Free, Cities, and Selfish

12/10 - What's Next

Hey there! Hope you have a great week 😇

Let me know if I can be particularly helpful with anything, enjoy the content!


Articles to Read.

Who is J.D. Power, and what do his associates do?

How James David Power III created the only car ranking company you’ve ever heard of.

So J.D. Power and Associates began with Power and his wife mailing out surveys and tabulating the results at their kitchen table. It wasn’t until 1973 that they gained national attention for their work. When looking at the surveys, Julie found that one-fifth of the rotary engines on a Mazda R100 were failing somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 miles. The survey concluded that the engine’s failure was due to bad O-ring gaskets. Even if you’re not sure what all of this means, it’s easy to see how this information — sputtering engines, faulty parts — was sensational enough to make the Wall Street Journal front page, which it did.

The Irresistible Urge to Build Cities From Scratch

Master-planned cities are all the rage in the developing world. Reality may get in the way of their ambitions.

Here’s a taste of what’s going on, and it’s by no means comprehensive. In Lagos, Nigeria—the most populous city in Africa—developers have dredged the Atlantic Ocean to create an island called Eko Atlantic, which they envision as a Manhattan-style financial hub for the continent. Forest City, a $100 billion luxury development with room for 700,000 people, has sprouted in Malaysia. Ghana has Hope City (future home of the tallest building in Africa), and Rwanda is promoting Vision City (free Wi-Fi and solar-powered streetlights are sketched into the plans).

Perhaps the boldest of these utopias is taking shape on an expansive, khaki-colored field of dust between the Nile and the Red Sea in Egypt. In the past couple of years, Cairo has become the world’s fastest-growing megacity, which is bad news for Cairenes, because their metropolis was already mortally overcrowded. Among urban planners, an aspirational rule of thumb says you should allow about 16 square meters (53 square feet) of green space for every person. In Cairo, each person gets about 0.3 meters.

What Do Our Oldest Books Say About Us?

Our current relationship to the written word could not be more different. We remain in the age of mechanical reproduction, the name famously given by the theorist Walter Benjamin to the way that works are replicated via photography, the printing press, and film. In his 1936 essay on the subject, Benjamin wrote, “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.”

Tomorrow’s Advance Man - Marc Andreessen’s plan to win the future. (long read)

In “Why Software Is Eating the World,” a widely invoked 2011 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Andreessen put the most optimistic spin on Silicon Valley’s tendencies. The article proclaimed that tech companies are consuming vast swaths of the economy, from books and movies to financial services to agriculture to national defense—which Andreessen saw as the healthful scavenging of a carrion way of life. On Twitter, he pursued the theme: “Posit a world in which all material needs are provided free, by robots and material synthesizers. . . . Imagine six, or 10, billion people doing nothing but arts and sciences, culture and exploring and learning. What a world that would be,” particularly as “technological progress is precisely what makes a strong, rigorous social safety net affordable.”

Selfish Writing

Writing is the ultimate test of whether your thoughts make sense or are merely gut feelings. Feelings about why something is the way it is don’t need to be questioned or analyzed in your head because they feel good and you don’t want to rock the boat. Putting thoughts onto paper forces them into an unforgiving reality where you have to look at the words as the same symbols another reader will see them as, unaided by the silent crutch of gut feelings. It’s hard to overstate how important this is in an industry where distinguishing what’s true from what you want to be true determines a big part of success.

Most investors I know are voracious readers. They want more than just new information. They want a different perspective, or a new way of thinking about a topic they’re already familiar with. That’s what the best writers provide.

America Probably Has Enough Parking Spaces for Multiple Black Fridays

Even the biggest shopping day of the year can’t fill up the enormous oversupply of parking lots that ring U.S. shopping centers.

Is post-Thanksgiving shopping mayhem a fading American holiday tradition? This year, even as overall spending increased between Thanksgiving and Black Friday, foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores reportedly fell by as much as 9 percent compared to 2017.

The United States has as many as two billion parking spots for about 250 million cars, a ratio that many planners and economists describe as overbuilt. “The area of parking per car in the United States is thus larger than the area of housing per human,” writes Donald Shoup, the UCLA transportation scholar and founding father of parking economics, in the introduction to his most recent tome, Parking and the City. He estimates that 14 percent of incorporated land in Los Angeles County is devoted to parking, as is nearly 5 percent of urban area in the Upper Great Lakes region, the book states. The total area of paved lots in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin is roughly equivalent to half the area of Rhode Island.

