because even though some of these solutions might not work out as well as I think they might, we do have quite a bit of redundancy in the system, that is, when I analyzed the food sources individually, many of them could increase up to feeding everyone fairly quickly even in one year.”

    How great is it that we live in a time when someone can seriously think about this topic and come up with optimistic answers. Although I knew almost nothing about this topic coming in, I learned quite a lot and enjoyed how David explained everything very thoroughly.

    Listen to the episode

  • David Deutsch on the Infinite Reach of Knowledge

    28 December 2018

      

    TED Interview

    It can be easy to believe that humans are insignificant. We're specks of dust on a random planet in a vast universe. Less powerful than elephants. Fewer than ants. But David Deutsch believes that's all beside the point, because humans possess one unique skill: attaining knowledge. David Deutsch -- Oxford professor, father of quantum computing, recluse -- convinced Chris Anderson years ago to take over leadership of TED with his ideas about knowledge. In this mind-bending conversation, the two dive into his theory that the potential reach of knowledge is infinite. They explore how knowledge first developed, why it sets us apart and what all of these heady concepts really mean for our present and future.

    This was a bit more of a repetition of what I've heard/read before (see below), but still very interesting and always great to hear Chris Anderson interview.

    Listen to the episode

  • Surviving the Cosmos

    27 December 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris talks to physicist David Deutsch about the reach and power of human knowledge, the future of artificial intelligence, and the survival of civilization.

    At the moment I'm reading The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch and have chosen to listen to some podcast episodes with him in it (see above). The conversation with Sam is very interesting and I think they agree on most things. What I really like is how David is very clear in his thinking and explaining and I hope to finish his book in the near future.

    Listen to the episode

  • Your Plan B Needs a Plan B

    21 December 2018

      

    Masters of Scale

    Nancy Lublin knows: To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need grit. But grit isn't just charging up the same hill over and over. It's generating an endless supply of Plans B. And Nancy always has a Plan B, and C, and D. Her grit fueled her success scaling three not-for-profits: Dress for Success, DoSomething.org and Crisis Text Line.

    In this episode I liked how she separated grit from just plain persistance. You need to keep on going, again and again, but do it smart!

    Listen to the episode

  • Apologetic

    21 December 2018

      

    Radiolab

    How do you fix a word that’s broken? A word we need when we bump into someone on the street, or break someone’s heart. In our increasingly disconnected secular world, “sorry” has been stretched and twisted, and in some cases weaponized. But it’s also one of the only ways we have to piece together a sense of shared values and beliefs. Through today's sea of sorry-not-sorries, empty apologies, and just straight up non-apologies, we wonder what it looks like to make amends.

    Listen to the episode

  • A Year's Worth of Education

    21 December 2018

      

    80000 hours

    “…when we looked at the cost effectiveness of education programs, there were a ton of zeros, and there were a ton of zeros on the things that we spend most of our money on. So more teachers, more books, more inputs, like smaller class sizes – at least in the developing world – seem to have no impact, and that’s where most government money gets spent.”

    “Two programs that come out as spectacularly effective… well, the first is just rearranging kids in a class. You have to test the kids, so that you can put the kids who are performing at grade two level in the grade two class, and the kids who are performing at grade four level in the grade four class, even if they’re different ages – and they learn so much better. So that’s why it’s so phenomenally cost effective because, it really doesn’t cost anything. The other one is providing information. So sending information over the phone [for example about how much more people earn if they do well in school and graduate]. So these really small nudges. Now none of those nudges will individually transform any kid’s life, but they are so cheap that you get these fantastic returns on investment – and we do very little of that kind of thing.”

    This episode is another good example of how the EA mindset helps you to find the most effective ways to do good and what things that seem good (like smaller classes) actually have little to no impact.

    Listen to the episode

  • How To Keep it Simple While Scaling Big

    19 December 2018

      

    Masters of Scale

    Scott Harrison is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Charity: Water, which has funded 30,000 water projects across 26 countries, bringing clean water to eight and a half million people. He’s the author of the book THIRST.

    He was able to tell his own story of transformation, and to let other people tell stories about water. First with their birthdays, then when that got saturated he pivoted to letting people become 'subscribers' and give to Charity: Water every month. So, always tell a story and learn this by doing it.

    Listen to the episode

  • Dr. Peter Attia vs. Tim Ferriss

    18 December 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Dr. Peter Attia is a former ultra-endurance athlete (e.g., swimming races of 25 miles), a compulsive self-experimenter, and one of the most fascinating human beings I know. He is one of my go-to doctors for anything performance or longevity-related. He is also easily the best quarterback and sherpa for the US medical system I’ve ever met.

    This is another great episode in which they discuss a lot around psychedelic (and other) substances and how they can have a positive impact. I love to learn more about where the research is now and they also mention that they need more done on the policy side in Europe.

    Listen to the episode

  • Live Episode! Dollar Shave Club: Michael Dubin

    17 December 2018

      

    How I Built This

    At the end of 2010, Michael Dubin was working in marketing when he met a guy named Mark Levine at a holiday party. Mark was looking for ideas to get rid of a massive pile of razors he had sitting in a California warehouse. Michael's spontaneous idea for an internet razor subscription service grew into Dollar Shave Club, and his background in improv helped him make a viral video to generate buzz for the new brand. Just five years after launch, Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for a reported $1 billion.

    A nice episode that tells the story of Dollar Shave Club, it's great to know what was behind the viral video and where it's going.

    Listen to the episode

  • Conquering Hate

    11 December 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Deeyah Khan about her groundbreaking films “Jihad” and “White Right.” They discuss her history as a target of religious intolerance, her adventures with neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, the similarities between extremist groups, the dangers of political correctness, and other topics.

    It's good to listen to Sam agree on a lot of points and also disagree on how to precisely conquer hate. What I really appreciated is how Deeyah Khan uses conversation and humanisation to connect people who 1) don't know each other, and 2) hate someone for some black and white idea and fall through completely after making a true connection.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Vulnerable World Hypothesis

    09 December 2018

      

    Article

    Another great article by Nick Bostrom in which he argues for something I've heard a few times before in the Effective Altruism community. He states that because of technological progress the world has become more fragile and that a smaller actor (a person instead of a government) with bad intentions can do a greater harm. And preventing it could be very tough. Here is the summary.

    Scientific and technological progress might change people’s capabilities or incentives in ways that would destabilize civilization. For example, advances in DIY biohacking tools might make it easy for anybody with basic training in biology to kill millions; novel military technologies could trigger arms races in which whoever strikes first has a decisive advantage; or some economically advantageous process may be invented that produces disastrous negative global externalities that are hard to regulate. This paper introduces the concept of a vulnerable world: roughly, one in which there is some level of technological development at which civilization almost certainly gets devastated by default, i.e. unless it has exited the “semi-anarchic default condition”. Several counterfactual historical and speculative future vulnerabilities are analyzed and arranged into a typology. A general ability to stabilize a vulnerable world would require greatly amplified capacities for preventive policing and global governance. The vulnerable world hypothesis thus offers a new perspective from which to evaluate the risk-benefit balance of developments towards ubiquitous surveillance or a unipolar world order.

    Read the article

  • Dr. Andrew Weil — Optimal Health, Plant Medicine, and More

    08 December 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Andrew Weil, M.D. (@DrWeil) is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. Dr. Weil received a degree in biology (botany) from Harvard College in 1964 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked a year with the National Institute of Mental Health, then wrote his first book, The Natural Mind. From 1971-75, as a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971-84 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.

    Just wow, this guy really seems to know what he is talking about. He is well-versed in the scientific method and knows how to work with scientific knowledge, people, politics, and even business. The only negative/questionable thing I can say is that he refutes the scientific method somewhere along the conversation and argues for more intuition. And while I get this feeling and I also think there are good things out there that we haven't done great double-blind placebo-controlled test on (and maybe on some we can't really, think psychedelics), I do believe that it is what we should strive for. Better knowledge, not more intuition.

    That being said, I do see myself reading one of his books in the future.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Andromeda Strain

    07 December 2018

     

         

    I liked this sci-fi book, The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton (who also wrote Jurassic Park) as it's a short book that explores a new idea in a novel way. The book is about an extraterrestrial virus/life-form that they have to study to know how to deal with it. There is enough tension in the book, enough good thinking, and some good science. The conversation/writing isn't the best ever but still very decent.

    Read the full review

  • Algorithms to Live by

    06 December 2018

      

    80000 hours

    "We tend to think of deciding whether to commit to a partner, or where to go out for dinner, as uniquely and innately human problems. The message of the book is simply: they are not. In fact they correspond – really precisely in some cases – to some of the fundamental problems of computer science."

    I've ordered the book and I think the examples in the podcast were great. We as humans are quite good as intuitive mathematicians, but there are some good ways in which we can improve our decision making. The algorithms/frameworks from this podcast can very well be a way to do this!

    Listen to the episode

  • ActOne Group: Janice Bryant Howroyd

    04 December 2018

      

    How I Built This

    In the late 1970s Janice Bryant Howroyd moved to Los Angeles and began temping as a secretary. She soon realized there were many other young people in situations similar to hers. So with $1,500 in her pocket, Janice rented an office in Beverly Hills and created the staffing company ACT-1. Today, ActOne Group is an international workforce management company, making Janice Bryant Howroyd the first African-American woman to own a billion-dollar business.

    Janice learned a lot from being with her family. The way to interact with others, to have manner, to work together. She has worked very hard and when asked what percentage is luck, she says it's almost none. I think that is good to hear sometimes (a lot of times entrepreneurs answer that they were in the right place at the right time, at least as part of their answer). Because she had to overcome a lot of obstacles, and she persevered.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature

    01 December 2018

     

         

    Optimism, data, and a boat-load of history. This book is most probably the opus magnus of Steven Pinker. In it he argues (convincingly) that we're living in the best time ever. And that earlier times (even 20 years ago, but certainly everything before that too) were very, very bad. Rape, murder, genocide, infanticide, starvation, and all other horrible things come to pass. So prepare your stomache, and read to the end to also learn about the positive side of all this.

    Read the full review

  • High Output Management

    01 December 2018

     

         

    High Output Management by Andrew Grove is one of the management classics, and rightly so. The main insight I took away from the book is that the output of a manager is the output of his team/whom he influences. This sheds new light on the usability of meetings, what the impact is of decisions, and how you should plan.

    Read the full review

  • Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s?

    30 November 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    The quirky little grocery chain with California roots and German ownership has a lot to teach all of us about choice architecture, efficiency, frugality, collaboration, and team spirit.

