Life is short

9/16 - What's Next

Hey there! Hope you have a great week.

Enjoy the newsletter.

Articles to Read.

Life is short

Life is short, as everyone knows. When I was a kid I used to wonder about this. Is life actually short, or are we really complaining about its finiteness? Would we be just as likely to feel life was short if we lived 10 times as long?

Since there didn't seem any way to answer this question, I stopped wondering about it. Then I had kids. That gave me a way to answer the question, and the answer is that life actually is short.

Having kids showed me how to convert a continuous quantity, time, into discrete quantities. You only get 52 weekends with your 2 year old. If Christmas-as-magic lasts from say ages 3 to 10, you only get to watch your child experience it 8 times. And while it's impossible to say what is a lot or a little of a continuous quantity like time, 8 is not a lot of something. If you had a handful of 8 peanuts, or a shelf of 8 books to choose from, the quantity would definitely seem limited, no matter what your lifespan was.

When I ask myself what I've found life is too short for, the word that pops into my head is "bullshit." I realize that answer is somewhat tautological. It's almost the definition of bullshit that it's the stuff that life is too short for. And yet bullshit does have a distinctive character. There's something fake about it. It's the junk food of experience. 

If you ask yourself what you spend your time on that's bullshit, you probably already know the answer. Unnecessary meetings, pointless disputes, bureaucracy, posturing, dealing with other people's mistakes, traffic jams, addictive but unrewarding pastimes.

As well as avoiding bullshit, one should actively seek out things that matter. But different things matter to different people, and most have to learn what matters to them. A few are lucky and realize early on that they love math or taking care of animals or writing, and then figure out a way to spend a lot of time doing it. But most people start out with a life that's a mix of things that matter and things that don't, and only gradually learn to distinguish between them.

One heuristic for distinguishing stuff that matters is to ask yourself whether you'll care about it in the future. Fake stuff that matters usually has a sharp peak of seeming to matter. That's how it tricks you. The area under the curve is small, but its shape jabs into your consciousness like a pin.

Relentlessly prune bullshit, don't wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That's what you do when life is short.

Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas

Empirically, the way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things. Want to dominate microcomputer software? Start by writing a Basic interpreter for a machine with a few thousand users. Want to make the universal web site? Start by building a site for Harvard undergrads to stalk one another.

Empirically, it's not just for other people that you need to start small. You need to for your own sake. Neither Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg knew at first how big their companies were going to get. All they knew was that they were onto something. Maybe it's a bad idea to have really big ambitions initially, because the bigger your ambition, the longer it's going to take, and the further you project into the future, the more likely you'll get it wrong.

I think the way to use these big ideas is not to try to identify a precise point in the future and then ask yourself how to get from here to there, like the popular image of a visionary. You'll be better off if you operate like Columbus and just head in a general westerly direction. Don't try to construct the future like a building, because your current blueprint is almost certainly mistaken. Start with something you know works, and when you expand, expand westward.

The popular image of the visionary is someone with a clear view of the future, but empirically it may be better to have a blurry one.

The Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat aren't healthier.

Fast-food restaurants across the country are embracing a meat-free mentality nowadays, with several big brands adding meatless sandwiches to their menus.

The challenge here is that these offerings aren’t actually any healthier. The Impossible Whopper, for instance, not only has comparable caloric and fat levels as its meat-based counterpart, but it has more salt per serving; the Del Taco options are comparable. The Impossible Slider has more calories, more fat and more sodium than the meaty original (before you add cheese to either).

Inside Faire, The Platform Where Artisans Go Corporate

Faire has made buying easier for retailers like Holly Addi, who runs Arte Haus Collectif, a contemporary art gallery and boutique in Salt Lake City. She started shopping on Faire nearly two years ago, largely as a way to spend less time and money attending trade shows. Arte Haus Collectif has purchased roughly $20,000 in wares from Faire to date, including candles, aprons, scarves, bath salts, and jewelry. The business has also returned purchases — most recently, an entire batch of unsold sunglasses — within 60 days of ordering them. In each instance, Faire reimbursed Addi for the unsold items, which she has used to purchase other goods from makers on the platform.

The Three Levels Of Listening

Level 1: The focus is on me. When you listen at level 1 you are listening with the intent to respond.

Level 2 focuses on the other person. Level 2 is when you listen for what someone is saying beneath their words.

Level 3 focus on the energy. When you listen at level 3 you’re getting a feel for what’s happening and using all your senses. Level 3 draws upon the energy of more than just the words. It uses body language, tone of voice, noticing what’s going on and just feeling the room. Listening to the bigger picture in addition to the words.

