Medley 218: Love, Jazz, Games, Work, Football, Spread, Flus, Decline, Freedom, Misjudgments, Soda, Time Machines...

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Happy Monday!

A few new things this week:

I published my notes on "Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profit" in The Brain. It's a good quick-read on some basic accounting dashboards and heuristics you can use for managing a business, especially one in the $1-$10 million per year range. Thanks Casey Ames for the recc.

I'm also doing a workshop on Wednesday on using SEO to sell online courses, based on what's worked well for the Roam course. Definitely check it out if you want to use SEO to sell any kind of digital product, similar to what I talk about in my passive income article.

The World of Love

😭 If you want to cry a little bit, this is the public love letter Amy Krouse Rosenthal published in the New York Times 10 days before she died: You May Want to Marry My Husband.

"I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet. So why I am doing this?"

👩‍❤️‍👨 And then if you want to cry a little more, read his follow up letter a year later. Her obituary is also very sweet and worth reading to complete the saga.

The cruelest irony of my life is that it took me losing my best friend, my wife of 26 years and the mother of my three children, to truly appreciate each and every day. I know that sounds like a cliché, and it is, but it’s true.

The World of Gaming

🤯 The gaming industry was already doing well before this year, but with everyone stuck in quarantine its grown to some insane new heights.

"Twitch, the most popular video game streaming platform, saw 1.49 billion gaming hours watched in April — a 50% increase since March."

"Fortnite has also grown to new heights: An in-game Travis Scott concert saw over 12 million concurrent views from players, and in April alone, players racked up a combined 3.2 billion hours in-game."

🏈 For reference, about 100 million people watch the Super Bowl and about 6 million people watch each NASCAR race. The Travis Scott concert had about the same viewership as The Bachelor.

👨‍💻 The question of course is how much this can continue post-pandemic. One good point made by Steve Rousseau is that gaming has, in some ways, replaced work during the pandemic.

"I play World of Warcraft not to escape the late-capitalism drive for productivity, but to recreate it, to prove to myself that even as my own industry crumbles, I can still Do Stuff."

👾 He also makes a good point about how nice it is to have "guiltless pleasures," which are less available while many of us are still quarantined to some extent:

“For how much you can invest in it, it’s nice to have something that you don’t really care about,” he says. “And that’s a weirdly comforting place to be, I will do this because I like it, and I’ll just put it down and I won’t think, ‘Ah man, I really should have played Counter-Strike for another hour today.’”

The World of the 'Rona

🇺🇸 Here's a somewhat depressing, albeit accurate, take on the US response to COVID: "Coronavirus Brings American Decline Out in the Open." (Thanks Medley reader Can for the suggestion).

"Countries such as Italy that are legendary for government dysfunction and were hit hard by the virus have crushed the curve of infection, while the U.S. just set a daily record for case growth and shows no sign of slowing down."

"Unless there’s a huge push to turn things around -- to bring back immigrants, sustain research universities, make housing cheaper, lower infrastructure costs, reform the police and restore competence to the civil service -- the result could be decades of stagnating or even declining living standards."

🎙 One conversation I had with a few friends yesterday was that the exceptionally strong sense of Democracy and individual freedom in America may be great 99% of the time, but it's awful when a situation truly requires some kind of benevolent dictator to fix it. And, yes, truly great leadership could overcome some of that barrier, but considering we have neither right now we're extra fucked.

🕵️‍♂️ But maybe it's not as bad as the media makes it feel. When we look at the excess death rates, not just the infection rates, it paints a very different picture of the areas being discussed as hotbeds right now (Texas, California, Florida).

Here's New York's excess death rate when it was at its peak (all pics are from the linked analysis):

Here's New Jersey's:

But here's where Florida is now, still below 2017-2018 flu levels:

And here's Texas, also still doing better than the flu in 2017-2018:

Could it get worse? Definitely. But if you're like me, living in one of these hotbeds wondering where all the bodies are, this is why. And considering how much better testing is now, we can't rely on the infection rate as the main risk signal the way we could back in March.

The World of Investing

🥤How can you turn $2 million into $2 trillion? This is a classic thought experiment from Charlie Munger reverse-engineering the success of Coca-Cola, using a number of simple concepts from psychology. It's not perfect since obviously he can just apply his concepts to whatever Coca-Cola did and create a giant narrative fallacy, but it explains how the psychological concepts apply to business very well and shows where a traditional business education goes wrong.

🧠 On that note, if you haven't read The Psychology of Human Misjudgments I strongly, strongly recommend it.

🏛 Assuming you don't have $2 million and Charlie Munger's brain, what are some other good means of wealth generation? Brandon Laughridge outlines here why buying a small business with an SBA loan might be a great path.

👩‍💼 And here's a great snippet on the challenges of hiring from an Invest Like the Best episode with Charlie Songhurst:

"And maybe if you're a great startup as you go from 10 people 100 people, output per person drops 15% on. If you're a bad start up, it actually drops over 90% with the result that often 100 people start ups produce the less than they did when they had 10 people."

The World of Remote Work

🏖 How many jobs can really be done from home? Researchers at the University of Chicago dug in and found the number was about 37% in the US.

⚖️ What's more interesting though is that higher income jobs tend to be more remote friendly, and remote-possible work accounts for 46% of all US wages.

🤷‍♂️ If we do see a sustained transition to remote work, this could mean a new kind of upper / lower class distinction: that between mobile & non-mobile labor. Though one interested effect of that is that mobile labor will be more globally competitive, so over time, you could be able to command a higher wage in high-skilled non-mobile work since you have a much narrower labor pool to compete again.

The World of Just for Fun

🎥 This is probably the coolest use of 3D cameras and VR I've seen. Someone built a real-life time machine for a year of his life by recording everything and turning it into a VR app.

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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