Medley 235: Mafias, Bubble to Bubble, Censorship, San Francisco, Win/Win Mortgages, Ferrari...

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Happy Monday!

Last week, I published a new video on "How to Live a Rich Life" based on my notes from The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson.

I was also on the Mind Meld podcast with Josh Gonsalves, talking about a wide range of stuff including a couple topics that haven't come up in podcasts before around "building a mafia" and content creation strategies.

Alright, on to the Medley

The World of Censorship

📧 This was a great read from Mike Solana on "Zen and the Art of Political Censorship" all about the New York Post Hunter Biden email fiasco from last week.

It has nothing to do with the contents of that story or whether or not any amount of it is true. It's more about what Facebook and Twitter's decision to immediately censor the story signals, and why we should be concerned about social media platforms getting into the censorship and truth-deciding game.

"By so publicly sending The New York Post’s story on to a “third party fact-checker,” Facebook re-wrote expectations of the platform. Andy Stone attempted to frame the move as standard, and pointed to Facebook’s rules concerning moderation of suspected misinformation. But the Post isn’t a Russian bot farm. It’s a two hundred-year-old legacy media company founded by Alexander Hamilton that may lean, obviously, to the political right, and that may be, yes, sort of trashy, but which nonetheless breaks real stories. Is Facebook fact-checking every story by every legacy media company? Twitter’s moderation policy — they don’t allow the distribution of any content obtained without authorization — seemed cleaner… until you thought about it for five or ten seconds and realized a moderation policy like that would basically end the institution of journalism as we know it. "

🗣️ And it brings back the question of free speech in the insanely connected world we now live in:

"This isn’t a new question. Do you think the Founding Fathers wrote free speech into the Constitution on a whim? No, a robust freedom of speech was the solution to a problem. To this problem."

🤷‍♂️ I'll repeat my usual take on this question, which is that I have no idea what the solution is. But if I had to choose between social media censoring nothing, and censoring based on political leanings (which Twitter and Facebook really can't deny at this point), I'd have to lean towards censoring nothing, even if that means letting crazies like Alex Jones spread their nonsense. Solana makes a very good point about how starting to take stances like this is going to put social media companies in an awkward position:

"How can Mark Zuckerberg possibly say no when Trump demands the next bombshell story about his administration from The New York Times be taken down until Facebook verifies the facts, which can’t be done unless the Times gives up their sources to some random 23-year-old in Menlo Park?"

📱 And it seems like consumers are already responding to some extent, with Parler becoming the #1 app in the app store right now and basically being "conservative Twitter."

We already have pretty bad echo chambers in existing social media. Splitting the country into two entirely different social environments will really silo thought.

🤔 The big question I have is whether this censorship will increase? Or will it feel less pressing internally at social media companies once Trump is out of office? I'm hoping it's the later and this whole Post debacle was just a short-sighted mistake to prevent another "Hillary's Emails" situation. Though it does feel like it kinda turned into a Streissand Effect with how much of a big deal was made about it.

The World of Bubbles

🏙️ Speaking of bubbles, I really enjoyed this article from Sahil Lavingia, the founder of Gumroad, on moving from San Francisco into the small town of Provo, and some of the surprises that came from it.

"They were envious of San Francisco’s racial diversity (while I complained about how much further we had to go). They lauded the focus on women in the workforce (while I talked about how sexist the tech industry was). They spoke ill of their reliance on cars and the negative effects on the environment, while I spoke ill of San Francisco’s public transportation."

🤐 One thing that stood out is the recurring idea that many of us care about the same problems, yet disagree on how best to solve them.

"I learned that we had similar views on a lot of stuff. We wanted the same problems solved. We both wanted to minimize climate change, lower inequality, and decrease healthcare costs."

Which is similar to something Brian Armstrong said in his "Coinbase is a mission focused company" announcement:

"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."

🙅‍♂️ It's a tough concept to keep in mind, but it's probably true most of the time. We all want the same things on some level, we just disagree about how to get them. Many of those positions aren't necessarily wrong, even though they're different and we might disagree with them.

The World of Homes

🏘️ This was a great history on the 30 year fixed rate mortgage, an incredible and somewhat baffling financial instrument that we're lucky enough (maybe?) to have access to in the US. As the article points out, these mortgages basically come with win/win free options baked into them.

"If rates go up, borrowers can commend themselves on a great bargain; if they go down, stay calm—the loan can be refinanced without penalty. Win/win."

🏦 It does kinda boggle my mind that banks can afford to make some of these loans. When Cosette and I bought the WaldenATX house, we were able to get it on a 30yr fixed rate mortgage at 2.75%. That's insane! I honestly don't understand how banks can do that.

3️⃣0️⃣ Another good related read on this that I shared back in Medley 199 is this piece on how "The 30 Year Mortgage is an Intrinsically Toxic Product." Byrne Hobart makes a good case in there that the whole 30 year mortgage system is broken and consumers should be somewhat wary of it falling apart again.

Just for Fun

💸👕 It turns out Ferrari makes a ton of money on merchandise. Not 66%, like the original tweet claims, but still quite a lot and it was interesting to follow this analysis.

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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Have a great week,
Nat

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