Medley 206: Laws, Masks, Parachutes, Morts, Schools, Beaches, Flowers, Meat...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

I added two new videos to the Roam Course this week, one on accessing secret features with the context menu, and another on privately encrypting your Roam data for extra security.

Aside from that, not much else new this week, so on to the Medley!

The World of Sponsorship

🥩 This week's Medley is brought to you by White Oak Pastures! I'm really excited to have them as a sponsor because they're a completely regenerative farm, meaning any meat, candles, leather, anything you buy from them is pulling carbon out of the atmosphere instead of contributing to pollution. They're animal products you can feel good about eating and using. Check them out if your fridge or freezer is running low and you want some incredibly high-quality meat that's good for the environment.

The World of Weed

It is 4/20 after all, so how could I not do a section on weed?

🕵️‍♂️ First, if you want to read a really interesting history of marijuana and US Politics, Smoke Signals is fantastic. Did you know you used to be able to order Hasheesh candy from the Gunjah Wallah company in the Sears-Roebuck catalog after the civil war? Here's an old advertisement for it (credit):

🐻 California was actually one of the first states to outlaw weed, prohibiting it in 1913, over 20 years before the Marihuana Tax Act that made it nationally illegal.

😡 A lot of weed prohibition stemmed from Harry Anslinger, who leveraged racism towards Mexicans and African Americans to help him keep his job. This is from Smoke Signals:

Anslinger didn’t pay much attention to cannabis until 1934, when the Federal Burean of Narcotics [which he led] was floundering. Tax revenues plummeted during the Great Depression, the bureau’s budget got slashed, and Harry’s entire department was on the chopping block. Then he saw the light and realized that marijuana just might be the perfect hook to hang his hat on. A savvy operator and an extremely ambitious man, he set out to convince Congress and the American public that a terrible new drug menace was threatening the country, one that required immediate action by a well-funded Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

"To gain public support for his crusade, Anslinger depicted marijuana as a sinister substance that made Mexican and African American men lust after white women. One of the worst things about marijuana, according to the FBN chief, was that it promoted sexual contact across color lines."

👏 The whole history is pretty wild and worth reading. I'm just glad we're finally starting to pull some of those prohibitions back, especially around weed and psychedelics.

The World of Sleep

😴 I asked for sleep mask recommendations on Twitter this week. I got a ton of referrals to the Manta, which is definitely the ultra-luxe, most heavily marketed mask I've seen. But I also got recommended this much cheaper 3 pack, and I gotta say, the cheaper ones are better. The Manta is just too bulky to be comfortable to sleep in on my side.

🤔 I've also been noticing needing less sleep since quarantine started, has anyone else? The only thing that's significantly changed is that I'm cooking much, much more. I wonder if the reduced exposure to vegetable oils and poor ingredients is making my sleep more efficient? I'm curious if anyone else is experiencing anything similar.

The World of Science

🪂 Here's a fun satirical research paper: "Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials." Basically, there are no randomized controlled trials demonstrating that parachutes are necessary when jumping out of planes, so we can't truly say we know they help. Obviously that's absurd, but it highlights the issue with how we test medicine right now, and how we discount "common sense" as an acceptable reason for using a treatment.

🚬 This is a lesser known concept I find particularly interesting: A "micromort" is a 1 in a million chance of death, and a way of comparing risk and harm across different activities. For example, 2/3 of a bottle of wine is 1 micromort, and so is smoking 1.5 cigarettes. So drinking 2 glasses of wine, and smoking 1 cigarette, do about the same amount of harm to you. Or you could eat 100 charcoal grilled steaks. I think the third one sounds the best. More in a Twitter thread here.

The World of CARES

🎓 Colleges with massive endowments are getting CARES relief, while small businesses don't. It's pretty insane to see some of these numbers. Harvard, with its 41 billion endowment, took $9M. It could have used 0.02% of its endowment, likely less than the hourly fluctuations in its value, instead of taking that money.

🤦‍♀️ I'm generally against government bailouts, but if you're going to do them, do them in a way that makes sense. The CARES act funding, especially PPP, has been terrible. The smallest businesses that have the least runway haven't gotten money, while larger companies that can afford to ride this out are getting that money instead.

⚖️ From what I've read, it sounds like this was largely a coordination problem. Banks had an insane number of applications, so they just sorted by the amount requested and worked down the list. It takes the same amount of work to process a $10M loan as a $10K loan, but they get way more in fees on the $10M loan, so of course they're going to start there.

😔 I don't think any of my friends who run their own businesses received PPP funding, so it's really frustrating to see who that money was going to instead.

The World of COVID-19

🏖 If you want to know what it might look like when quarantine ends, just check out Jacksonville beach re-opening and immediately getting flooded with people. I hope we're smarter than this... but I don't know anymore.

📈 Peter Attia shared a good graph about this problem in reality vs. perception, originally from George Dinwiddie:

🌵 The crazy Texas protests are a good sign we're in that purple zone right now. It feels like we "overreacted" because things aren't so bad now (outside of NYC anyway), but it's only because of the overreactions that we feel that way.

🤷‍♂️ That said, it does feel like something needs to be done to start getting us back to normal soon though. Continuing the shelter in place with no clear plan for re-entry is getting harder by the week. Otherwise, we might get this graph, based on the one Dinwiddie originally shared:

🌹 One thing we still don't know, and that I think is going to drive the economy down to new lows once we start to be exposed to it, is just how bad the damage is going to be to businesses that try to go back to "business as usual." We're seeing massive supply chains get severely disrupted, and it's always much faster to break something than to build it. The flower industry for example is $8.5 billion dollars and it's collapsing. What happens in a few months when people start doing weddings and such again, will they still be able to get the flowers they want?

🤒 And it probably won't be as simple as saying "okay, you can all go outside now!" People were self-isolating before the stay at home orders, so what will actually bring everyone back out of their houses? I don't see a world where we go back to normal without widespread testing for the infection and the antibodies.

End Note

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And should you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.

Have a great week,
Nat

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