Future Shock in the Countryside

Earth’s rural areas are being transformed by climate change and technology.

As temperatures rise in countries of temperature complacency, infrastructure will begin to deteriorate. Electricity demands will cause brownouts, extinguishing the lights and the sight of eclipsed cities from the air. But it will also bring fans to a halt. The very young, the infirm, and the very old will die first, as they did in the European heat waves. In a rural setting, the story told from above will be one of absences: herds of animals missing from traditional migration routes and villages lying eerily still and silent.

More to Check Out: 
- Visualizing US Poverty Rates
- Tide Detergent Will Now Come in a Box
How much is enough?
Can Judging Be Automated?
Bill Gates’ Perspective on the Silicon Valley TV Show


Kudos (to people in the community).

  • My friend Noah just launched Glimpse - a newsletter that helps you discover exploding trends before they take off. Really awesome.

  • My friend Johnathan launched a podcast…check it out!!

  • My other friend Noah has been live blogging from the ’18 UN Climate Change Conference, COP24 Katowice.


My Update.

  • 1.5 more weeks until the end of the semester. Time is flying, just have to get through finals.

  • In a few weeks, I’ll be headed to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bruges, Brussels, Budapest, New Delhi, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, and Hong Kong. Let me know if you have recommendations!

Thanks so much for reading! Find me on twitter : )

Games, Morality, and Houses

12/3 - What's Next

Hey there 👋 Lots of interesting content this week…hope you enjoy!


Articles to Read.

The Leaning Tower of Morality

There’s an image that’s taken root in my mind recently that I can’t seem to shake. I picture humanity living in a large, rickety tower, tilting at a precarious angle to the ground — like so:

The tower represents our capacity for moral behavior. Lower levels are more base; higher levels, more virtuous.

Most of what we’ve discussed today pertains to our innate sense of goodness, our moral instincts. To the extent that morality is a learned behavior, all bets are off.⁵ But there’s a good case to be made that at least some of our moral intuitions come prewired (in the form of tendencies, at any rate), so the question of how they arose remains extremely relevant. And as far as I can tell, the answer seems to be individual selection rather than group selection.

A “Post-Verbal” World

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 4.08.17 PM

I was walking with a friend recently, and we were discussing the limitations of language, especially in trying to explain complex concepts like philosophy, a deep experience, or a new idea.

In short, on the topic of language, what we were discussing was just how clumsy verbal or written communication is in spreading what exists in one head into another — that, instead of transmutation of a concept or idea, like how a cold might spread, communicating an idea or viewpoint through language is actually quite difficult and oftentimes impossible. The conversation took an even more interesting and philosophical turn when we zeroed in on just what a world would look like if information, wisdom, and concepts could be fully and instantly articulated from one person to another.

Said another way, this could be as transformational of a leap for our species comparable to what we saw as we went from non-verbal to verbal. What verbal communication did for the cavemen, the tribe, the community — post-verbal communication would do for the now connected human race.

How to Game the App Store

I’ve been pestering Apple for years publicly and privately about the manipulation and outright scams going on in the App Store.

So, here are some of the top ways to game the App Store…Find a keyword that drives a decent amount of organic search traffic. Obvious ones are keywords like “weather”, “calculator”, “solitaire”, etc, but those keywords are so competitive, and the rest of the tactics so powerful, you could get away with 2nd tier keyword targets. Now go to App Store Connect and name your app that exact keyword. “Weather” is already taken, and Apple doesn’t allow duplicate app names, so you’ll need to add a symbol. Let’s go with “Weather ◌”. Here’s the thing, the App Store search algorithm gives a massive boost for an exact match to what the user searched, and the algorithm ignores symbols, so “Weather ◌” will get a huge search advantage, which will help to drive organic instals of the app.

How Zapier Reached $35M ARR With This SaaS SEO Strategy

Like other middleware SaaS, Zapier faced the challenge of having an “invisible” product. Their app didn’t perform customer facing actions but instead formed connections behind the scenes to unlock new functionality and value from existing apps.