Level 1 focuses on you and the voices in your head. Level 2 focuses on the other person and understanding. Level 3 focuses on the energy and using all your senses.

The Rise of the Electric Scooter


I want to tackle a more fundamental question: are electric scooters the future of transportation?

To be honest with you I'm still bitter about the whole Segway debacle. There was so much hype back in the day. That ridiculous thing was supposed to change the world. Instead, we got … Paul Blart Mall Cop.

A Segway was $5,000 at launch in 2001, which is a whopping $7,248 in inflation adjusted dollars. Here in 2019, cheap $200 to $300 electric scooters are basically the transformational technology the Segway was supposed to be, aren't they? Are electric scooters the future of (most) transportation? I'm not sure, but I do like where we're headed, even if it took us twenty years to get there.

I Quit Social Media for a Year and Nothing Magical Happened

I made a resolution in September of 2018 that I would quit social media indefinitely. This seemed to be a good decision because of the literal hundreds of articles detailing gains from the benign better interpersonal relationships to the fantastical I founded a multimillion dollar startup. The truth is somewhere in between, but doesn’t make for good clickbait-fodder.

More to Check Out: 
- Inside Kickstarter’s Year of Turmoil
Let Children Get Bored Again
How will we know when a recession is coming?
Debunking the Silly “Passive is a Bubble” Myth
- MoviePass will shut down for good on Sept. 14

My Update.

  • Working, growing, and hiring (among other roles, our first designer!).

  • Read through some of my old essays (3 years of archives).

  • What is the best thing you’ve read lately? Hit reply and send it to me.

No adults in the room

9/9 - What's Next

Hey, happy Monday!

This is one of my favorite newsletters in a while. Take 10 minutes and read the whole thing…hope you have an amazing week.

Articles to Read.

How to do what you love

To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We've got it down to four words: "Do what you love." But it's not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.

The very idea is foreign to what most of us learn as kids. When I was a kid, it seemed as if work and fun were opposites by definition. Life had two states: some of the time adults were making you do things, and that was called work; the rest of the time you could do what you wanted, and that was called playing. Occasionally the things adults made you do were fun, just as, occasionally, playing wasn't—for example, if you fell and hurt yourself. But except for these few anomalous cases, work was pretty much defined as not-fun.

The world then was divided into two groups, grownups and kids. Grownups, like some kind of cursed race, had to work. Kids didn't, but they did have to go to school, which was a dilute version of work meant to prepare us for the real thing. Much as we disliked school, the grownups all agreed that grownup work was worse, and that we had it easy.

By high school, the prospect of an actual job was on the horizon. Adults would sometimes come to speak to us about their work, or we would go to see them at work. It was always understood that they enjoyed what they did. In retrospect I think one may have: the private jet pilot. But I don't think the bank manager really did.

The main reason they all acted as if they enjoyed their work was presumably the upper-middle class convention that you're supposed to. It would not merely be bad for your career to say that you despised your job, but a social faux-pas.

Why is it conventional to pretend to like what you do? The first sentence of this essay explains that. If you have to like something to do it well, then the most successful people will all like what they do. That's where the upper-middle class tradition comes from. Just as houses all over America are full of chairs that are, without the owners even knowing it, nth-degree imitations of chairs designed 250 years ago for French kings, conventional attitudes about work are, without the owners even knowing it, nth-degree imitations of the attitudes of people who've done great things.

There are no adults in the room

One of the most shocking things I learned when I started working in a professional capacity is that there are no adults in the room.

Rather, it is to say that no one knows everything and everyone is doing the best they can. (Well, most people, and it’s good to assume positive intent.)

If you go into a company expecting to be handed work on a platter and to have someone know exactly what is going on, the way that, say, a college professor knows how to teach physics 101, you are going to be disappointed.

What Is a Tech Company?

The term “technology” is an old one, far older than Silicon Valley. It means anything that helps us produce things more efficiently, and it is what drives human progress. In that respect, all successful companies, at least in a free market, are tech companies: they do something more efficiently than anyone else, on whatever product vector matters to their customers.

Sustaining technologies make existing firms better, but it doesn’t change the competitive landscape.

