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Max's Newsletter #02 - September 2020
A Texan update. What's keeping me up at night. A delicious list of links.
Short update from me: Into my second month of a remote job and it’s going better than I could have imagined. It’s freed me up to move from my hometown of Baltimore to Austin, Texas, where the energy, people, possibility, not to mention the Twitter mutuals, etc. is absolutely breath-taking. If you’re not far and would like to meet up, drop me a line. You too, Joe Rogan.
Also, Gymnast Body—my adult gymnastics fitness substack—went live! Thoughts, reflections, and instruction from years of gymnastics and bodyweight training.
How likely is that Urbit will change the world? My understanding of it is that it’s an incredibly secure, computing-redesigned-from-first-principles digital real estate that obviates the need for platforms, intermediaries, SAAS companies, and expensive server provision. I’m not in a technically-informed enough position to evaluate it—how many good ideas want for a more fitting universe? But the bullish case is that it’ll be the internet in a decade or two’s time. So think bitcoin circa 2011.
Did humanity reach peak urban density in March 2020? Will remote work make dense megacities a thing of the past? Will we see a renaissance of smaller or medium-sized cities? Will remote work usher in an even more competitive and wrenching globalization?
How much of human happiness tied up in zero-sum status games? Are we happier than we were in 1970 for all the multinationals, Netflix, YouTube, TikTok? Is it possible to detach from the zero-sum status games at scale?
On to a pile of curated links that have sent me to every corner of the internet.
“Don’t call yourself a programmer: ‘Programmer’ sounds like ‘anomalously high-cost peon who types some mumbo-jumbo into some other mumbo-jumbo.’ If you call yourself a programmer, someone is already working on a way to get you fired.”
Don't Call Yourself a Programmer, And Other Career Advice by Patrick McKenzie. It’s my default view of the (software) economy. Read it.
“I'll grant you up front that Scott probably suffers from a mixture of ennui and myopia and absolutely no chance of STDs, who apparently feels neither shame in nor fear about sabotaging his job prospects by appearing in these [embarrassing] photographs, to the fury of every other American who sees them”
This Is Why The American Dream Is Out Of Reach by The Last Psychiatrist.
“The first big, basic difference has to do with what I consider to be the most underappreciated fact about gender. Consider this question: What percent of our ancestors were women? It’s not a trick question, and it’s not 50%.”
Is There Anything Good About Men? by Roy Baumeister.
“The System’s main design error: the Cathedral has authority without accountability.
The Cathedral holds everyone in the System responsible. It is responsible to no one. It has to be perfect. A helicopter has one nut, the “Jesus nut,” which holds the blades on and the bird in the air. The Cathedral is the Jesus nut of the System’s sanity, and ours.”
#3: descriptive constitution of the modern regime by Curtis Yarvin
I have done this 10-minute morning yoga stretch video as the very first thing every day for the last three weeks when I wake up.
Albert Bartlett provides the most extraordinary demonstration of exponential growth. Firmware upgrade.
The most incredible pommel horse routine you’ll see today.
- If San Francisco did not exist and you tried to convince people that 25 year olds without degrees can run billion dollar companies, everyone would think you're ridiculous. Also, you literally cannot become a professor or get proper research funding if you do not have a PhD.Svalinn Working Dogs "Bred to Love. Trained to Protect." -Company started to train protection dogs for world leaders and members of intl orgs Southern Africa. -Come with 1yr of training in Montana. -Customers fly in from around the globe to "date" the specimens. (Cost: 75-90k)1)Some thoughts on the value of reading fiction: When I was in my 20s/early 30s, I read 3 or 4 books a week. Mostly fiction. This sounds like a lot to non-writers. But it’s not. It never felt like work. Or if it did, I was on to the next book.I don't know if you can really understand the world if you don't understand that, in some sense, young women fundamentally own it — but have absolutely no idea that they doI am happy to announce we received a large grant from the Koch Foundation. Our political science department is now the Department of Patriotic Studies and our economics department is now the Department of Free Enterprise!An early photograph of Stripe. They had a wonderful office next to Coupa Cafe in downtown Palo Alto, but they were about to move out because they'd gotten too big. It felt like the end of an era, so I took a picture of them.