Medley 213: Sugar, Violence, Charities, Blood, Cruises, Weight, TikTok, Magic, Education...

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Happy Monday!

Nothing new this week, so let's dive straight into the Medley.

The World of Sponsorship

๐Ÿ“† This week's Medley is brought to you by Woven! If you checked out Woven a few months ago and didn't stick with it, this is a great time to give it another go. They've added native Zoom support so you can launch your meetings much easier, and they've improved their event tagging system too so you can effortlessly see how your time is going to different kinds of work.

The World of Protests in the US

๐ŸŽ™ The extent of the protesting, rallies, and calls to action to reform policing in the US has been nothing short of incredible the last two weeks. If you haven't watched John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" special on it, it's fantastic, I highly recommend it.

๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™‚๏ธ There was also a great Twitter thread on how to reduce police violence. It turns out body cams and implicit bias training do basically nothing. But demilitarization, stricter laws, and better union contracts among other things can all help a lot.

๐Ÿ•Š I also collected some resources on good charities you can donate to if you want to support everything going on right now. Unfortunately, not all charities are that effective with their dollars, so looking into how you can make sure your contributions go as far as possible is always worthwhile.

๐ŸŽ‰ And through the end of last week, by donating proceeds from the Roam course, we managed to raise $12,682.50 for the ACLU and NAACP! This was really exciting to see and I'm glad we were able to raise this money together.

The World of COVID-19

๐Ÿšข If you need a perfect example of how quickly life is going back to normal, cruise ship bookings are up 600% for August now that Carnival has said they'll start serving again. They're even up compared to last year:

"Last week Carnival announced that some of its cruises could resume in August. Since that announcement, the Cruise Planners representative says, Carnival bookings shot up 600% compared to the previous three days before news of August Carnival trips were announced. However, whatโ€™s really surprising is that Cruise Planners says that August 2020 bookings are up 200% over August 2019 bookings."

๐Ÿค’ That all sounds really bad, but it kinda makes sense for us to adjust some of our sense of worry as we learn more about what actually puts you at risk for having an adverse reaction. According to Nina Teicholz, metabolic disease is seeming more and more like the main culprit:

Americans with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related diseases are about three times more likely to suffer worsened outcomes from Covid-19, including death.

๐Ÿฉธ There's also some growing evidence that COVID-19 might be a blood vessel disease, which opens up the door for other treatment options like statins and ACE inhibitors:

What do [COVID-19] symptoms have in common? An impairment in blood circulation. Add in the fact that 40% of deaths from Covid-19 are related to cardiovascular complications, and the disease starts to look like a vascular infection instead of a purely respiratory one.

๐Ÿ“‰ Some of this growing research about how to mitigate the transmission and severity of the disease, plus our understanding of how businesses are responding, might be driving the rapid recovery in the market as well. Lyall Taylor explains that it's this movement from an "Unknown Unknown to a Known Unknown" that drives the market recovery, and how we're unlikely to see such a severe reaction to future similar events:

The problem is that the next event that causes a 40% market crash will not be a pandemic. The next time there is a pandemic (unless it's materially more virulent and deadly), markets might only fall 10-15% because investors will know the playbook and so it won't be as scary. It will be something else that cause investors to believe 'life as we know it has changed'.

The World of Work

๐Ÿ— I liked this framing of how really smart companies focus as much on building a distribution system as they do on building their products. It applies to the TikTok discussion below, but it also applies to what we're seeing a lot of solo influencers do to build businesses around their reputation. From the article:

"1. Build a product so good that customers will use you over an incumbent. Build a large userbase on the back of this first product.

2. Be aggressive versus complacent about customer growth early.

3. Realize your customer channels are a primary asset of the company. Build new products or buy companies and push them down your sales channel.

4. Realize that your company will not be able to build everything itself. Buy more companies and push them down the channel."

๐Ÿ›‘ But building requires having enough freedom to pursue the ideas and companies you want to work on, which is where there are serious issues in certain industries that are now wildly overpriced (college, medicine). Adam Thierer calls this out in his piece on the "precautionary principle."

We can choose to set innovation defaults closer to the green light of โ€œpermissionless innovation,โ€ generally allowing entrepreneurial acts unless a compelling case can be made not to. Alternatively, we can set our default closer to the red light of the precautionary principle, which disallows risk-taking or entrepreneurialism until some authority gives us permission to proceed.

The World of Health

๐Ÿค” Here's an interesting take on weight loss: are there actually any studies showing successful weight loss? The author, Rachel, calls out all the issues with the studies we do have, and makes a compelling case for how sparse the info is and how much of it relies on theorycrafting.

๐Ÿ’ก One area where I'm somewhat optimistic we can see some real progress is in giving people better data about how their body is responding to the food they eat. I purchased a continuous glucose monitor through Levels, and I'll be tracking my blood glucose for the next month to see how different things affect my blood sugar. It's a little device that attaches to your arm and syncs with your phone that you have to replace every two weeks. Here's Tahoe inspecting it:

And here's what the dashboard looks like. That spike at the end is from drinking a La Croix, I think:

It's a little expensive, but if you want to try it yourself, you can sign up with this link to skip the waitlist. They aren't paying me or giving me any referral credit, I just think what they're doing is cool.

The World of TikTok

๐Ÿคฏ I've been so impressed by TikTok, both as a user and as an observer. So I really enjoyed this long read about it and its parent company, ByteDance. Two stats that blew me away, they had 1 billion DAUs in October last year, and 34% of US users shoot content daily.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ They're also getting massive. They plan to have 100,000 employees by the end of the year, which is double the number of employees Facebook had at the end of 2019. I have heard many of these employees are moderators to make sure they stay compliant with China's censorship laws, but still.

๐Ÿ˜ฒ TikTok definitely still has a reputation of being some combination of silly dances and thirst traps, but there's a lot of impressive other areas of content. You can learn to make better ramen, see some impressive visual effects or stop motion animation, find out why horseshoe crabs are valuable, hear great up & coming musicians, and see great magic tricks.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿซ TikTok has also said they plan to invest heavily in their education tools and education team, so I suspect it'll only get more useful and more popular as a way to learn things in the next few years.

End Note

As always, if you're enjoying the Medley, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you're enjoying it.

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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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