Rather than trying to pitch users on the value of integrating tools, Zapier realized early on that people were already looking for specific integrations. To capture this existing intent, Zapier decided to make the app partners in their integration ecosystem the stars of their marketing and piggyback on their success.

They did this by creating three tiers of landing pages for every app in their ecosystem.

Airbnb Will Start Designing Houses

Today, Samara is announcing a new initiative called Backyard, “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes,” according to a press statement, with the first wave of test units going public in 2019.

“Backyard investigates how buildings could utilize sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and gains vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time,” Gebbia says. “Backyard isn’t a house, it’s an initiative to rethink the home. Homes are complex, and we’re taking a broad approach–not just designing one thing, but a system that can do many things.”

How Walmart is trying to reinvent in-store shopping to win Black Friday

Amazon pulls in only about 40 percent of Walmart’s more than $500 billion in annual sales. But CEO Jeff Bezos’ willingness and proficiency at moving into new markets has every retailer from Walmart to CVS to Kroger looking at solutions to better modernize their businesses in the likely event Amazon continues to grow and expand. Walmart, in particular, has partnered with a number of technology companies to improve its delivery network. It’s also started working closely with Microsoft in a substantial multi-year cloud computing deal with Microsoft’s Azure platform in order to improve its online backend, as well as the many custom software elements that help it run its stores, warehouses, and data centers.

The Problem with Cashless Restaurants

Opening and maintaining small-business checking accounts can be a costly practice. A Chase business checking account, for instance, requires a $12 monthly fee in some circumstances — and that’s on top of a transaction fee of 40 cents for every transaction that exceeds 100 transactions in a given month. Cash’s restaurant has an ATM available, but he said he absorbs about half of those ATM fees on behalf of his customers. He added that dropping electronic payments has allowed him to lower prices so his menu is more affordable.

According to a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company, 6.5% of all U.S. households — comprising an astounding 14.1 million adults and 6.4 million children — are unbanked, meaning they do not have a savings or checking account. What’s more, a 2015 study by the Urban Institute found that 360,000 households in New York City alone are unbanked, and another 780,000 are underbanked, which means they do have a checking or savings accounts but still rely on alternative finance services like taking out a loan.

More to Check Out: 
- Ethiopia Taking Control of Water
China Rules
- Political Reality of Buying Ads
- Outrage Over Human Gene Editing Will Fade Fast
A Business with No End


Kudos (to people in the community).

  • Zach Latta and Hackclub are crushing it.

  • PlayVS is growing really fast!

  • Hit reply to this email and let me know what you are up to! Curious how things are going 😇


My Update.

  • Only a few more weeks this semester in St. Louis. Gearing up for a big trip over Winter Break.

  • Maas, Darshil, and I launched Founder Rewind - got #1 on Product Hunt for that day!

  • Updated the theme of my personal blog. Let me know what you think.

Thanks so much for reading! Find me on twitter : )

Money, Lying, and Youth Sports

11/26 - What's Next

Hey - Happy Monday! Hope you enjoyed your weekend 😇

As a reminder, drop your info here (by 12/1) and we’ll introduce you to 2/3 highly ambitious people.

Please do share with friends if you think they will be a good fit!


Articles to Read.

The internet's history has just begun

As the chart shows, this started to change in the 1990s, at least in some parts of the world: By the year 2000 almost half of the population in the US was accessing information through the internet. But across most of the world the internet had not yet had much influence – 93% in the East Asia and Pacific region and 99% in South Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa were still offline in 2000. At the time of the Dot-com-crash less than 7% of the world was online.

15 years later, in 2016, three-quarters (76%) of people in the US were online and during these years countries from many parts of the world caught up: in Malaysia 79% used the internet; in Spain and Singapore 81%; in France 86%; in South Korea and Japan 93%; in Denmark and Norway 97%; and Iceland tops the ranking with 98% of the population online.

‘Nothing on this page is real’: How lies become truth in online America

“BREAKING,” he wrote, pecking out each letter with his index fingers as he considered the possibilities. Maybe he would announce that Hillary Clinton had died during a secret overseas mission to smuggle more refugees into America. Maybe he would award President Trump the Nobel Peace Prize for his courage in denying climate change.