    It is great to listen to a story about a shop (or any company) that is doing things the other way. They don't advertise, they train their personnel more on people skills than cashier skills. This story takes a quick look at the success of Traders Joe.

    Listen to the episode

  • Lyft's John Zimmer At The HIBT Summit

    29 November 2018

      

    How I Built This

    John sat down with Guy Raz in front of a live audience in San Francisco last month to talk about Lyft's visions for the future of transportation – and their fierce competition with Uber.

    He is focussed on his mission and I think the way they look at the problem (transportation) is great. In the talk he speaks about working with his co-founder (they didn't know each other before) and about what competition does (next to being sometimes negative, it also encourages innovation).

    Listen to the episode

  • Live Episode! Glossier: Emily Weiss

    28 November 2018

      

    How I Built This

    In 2010, while working as a fashion assistant at Vogue, Emily Weiss started a beauty blog called Into The Gloss. She quickly attracted a following of devoted readers hooked on the blog's intimate snapshots of style makers' beauty routines. Within a few years, Emily realized her readers were hungry for a new beauty brand, one that listened to them directly, and understood their lives. Without any prior business experience, she won over investors and found the perfect chemist to create Glossier, a line of beauty and skincare products with a focus on simplicity. Today, just four years after launch, Glossier is valued at an estimated $400 million.

    Building a relations with her customers is what Emily has done very gracefully. I think that is something I can also keep in mind for those moments that we're thinking of using other platforms etc to sell Queal on.

    Listen to the episode

  • De Verborgen Impact / The Hidden Impact

    25 November 2018

     

         

    "We as Western consumers have much more impact than we think. Not only in our daily activities in and around the house or weekly at the gas pump but mostly on the other side of the world, by making and transporting the things we buy and use daily. We as consumers ultimately pay for that hidden impact and we keep the system in position. This book shows you how it is, so you can exert a positive influence."

    I read this book over the summer and left myself a note to make a summary. Here it is.

    • Much of the impact we have on the world is hidden. We usually don't see the production of our products and when thinking of sustainability many only consider what is right in front of us.
    • On average, buying stuff and eating meat have the largest (hidden + visible) impact.
    • Flying also has a large impact and by flying multiple times a year, it might even be your biggest contributor.
    • Compensating can sometimes be good, but prevention is almost always better!

    Read the full review

  • The Keys to the Mind

    24 November 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Derren Brown about his work as a “psychological illusionist.” They discuss the power of hypnosis, the power of expectations, the usefulness of Stoic philosophy, and other topics.

    Although this episode was more of a conversation among friends, it did reveal some truths about human beings. We are very much influenced by our environment (and maybe even fully if you go to the logical extreme). Time to watch some Derren Brown!

    Listen to the episode

  • Narconomics

    22 November 2018

     

         

    "How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola."

    It's great to see that by taking an economics lense and looking at the business of drugs, you get very different recommendations than from what you hear politicians subscribe to. The parralels with other international businesses are limitless and the way to better deal with these can be found in the pages of the book. Here are the four conclusions from the end.

    • The singular obsession with supply rather than demand. As we’ve seen illegal drug prices do not rise markedly when production is squeezed. When prices do rise, consumption does not necessarily drop. So supply-side enforcement simply does not make a strong dent in the illegal drug business.
    • Early investment in drug enforcement and jailing but not on the rehabilitation and reintegration of users and others in the supply chain.
    • National strategies cannot combat a global problem; a problem similar to the on-going challenge of terrorism. (the cockroach or balloon problem)
    • Prohibition does not equal control of a problem.

    Read the full review (TBD)

  • Won't You Be My Neighbor?

    21 November 2018

      

    Documentary

    An amazing documentary about a man who wanted to teach all the kids in the world that they are worth it. That they are loved for who they are.

    I encourage you to watch this. It moves you, it makes you chuggle, it delights.

    One thing I took away was this: 143. This was the weight that Mr. Rogers was for most of his adult life. And it also stands for I (1), love (4), you (3). Wow! Just a few days ago I heard someone describe what his life goals are, he said 'love and curiosity'. If anyone is an embodiment of that, it's Mr. Rogers.

    Watch the trailer

  • A.J. Jacobs - Gratitude

    16 November 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    A.J. Jacobs takes over the show for a special episode. A.J. is a kindred guinea pig of self-experimentation who chronicles his shenanigans in books that seem to keep winding up as New York Times best sellers. The Know-It-All was about his quest to learn everything in the world. In The Year of Living Biblically, he tried to follow all the rules of the Bible as literally as possible. Drop Dead Healthy followed his well- (and ill-) advised experiments to become the healthiest person alive. My Life as an Experiment is about exactly what it sounds like, and It’s All Relative aimed to connect all of humanity in one family tree.

    His latest book, Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, chronicles his journey around the world to personally thank everyone along the supply chain who makes his morning cup of coffee a possibility: the farmer of the coffee beans, the barista, the designer of the logo for the coffee, the truck driver who transported the coffee beans, the guy who painted the yellow lines on the road so the truck wouldn’t veer into traffic, the inventor of the cardboard sleeve that goes around the coffee cup (aka the paper zarf) so you don’t burn your fingers, and on and on.

    “It’s easier to act your way in to an new way of thinking than to think your way to a new way of acting.”

    Listen to the episode

  • Success Academy

    16 November 2018

      

    StartUp

    Eva Moskowitz wants to fix a really big problem. There are over a million kids in New York City’s public schools. Most can’t read or do math at grade level. Many won’t graduate on time. And it’s largely poor, black and brown kids who are stuck in the lowest performing schools. Eva’s the founder and CEO of Success Academy, the subject of this season of StartUp. And she’s actually making progress.

    I'm now two episodes in and it's a great listen. It's a story about changing the system, about doing it your own way and achieving success (and fighting resistance). Go give it a listen and check out the archive of the StartUp podcast.

    Update: At 4 episodes still very much worth the listen! Change is hard, and although I don't know that this is the best system for everyone, Eva Moskowitz is truly bringing (positive) change to the American educational system.

    Listen to the episode

  • DoorDash: Tony Xu

    15 November 2018

      

    How I Built This

    In 2013, Tony Xu was brainstorming ideas for a business school project when he identified a problem he wanted to solve: food delivery. For most restaurants, it was too costly and inefficient, leaving most of the market to pizza and Chinese. Tony and his partners believed they could use technology to connect customers to drivers, who would deliver meals in every imaginable cuisine. That idea grew into DoorDash, a company that's now delivered over 100 million orders from over 200,000 restaurants across the country.

    In the beginning they did things that are not scalable. And even to this day they keep an ear to the ground and everyone in the company delivers one time in the month. I like Tony's vision of empowering local businesses and altough I don't know anything about DoorDash aside from this interview, he sounded genuine and seems to have a clear vision of where the space is going.

    Listen to the episode

  • Bonus Episode! Rent The Runway's Jenn Hyman At The HIBT Summit

    15 November 2018

      

    How I Built This

    The first bonus episode from the How I Built This Summit features Jenn Hyman, co-founder of Rent The Runway, a designer clothing rental service that pulls in $100 million a year. When Jenn sat down with Guy Raz for a live interview at the Summit in San Francisco, she shared her long term strategy for launching the company in phases, plus her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

    What I loved was that she already planned for the future. She saw the trend of not owning things and renting it (e.g. Uber) and at the same time pitched her investors also on the opportunity in front of them (renting dresses). And now she wants to take the company to a 100 billion valuation, renting many of your clothes (even work clothes, and the average amount of days a user is active... 140 days!).

    Listen to the episode

  • Addiction, Depression, and a Meaningful Life

    15 November 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Johann Hari about his books Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections. He was twice named “Newspaper Journalist of the Year” by Amnesty International UK. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and others. His TED talk, “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong,” has more than 20 million views.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Open Office is Terrible

    15 November 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    It began as a post-war dream for a more collaborative and egalitarian workplace. It has evolved into a nightmare of noise and discomfort. Can the open office be saved, or should we all just be working from home?

    Stephen asks what works in the office. One surprising finding is that the open office leads to less in-person conversations (but more email collaboration). And in the end they conclude that it really depends on what your unique situation is and what you would need. Just don't let costs be your only guide.

    Listen to the episode

  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy

    15 November 2018

     

         

    The book is split into two parts. The first part is called “Finding Usability Problems”. It’s all about the usability test: how to go about planning it, recruiting testers and finally conducting it. The second part, “Fixing Usability Problems”, covers debriefing after the test and what your next steps should be – i.e. what you should actually do with the information you’ve collected.

    It took a while before I started this book, but today I finished it on one go. For our team I've written out what steps to take and what things to focus on. We will conduct an usability test each month and use the insights to continuously update (read: tweak) our website to become better and better.

    Read the full review (TBD)

  • Ball Lightning

    14 November 2018

     

         

    On his fourteenth birthday, right before his eyes, Chen's parents are incinerated by a blast of ball lightning.Striving to make sense of this bizarre tragedy, he dedicates his life to a single goal: to unlock the secrets of this enigmatic natural phenomenon. His pursuit of ball lightning will take him far from home, across mountain peaks chasing storms and deep into highly classified subterranean laboratories as he slowly unveils a new frontier in particle physics.

    This is yet another weird and wonderful book by Lui Cixin. Just like the Three Body Problme (triology) it takes an extreme version of a phenomonem and sees where the story takes us. It's closer to Earth and doesn't go out there like the other books, but still is very interesting to read. It wouldn't make my sci-fi top 10, but nonetheless a very pleasant book.

    Read the full review (TBD)

  • Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD?

    12 November 2018

      

    TED Talk

    The talk starts with tuberculosis as an example. There a treatment didn't work, but made people happier. It was the first anti-depressant.

    Depression is the leading cause of dissability (above war, above malaria). And so we are keen on finding another drug to treat it. Here are some excerpts from the TED Talk. First found via Tim Ferriss' newsletter.

    And that means now, in 2016, we still have no cures for any mood disorders, just drugs that suppress symptoms, which is kind of the difference between taking a painkiller for an infection versus an antibiotic. A painkiller will make you feel better, but is not going to do anything to treat that underlying disease.

    In the past few years, doctors have discovered probably what is the first truly new antidepressant since the SSRIs, Calypsol, and this drug works very quickly, within a few hours or a day, and it doesn't work on serotonin. It works on glutamate, which is another neurotransmitter.

