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:
I've got a new video out this week on why you shouldn't try to read 100 books per year. This one was a lot of fun to make, and I think my filming / editing is slowly getting better.
Alright, on to the Medley!
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🧐 I was fascinated by this article on the "Overlooked Variable that's Key to the Pandemic."
In it, Zeynep Tufekci lays out why the variable "k", a measure of whether the virus spreads steadily or in bursts, may be more important than the more commonly referenced R0, which measures average contagiousness.
What Tufekci points out, is:
"the average is not that useful a number to understand the distribution of wealth in that bar, or how to change it. Sometimes, the mean is not the message... if the bar has a person infected with COVID-19, and if it is also poorly ventilated and loud, causing people to speak loudly at close range, almost everyone in the room could potentially be infected—a pattern that’s been observed many times since the pandemic begin, and that is similarly not captured by R. That’s where the dispersion comes in."
"A growing number of studies estimate that a majority of infected people may not infect a single other person... A recent paper found that in Hong Kong, which had extensive testing and contact tracing, about 19 percent of cases were responsible for 80 percent of transmission, while 69 percent of cases did not infect another person."
This has some interesting consequences for contact tracing:
"Consider an infected person and their 20 forward contacts—people they met since they got infected. Let’s say we test 10 of them with a cheap, rapid test and get our results back in an hour or two. This isn’t a great way to determine exactly who is sick out of that 10, because our test will miss some positives, but that’s fine for our purposes. If everyone is negative, we can act as if nobody is infected, because the test is pretty good at finding negatives. However, the moment we find a few transmissions, we know we may have a super-spreader event, and we can tell all 20 people to assume they are positive and to self-isolate—if there are one or two transmissions, there are likely more, exactly because of the clustering behavior."
😷 And it also means that a few simple precautions can likely prevent significant increases in COVID cases: preventing gatherings of large numbers of people in crowded, poorly ventilated places, without masks on.
🛑 Reading this article, I'm curious to see what would happen if we just closed indoor bars, concerts, and a few other crowded gatherings, and let people who were in open air do whatever they want. Obviously it's tough to run that kind of experiment and you'd have to track infections closely, but it might be a good option for moving back towards normalcy.
📔 I really enjoyed this short piece on "Plus Minus Next" journaling from Anne-Laure Le Cunff. Journaling is something I've really struggled to stick with in any capacity, and the lightweight aspect of this style, while still being useful, is very appealing.
☀️ The only other journaling style that has worked well for me is Morning Pages, which I do in my Roam database. Even this I struggle to stay consistent on, though.
👓 Someone sent me this piece about "debunking the blue light glasses claims," which suggests that blue light blocking lenses don't actually do anything for eye strain or damage during the day. My interest in blue light blocking is primarily for sleep so I don't really consider them "debunked," but I have actually heard that you really can't "hurt" your eyes by looking at screens during the day from a couple ophthalmologists.
📱 That said, anyone who has used blue light filtering lenses during the day can pretty often attest to getting fewer headaches from being in front of a screen, so even if there isn't a strong research paper to support it, I feel like it's better to go with your experience.
🪙 I loved Brian Armstrong's piece on why "Coinbase is a Mission Focused Company," and despite the apparent "controversy" around it, didn't see that many people legitimately upset by it.
What really stood out as a great point to me is this sentiment:
"We have people with many different backgrounds and viewpoints at Coinbase, and even if we all agree that something is a problem, we may not agree on how to actually go solve it. "
In a large company, it's impossible to have everyone aligned on how to address different social issues. And while you can enforce alignment on how to address product issues, it's not the job of a company to enforce certain political philosophies. You can't try to be all things to all people. He also makes a strong point here:
"I believe most employees don’t want to work in these divisive environments. They want to work on a winning team that is united and making progress toward an important mission. They want to be respected at work, have a welcoming environment where they can contribute, and have growth opportunities. They want the workplace to be a refuge from the division that is increasingly present in the world."
💰 There are plenty of ways companies can support social change without having to alienate employees or create a divisive work environment. One thing we did at Growth Machine earlier this year was give everyone a $200 bonus through Zestful that they could only use for donating to charities. And we let people allocate any of their unused monthly food & beverage stipend to charity as well.
✈️ This was a fascinating read on how much airlines depend on their Frequent Flier programs to stay alive. One line that really stood out to me:
"The Financial Times pegs the value of Delta’s loyalty program at a whopping $26 billion, American Airlines at $24 billion, and United at $20 billion. All of these valuations are comfortably above the market capitalization of the airlines themselves — Delta is worth $19 billion, American $6 billion, and United $10 billion. In other words, if you take away the loyalty program, Delta’s real-world airline operation — with hundreds of planes, a world-beating maintenance operation, landing rights, brand recognition, and experienced executives — is worth roughly negative $7 billion. "
😵 That's wild! The airline is worth a negative amount without its frequent flier program by this analysis.
👫 To any young men reading this who think you can't be both successful and in a committed relationship in your 20s, that's bullshit. It's a common limiting belief, though, and one to seriously analyze how you can work out of your system.
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Have a great week,