“Nothing on this page is real,” read one of the 14 disclaimers on Blair’s site, and yet in the America of 2018 his stories had become real, reinforcing people’s biases, spreading onto Macedonian and Russian fake news sites, amassing an audience of as many 6 million visitors each month who thought his posts were factual. What Blair had first conceived of as an elaborate joke was beginning to reveal something darker. “No matter how racist, how bigoted, how offensive, how obviously fake we get, people keep coming back,” Blair once wrote, on his own personal Facebook page.

American Meritocracy Is Killing Youth Sports

The winning team celebrates at the Little League World Series.

Expensive travel leagues siphon off talented young athletes from well-off families—and leave everyone else behind.

You could follow the money. Kids’ sports is a nearly $17 billion industry, which makes it larger than the business of professional baseball and approximately the same size as the National Football League. Or you could follow the kids. The share of children ages 6 to 12 who play a team sport on a regular basis declined from 41.5 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2017, according to a recent report from the Aspen Institute. Going back to 2008, participation is lower across categories, including baseball, basketball, flag football, and soccer, in some cases by a lot: Baseball is down about 20 percent.

How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit (an incredible guide)

For founders, achieving product/market fit is an obsession from day one. It’s both the hefty hurdle we’re racing to clear and the festering fear keeping us up at night, worried that we’ll never make it. But when it comes to understanding what product/market fit really is and how to get there, most of us quickly realize that there isn’t a battle-tested approach.

The product/market fit definitions I had found were vivid and compelling, but they were lagging indicators — by the time investment bankers are staking out your house, you already have product/market fit. Instead, Ellis had found a leading indicator: just ask users “how would you feel if you could no longer use the product?” and measure the percent who answer “very disappointed.”

Next Stop, Uberland: The Onrushing Algorithmic Future of Work

It didn’t. A recent study by the ride-sharing trade publisher Ridester suggests half of all Uber drivers make less than $10 an hour, while BuzzFeed examined leaked Uber data and found that, after expenses, the average Uber driver in the U.S. takes home $10.87 an hour. It seems a full-time Uber driver can easily earn a poverty wage. And in Rosenblat’s telling, the rates only go down as Uber becomes more established and more drivers flood the streets, trapping drivers who take out subprime car loans at usurious rates to drive for Uber in a state of near-indentured servitude. One driver that stuck out to me in Uberland was Raul, a New York City Uber driver who had to boost his shifts from 8 to 9 hours to 12 to 14 in the face of falling rates. Rosenblat, who maintains a sometimes-unnerving cool while narrating tales of outrageous exploitation, writes: “The autonomy to choose which fourteen of the twenty-four hours in a day to work doesn’t create the sense of freedom implied by ‘flexibility’ rhetoric” of Uber.

Why is art so expensive?

The $63 billion, “winner-take-all” global art market, explained.

According to a joint report by UBS and Art Basel released in March, the global art market saw $63.7 billion in total sales last year. But that doesn’t mean that most artists see even a small fraction of that money, since the highest-value sales usually involve one wealthy collector putting a highly sought-after work up for auction.

To understand why a few artists are rich and famous, first you need to realize that most of them aren’t and will never be. To break into the art market, an artist first has to find a gallery to represent them, which is harder than it sounds. Some gallerists also look outside the art school crowd, presumably to diversify their representation, since MFAs don’t come cheap. (In 2014, tuitions at the 10 most influential MFA programs cost an average $38,000 per year, meaning a student would have to spend around $100,000 to complete their degree.) That said, the art world remains far from diverse. A 2014 study by the artists collective BFAMFAPhD found that 77.6 percent of artists who actually make a living by selling art are white, as are 80 percent of all art school graduates.

Stories From the Neopets Economy

Neopets is a website about, well, Neopets, which are cute animals you can own as pets. The main currency of Neopets is Neopoints, abbreviated NP. You earn NP from playing Flash games, getting lucky from random events, and playing the market.

Since new UC pets are impossible to create, there’s a fixed supply, and where there’s a fixed supply, there’s speculators. Owning a UC pet is a big deal. Some genuinely prefer the old art, whereas others simply treat them as a valuable bargaining chip in the pet trading market.