    So we don't know what causes depression, but we do know that stress is the initial trigger in 80 percent of cases, and depression and PTSD are different diseases, but this is something they share in common. Right? It is traumatic stress like active combat or natural disasters or community violence or sexual assault that causes post-traumatic stress disorder, and not everyone that is exposed to stress develops a mood disorder. And this ability to experience stress and be resilient and bounce back and not develop depression or PTSD is known as stress resilience, and it varies between people. And we have always thought of it as just sort of this passive property. It's the absence of susceptibility factors and risk factors for these disorders. But what if it were active? Maybe we could enhance it, sort of akin to putting on armor.

    So we're calling our resilience-enhancing drugs "paravaccines," which means vaccine-like, because it seems like they might have the potential to protect against stress and prevent mice from developing depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    As I mentioned before, repurposing can be challenging because of our prior biases. Calypsol has another name, ketamine, which also goes by another name, Special K, which is a club drug and drug of abuse. It's still used across the world as an anesthetic. It's used in children. We use it on the battlefield. It's actually the drug of choice in a lot of developing nations, because it doesn't affect breathing. It is on the World Health Organization list of most essential medicines.

    Watch the TED Talk

    NPR article and meta-analysis in Nature

  • The World According to Garp

    11 November 2018

     

         

    This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields—a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes—even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with "lunacy and sorrow"; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries—with more than ten million copies in print—this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."

    It took me a while to finish 'The World According to Garp'. The book was very different from my normal selection (sci-fi and business books). Yet it was very pleasant and delightful. The book touches upon various topics (see above) and is written beautifully. I'm glad I've read this classic.

  • Doug McMillon — CEO of Walmart

    10 November 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Doug McMillon is president and chief executive officer of Walmart, a company that, if it were a country, would be the 25th largest economy in the world. Walmart serves 265 million customers weekly in 27 countries across more than 11,000 stores and online, and the company employs roughly 2.2 million associates worldwide, which would equate to the second largest army in the world (behind China) if it were tasked with defending that 25th largest economy.

    Although the interview was interesting in terms of hearing how Walmart operates, it wasn't as good as many of Tim's other interviews. I think the critical factor here is that McMillon is a CEO of a large company and can't freely speak his mind. So minus one for the ambition of becoming a big-time CEO.

    Listen to the episode

  • America's Hidden Duopoly

    06 November 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    We all know our political system is “broken” — but what if that’s not true? Some say the Republicans and Democrats constitute a wildly successful industry that has colluded to kill off competition, stifle reform, and drive the country apart. So what are you going to do about it?

    Stephen talks to experts and people who want to move the system in a new direction. Not one where all the customers (read: voters) are unhappy, but to one where you have a real choice.

    This episode goes together perfectly with 'Tweak the Vote' just below.

    Listen to the episode

  • Tweak the Vote

    05 November 2018

      

    Radiolab

    Democracy is on the ropes. In the United States and abroad, citizens of democracies are feeling increasingly alienated, disaffected, and powerless. Some are even asking themselves a question that feels almost too dangerous to say out loud: is democracy fundamentally broken?

    Today on Radiolab, just a day before the American midterm elections, we ask a different question: how do we fix it? We scrutinize one proposed tweak to the way we vote that could make politics in this country more representative, more moderate, and most shocking of all, more civil. Could this one surprisingly do-able mathematical fix really turn political campaigning from a rude bloodsport to a campfire singalong? And even if we could do that, would we want to?

    Please listen to the episode. The reporting is amazing, the story is balanced, and it shows a possible way forward for democracy.

    Listen to the episode

  • Seth Godin on How to Say “No,” Market Like a Professional, and Win at Life

    04 November 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Seth Godin is the author of 18 bestselling books that have been translated into more than 35 languages. He was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013 and has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing “Seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world.

    I've followed an online course (The Marketing Seminar) from Seth at the beginning of this year and it was a great experience. His follow-up book This Is Marketing is on the way. Some of his other books Purple Cow, Linchpin, and Tribes have passed by my desk.

    This podcast highlights how Seth works and how he thinks about marketing. It's full of examples and great stories. Seth says no a lot and it's good to see how calm he stays, but in pursuing opportunities, as in saying no to non-essentials.

    Listen to the episode

  • Sam Harris - How To Master Your Mind

    03 November 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Sam Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D in neuroscience from UCLA. Sam is the host of the Waking Up podcast, and he is the author of multiple books including The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). (links to those I've read)

    Sam uses this hour on the podcast to tell more about his philosophy and his new app. I've listened to the app a bit and it's good so far.

    Listen to the episode

  • Scott Belsky - How to Conquer the Messy Middle

    02 November 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Scott Belsky is an entrepreneur, author, investor, Chief Product Officer of Adobe, and venture partner with venture capital firm Benchmark. Scott co-founded Behance in 2006 and served as CEO until Adobe acquired the company in 2012. Millions of people use Behance to display their portfolios, as well as track and find top talent across the creative industries.

    “In the startup world, resources are like carbs. Resourcefulness is like muscle. When you develop it, it actually stays with you and impacts everything you do going forward.”

    One thing a took away from the podcast is that you always have to be curious, to see things from different perspectives. What if you had to do it in 1/10th the time? What if you had unlimited resources? What if having no plan, is the plan (Jack Ma, Alibaba)?

    Listen to the episode

  • Remote: Office Not Required

    01 November 2018

     

         

    What if you want to have the best people working in your company? And you want to have them work with you for a long time? And build a great culture? Jason and David tell us that you can do this remotely. And they make some good points why you can, and maybe should.

    Remote means that people can live their life the way they want to. It means that work still gets done, maybe even better because there is no chance for the cool talkative person to fake his or her way through. And working remote allows you to tap into the global talent pool. How awesome is that.

    The book didn't reach me at the right moment, but it was good to have touched upon the basics and who knows I will leverage this information again some day.

  • How to Apply World-Class Creativity to Business, Art, and Life

    30 October 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Nick Kokonas is the co-owner and co-founder of The Alinea Group of restaurants, which includes Alinea, Next, The Aviary, Roister, and The Aviary NYC. He is also the founder and CEO of Tock, Inc, a reservations and CRM system for restaurants with more than 2.5M diners and clients in more than 20 countries.

    Nick does one thing really, really well. He asks smart questions. Or put another way, he asks stupid questions. He asks why something must cost that much, and then diggs deep to find the root causes. He does this for the costs of publishing a book (and finds out that you're paying for all the failures the publisher has to endure, so better do it yourself). And he finds asks questions like "Why do restaurants, even fancy ones, have table cloths?" (the tables look terrible, so he decides to get good looking wood tables). Through it al he shows remarkable inquisitiveness and a joy for learning.

    Listen to the episode

  • Betterment: Jon Stein

    29 October 2018

      

    How I Built This

    When Jon Stein realized he couldn't stand the sight of blood, he gave up the idea of becoming a doctor. Instead, he went into finance, but soon grew restless with "helping banks make more money." So he decided to build a business where he could help everyday investors make more money: an online service that would use a combination of algorithms and human advisers. Jon launched Betterment at a precarious time — shortly after the financial crash of 2008. But today, the company has roughly 13 billion dollars under management.

    What if we can make a product that takes into account our human psychology (and the heuristics that go wrong) and helps us better manage our money. I like that Jon is a bright man who is doing both something good and making a real business. He is solving a real problem (that he also had himself), and that is one of the ways I think you can build a great business. But, don't forget to user test your product, some functions (like 'facebook for investing') will not work.

    Listen to the episode

  • Hamilton Morris on Better Living Through Chemistry

    25 October 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Hamilton Morris is a writer, documentarian, and scientific researcher who currently studies the chemistry and pharmacology of tryptamines at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

    In the episode Tim and Hamilton discuss many things related to compounds that have a profound effect on us humans. They discuss the chemistry. And what the social implications of them are. Once again I agree that psychedelics can be a force for good. One to-do is to take a look at many of the links mentioned in the talk.

    Listen to the episode

  • Moral Cluelessness and Population Ethics

    24 October 2018

      

    80000 hours

    "You might think, OK, I know that the immediate effects of funding anti-malarial bed nets are positive – I know that I’m going to save lives. But I also know that there are going to be further downstream effects and side-effects of my intervention. For example, effects on the size of future populations. It’s notoriously unclear how to think about the value of future population size, whether it’ll be a good thing to increase population in the short term, or whether that would in the end be a bad thing. There are lots of uncertainties here."

    There were many interesting points discussed in this episode but let's focus on this one. It made me consider that we really don't know much about what impact we will have. We know the very immediate effects of malaria nets but not the long-term effects. And there we have to make some assumptions, and that is ok. We won't know what will happen exactly (and there is a lot of randomness involved there) and that is ok. What I do think is that it has positive effects in the future and that my impact of donating may even be larger than expected/calculated now.

    Listen to the episode

  • Tempur-Pedic: Bobby Trussell

    23 October 2018

      

    How I Built This

    At age 40, Bobby Trussell's promising career in horse racing hit a dead end. With bills to pay and a family to support, he stumbled across a curious product that turned into a lifeline: squishy-squashy memory foam. He jumped at the chance to distribute Swedish memory foam pillows and mattresses to Americans. Tempur-Pedic USA began by selling to chiropractors and specialty stores, providing one of the first alternatives to spring mattresses. Today, the company is one of the largest bedding providers in the world.

    Just like last episode this one was less inspiring than some of the other stories. It's about a person who took an invention and through luck/perserverance made it work. I guess I miss some originality or vision behind it. Something that changes the world significantly and not just makes us sleep better.

    Listen to the episode

  • Live in Toronto with Brian Greene

    23 October 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    Sam speaks with Brian Greene about physics and the implications it has on our world. The conversation touches upon some interesting topics about the many worlds interpretation (which most physicist agree upon) and what we don't know yet about quantum physics. Most interesting were the audience questions in which Sam again didn't show much interest in becoming a vegetarian, whilst in my eyes this seems so simple and necessary.

    Just to expand on that, I have a consequentialist view on this and if maybe there can be happy animals that have a good life, that then it's worth it to eat meat. But that is not the case, at least not for 99%+ of the meat we eat. So I'm very reluctant to even grant anyone the moral right to eat animals and I think being vegetarian is a way to improve the world (also related to carbon emissions).

