Medley 190: Teeth, Radicalized, Bots, Wealth, Reading, Graduates, Prepping, Jenga...

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Happy Monday!

I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday break, and the last days of 2019.

I uploaded my notes on two books to The Brain in the last week: Built to Sell, and The One Thing. I thought Built to Sell was interesting, despite not having any intentions to sell a business soon. The One Thing is skippable, it's mostly repetitive productivity advice.

The World of Health

🦷 I've seen a few people talking about charcoal toothpaste, and while I think ingesting charcoal might have some benefits (especially after drinking), charcoal toothpaste seems kind of risky. There are a lot of reports of the charcoal wearing down the enamel on people's teeth once it cuts through the stains, which ultimately leads to worse tooth health than before. Healthline has a good summary of the cons, this is a meta-analysis of 118 studies showing no real benefits from using it, and there was a good study done at Creighton University on how it can damage your teeth.

πŸ₯© I'd describe most of my friends who eat meat as "conscious carnivores," a term I hadn't heard before this article. The article seems to suggest that's not possible (which I think is wrong), but it's a helpful distinction in the debate around eating meat.

The World of YouTube

πŸ“Ή There's a popular study making the rounds, showing that YouTube has a "de-radicalizing effect," contrary to the idea that YouTube is making people more radical. But the study is riddled with errors, to no-one's surprise, which Arvind Narayanan explains well in this Twitter thread.

πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ¨ Speaking of YouTube though, if you're picking up a new hobby in the New Year, starting a monetized YouTube channel about it is a great way to make your hobby tax deductable.

The World of Work

πŸ€Όβ€β™‚οΈ DHH and Austen Allred got into a back and forth related to the "how much should you work" question, and DHH somehow dug up this old post of Austen's about creating an army of twitter bots. The impressive part about it though is how good Austen's response is, he owns it and explains it very well. I hope their discussion still ends up happening.

🧠 Alex Maccaw from Clearbit recently published an article about his ideas around the "Zone of Genius" for what you and your team work on. I like it as a framework for selecting what you should do vs. find someone else to help you on. The main components of the Zone of Genius are:

  • "A strength is anything that gives you energy.
  • A talent is an innate ability that can’t be taught. For example, a love of numbers.
  • A skill is a competency that can be taught. For example, knowing Excel back to front."

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³ China is quickly overtaking the US in terms of GDP, but this article makes a good point that national wealth may be a more important measure than production alone. That's how we analyze the wealthiest people in the world, so it's worth considering for countries as well.

The World of Money

πŸ“š Morgan Housel from Collaborative Fund has a good heuristic for reading: lots of inputs and a strong filter. I struggle with this sometimes because I feel compelled to finish books so I can upload my notes on them, but it's something I've been working on. One way to modify it might be with aggressive skimming once you're not sure a book is going to be that good.

πŸ‘Ό There's one day left to give to charity for 2019, so if you're trying to find a good place to donate this guide from Slate Star Codex is a great place to start.

πŸ“ˆ This is an interesting idea: the new dot com bubble is in online advertising. The research in the article about the absurd spending on unnecessary ads at large companies is crazy, but I don't buy the premise that most social ads are a waste. The distinction between selection effects and advertising effects is important, though, and one that's very hard to test.

The World of College

πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“ The perceived importance of college is dropping extremely radically, according to this research published in Forbes. From the article:

When asked how important a college education is today, 41% of U.S. adults aged 18-29 say β€œvery important,” which is down a whopping 45% since 2013 when 74% said the same

πŸ‘Ž It's not surprising to see that confidence dropping though, considering this generation of graduates is one of the least working and least prepared groups for employment ever. I like the argument in the article: by encouraging kids to focus on silly games like extracurriculars and test scores, they're not doing summer jobs or side gigs anymore, making them less prepared to do real-world-work once they graduate.

And Just for Fun

πŸŽ’ Think "prepping" for disaster scenarios is silly? Think again. The math checks out heavily in favor of being prepared for some sort of major crisis, and there's even a good argument for "zombie outbreak preparedness."

πŸ• This remarkable doggo seems to know how to play Jenga on some level. I don't think the dog actually understands some of the higher level thinking involved in the game, but the motor skills alone are seriously impressive.

πŸ”« I've been really enjoying Call of Duty Mobile over the holiday. If you're playing, add me, my username is just "NatEliason"

End Note

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Have a great week, and see you next year!


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