More to Check Out: 
The Art of Making You Feel Small
- FB and Snapchat are linked to depression
- Customers Buy Out Doughnut Shop So Owner Can Tend To Sick Wife
- Blockchain elections would be a disaster for society
- Idea Dump


Kudos (to people in the community).

  • Maas, Darshil, Gavin, and I launched 2 products this past week:

    Create A Signature and Final Grade Calculator

  • Thankful for all of the friends and mentors who read this newsletter every week. Really appreciate it!! Please do let me know what you are up to and how I can be helpful :)


My Update.

  • Looking to meet ambitious people? Trying to find projects to work on? As I mentioned, we’re pairing up the best people we know (from across the world) to spark conversations and new ideas. Drop your info here :) Share with any driven friends!

  • Spent the past week in Arizona and celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. Really enjoyed being home. Back to STL now!

  • Passed 1000 daily blog posts in a row.

  • Just Focus now has over 1200 installs. Check it out!

Thanks so much for reading! Find me on twitter : )

Improvement, Burgers, and Science

11/19 - What's Next

Hey there 👋 Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

This week, I have a really interesting opportunity for you…

My friend Ben and I are pairing the most ambitious people we know (anywhere in the world) as a way to spark new ideas and projects.

Drop your info here (by 12/1) and we’ll introduce you to 2/3 incredible people. This is going to be awesome, seriously an amazing opportunity.


Articles to Read.

How This All Happened (really an amazingly clear perspective)

This is a short story about what happened to the U.S. economy since the end of World War II.

If you fell asleep in 1945 and woke up in 2018 you would not recognize the world around you. The amount of growth that took place during that period is virtually unprecedented. If you learned that there have been no nuclear attacks since 1945, you’d be shocked. If you saw the level of wealth in New York and San Francisco, you’d be shocked. If you compared it to the poverty of Detroit, you’d be shocked. If you saw the price of homes, college tuition, and health care, you’d be shocked. Our politics would blow your mind. And if you tried to think of a reasonable narrative of how it all happened, my guess is you’d be totally wrong. Because it isn’t intuitive, and it wasn’t foreseeable 73 years ago.

I Found the Best Burger Place in America. And Then I Killed It.

After eating 330 burgers during a 30-city search, I was naming Stanich’s cheeseburger the best burger in America. That same day, we filmed a short video to announce my pick.

Five months later, in a story in The Oregonian, restaurant critic Michael Russell detailed how Stanich’s had been forced to shut down. In the article, Steve Stanich called my burger award a curse, “the worst thing that’s ever happened to us.”

Science Is Getting Less Bang for Its Buck

Despite vast increases in the time and money spent on research, progress is barely keeping pace with the past. What went wrong?

In fact, just three discoveries made since 1990 have been awarded Nobel Prizes.

The truth is, there is nothing—there is nothing—of the same order of magnitude as the accomplishments of the invention of quantum mechanics or of the double helix or of relativity. Just nothing like that has happened in the last few decades.

Improving Ourselves to Death

In our current era of non-stop technological innovation, fuzzy wishful thinking has yielded to the hard doctrine of personal optimization. Self-help gurus need not be charlatans peddling snake oil. Many are psychologists with impressive academic pedigrees and a commitment to scientific methodologies, or tech entrepreneurs with enviable records of success in life and business. What they’re selling is metrics. It’s no longer enough to imagine our way to a better state of body or mind. We must now chart our progress, count our steps, log our sleep rhythms, tweak our diets, record our negative thoughts—then analyze the data, recalibrate, and repeat.

The desire to achieve and to demonstrate perfection is not simply stressful; it can also be fatal, according to the British journalist Will Storr. His forthcoming book, “Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us” (Overlook), opens, alarmingly, with a chapter on suicide. Storr is disturbed by the prevalence of suicide in the United States and Britain, and blames the horror and shame of failing to meet the sky-high expectations we set for ourselves. He cites surveys that show that adolescent girls are increasingly unhappy with their bodies, and that a growing number of men are suffering from muscle dysmorphia; he interviews psychologists and professors who describe an epidemic of crippling anxiety among university students yoked to the phenomenon of “perfectionist presentation”—the tendency, especially on social media, to make life look like a string of enviable triumphs. Storr confesses that he, too, is dogged by self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. “We’re living in an age of perfectionism, and perfection is the idea that kills,” he writes. “People are suffering and dying under the torture of the fantasy self they’re failing to become.”