    Support the podcast to listen to the episode

  • Maximising Economic Growth

    22 October 2018

      

    80000 hours

    Economics Prof Tyler Cowen says our overwhelming priorities should be maximising economic growth and making civilization more stable. He states:

    • Our top moral priority should be preserving and improving humanity’s long-term future
    • The way to do that is to maximise the rate of sustainable economic growth
    • We should respect human rights and follow general principles while doing so

    Another point that touched me, because I think about this sometimes and maybe will take action (i.e. stop drinking alcohol or really limit myself to a few drinks at very limited occasions): "We take it for granted, but so many lives are lost each year, so many careers ruined, so much productivity lost. One of my personal crusades is, we should all be more critical of alcohol. People will pull out a drink and drink in front of their children. The same people would not dream of pulling out a submachine gun and playing with it on the table in front of their kids, but I think it’s more or less the same thing. To a lot of liberals, the drink is okay and the submachine gun is not. I think, if anything, it’s the other way around, and I encourage people to just completely, voluntarily abstain from alcohol and make it a social norm."

    He also makes a point about Black Swan risks: "I see the recurrence of war in human history so frequently, and I’m not completely convinced by Steven Pinker. I agree with Steven Pinker, that the chance of a very violent war indeed has gone down and is going down, maybe every year, but the tail risk is still there. And if you let the clock tick out for a long enough period of time, at some point it will happen. Powerful abilities to manipulate energy also mean powerful weapons, eventually powerful weapons in decentralized hands. I don’t think we know how stable that process is, but again, let the clock tick out, and you should be very worried."

    And lastly, the also speak very positively about Superforecasting (TBD), a book about how to do better predictions.

    Listen to the episode

  • In the No

    22 October 2018

      

    Radiolab

    This series of which I've listened to the first two episodes is about the grey area of sexual consent. What can we do and what not? In what way do you say yes (or no) and when and how do you rescint that consent? All of this in some deep conversations with experts and the Radiolab team.

    One thing that stood out to me is the lack of communication, or the lack of conversation, that people are having. One story is about a boy and a girl who hooked up and midway she didn't want to do this anymore. He stopped, but not quick enough for her. Now he his expelled. Yes the experience was bad for her, but is this not very much removed from the Harvey Weinstein sexual assaults? What is stopping her (and him) from having a honest conversation about what happened? And to shake hands or hug it out? Why do we have to fight each other over things like this?

    I don't have the answers here. But I do think that more conversations is part of the answer. There are some very bad people out there and for bad things they should be punished (if only to disencourage others to do the same), and there is a power imbalance between men and women. But we also shouldn't lose sight of the middle, of the akward dates (e.g. the Aziz Asari incident) and to acknowledge each others feelings and have a conversation.

    Listen to the episode

  • Burning Down the Fouth Estate

    19 October 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Matt Taibbi about the state journalism and the polarization of our politics. They discuss the controversy over Steve Bannon at the New Yorker Festival, monetizing the Trump phenomenon, the Jamal Kashoggi murder, the Kavanaugh hearing, the Rolling Stone reporting on the UVA rape case, the viability of a political center, the 2020 Presidential election, the Russia investigation, our vanishing attention span, and other topics.

    Listen to the episode

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

    18 October 2018

     

         

    I finally took the time to listen to this (surprisingly short) classic of a book. The story is very well written and amazingly timeless (it's from 1865). There are many references to this book and it was nice listening to the original.

    "It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children.[2] It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre.[2][3] Its narrative course, structure, characters, and imagery have been enormously influential[3] in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre."

  • Exit Strategy

    17 October 2018

     

         

    This is the final installment of the murderbot diaries. It brings back the story to the beginning and involves more murdering and feelings, many feelings that Murderbot didn't want to feel.

  • It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

    11 October 2018

     

         

    Why not 5 stars you may ask, aren't you a fan of the Basecamp guys? Yes I am, and that is the main problem. Most of what is in the book is already said on their blog or in Rework already.

    But nonetheless it's a great reminder of how to run a calm company. A company that doesn't induce stress, one that grows slowly (or not at all), one that is profitable, one that is a great place to work. In my review I will take a second swing at the book (this time I listened to it as an audiobook) and get some more detailed notes down.

    Read the full review (TBD)

  • method: Adam Lowry & Eric Ryan

    10 October 2018

      

    How I Built This

    In the late 1990s, Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan took on the notion that "green doesn't clean" by setting out to make soap that could clean a bathtub without harming the environment. Adam started experimenting with baking soda, vinegar, and scented oils, while Eric worked on making sleek bottles that looked good on a kitchen counter. Just a few years later, Adam and Eric were selling Method cleaning products in stores throughout the country, after a bold gamble got them on the shelves of Target.

    For one reason or the other, this episode inspired me less than others. Maybe because of the business approach (emptying credit cards) or maybe because I didn't feel what problem they were solving. They did bring more people into buying green, so that is good.

    Listen to the episode

  • AI alignment problem

    07 October 2018

      

    80000 hours

    This episode takes a deep (like 3 hours long) dive into AI and how we can make sure that we make AI that won't kill us (through competence, not perse malice). Here are some things I learned:

    • Paul believes in a relatively slow takeoff of AI, but that already 'dumb' AI (i.e. machine/reinforcement learning) will have widespread impacts.
    • One of the things he mentions here is that you only need 'reptile' intelligence for many tasks. We humans are very smart and smart because we can do diverse things. But arranging an energy grid, playing chess, etc are things a very specialised AI can already do. Many jobs, or parts of jobs, will soon be done cheaper by AI systems.
    • Listening to the podcast made me a bit more positive about the possibility of developing AI in a beneficial way. Paul proposes practical experiments that are being done and can be done in the future. We still have lots of work to do, but it looks like he knows what the concrete problems/experiments are for the coming years.

    Listen to the episode

  • Moneyland

    07 October 2018

      

    Planet Money

    I thoroughly enjoy listening to Planet Money and this episode was no exception. Much of the money (8% or more) is hidden away from the rest of the world. Untaxed, unaccountable. In this story a short look inside the black box.

    Listen to the episode

  • Can This Man Stop a Trade War?

    06 October 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    Stephen Dubner has been able to get quite some big names on his podcast. And today he speaks to no other than the WTO president.

    Although nothing much revolutionary was said I learned a bit more about what the WTO does and I'm glad to know that it's still functioning. Tarifs are really strange things and cooperation seems, to me, to be the key to getting ahead. And discourse, and being open to criticism.

    Listen to the episode

  • Samin Nosrat - Master Creative, Master Teacher

    06 October 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Samin Nosrat is a writer, chef, and teacher who is masterful at turning complexity into simplicity. Her first book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, is a New York Times bestseller. Samin has been called “The next Julia Child” by NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and she has been cooking professionally since 2000.

    This episode is about much more than cooking. It’s about the creative process, creative highs and lows (and how to push through those lows), rejection, vulnerability, and much more.

    Listen to the episode

  • Nuclear Doomsday Machines

    06 October 2018

      

    80000 hours

    We are on the Titanic, going at full speed on a moonless night into iceberg waters. Have we hit the iceberg yet, and made it inevitable that we will go down? We don’t know. …. there’s no way to prove it. It is definitely not a waste for some of us to keep trying to explore to see if there’s a way out.
    - Daniel Ellsberg

    Wow, what an episode. As many others, Daniel states that we're still at high risk of a nuclear war. One new thing I learned was that the amount of warheads is magnitudes too high and that the military industrial complex might be responsible for this (by bad economic/business incentives). Let's hope we won't blow ourselves up anytime soon.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ethics of Infinity

    05 October 2018

      

    80000 hours

    Always be clear in your communication. Many people aren't and that leads to two interpretations of what you've said. One that is charitable by your followers who see in it what they want. And the other negatively by the outgroup. This can only lead to more division.

    The podcast goes further to discuss infinite ethics which was interesting but seems less practical to me than other topics discussed in the 80000 hours podcasts.

    Listen to the episode

  • Ethics of Infinity

    05 October 2018

      

    The Knowledge Project

    Atul Gawande teaches once again that very simple processes can be the key to ding great things. I loved his books and I encourage you to read The Checklist Manifesto and Being Mortal.

    Atul Gawande is one of the most impressive individuals I’ve had the pleasure to interview. He’s one of the world’s top surgeons, a researcher, a prolific writer at The New Yorker, a multiple time best-selling author, and a husband and father to boot.

    Listen to the episode

  • Sacred & Profane

    05 October 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris gets together with Bill Maher and Larry Charles to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their film “Religulous.” They discuss religion, politics, comedy, and other dangerous topics.

    One interesting thing about the documentary is that it's still relevant today. Try making one about bitcoin now and see how relevant it stays. Or one about jumpstyle some years back. Religion is quite ridiculous and opinions are only slowly changing (we of course want/need religion for the conform that it brings, but in my opinion it isn't helping much in bringing us closer and towards more knowledge).

    Listen to the episode

  • The Trust Battery

    04 October 2018

      

    The Knowledge Project

    Shane interviews the founder and CEO of Shopify, Tobi Lütke. Shopify is the largest ecommerce platform that allows people to easily set up online storefronts to sell everything from jewelry to surfing lessons.

    Some lessons from the episode are:

    • Tobi believes that games have thought him much about running a company. That there is transfer learning between games like Factorio and planning resources for your company.
    • Much of the advice about building a start-up company is about primary markets. Places where employees leave after 1 or 2 years. Tobi argues that in secondary markets, you build for the long term. Thus you can also invest more in the person (vs the skills) and in their training.
    • There are three kinds of processes. There’s a kind of process that makes things that were previously impossible to do, possible. That’s good. Then there’s a kind of process that makes something that was previously possible significantly simpler, which is also good. And then there’s everything else. I bet you 99.9% of all process that exists in corporate America is the third category, which is actually just telling people to behave slightly different from what common sense tells them to do.
    • The Trust Battery. You see the trust between you and people (colleagues for instance) as a battery. When someone joins the company the battery is already half full (they were selected etc). And over time if they prove themselves the battery goes up to 90%. At this moment you check less work and know you can rely om them more and more. Of course it also works the other way around. Great metaphore.
    • The Trust Battery. You see the trust between you and people (colleagues for instance) as a battery. When someone joins the company the battery is already half full (they were selected etc). And over time if they prove themselves the battery goes up to 90%. At this moment you check less work and know you can rely om them more and more. Of course it also works the other way around. Great metaphore.

    Listen to the episode

  • How To Keep it Simple While Scaling Big

    03 October 2018

      

    Masters of Scale

    Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom knows: You can scale big with a simple idea (and a tiny team!) — but only if you catch the prevailing winds. The simple photo app tapped the right trends and dodged needless complexities. The result? 30M users in 18 months (and 1B today). Plus, a $1B sale of a 13-person company.

    What are you doing better than anyone else? What can you focus on? I've heard the story of Instagram before and if I had to pick one word it should be FOCUS. Or again (see a few podcasts below), you do you!