Disruptive technologies, though, make something possible that wasn’t previously, or at a price point that wasn’t viable. This is where Peloton earns the “tech company” label from me: compared to spin classes at a dedicated gym, Peloton is cheap, and it scales far better. Sure, looking at a screen isn’t as good as being in the same room with an instructor and other cyclists, but it is massively more convenient and opens the market to a completely new customer base. Moreover, it scales in a way a gym never could: classes are held once and available forever on-demand; the company has not only digitized space but also time, thanks to technology. This is a tech company.

How U.S. Banks Took Over the World

A decade after fueling a crisis that nearly brought down the global financial system, America’s banks are ruling it. They earned 62% of global investment-banking fees last year, up from 53% in 2011, according to Coalition, an industry data provider. Europe’s banks are smaller, less profitable and beating a hasty retreat from Wall Street.

How Do Influencers Make Money?

In 2018, the industry of “influencing” was valued at $1 billion, and it’s projected to balloon to $10 billion in 2020. But who are these people and how exactly do they make money?

Almost Everything About Goodreads Is Broken

Goodreads, the largest literary social media network, should be a good gathering place for readers. It is one of the only online communities for people who like to read books, but the service’s apparent monopoly seems to have stopped it from innovating, based on complaints from users and, well, basic observation. As a result, readers don’t have a good, central online community where they can discuss favorite novels or dish about exciting new releases; authors and publishers don’t have a reliable, trustworthy way to promote their books and interact with fans; book clubs and literary publications don’t have a good way to use the site to gain members and foster discussions.

The Surprising History of American College Dorms

Hotels have received plenty of architectural attention, but unless you’re Howard Hughes or Coco Chanel you probably haven’t spent four years living in them.

The dormitory is an interesting space, intrinsically transient but often designed to serve as a social aggregator, edifying home environment and cocoon from baleful influences, once loose morals and religious nonconformists, lately Halloween costumes and Republicans.

The first unusual thing about American dormitories is simply how widespread they are. You don’t actually need to house students on-site: this happens for a very small minority of students in secondary and boarding schools, and a minority in graduate education. Living on campus is not remotely as common in a number of other societies, and wasn’t the standard even in some European societies that provided inspiration to American universities. A prime task is to explain “why Americans have believed for so long that college students should live in purpose-built structures that we now take for granted: dormitories. This was never inevitable, nor was it even necessary.”

More to Check Out: 
The Mysterious Vaping Illness That’s ‘Becoming an Epidemic’
- A town for people with chronic-fatigue syndrome
- Kids and their toys from around the world
- Marc Andreessen’s plan to win the future.
- The 2020s Will Begin With The Lowest Interest Rates In 5000 Years

My Update.

  • More working and learning and focusing. So much ahead.

  • Re-read my 2017 and 2016 year in reviews…time flies!

  • I’ll double down on my note from last week…I know that many of you absolutely hate your job…you dislike the content or find no value or are not learning very fast. I want to help. I really believe in you! Email me

Secret to happiness

9/2 - What's Next

Hey there, happy Monday!

Lots of interesting content this week. Hope you enjoy!

Articles to Read.

The Surfer’s Secret to Happiness

Watching the surfers, I noticed that the time they spent standing on their boards, riding waves — doing what nonsurfers would call surfing — was minimal compared with the time they spent bobbing around in the water next to the board, generally going nowhere. Even the really good surfers spend far more time off the board than on it.

If you added up the seconds that a good surfer actually spent riding the waves, it would amount to only the smallest fraction of an entire life. Yet surfers are surfers all the time. They are surfers while they are working their crap jobs, daydreaming about surfing. They are surfers when they wake up at 4 in the morning. They are surfers when they walk the board down the hill to Bondi Beach. They are surfers when they drink their predawn espressos. They are surfers when they paddle out on their boards. They are surfers when they wait and wait for the right wave. They are surfers when they wipe out, thrashing around blindly in the waves, praying the board doesn’t crack their skulls. They are surfers when they sit by their trucks with their friends after surfing, silently eating their grain-bowl meals.

And the thing about surfers? They don’t seem to regret all that time they don’t spend standing on boards and riding waves. Not only are they surfers all the time, they are, it seems to me, happy all the time.

What You'll Wish You'd Known

I'll start by telling you something you don't have to know in high school: what you want to do with your life. People are always asking you this, so you think you're supposed to have an answer. But adults ask this mainly as a conversation starter. They want to know what sort of person you are, and this question is just to get you talking. They ask it the way you might poke a hermit crab in a tide pool, to see what it does.

If I were back in high school and someone asked about my plans, I'd say that my first priority was to learn what the options were. You don't need to be in a rush to choose your life's work. What you need to do is discover what you like. You have to work on stuff you like if you want to be good at what you do.