Own the Demand

Every layer here between you and Google represents some control they give up over the end-user experience and relinquish to the owner of that layer: Firefox for the browser, Apple for the OS and computer, Comcast for the ISP, etc… That’s one big reason why Google gets into the business of building OSes (Android, Chrome OS), computers (Chromebooks), browsers (Chrome) and even took a stab at taking over your Internet access (Google Fiber, Google Fi).

All these giants are keenly aware that they’re building their castle on somebody else’s yard; and they’re afraid that the floor may drop out from under them. You can find one recent justification for this fear in Apple’s last release of iOS and MacOS, which significantly curtails the ability of online advertisers to track your online whereabouts. That’s Facebook’s bread and butter we’re talking about! Other famous examples are Facebook basically killing Zynga in 2012; or Twitter a bunch of 3rd party clients.

In short, if somebody successfully inserts themselves between you and your customer, they can exercise tremendous control over you, including taking a big chunk of your profits or outright killing you.

Smarter cities: How private markets are reshaping the urban landscape

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the United States a "D+" in its most recent Infrastructure Report Card, warning, "Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future." In a 2016 economic study, the ASCE estimated that the dilapidated state of the nation's roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure will result in $3.9 trillion in losses to economic output, $7 trillion in lost business sales and 2.5 million lost jobs by 2025.

Much of that infrastructure was built in the middle of the 20th century when the nation's population was smaller and more widely dispersed. In 1960, there were roughly 181 million US residents, according to Census Bureau data, versus 309 million in 2010. Then, around 70% of the population lived in urban cores. By 2010, almost 81% did.

No Innovation Without Representation

Getting more technical expertise in D.C. will take years, but there are several actionable ways we can begin bridging the gap between Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley.

More to Check Out: 
Figure Out Who’s On Your Team
- The Constitution of Knowledge
Blockchain archipelagos
- At Netflix, Who Wins When It’s Hollywood vs. the Algorithm?
- How New Apple Maps Works


Kudos (to people in the community).


My Update.

  • Looking to meet ambitious people? Trying to find projects to work on? As I mentioned, we’re pairing up the best people we know (from across the world) to spark conversations and new ideas. Drop your info here :) Share with any driven friends!

  • Duke was awesome last week. In Arizona now for Thanksgiving Break. Good to be back.

  • A few friends and I launched Magnet - a dead-simple way to automatically collect your email’s responses in a google sheet.

  • Let me know how I can be helpful in anyway whatsoever.

Thanks so much for reading! Find me on twitter : )

Chef, Miracle, and Pranks

11/12 - What's Next

Hey 👋 Hope you have a great Monday.

Enjoy the content!


Articles to Read.

So You Wanna Be a Chef - By Bourdain

I am frequently asked by aspiring chefs, dreamers young and old, attracted by the lure of slowly melting shallots and caramelizing pork belly, or delusions of Food Network stardom, if they should go to culinary school. I usually give a long, thoughtful, and qualified answer.

But the short answer is “no.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you that culinary school is a bad thing. It surely is not. I’m saying that you, reading this, right now, would probably be ill-advised to attend—and are, in all likelihood, unsuited for The Life in any case. Particularly if you’re any kind of normal.

You’re about to take on $40,000 to $60,000 in debt training for an industry where—if you are lucky—you will, for the first few years, be making $10 to $12 dollars an hour.

The Estonian Economic Miracle

It was cold in Estonia in January 1992. The end of communism had created real chaos in the country. Shops were completely empty, and the Russian ruble no longer had any value. Industrial production declined in 1992 by more than 30 percent--more than during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Real wages fell by 45 percent, while overall price inflation was running at more than 1,000 percent and fuel prices had risen by more than 10,000 percent.

Radical reforms in the 15 years since 1992 have changed Estonia beyond recognition from its com­munist days. It is sometimes hard for us to remember how this country looked under the old system.

As a result of this amazing transformation, Esto­nia has experienced the fastest economic growth in Europe during the past few years. Since the start of Estonia's reforms, economic growth has averaged 6 percent per year. Growth was nearly 11 percent in 2005 and nearly 12 percent in the first half of 2006. As a result of this formidable growth, Estonia is catching up to the average European living stan­dard faster than anybody expected.