    Listen to the episode

  • How To Build Trust Fast

    02 October 2018

      

    Masters of Scale

    When Daniel Ek founded Spotify, he did what no disruptor had done before: He worked WITH the industry he was trying to reinvent. By hacking shortcuts to trust with all his constituencies (users included), Ek built long-term relationships – and a 140M-user strong music-streaming platform.

    Next to the ideas about trust, another one I picked up (and also heard mention before on the Knowledge Project) is that you can make something that is competing with free. Spotify was better, more user friendly, better equiped to help you listen to music than Napster and the like. And that is what makes people pay for it each month. Maybe the same can be said about Starbucks vs coffee at the office. It does coffee (and 3rd living space) much better than your experience at the office.

    Listen to the episode

  • Bobbi Brown Cosmetics: Bobbi Brown

    01 October 2018

      

    How I Built This

    Bobbi Brown started out as a makeup artist in New York City, but hated the gaudy color palette of the 1980s. She eventually shook up the industry by introducing "nude makeup" with neutral colors and a natural tone. In 1995, Estée Lauder acquired Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Bobbi remained there for 22 years, until she realized the brand was no longer the one she had built.

    Another great woman who has built a mega brand (of course not one I knew of before listening to the episode). The one lesson I take away is to do your own thing, be unique, be different, and be outstanding. Bobbi's thing was "nude makeup", it may sound boring but it had an audience, a market, an appeal. What is mine? What is yours?

    Listen to the episode

  • Cisco Systems & Urban Decay: Sandy Lerner

    30 September 2018

      

    How I Built This

    In the pre-Internet 1970's, Sandy Lerner was part of a loosely-knit group of programmers that was trying to get computers to talk to each other. Eventually, she and Len Bosack launched Cisco Systems, making the routing technology that helped forge the plumbing of the Internet. But when things turned sour at the company, she was forced to leave, giving her the chance to start something entirely new: an edgy line of cosmetics called Urban Decay.

    A great episode with a very driven entrepreneur. It's about building something because she wanted to improve the world and the rest came. It is also about her struggle with the VC and about on the one hand not giving in, and also knowing when to let go.

    Listen to the episode

  • How to Invest with Clear Thinking

    29 September 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    Howard Marks is co-chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, a leading investment firm with more than $120 billion in assets. He is the author of the new book Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side, and his previous book on investing, The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor, was a critically acclaimed bestseller.

    There is a lot of wisdom about systems thinking in this episode. Some shoutouts to Thinking: Fast and Slow and overall good advice. Howard is a value investor, yet his advise can be read more broadly. He also thinks that we are on the last sprint of this economic cycle and I wonder what will happen when it breaks (I give it a max of 2 years).

    Listen to the episode

  • Here's Why You're Not an Elite Athlete

    28 September 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    There are a lot of factors that go into greatness, many of which are not obvious. A variety of Olympic and professional athletes tell us how they made it and what they sacrificed to get there. And if you can identify the sport most likely to get a kid into a top college — well then, touché!

    There is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into becoming great at a sport. What I found interesting is that here, more than in other fields, you also need some talent. And talent can be your length, the way your muscle fibres are structured, etc. And that money can be a limiting factor in how you will express that talent. If your parents can't drive you to a game somewhere in another state, you will have less practice than another kid. Ps. Fencing is the sport of choice if you want to have the highest chance of sports scholarship success.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Edge of Humanity

    27 September 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    Sam Harris speaks with Yuval Noah Harari about his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. They discuss the importance of meditation for his intellectual life, the primacy of stories, the need to revise our fundamental assumptions about human civilization, the threats to liberal democracy, a world without work, universal basic income, the virtues of nationalism, the implications of AI and automation, and other topics.

    The new/interesting thing I took away from this conversation is that Harari sees nationalism as a good construct. He argues that in the first time in history we can fight/die/serve a country. Before you served your family, your tribe, and no one more. He argues that the step from village to country is larger than from country to humanity. I hop he is true and that concepts like effective altruism are successful.

    Read my reviews of Sapiens and Homo Deus (TBD?)

    Listen to the episode

  • Safe Space

    26 September 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    Sam and Jonathan Haidt discuss the hostility to free speech that has grown more common among young adults, recent moral panics on campus, the role of intentions in ethical life, the economy of prestige in “call out” culture, how we should define bigotry, systemic racism, the paradox of progress, and other topics.

    What worries me most is the tribalism and how many people are afraid of the world. They don't want to be exposed to other ideas because they are afraid what it will do to them. And although the fear is understandable, the non-tolerance for free speech is unbelievable and in my opinion very much destructive.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan

    26 September 2018

     

         

    I've liked the Robert Langdon series for quite some years now. This book is no exception. It is a puzzle story and Robert finds himself in the middle of the action again.

    What I liked even more is that it examines some great themes that I've been thinking about. These include religions, AI, the orgin of life, our future. I won't spoil much more here, but go read it.

    Read the full review

  • The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan

    18 September 2018

     

         

    How does or food system work? And how can we make better choices of we're more informed about what we eat. These are some of the questions Michael Pollan answers in this very well written book.

    Go on a journey of three different meals and prepare to learn a lot.

    Read the full review

  • Life 3.0 - Max Tegmark

    17 September 2018

     

         

    Where will AI technology go? How can we develop it in a beneficial way? And what is all that can go wrong?

    These are just some of the questions in Life 3.0. Tegmark shows of his deep knowledge of his field and excites the reader with both his realism and optimism for our future.

    Read the full review

  • All Systems Red // Artificial Condition // Rogue Protocol

    09 September 2018

     

         

    Over the last few weeks I've been listening to the first three installments of the Murderbot Diaries. They all are novellas of around 150 pages and are fun and entertaining. You follow along with a SecUnit which has become consciousness (it hacked it's governing module). You watch some series together, make friends with ART, and do some murdering (to protect humans of course).

    Visit Martha Wells' website to see if there are more installments!

  • Who Needs Consciousness?

    09 September 2018

      

    Article

    I was forward this article by a friend of mine a while back. And yesterday I finally read it. It was insightful and here are my notes/summary of the article

    • Consciousness is a Darwinian adaptation and evolved by natural selection
    • It gave some advantage by having a subjective experience instead of going through the motions
    • Explanations are about long-term thinking (e.g. hunting), or social environments
    • There are six pitfalls Dawkins warns about
    1. Definitions and the tyranny of language
      • Cognition: Process of perceiving, processing, and storing information
      • *E.g. the response of plants to light
      • Consciousness: Immediate awareness of thought, memory or sensation
      • There isn't necessary connection between cognition and consciousness
      • Animal welfare: psychological health (emotions), physical health (body)
      • * We cross a shaky bridge (metaphore) when going from scientific data (physical) to what we think animals experience (psychological)
    2. Thinking that there is only one 'argument from analogy'
      • There are many ways to cross the bridge
      • Some see the way animals express pain (physiological) as analogus to how we do it and infer that they experience (psychological) it the same way, but others might not be convinced by those arguments
      • Some thinking physiological expressions are important, others cognitive abilities, others the similarities in brain structures, or language
      • This might have to do with 3 different levels of consciousness you can be describing
        1. Phenomenal consciousness: experience of seeing, hearing, feeling pain, etc.
        2. Access consciousness: experience of thinking about or reporting a mental state in present or past (memory)
        3. Monitoring and self-consciousness: experience of thinking about one's own actions and their effect and if necessary modifying them
      • For different levels, you might need/want different bridges (e.g. for the latter two you would maybe need language)
    3. Assuming that 'choice' and 'preference' imply consciousness
      • E.g. Both people and rats drink more water when deprived before
      • We experience water as better in those first gulps/glasses
      • Because rats follow the same drinking pattern (more first), they experience the same pleasure
      • Alas, plants do the same thing. A dodder plant chooses to entangle more nutritious plants over others
      • Listen to this Radiolab podcast for more.
      • A way out of this pitfall is to divide choice in two categories
        1. Fixed innate responses (the plant)
        2. Choices that involve learning to perform arbitrary actions in order to obtain goals (e.g. pulling a lever for food)
    4. Assuming that autonomic responses imply consciousness
      • In humans there are 3 systems that underly emotions
        1. The cognitive/verbal
        2. The autonomic (e.g. heart rate)
        3. The behavioural/expressive
      • We reason by analogy that if we see 2) and 3), animals are also experiencing (consciousness) 1).
      • But, these are not always correlated (e.g. going quickly from fear to excitement can show the same outwardly)
      • "Let us look for consciousness not in the heart or the bloodstream or the rectum but in the brain where it surely belongs."
    5. Assuming that complexity of behaviour implies cognition
      • The Social Intellect theory (Humphrey, 1976) argues that social systems are so complex it demands conscious evaluation
      • Alas, simple computer algorithms are showing that complexity is not actually needed
      • "There is no complex cognition, no need even for memory of the behaviour..."
    6. Assuming that only cognitively complex organisms are conscious
      • "You don't need to be very clever to feel pain or hunger or fear."
      • (and the other way around) Animals with fewer cognitive abilities might still posess consciousness
    • Animal welfare implications
      • Dawkins ends the article by stating that the confusion about definitions troubles the water when discussing animal welfare. I think this article helps with clearing some of that up and although it (or any other article to date) solves why we have consciousness (and who with us), it is helpful.

    Read the article

  • Digital Humanism

    04 September 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    In conversation with Jaron Lanier a very interesting topic is discussed. He states that information should not be free. He argues that when paid for it is better in many cases. And that paid services align the incentives in a better way. Think about Spotify and how it has won over Napster/Limewire etc. It should be easy/convenient for people, but not per se free. This is, I think, also why Netflix has been such a success and I know friends who used to download series now consuming all of that via Netflix.

    Listen to the episode

  • David Roodman - Research, prison, crime

    03 September 2018

      

    80000 hours

    In the interview with David Roodman we get a look into the effect of incarceration on crime. Hint, there is, in most cases, no link. The program of three strikes and out has little to no deterrence effect.

    "Then there are the after-effects, and this is where it gets most complicated. Being in prison you could imagine, could reduce the amount of crime you commit afterwards. Maybe you learn to read, or you’re helped off of your drug problem, or you’re scared straight by the experience. But it’s also easy to imagine that being in prison just makes things worse. That you’re more alienated from society, that you’re closer friends with other criminals, and you learn from their techniques, or you have less ability to get a real job because you’re marked as a felon."