The only real difference between adults and high school kids is that adults realize they need to get things done, and high school kids don't. That realization hits most people around 23. But I'm letting you in on the secret early. So get to work. Maybe you can be the first generation whose greatest regret from high school isn't how much time you wasted.

A helpful guide to reading better

Reading the words is the easy part. You were taught how to do this in elementary school. But just because you read the words doesn’t mean you read well. Ideally, the way you read is tailored to whether you’re reading for entertainment, information, or understanding.

Knowing how to read is only half the battle. Too much of what we consume these days is the mental equivalent of junk food. Quality matters more than quantity.

Whatever you do, don’t read what everyone else is reading. Rather than read new books, focus on old ones.

Why TJ Maxx has been able to thrive without costly e-commerce investments

TJ Maxx continues to post consistent same-store sales growth even as it has invested little in e-commerce, thanks to what analysts say is a unique in-store experience that competitors have found difficult replicating both in-store and online.

There are a couple of reasons why it’s more difficult for an off-price retailer like TJ Maxx — which is able to sell goods at a discount by selling excess or unwanted inventory obtained from other brands and retailers — to drive more online sales. Namely, its inventory varies more on a store-by-store basis compared to other retailers, who might carry the same private label items or new products from major brands across all stores.

Second, it doesn’t hold inventory for as long as department stores or big-box retailers, who might buy enough product from a brand to ensure that it has enough to last for an entire season. That makes it more difficult for an off-price retailer to create content online promoting certain products, because they may sell out of it more quickly.

How China Uses LinkedIn to Recruit Spies Abroad

One former senior foreign policy official in the Obama administration received messages from someone on LinkedIn offering to fly him to China and connect him with “well paid” opportunities.

“Instead of dispatching spies to the U.S. to recruit a single target, it’s more efficient to sit behind a computer in China and send out friend requests to thousands of targets using fake profiles.”

What Happens When You Don’t Pay a Hospital Bill

Companies can try to collect on medical debt virtually forever. Although old debt is easier to escape in court, little prevents debt collectors from trying to collect on it. “Debt never dies.”

Generally, hospitals seeking to get bills paid place accounts in a “waterfall” of collection attempts, Antico told me. At first, hospitals, or the collections agencies they hire, will approach debtors with a “soft” collection: Did you misplace your bill? Maybe you qualify for charity care. “But then if people aren’t responding, it will get more stressful,” Antico said.

Eventually, collectors might opt to sue you, in which case they might be able to garnish your wages or put a lien on your property.

What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane

The mystery surrounding MH370 has been a focus of continued investigation and a source of sometimes feverish public speculation. The loss devastated families on four continents. The idea that a sophisticated machine, with its modern instruments and redundant communications, could simply vanish seems beyond the realm of possibility. It is hard to permanently delete an email, and living off the grid is nearly unachievable even when the attempt is deliberate. A Boeing 777 is meant to be electronically accessible at all times. The disappearance of the airplane has provoked a host of theories. Many are preposterous. All are given life by the fact that, in this age, commercial airplanes don’t just vanish.

in truth, a lot can now be known with certainty about the fate of MH370. First, the disappearance was an intentional act. It is inconceivable that the known flight path, accompanied by radio and electronic silence, was caused by any combination of system failure and human error. Computer glitch, control-system collapse, squall lines, ice, lightning strike, bird strike, meteorite, volcanic ash, mechanical failure, sensor failure, instrument failure, radio failure, electrical failure, fire, smoke, explosive decompression, cargo explosion, pilot confusion, medical emergency, bomb, war, or act of God—none of these can explain the flight path.

More to Check Out: 
- Inside Foot Locker’s bananas plan to survive in post-mall America
- How do you read?
- The loneliness epidemic is bad
Rich Families Are Legally Separating from Their Kids to Pay Less for College
- The best email workflow

My Update.

  • Can you believe we are already more than half way through 2019? I recently re-read my 2018 Year in Review—amazing how time flies.

  • Working: building, hiring, learning!

  • Let me know how things are going. Many of you have recently started full-time work. Not to be a cynic, but I imagine, many of you probably already hate your job. And you probably do not know your escape route. Do not worry. There is hope…so much hope. Email me—I may be able to help!

BS Jobs, Fear, Rich

8/26 - What's Next

Hello! Happy Monday.

Enjoy the newsletter.

Articles to Read.