Mystery solved behind the viral photo of Justin Bieber eating a burrito sideways... Gotcha!..

My Life Cleanse: One Month Inside L.A.'s Cult of Betterness

Rosecrans Baldwin had lived in Los Angeles for nearly four years before he realized he was missing out on something essential to life in the Southland. People all around him were trumpeting new self-improvement projects with cultish devotion: at boutique juice bars, at hallucinogenic ceremonies, at mysterious wellness retreats. So, in an effort to get in on the woo-woo, he tried everything he could for one month. And wound up in darker depths than he ever imagined.

I took a walk with a "complexity coach" who treated patients while hiking. I did an afternoon spell session with a witch. I attended a Gnostic Mass in a strip mall.

Randazza: Damn right we should get rid of birthright citizenship

American citizenship is one of the most coveted statuses that mankind has ever invented. A majority of the 7 billion people on this planet would gladly swap their passport for a nice blue one with a gold eagle on its cover. And how do you get it? For the most part, you get it by being born in the right place or to the right parents.

We should have a “point system” for how much citizenship you get, with completely open borders. This country is built on freedom and competition, right? Let’s inject competition into the citizenship market! We would each earn between 0-100 citizenship points. 50 points, you’re a citizen. At 75 points, you get Bronze Citizenship, 85 points you get Silver Citizenship, and at 95 points you get Gold Citizenship. Anyone who hits 100 points even, gets Super Eagle Citizenship.

The Chinese Farmer Who Live-Streamed Her Life and Made a Fortune

Three years ago, Liu Mama was an unremarkable middle-aged farmer from the Dongbei region, in northeastern China. Then she started presenting her life on the social-media platform Kuaishou. Liu Mama’s son-in-law, who would later assume the role of her trusty cameraman, introduced her to the live-streaming craze, and they decided to try it out, for laughs. The first videos, each less than a minute long, show Liu, short and squat, black hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, dressed in a red mian ao (a cotton-padded jacket)—the archetype of the good farmer’s housewife—sitting at the kitchen table. She’s chewing on pork ribs and fish heads while composing crude rhymes about the glories of rural life. 

A few years after this humble start, Liu Mama has fourteen million followers on the Kuaishou platform and reportedly earns a million yuan (about a hundred and forty thousand dollars) per month through her Kuaishou account.

Consulting Firms Keep Lucrative Saudi Alliance, Shaping Crown Prince’s Vision

Even before Prince Mohammed rose up the royal hierarchy, McKinsey and BCG nurtured ties to him. BCG’s top Middle East executive, Joerg Hildebrandt, cultivated a relationship with Prince Mohammed in recent years, according to two consultants who have worked in the region. Mr. Hildebrandt, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

In February 2016, consultants for McKinsey and BCG escorted five emissaries from the Saudi royal court to make the rounds of think tanks in Washington. They informed Gulf experts about Mohammed bin Salman’s grand goals to remake Saudi life while the consultants, who outnumbered the Saudis, quietly took notes.

More to Check Out: 
The World Isn’t as Bad as Your Wired Brain Tells You
- Heat Death: Venture Capital in the 1980s
- The Odd (and Oddly Sweet) World of Obsessive Pornhub Commenters
- The Calm Place
How Mark Zuckerberg Became Too Big to Fail


Kudos (to people in the community).

  • Alex Hinch, from Wanderjaunt, shared a progress update on the future of what he and his team are building - the future of hospitality.

  • I published an interview I did with Sar Haribhakti - a very interesting take across a wide diversity of topics…all revolving around independent thinking and startups. I think you will really enjoy it.


My Update.

  • Writing this from Duke! Has been an awesome weekend visiting my brother and seeing friends. Back to St. Louis for the week and then Arizona this coming weekend for Thanksgiving!

  • A few friends and I launched Just Focus - a dead-simple chrome extension for blocking distracting websites and getting work done.

  • Hosted a “discussion group” this past week and learned lots of new things. Will continue to do in the future.

  • Let me know how I can be helpful!

Thanks so much for reading! Find me on twitter : )

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