    Listen to the episode

  • The Power Of Design

    02 September 2018

      

    TED Radio Hour

    When designing a product (like Queal) you want to think about both the rational and emotional needs. The rational part is about what people need (and want). The emotional part is about what gets them of their butts. About what engages them. A product needs emotional momentum.

    The founder of Nest speaks about having a beginner mindset. How can we experience the world better?

    Architecture is about symbols. Ones that are recognizable and ones that are new. The pendulum broke when social media and internet came around. Now you can even 'test' buildings on social media.

    We design ourselves too. Black beard, the pirate, was one of the first. He used the well-known symbols on his flag to get others to surrender without a fight. The greatest designers are great dreamers.

    Animals are also great designers. The natural world is full of awesome design. Biomimicery is the concept of taking innovation inspired by nature. An example is the acoustic camera at airports (the one you stand in with your arms up), this was taken from echolocation (bats).

    Listen to the episode

  • Why You Shouldn't Open a Restaurant

    01 September 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    As the title says, it's best not to open a restaurant. Steven talks with Kenji Lopez-Alt (a food scientist and critic). They discuss some of the aspects that you face when opening a restaurant, many of which are not foreseen. And again, don't open a restaurant.

    Listen to the episode

  • How to Be Happy

    30 August 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    Why are we happy and how can we have more of it? As discussed in an earlier episode, it shouldn't all be about GDP.

    "We have the paradox that income per person rises in the United States, but happiness does not. And it’s not that that’s because humans are humans. It’s because the U.S. is falling behind other countries, because we are not pursuing dimensions of happiness that are extremely important: our physical health, the mental health in our community, the social support, the honesty in government. And this is weighing down American well-being."

    Nordic countries have happier people, and that because they have these factors. They have more purpose, fewer working hours, and great social support.

    Listen to the episode

  • Drew Houston - The Billionaire Founder of Dropbox

    29 August 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss<

    Tim interviews Drew Houston about his life and extracts many lessons on building a business and how to be a good manager. It was an enjoyable episode. As always there are good stories and life lessons to be extracted.

    They mentioned quite some books and here are a few I might have already wrote something about:

    Listen to the episode

  • Two (Totally Opposite) Ways to Save the Planet

    28 August 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    The environmentalists say we’re doomed if we don’t drastically reduce consumption. The technologists say that human ingenuity can solve just about any problem. A debate that’s been around for decades has become a shouting match. Is anyone right?

    The podcast looks at the wizards (technology, progress, let's solve it) and prophets (environmentalists, doom, we need to reduce). Charles Mann has written a book about this: The Wizard and the Prophet. And that reminded me of this article (which is from another author).

    Listen to the episode

  • Thinking About Thinking

    25 August 2018

      

    The Knowledge Project

    Shane interviews Tyler Cowen, who writes a blog called Marginal Revolution. And has written the book Average is Over

    Tyler is quite the interesting guest and they philosophise about what the future will bring. And how (of course) there will be no middle class like we know it today.

    Listen to the episode

  • Navigating Sex and Gender

    22 August 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    Sam speaks with Martie Haselton. The conversation defines quite some terms related to gender/sex. It provided few new bits of information for me, especially after listening to the Radiolab episodes at the beginning of the summer.

    One thing that I did take away is that it's still very good that people have honest conversations about these topics and that identity politics and erronious conclusions is something we should be wary about.

    Listen to the episode

  • Story Behind The Numbers

    21 August 2018

      

    TED Radio Hour

    Is the world getting better or not? That is the central question of this episode. You hear the positive perspective from Steven Pinker (Better Angels of our Nature), and more pessimistic views of Tyler Cowen (Average is Over).

    GDP is also covered and it's proposed that we use something 'better' to measure wealth/welfare. This is coined the Social Progress Index/framework. It takes into account 1) basic needs, 2) building blocks for improvement, 3) ability to reach goals.

    Listen to the episode

  • How To Kill Your Bad Ideas

    22 August 2018

      

    Masters of Scale

    Reid interviews Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga and a few other technology companies. The key take-away is to kill your bad ideas, but pursue your big idea relentless.

    Separate a bad idea from a winning one. Use metrics to do this. And always keep involved with the details (e.g. Elon Musk) so you don't lose touch with what is/should be happening.

    Listen to the episode

  • Why We Choke Under Pressure

    09 August 2018

      

    Freakonomics

    Choking under pressure can be the result of thinking too much. We try and control everything and thereby forget/confuse our body that is doing most things on auto-pilot (at least for a professional). And that auto-pilot is what you're training before.

    For creative tasks, a monetary reward is not the thing you want to be giving people. A high (more money) incentive led to the worst outcome in some experiments.

    How to get better (and not choke), deliberate practice. More about that in Peak by Anders Ericsson.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Bad Show

    30 July 2018

      

    Radiolab

    Hmm I don't seem to have any of the Radiolab episodes here yet. But please do check out their website. I also loved their episodes around the theme 'Gonads' (gender/sex/identity).

    We all do bad things (right?). One thing that is highlighted is that obedience (as thought in all psy introductory classes) is really about what people feel they ought to do (so not blindly following the experimenter, but doing it from an internal feeling too). We do something that is bad/painful to help/make sacrifices too (i.e. the same bias/heuristic can be positive too).

    Is Fritz Haber good or bad? He invented ammonia. This has fed the world ever since (it's used widely in agriculture). But he also invented chlorine gas (used in WW1). And later CyclonB was used in WW2 concentration camps, based on his inventions. What do you think?

    And do reasons for (bad) behaviour matter? The last part of the episode is about the Green River killer. Why did he do it? What was the meaning?

    Listen to the episode

  • Steve Madden: Steve Madden

    30 July 2018

      

    How I Built This

    Steve started his entrepreneurial journey by learning from others. He was mentored by another person in the shoe business. But after a while he was eager to spread his wings and be his own boss.

    Steve Maddon participated in the pump & dump schemes as portrait in Wolf of Wall Street. He stated that the boiler room depictions in the movie were true to life. He eventually spent time in jail and did quite some drugs around that period.

    One nugget from the episode was that he found a different market (audience) for his product than expected. He was targetting people his age but found that younger kids bought the shoes. The same goes for where he craved respect (the industry people) and later found it from others.

    Guy always asks the entrepreneurs "Was it luck or talent?". Steve answer was about windows of opportunity. You've got to grasp those. So (as always) it's a combination.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Psychology of Money

    27 July 2018

      

    Article

    In investing there can be people with no background, with no study, who can outperform others who's job it is to do financial work. Someone who just saves every month can have more money in the bank than an investment banker who spends it all.

    "Managing money isn't necessarily about what you know; it's about how you behave."

    Here are twenty biases, flaws, and mental fallacies.

    • Earned success and deserved failure fallacy: A tendency to underestimate the role of luck and risk, and a failure to recognize that luck and risk are different sides of the same coin.
    • Cost avoidance syndrome: A failure to identify the true costs of a situation, with too much emphasis on financial costs while ignoring the emotional price that must be paid to win a reward.
    • Rich man in the car paradox. The paradox of wealth is that people tend to want it to signal to others that they should be liked and admired.
    • A tendency to adjust to current circumstances in a way that makes forecasting your future desires and actions difficult, resulting in the inability to capture long-term compounding rewards that come from current decisions.
    • Anchored-to-your-own-history bias: Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works.
    • Historians are Prophets fallacy: Not seeing the irony that history is the study of surprises and changes while using it as a guide to the future. An overreliance on past data as a signal to future conditions in a field where innovation and change is the lifeblood of progress.
    • The seduction of pessimism in a world where optimism is the most reasonable stance.
    • Underappreciating the power of compounding, driven by the tendency to intuitively think about exponential growth in linear terms.
    • Attachment to social proof in a field that demands contrarian thinking to achieve above-average results.
    • An appeal to academia in a field that is governed not by clean rules but loose and unpredictable trends.
    • The social utility of money coming at the direct expense of growing money; wealth is what you don’t see.
    • A tendency toward action in a field where the first rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily.
    • Underestimating the need for room for error, not just financially but mentally and physically.
    • A tendency to be influenced by the actions of other people who are playing a different financial game than you are.
    • An attachment to financial entertainment due to the fact that money is emotional, and emotions are revved up by argument, extreme views, flashing lights, and threats to your wellbeing.

    If there’s a common denominator in these, it’s a preference for humility, adaptability, long time horizons, and skepticism of popularity around anything involving money. Which can be summed up as: Be prepared to roll with the punches.

    Read the article

  • On B2B2C Business Models

    27 July 2018

      

    Article

    This article is about B2B2C companies, but I actually expected it to be about Channel partnerships / other ways of doing B2B2C.

    "B2B2C is where your company sells a product/service to a business, gaining customers and/or data from that business that you get to keep and use. And where, most importantly, that group of customers becomes untethered from the middle B — at some point, they recognize that YOU (the first B!) are the product they use."

    "...well-structured set of business deals led to lots of downstream consumers with no per-customer acquisition cost."

    • B2B2C is easiest to sell when Business A does NOT want to be in the business you are offering
    • Don’t tickle the bear — optimize for early clients first, as keeping track of “what can I do with differently-acquired groups of customers” is unwieldy.
    • Give > Get: a logical time to “flex” end-customer ownership is when you are able to contribute more to Business A than you receive from Business A.
    • The “exhaust” of a B2B2C business is either customers or their data. It’s essential that end customers identify as customers of your Business B if you have a plan to count them as yours (and the same applies to data).
    • A signed contract is just the beginning of the sale.

    Read the article

  • How To Live Life On Your Own Terms

    24 July 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    “I’m pretty oblivious to a lot of things intentionally. I don’t want to be influenced that much.” - Jason Fried

    I'm a fan of Jason Fried (and DHH) of Basecamp fame. I use Basecamp daily and love how they look at business. Rework is my most re-read business book to date. Here are some of my notes from the episode.