The Fine Line Between Fear and Courage

I tell my kids, what is the difference between a hero and a coward? What is the difference between being yellow and being brave? No difference. Only what you do. They both feel the same. They both fear dying and getting hurt. The man who is yellow refuses to face up to what he’s got to face. The hero is more disciplined and he fights those feelings off and he does what he has to do. But they both feel the same, the hero and the coward. People who watch you judge you on what you do, not how you feel.

Every fighter that ever lived had fear. A boy comes to me and tells me that he’s not afraid, if I believed him I’d say he’s a liar or there’s something wrong with him. I’d send him to a doctor to find out what the hell’s the matter with him, because this is not a normal reaction. The fighter that’s gone into the ring and hasn’t experienced fear is either a liar or a psychopath…

Do the Rich Get All the Gains from Economic Growth?

Adjusted for inflation, the US economy has more than doubled in real terms since 1975.

How much of that growth has gone to the average person? According to many economists, the answer is none or close to none.

But these depressing conclusions rely on studies and data that are incomplete or flawed. They understate economic growth for the poor and the middle class because they use measures of prices that mis-measure inflation. Some studies leave out important components of compensation such as fringe benefits which have become increasingly important in recent years.

But that doesn’t change what actually happened in the last three decades of the 20th century in the Isaacs study: the children from the poorest families added more to their income than children from the richest families. The pessimistic claims I mentioned at the beginning of this essay deny there is any regression to the mean. They argue that only the richest Americans have benefited from economic growth over the last 30–40 years. Or that only the richest Americans have gotten raises. The pessimistic story based on comparing snapshots of the economy at two different points in time misses the underlying dynamism of the American economy and does not accurately measure how workers at different places in the income distribution are doing over time.

Bullshit jobs: why they exist and why you might have one

Do you have a job that you secretly believe is pointless?

If so, you have what anthropologist David Graeber calls a “bullshit job.”

He argues that there are millions of people across the world — clerical workers, administrators, consultants, telemarketers, corporate lawyers, service personnel, and many others — who are toiling away in meaningless, unnecessary jobs, and they know it.

doors and windows and what’s real

Like everyone, I live in a little house with many doors and windows.

One door goes out to my neighborhood. The local kids come to play with my dog. The elderly neighbors take so long to tell me their stories. I slow down my inner clock to listen. One door is just for my son. This door goes somewhere new every time he opens it. I pause what I’m doing and follow him on an adventure. My inner clock stops working through that door.

One hidden door is for my dearest friends. That one comes all the way inside, anytime.

But one door is really no fun to open. Whenever I do, I’m horrified at all the shouting. It’s an infinite dark room filled with psychologically tortured people, trying to get attention. Strangers screaming at strangers, starting fights. Businesses put windows there, showing bad things said and done today, because they make money when people get mad.

The Slackification of the American Home

Stretched for time, some households are starting to operate more like businesses.

Children’s free-play time has been on the decline for more than 50 years, and their participation in extracurricular activities has led to more schedule-juggling for parents. Parents are busier too, especially those whose jobs demand ever more attention after hours: 65 percent of parents with a college degree have trouble balancing work and family, a 2015 Pew Research Center report found, compared with about half of those without a college degree. In an effort to cope, some families are turning to software designed for offices. Parents are finding project-management platforms such as Trello, Asana, and Jira, in addition to Slack, a workplace communication tool (its slogan is “Where work happens”), particularly useful in their personal lives. In other words, confronted with relentless busyness, some modern households are starting to run more like offices.

How a Tarahumara woman won a Mexican ultramarathon in sandals

Twenty-two-year-old María Lorena Ramírez.

Instead of sports clothes and running shoes, she is dressed in a skirt and a pair of sandals with soles made from recycled tire rubber. These are the shoes she ran in for seven hours and three minutes. They are the everyday footwear of many Tarahumara indigenous runners who are used to jogging between the gullies of the Chihuahua mountains.

The inside story of how Chick-fil-A used Christian values and a 'clone army' to build a booming business that's defying the retail apocalypse and taking over America

chick fil a 3x4

Operators pay just $10,000 — up from $5,000 in the '60s — to open a restaurant. The company doesn't require candidates to meet a certain wealth threshold, and Chick-fil-A covers all startup costs, including real estate, restaurant construction, and equipment. By comparison, McDonald's requires franchisees to pay between $1 million and $2.2 million in startup costs, including a $45,000 franchise fee

More to Check Out: 
S.F. Car Break-In Tracker
- Pokémon GO On Track to Cross $3 Billion in 2019
The evolution of trust
- At what time of day do famous programmers work?
Imaging the entire earth every day

My Update.

