Medley 245: Space, Free Market, Vaccines, Cities, Colleges, Walking, Kettlebells...

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:

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Happy Monday!

I published two articles this week. First up, my 2021 Goals & Guidelines that I want to aim for and stick to this year. And then a shorter piece on a habit I'm trying to cultivate more of: intentional laptoping.

Also, my friend Anthony is hiring a Director of Growth Marketing for his company, Equip. This is a pretty neat role since you'd get to touch all parts of the growth and marketing for an already successful ecommerce business.

Alright, on to the Medley!

The World of Space Tech

๐Ÿค– I loved these thoughts on tech in the 2020s from Eli Dourado.

๐Ÿš€ One area that stood out was what SpaceX and Starship could mean for growing the space economy by dramatically bringing down the launch costs:

"The Space Shuttle entered service in 1981 and launched successfully 134 times. Each launch cost an inflation-adjusted $1.8 billion. The payload cost to low-Earth orbit (LEO) was $65,400/kg. Todayโ€™s workhorse launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, can send cargo to LEO for $2,600/kg. That is a staggering decrease in launch costs... Operating costs come down with a high flight rate, so Elon is figuring a $1.5-million fully burdened launch cost for 150 tons to LEO. That is $10/kg, more than 100 times cheaper than a Falcon 9 launch today."

๐Ÿคฏ Assuming Starship is as efficient as the estimate, that means in 50 years we'll have gone from $65,400/kg to $10/kg to launch stuff into space. That is WILD and really opens up the possibilities for space colonies, space businesses, space tourism, etc.

๐Ÿค” I'll be curious to see what kinds of structures and other things we build, too:

"Microgravity means that structures can be used that would collapse under their own weight on Earth. As a result, certain pharmaceuticals, fiber optics, semiconductor wafers, and nanotube materials can be manufactured in space that canโ€™t be made on our planet."

The World of Vaccines

๐Ÿ’‰ This is a neat perspective on vaccine access I hadn't thought about: maybe we should sell them to the highest bidder.

โš–๏ธ In the piece, Coltrane makes a good distinction, we're focused on vaccinating the people at highest risk to the disease, instead of vaccinating the people at highest risk of spreading the disease.

"A good vaccine policy might be to give it to those most likely to spread it to others, with the goal of swiftly reducing the prevalence of the disease. That argues for giving the vaccine in bars."

๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™‚๏ธ And in defense of allowing companies to initially charge more for the vaccine to sell it to anyone who wants it and can pay for it:

"... people should be out and about first who generate the most economic benefit from being out. And, therefore, are willing to pay the most to get the vaccine... If it goes to the highest bidder, then the highest value activities, that benefit most from reduction in social distancing, come back faster. I don't know what those are, but pretty much by definition, the economy recovers faster. That brings back jobs a lot faster than stimulus checks. Heck tax it and transfer the money to people who choose to stay home."

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ”ฌ The Moderna vaccine was ready after one weekend of development, and then we spent almost a year testing it instead of selling it on the free market for anyone who wanted to roll those dice while continuing to iterate on the vaccine design. We lost a year of potentially rapidly iterating on the vaccine, which would have absolutely produced an even safer version of what we have now, because we don't give people the medical freedom to take risks with what they put in their body.

๐Ÿ‘ต Another interesting point, for some of the people getting the vaccine, we may as well have just started trying it out on them a year ago:

"How many 90 year olds were in the clinical trials? Zero. There weren't enough 75 year olds in the trials to get confidence intervals between 0 and 100%. And they put the 90 year olds first. How many 90 year olds will get complications? How many will die from complications? Nobody knows because they have never tried it on a 90 year old. Until now. They are unleashing a vaccine completely untested on the most frail vulnerable population."

The World of City Building

๐Ÿก Strongtowns has some interesting reads on how to build towns and cities that are not only more resilient, but make us happier.

๐Ÿš™ One thing they point out which I intuitively knew but didn't understand the extent of was just how bad commuting by car seems to be for us:

"People who walk, bike, or take some form of mass transit to work weigh less, live longer, and have lower divorce rates than commuters who drive. They also have lower rates of depression, more free time, and a more robust social life."

โ™ป๏ธ And how quickly you can get positive feedback loops from having more, or less, pedestrian activity:

"Having a critical mass of pedestrians signals that a neighborhood is safe and interesting, which, in turn, draws more people into that area. This creates a positive feedback loop; with people and opportunities nearby, it becomes increasingly attractive for businesses and residents to move in."

๐Ÿซ One thing they point out is how cities should be designed more like college campuses, which are "designed at human scale."

"... colleges are built to facilitate face-to-face human interaction and an integrated lifestyle. In essence, they are 15-minute neighborhoods owned by a single entity... Meanwhile, most American cities are built to facilitate efficient commercial exchanges and a compartmentalized lifestyle. The latter might be more convenient, but the former make for greater happiness in the long run."

๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™‚๏ธ And they give a simple framework you can use to slowly improve a town or city over the long term.

  1. Identify where people in the neighborhood struggle going about their daily routine.
  2. Identify the next smallest thing that can be done today to address that struggle.
  3. Do that thing. Do it right away.
  4. Repeat the process.

The World of Exercise

๐Ÿ‹๏ธโ€โ™‚๏ธ If you're on the elder side and need some motivation to lift weights, this ad featuring an old man and his kettlebell is beautiful.

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.

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

Did You Enjoy This?

Then consider joining the 30,000 other people getting the Monday Medley newsletter. It's a collection of fascinating finds from my week, usually about psychology, technology, health, philosophy, and whatever else catches my interest. I also include new articles and book notes.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.