    • Jason doesn't follow dogma. He doesn't follow news, or industry news. He therefore needs to busy himself by developing his own (original) ideas.
    • He has no goals, no planning (personally), he just goes where he needs to go. (I have become more accustomed to this idea over the past years, but still like to make goals to give direction. I think his direction/mission/vision may be more internalized, or that he really has none, which may be a more 'budda' way of living).
    • "Comparison is the death of joy"
    • So how does he make good decisions? For Basecamp it means they have 6 week cycles (with 2 weeks of down/thinking-time in between.
    • He has no expectations. Say your goal was 21% growth last year, and you only have 20%, you may be very dissapointed. This is crazy, it's all in your head. He argues that intrinsic motivation is much better.
    • This aligns with the ideas from Triggers, about doing your best, that is good enough. And also makes me think of the concept of 'circle of control'. This is also mentioned in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
    • Jason uses the example of running that triggered him to think this way. He was first trying to beat a certain time. But he got frustrated every time he didn't make that. So he just let go, he put his focus on enjoying running and doing his best. I like that he then didn't go on to say that he achieved the original goal, no he just enjoyed running.
    • Jason tries to have as little anxiety as possible in his life. So he doesn't read news online, he does read the IRL newspaper once a day.
    • He argues that life is not that complicated. We make it that way. He mentions Seeking Wisdom (book I haven't read). And argues that we make it complex as a sport for ourselves (i.e. to keep ourselves busy).
    • They also touch upon Stoicism (philosphy) and mention A Guide to the Good Life which is a great introduction to Stoicism. Negative visualisation, confronting fear head on instead of letting it linger in the background of your mind.
    • "Make something for yourself, and find others like you." (great business advice) (but don't forget to tell the others)
    • Jason doesn't commit to things far away in the future. He thinks Warren Buffet does the same. He likes to have no hassle. And you can easily commit to something far away, but when it comes you still pay the costs (e.g. time). When telling someone no (e.g. a speaking engagement in the future) he is honest about why he won't do it, people appreciate that and accept it.
    • People protect their money, they should do the same with their time. This is a learned skill.
    • When hiring people, Jason (read: Basecamp) looks at if they are great writers. It shows great communication skills and is important for many people, even designers. It shows how they can present themselves to the world. And much of that presentation is in written for these days.
    • If he could teach a course it would be about writing. It would teach iteration, something we do in real life (e.g. the iterations of this post or webite) and which isn't really thought in school. He would let people write a long essay (a few pages), then write a shorter version (a few times) to teach the relevant skills.

    Listen to the episode

  • Globalism on the Brink

    23 July 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    Sam Harris speaks with political analyst Ian Bremmer. What I took away from the conversation is a better understanding of the worries about globalism and some of the troubling times we're facing.

    • There are legitimate concerns from 'them/the other side'. This refers to the worries that many people on the (extreme) right voice, but also something that is on the mind of the average person. What about immigration, what about globalism? What about jobs? And not all concerns are valid (jobs are lost to automation). But we must understand before we can start solving the problem.
    • In the conversation they define globalism as the political idea of free trade and global security. Ian argues that this in essence is a good idea.
    • Globalisation is the real-world implementation of this idea. This is the economic impact and also can be considered as something that lifts all boats.
    • Cosmopolitan is defined as someone who feels like he/she is a citizen of the world. The opposite is identity politics (which Sam earlier argued that Ezra Klein and others on the left and many on the right are engaging in). Facebook is responsible for quite a lot of the polarization and us-them divide.
    • Ian argues, and I agree, that cellphones are also to blame. He uses an example of going to jury duty and there was no interaction amongst the (very diverse) New Yorkers that were there (200+ people, watching a training video). From the same experience 6 years ago he still was in contact with some people.
    • People (the 'them' from before) have legit concerns around globalisation. The costs for Germany for the immigrants that they take on are actually great. Turkey, Jordan and many African countries are also facing the high costs of caring for refugees. I think that we can argue that it's our duty to do so, but I also understand that not everyone sees it this way and that change is almost always received in a negative way.
    • Other legitimate concerns are around crime (higher for migrant communities), bad integration (which also means less intelligence for police), radicalism, and fear of outsiders from the community that is seeing change. Ian also mentions that Trump grew up in a white neighbourhood that saw much diversification over his youth.
    • In today's discourse there is no room for complexity and nuance.
    • Ian also mentioned the automation which made me think of Humans Need Not Apply - Jerry Kaplan
    • With automation Ian thinks that many developing countries will have significant problems with many people who won't have a job. America will be ok, he thinks, it's rich enough. China will be able to give people 'bullshit' jobs (I heard the term sowhere else). But countries like India, Tunis and others won't be able to do th is.
    • Ian thinks that UBI is interesting, but he would like to see a more complete model that includes things like job training.
    • Wealth inequality is too high (see Guardian article). People feel that they have no opportunities. Healthcare is becoming more expensive. Schooling in America is failing. And there is little political discourse on the national level. He believe that redistribution is something that is happening on the local level and through philanthropy (but of course you want this to happen on the national level).
    • One example of a country that is still thriving is Japan. But this example is quite different from other countries because of the ageing population and little immigration. This example, unfortunately, is also therefore used by alt-right groups to justify their viewpoints.
    • Ian believes that the trade war is only a dispute and that America has more to lose. China is making their own Marshall plan (Belt and Road initiative, explainer video). It's more transactional than the US version decades ago. But for the US to thrive they should keep friendly with their allies (read: EU).

    Listen to the episode

  • Groen in glas

    15 July 2018

     

        

    I read this book over the weekend at Lotte. And it's about growing plants in glass. I've made a few ones and hope that they will stay alive over the coming weeks/years. Here is a translated excerpt.

    "Green in glass is for everyone who loves plants and green in the house. Plants in a bottle - both 'open' and 'closed' - form an eye-catcher in your interior. Green blogger Judith Baehner shows in her book what forms of terrariums there are and how you organize and maintain them. With the many step by step photos everyone can get started."

  • The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. - Neal Stephenson

    30 June 2018

     

         

    Neal Stephenson is well known for his sci-fi books. Some are deep into the tech world, and 'Dodo' was a step away from there. It featured witches, time-travel and more shenanigans. I enjoyed the (long) book, but it veared of course quite a few times for me. The narrative was long and sometimes I think it could have established what he wanted with less fluff.

    Nonetheless it was a great book that had a strong narrative and was as cohesive as it could be with time-travel in the mix. There is even some 'hard' science with regards to quantum states so that's interesting too.

    Read the full review (TBD)

  • Public Commitment 2018 Update

    10 July 2018

      

    Floris Wolswijk

    I've updated my goals for this year. In the blog post I reflect on how the year has been going and what my plans are for Q3 and Q4.

    I'm happy with where my life is at the moment. I'm working actively on my fitness goals. I could make more time for writing and still want to spend less time doing 'useless' things like watching YouTube.

    Read the blog

  • Freeing the Hostages

    10 July 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    Sam Harris speaks with FBI negotiator Chris Voss. In the conversation they touch upon different topics related to hostage situations and how to resolve them.

    • When you open up communication with the bad guys, you always learn information (e.g. the way they speak, or they reveal with how many they are).
    • Following the money is easy and can lead to you catching the whole gang instead of just a few.
    • If captured, humanise yourself (let them say your name to get you to move)
    • Kidnapping is way more common in non-western countries (e.g. about 3000 in Mexico per year).
    • Use the 'fear of loss' heuristic as named by Kahneman (see Thinking: Fast and Slow)
    • Copy/mirror the language the other person is using (even outside hostage situations)
    • Deception will only give you short-term gains, so never use it.
    • Profit in most cases isn't made in the headline number, but in the way you get it (e.g. 1000 dollar days for FBI operators are good, but not if you only have 1 per month, then you better can do more 500 dollar days without travel time)
    • Anger, like deception, also never gives you long-term success.

    Listen to the episode

  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

    09 July 2018

      

    Series

    I started rewatching this series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It's very educative and inspiring. I've made some notes for myself. I will add to these in the future and sometimes post again that I've watched another (few) episode(s).

    Read my notes

  • Never Underestimate Your First Idea

    08 July 2018

      

    Masters of Scale

    Reid Hoffman interviews Ev Williams from Twitter, Blogger, and Medium. He has always had one driving idea behind his ventures. He wasn't that successful in the beginning (or at all back then), but he had perseverance. And he had a big idea, of spreading ideas. That is what made him continue and thrive.

    “There is great stuff in the minds out there in the world, and the Internet is this big machine that connects them.”

    Listen to the episode

  • Effective Altruism Discussion Evening #4

    04 July 2018

      

    Effective Altruism

    During the evening we learned about why factory farming is bad (animal suffering, environment, human suffering). We discussed the ways that people are tackling the problem. Both with regard to our consumption, the conditions in the factory farms, and to offering alternatives. One of my biggest takeaways is that we won’t easily (or at all) change people’s behaviour, but that institutional change may be able to nudge a lot of people into making better choices.

    More notes from the evening

    Be there at the next meetup

  • Chicken Salad Chick: Stacy Brown

    03 July 2018

      

    How I Built This

    What if you could take such a simple, and maybe even niche, concept as chicken salad (sandwiches) and make that into a $75M business? That is what Stacy Brown did. It took a lot of courage, conviction, perseverance, and guts.

    Although the story of a chicken salad company didn't sound inspiring, I found the story very moving. Stacy went through a lot of things and she persevered. From last minute investments to the tragic story of her husbands fight with cancer. Listen and be inspired.

    Listen to the episode

  • Dictators, Immigration, #metoo, and Other Imponderables

    02 July 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    "In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Masha Gessen about Vladimir Putin, the problem of gouging public opinion in Russia, Trump’s fondness for dictators, the challenges of immigration, comparisons between Christian and Muslim intolerance, “fake news” and the health of journalism, the #MeToo movement, and other topics"

    What struck me as particularly interesting is that Masha mentions that there really is no public opinion in Russia. She has to reiterate that a few times before Sam hears it. She means to say that people there really don't have an opinion and just follow exactly what the media says they should think. That is pretty crazy. How is that here? How much are we influenced or are we capable of forming our own opinions? (I hope we do (still) have that ability).

    Masha also calls Sam out on a switch and bait. He compares the attitudes of Christian Americans and all Muslims on homosexuality. He says the former would never kill a person over that, but the latter would (i.e. almost all of the would find it ok if someone was killed because they were gay). But that is excluding the millions of Christians around the world who would kill a homosexual. And while that is very bad too, it shows that Muslims aren't the only ones with hateful/wrong views.

    Listen to the episode

  • Cal Fussman Corners Tim Ferriss

    02 July 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    This interview took a deep dive into the history of Tim Ferriss. It showed how the pieces from an early age made the Tim of today possible.

    One lesson is: Get an audience, then sell a product. That way you risk less (e.g. having 100 books without readers). And it also allows you to validate the idea beforehand.

    Tim tried different things, but all had a purpose in mind. He was relentless in trying. He kept calling, emailing and showing up and doing the work.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Network Man

    02 July 2018

      

    Article

    This article is about Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn. And how he goes about his life.

    He starts his dinners with a list of things to discuss. That is an excellent way to see what you both want to get out of the conversation and for things to linger before you talk about them.

