Medley 214: Cops, Elites, CEOs, Ideas, Hotels, Robots, Texas, Mortgages, Conspiracies...

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!

First up, I published a new article last week on "Improving Idea Flow". It's about how to try to have better ideas and form more educated opinions while having limited time to put towards reading and learning.

And I'm doing a live podcast / webinar with Chris Sparks of The Forcing Function later this week on "Jumping Headfirst into Unfamiliar Domains." It should be pretty different from most of the interviews I do since we'll be mostly talking about stuff I'm bad at vs. topics like SEO that I usually cover.

The World of Sponsorship

📆 This week's Medley is brought to you by Woven! If you haven't checked it out yet, one of my favorite things about it is how they managed to create a better scheduling tool than Calendly, that natively integrates with iMessage, and all for free. Highly recommend it if you want to get more control of your time, especially if you often need to schedule calls or meetings.

The World of Cops

🤔 I asked on Twitter over the weekend: why aren't there more calls to confront the police officers in our lives? Defunding the police to some extent might help, but it won't fix the issue of cops allowing other cops to break the law with no consequences. So how do we change police culture to crack down harder on internal corruption?

🤭 I thought about that after reading this great post: Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop. This line in particular:

This is why “All cops are bastards.” Even your uncle, even your cousin, even your mom, even your brother, even your best friend, even your spouse, even me. Because even if they wouldn’t Do The Thing themselves, they will almost never rat out another officer who Does The Thing, much less stop it from happening.

👮‍♂️ I don't agree with everything in the post (especially the spurious connections between the police state and Capitalism), but it makes a lot of good points about what will and will not work for fixing the overly militarized, questionably necessary, legally immune police force we find ourselves with.

🐺 Also worth reading is the book excerpt referenced in the article: "On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs" by Dave Grossman, the "killologist" featured in John Oliver's segment I shared last week. It makes some good points about our somewhat contradictory denial of the risk of violence:

"[Sheep] can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school."

That's actually fairly compelling. It's hard to ignore that schools, movie theaters, and churches, all common mass-shooting locations, are also typically unguarded. But then it has lines like this:

"...warriors have been given the gift of aggression. They would no more misuse this gift than a doctor would misuse his healing arts, but they yearn for the opportunity to use their gift to help others. These people, the ones who have been blessed with the gift of aggression and a love for others, are our sheepdogs. These are our warriors."

😬 Telling police officers they are "blessed with the gift of aggression" which they "yearn for the opportunity to use" seems like a great way to increase police violence, especially when this guy is such a prominent speaker to police academies around the country.

🕵️‍♂️ I've been seeing some really rapid progress being made around anti-racism for coastal Whites, but I haven't seen much progress around affecting Police behavior and attitudes. Considering that's where a lot of the racially charged violence is coming from, how do we focus on that demographic in a way that will bring about lasting change?

🔫 And just as an added bonus, here's a good video from the weekend of a pretty tense situation being diffused by someone knowing their rights.

The World of The Elites

👑 Thanks to David Perell for sharing this great article on "Intra-Elite Competition" with me. It's a great framework for how to think about power dynamics and how the increasing competition for fewer and fewer spots as an "elite" create the rise of "counter-elites."

"Intra-elite competition, thus, has a nonlinear effect on social function: moderate levels are good, excessive levels are bad. What are the social forces leading to excessive competition?... it is the excessive expansion of elite aspirant numbers (or “elite overproduction”) that drives up intra-elite competition."

💵 And on that topic, who are the elites exactly? In this related piece, Peter Turchin explains how different countries bestow elitism in different ways. In the US, you're one of the "elite" if you have a net worth of at least 5-10 million dollars.

The World of Technology

🤖 One thing that COVID-19 might turn out to have been good for is accelerating our adoption of autonomous technologies like delivery robots. We don't have any of these in Austin yet, but I'll be really curious to try them out when they get here.

💬 And Preston Byrne makes a good point about how apolitical technologies like Bitcoin may help ease the political burden being placed on technologies today. My only issue with it is that as much as I like the idea of unregulated online speech, the best example we have of it, Gab, is full of all the worst people imaginable. That could just be because they're the only haven, though.

The World of Finance

📉 Mortgage rates are insanely low, some of the lowest in history, so should you refinance your house? I really enjoyed this piece that touches on both the psychology and the finances behind making the decision, and Cosette and I ultimately decided to refinance our mortgage to a 15yr fixed since the total amount saved is pretty insane. Would the returns be higher if we instead put the extra monthly payments into index funds? Most likely. But are you really 100% sure you'll put that extra amount into an index fund every month for 30 years? I'm not.

🏦 And if you want to learn a bit about how one of the most successful CEOs of a major bank in the world thinks, this profile on "Inside the Mind of Jamie Dimon" has some great takeaways for leadership and effectiveness in any industry. A few choice quotations:

"At his Syracuse commencement speech in 2010 he told students, “The first step to dealing with mistakes is to actually acknowledge them.” Two years later JPMorgan suffered trading losses in excess of US$6 billion as a portfolio put together by a trader known as the London Whale unwound. Dimon went on to call it “the stupidest and most embarrassing situation I have ever been a part of”. His letter that year listed two pages worth of lessons he pulled from the episode."

“Bureaucracy is a disease. Bureaucracy drives out good people, slows down decision making, kills innovation and is often the petri dish of bad politics. Large organizations, in fact all organizations, should be thought of as always slowing down and getting more bureaucratic. Therefore, leaders must continually drive for speed and accuracy to eliminate waste and kill bureaucracy. When you get in great shape, you don’t stop exercising.”

“You need people who will argue and fight but at one point, say, we’re going to take the hill. Some debates are chicken or steak. It becomes time to eat.”

The World of COVID-19

⚖️ There has been a lot of talk about the reaction to COVID-19 being overblown, but there's some decent evidence that it might not have been. First off, there are apparently 10s of thousands of missing deaths that aren't being counted in the official numbers. And the conspiracy theory that hospitals are inflating their numbers to get government checks (being spread by Joe Rogan nonetheless) has little evidence to back it up.

🌵 In Texas, we're seeing a big surge in cases, coincidentally two weeks after Memorial Day Weekend when everyone was out and about. It would be one thing if it were just the number of cases increasing, but the hospitalization rate is at a new all-time-high as well. We might have to do a round-2 modified quarantine if this keeps up.

🏨 But just like the cruise ship bookings are massively up for the end of the Summer, Airbnb is seeing new records for bookings. One theory I've seen is that more people are going to use Airbnb vs. hotels since Airbnbs are more socially distant and easier to disinfect on your own if you're paranoid.

End Note

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Have a great week,

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