    He is an 'ubernode', he is more connected that almost anyone in the world. One of the reasons is that his vision is so clear. "His project is to build a better world, whose outlines are much clearer to him than to most people."

    "“How can I be helpful?” All his activities are in the service of the same cause: to make it possible for more people to operate the way he does."

    The rest of the article talks about his life, how he sees the world and what is goals are.

    He mentions Peter Thiel (PayPal, and very controversial). And also notes that Snowcrash (TBD) had a significant influence on him.

    "He told me that in Silicon Valley prestige is not especially important, which means that there is an assumed equivalence between numerically measurable performance and social value."

    "Hoffman was especially good at finding some degree of moderation in relations with the world as it exists, without abandoning aggressive behavior."

    "There was no middle class, then there was a middle class, now we’re back where we started—it’s hollowed out. I don’t see where the middle class is going to come from. You’ll start seeing more conversation about a guaranteed income. Right now, there’s an absolute belief that markets can solve everything—software can."

    "Once network effects really kick in, they create a powerful barrier to entry for potential rivals: the more effort you’ve put into your identity on Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube, the more difficult it becomes for you to switch to a competitor." (for more, see Zero to One (TBD))

    Read the article

  • Effective Altruism Global X Netherlands

    1 July 2018

      

    Effective Altruism

    During the EAGx in The Netherlands I enjoyed being together with others who are changing the world with the EA mindset. I presented around combining EA with entrepreneurship and went to a few workshops myself too. Mental health was one of the topics of interest that evening and some people are taking active steps towards addressing that cause area.

    The Event

    Be there at the next Rotterdam meetup

  • The Happy Body - Aniela & Jerzy Gregorek

    30 June 2018

     

         

    I first heard about this book via an interview on the Tim Ferriss podcast. Jerzy Gregorek is a well-known trainer and weightlifter. The book is full of tips around making a stronger body. He states that it all boils down to flexibility, strength and speed. And that the latter informs/helps the first two.

    The book is good in so far as that it has good exercises and comes from a good place of knowledge. The writing, formatting and testimonials aren't that well done.

    Read the full review

  • Tara Mac Aulay - Fixing without asking permission

    30 June 2018

      

    80000 hours

    This was a great interview about the role of operations within the Effective Altruism community. Tara shows how she has made vast improvements by applying her mindset. From saving millions at a hospital to now leading one of the EA organisations.

    "You don’t need permission. You don’t need to be allowed to do something that’s not in your job description. If you think that it’s gonna make your company or your organization more successful and more efficient, you can often just go and do it."

    Listen to the episode

  • The entropic brain: A theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs

    27 June 2018

      

    Article

    "Based on neuroimaging data with psilocybin, a classic psychedelic drug,it is argued that the defining feature of “primary states” is elevated entropy (disorder) in certain aspects of brain function."

    "This entropy suppression furnishes normalwaking consciousness with a constrained quality and associated metacognitive functions, including reality-testing and self-awareness."

    "Entry into primary states depends on a collapse of the normally highly organized activity within the default-mode network (DMN) and a decoupling between the DMN and the medial temporal lobes(which are normally significantly coupled."

    I forgot how I got linked to this article, but I find it to provide an interesting look into our consciousness. I only superficially understand what is written. Feel free to discuss the paper with me if you know more.

    Read the article

  • Andrew Chen - How startups die from their addiction to paid marketing

    27 June 2018

      

    Article

    Startups that grow can fool themselves about the Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). When spending goes up it becomes harder to track, not easier. You may be able to acquire customers at a profit, but not with the overhead you have in the company.

    There is a Paid Marketing Local Max (the max amount you can spend that is smart to do). You must understand each channel by itself, not lump everything together. When you grow, the CAC may go up. The virality of your first customers is much higher than consequent ones.

    The ads themselves become less effective over time. They grow stale, people have seen them before. And there is (more) competition as time goes by.

    "The new generation of ad platforms makes it possible to scale revenue to new heights, but without profitability."

    "So for those of you who are thinking about going all-in on paid marketing, I challenge you to go deeper on that strategy. Perhaps cap your paid acquisition at 30-40% of TOF. Instead, where can you innovate?"

    So, think smarter and in many cases don't put all your eggs in the Paid Acquisition basket!

    Read the article

  • Tim Ferriss Goes to Maximum Security Prison

    27 June 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    A moving interview with 3 inmates in a Maximum Security Prison. Tim talks with them about the work they are doing with Defy Ventures. They are becoming entrepreneurs (Entrepreneurs in Training, EIT) and they are working from the inside (literally) to make the prison system and life afterwards better.

    I love how Tim is doing his best to speak to different people and how he is spreading the work of Defy Ventures. I'm not aware of similar programs in The Netherlands, but I would very strongly encourage it.

    Another episode with the founder of Defy, Catherine Hoke. And also read from the perspective of Brad Felt (Venture Capitalist).

    Listen to the episode

  • John Doerr - Why the secret to success is setting the right goals

    27 June 2018

      

    TED Talk

    Renowned venture capitalist John Doerr explains how we can use 'Objectives and Key Results' as a system to aim for, and reach, better goals. We can use them to be accountable, to know what we're working towards, and to better communicate with others in our team or the wider world.

    This talk reminds me of The Effective Executive (TBD). I think the commonality is that you do what you measure, and in many cases we measure nothing.

    Watch the TED Talk

  • Being Mortal - Atul Gawande

    26 June 2018

     

         

    What does it mean to live into old age? This is the central question I think that Atul Gawande poses. It's not perse about dying (though it of course also is), it's about the process towards it. He tells amazing stories of people who are becoming old. He takes us on a journey of how we've cared for them, and where we can improve. The book confronts us with our mortality.

    At around the same time as reading this book, I became aware that Gawande has been chosen to lead the health care company founded/financed by Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, and Jamie Dimon (of Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase). I'm very interested to see where this will take him, and his amazing view on life. (Techcrunch, Forbes, Statnews).

    Read the full review

  • Hannah Fry - Is life really that complex?

    25 June 2018

      

    TED Talk

    We can explain many things in life. From the really small, to the really big. From the movement of a ball, to the movement of galaxies. But we're not very good at explaining what lies in between, the complex. Hannah Fry argues that with new techniques we will be able to do so. And with that we may be able to predict the behaviour of crowds, or predict how the stock market will move.

    I find it fascinating to see how this thinking connects disparate fields and will give us more insight into who we are. There is more on this in Deep Simplicity (TBD) and The Quark and the Jaguar (TBD).

    Watch the TED Talk

  • Liz Lambert - The Unstoppable Hotelier

    21 June 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    An interview with Liz Lambert and her journey through building her hotel. It's a story of perseverance, of believing in herself and her mission. At the same time also a story about enjoying the journey. About the journey being the destination. And believing that happiness can be found right there. The podcast is also about how she used design to make life better for others.

    Listen to the episode

  • Lululemon Athletica

    21 June 2018

      

    How I Built This

    The story of Chip Wilson and how he built one of the largest apparel companies in the world. One of the lessons is that he was keen on watching the trends and moving with them (or stepping out when he couldn't). He wasn't a yoga person, but he definitely was a fabric and fashion person. He built his team, and tried to make them excel.

    Listen to the episode

  • Universal Basic Income

    19 June 2018

      

    Sam Harris

    Sam Harris speaks with Andrew Yang about Universal Basic Income (TBD). It once again presents more information that convinces me that this is a good idea. It highlights some places where it has already been implemented and how it helps both financially as mentally (and allows people to do more meaningful work).

    They also touch upon some criticism of UBI. The funding is addressed, and shown to be possible and some of the positive side-effects may even be cheaper than our current system. People will not become sloths and do nothing all day if they get a guaranteed income. This income probably is also below the poverty line and many people can/should/will do additional jobs.

    One other point, not always highlighted, is that we just don't have jobs for many people any more. Many college graduates aren't finding jobs. Many people have left the workforce entirely. And this is all before the real AI automation will start. The top 5 jobs (e.g. trucking, working in retail) will be automated away. And yes there will be some new jobs but don't tell me a truck driver will easily become the new fleet coordinator.

    This podcast has given me more information to think about UBI and has added to my positive attitude towards the idea.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Paper Menagerie - Ken Liu

    20 June 2018

     

         

    I first learned about Ken Liu as translator of the Three Body Problem (and the two other books in the triology). His short stories are a mix of hard sci-fi (think: consciousnesses drifting around space) to moving stories of immigrants who've come from China to the US. I can highly recommend this collection of his short stories.

    Read the full review (TBD)

  • The Green Pill

    14 June 2018

      

    Ezra Klein

    Ezra Klein interviews Melanie Joy about why we eat meat. It's a very interesting conversation that touches about some of our deepest routed beliefs. Joy defines the 'normal' way of eating as Carnism and that gives a new perspective to see the world through. I still find it difficult to think of what to best tell my meat eating friends. One of the good points made was that everyone really wants to do good. Many people just don't think about the suffering related to their consumption. I do the same when eating eggs. And on a positive note, veganism as a movement is growing rapidly. Trying your best is really how we should judge ourselves (and possibly others), and making progress (speaking for myself) is what will move things in the right direction.

    Listen to the episode

  • Effective Altruism Intro #19

    13 June 2018

      

    Effective Altruism

    In this fourteenth meetup we again gave some people a peak into the EA kitchen. We discussed charities, why some are neglected, what role our psychology and the 'attractiveness' of charities play. In the end I hope the participants are able to find more information on 80000hours.org to further shape their careers.

    Be there at the next meetup

  • The Undoing Project - Michael Lewis

    13 June 2018

     

         

    Michael Lewis follows the story of two psychologists who have changed the world. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky lay bare our heuristics, biases and challenge the 'econ' model of mankind. Take a journey through their lives, discover their past and own hidden motives.

    Read the full review (TBD)

  • How to Succeed in High-Stress Situations

    12 June 2018

      

    Tim Ferriss

    This hour of the Tim Ferriss Show is a commentated reading of The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. Tim offers some of his own unique perspective. I took away some reminders of Stoic philosophy. One of them is to enjoy the struggle/obstacle/journey/life. To embrace what is coming to you and to be present to enjoy the experience.

    Listen to the episode

  • The Elephant in the Brain - Kevin Simler & Robin Hanson

    18 May 2018

     

         

    You don't talk about the elephant in the room. Nor do you talk about the hidden motives that drive your everyday life. In this riveting book you take a deep dive into the science of why we conceal motives from ourselves (and others). Then it's applied to various areas in life, from school to medicine. You won't look at any person or system the same after reading this book.

    Read the full review (TBD)