  • Can you believe that summer is almost over? I guess I have not shared much about what I have been doing all this time, so here is a very quick update:

    • I’ve been living in San Francisco working on a company with a friend. The past 3 months have been the most productive of my life. I have learned an incredible amount—about both myself and the world. This is my first time ever working full time on anything and it has been such an impactful experience.

    • We participated in this summer’s YCombinator Batch and just finished Demo Day. Tech Crunch named us one of the top startups that launched out of YC this batch. Lots lots more coming soon! We have a very long way to go.

99%, Money, Retiring

8/12 - What's Next

Hey there, hope you have a great start to your week!

Send me a quick email——I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to this summer!

Enjoy the newsletter.

Articles to Read.

The 99% Get a Bigger Raise

Political discourse nowadays is enough to depress anyone, and the media don’t help by ignoring good economic news. But buck up, Americans: Worker wages are growing much faster than previously reported.And in June wages and salaries grew at an annual rate of 5.5%, which is a rocking 4.1% after adjusting for inflation.

This is far more than the 3.1% year over year increase in average hourly earnings that the Labor Department’s jobs report showed for June. One reason for the disparity may be that employers are hiring millions of younger, lower-income workers, which may be depressing average hourly earnings as older, more highly paid workers retire.

A meaty problem: solving the global protein crisis

As income grows in emerging economies, people change their diet to include more protein. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts our demand for food will rise by 70 per cent come 2050 - with demand for meat seen rising faster than this because of changes to the diet of the fast-growing middle class in Asia and Africa.

One innovative solution is a radical shakeup of what farm animals eat to raise productivity and reduce environmental impact. But it’s no small matter changing the global animal feeds industry - which its trade association says is worth about $400 billion a year.

Retirement is a state of mind

I don’t understand people who say they don’t want to retire. Especially those who have the means to and just don’t. If I had the choice I would have retired yesterday.

Now, when I say retire, what I really mean is having the freedom to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, without worry of financial burden—a form of Barista FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) if you will. I feel as if I will always be wired to make money to support myself and my family.

Retirement should be the part of life when the most difficult thing to do is nothing. Yet, for a lot of people, they are completely consumed by their work life and don’t leave any room for their home life. So, when they reach retirement age, they don’t know what to do with themselves. They realize that they’ve lost their work identity and may have never really had a true home identity. The goal should be to retire from work, not your life situation.

His mission: Meet 10,000 people, one at a time, for an hour at a time. His goal: Human connection.

Every day, Rob Lawless, 28, introduces himself to a stranger. Some days, he sits down with two new people. Most days, he meets with four. Why? Lawless, a self-described, full-blown extrovert, is on a mission to make friends. The process is one he loves so much that he’s turned it into a full-time job.

“I’ve heard it takes 90 hours to truly feel like you know someone, so I see these hours as just opening the door with people, getting us one step of the way,” says Lawless. “Going from college, where I had a lot of really great friends, to sitting 12 hours in an office, I was driven to get back to that place of community.”

How Mosquitoes Changed Everything

The most dramatic conquest by mosquitoes came when old diseases encountered a new continent. When Columbus arrived in the New World, the mosquitoes there were pesky but carried no diseases. (Winegard chalks this up to different farming practices here: far less cultivation and disruption of natural ecosystems, and less direct contact with animals through husbandry. Syphilis was perhaps the only disease to ride the Columbian Exchange eastward.) But the blood of the new arrivals, and the mosquitoes that crossed with their ships, changed everything. Just twenty-two years after Columbus stepped onto Hispaniola, a census revealed that the local Taino population had dropped from between five and eight million people to just twenty-six thousand. Along with smallpox and influenza, mosquito-borne diseases led, by Winegard’s estimate, to the deaths of ninety-five million indigenous inhabitants of the Americas, from a pre-contact population of about a hundred million.

When I get Lunch, Part II: The Tasty-Unhealthy Scale

The first relevant variable is how the food tastes. Like attractiveness, the tastiness of any given food item is subjective, though with considerable consensus around different food types. The directly relevant tradeoff for how tasty any given food type is how healthy it is. There is considerable debate and disagreement about what people consider healthy. Judging by its popularity in supermarkets, many consumers still look for “fat free”, while that is a label that tells me to look elsewhere. Either way, it’s far too often the case that things which taste good are unhealthy for us, especially when we consider the quantity of unhealthy food that we are tempted to consume.

BILLIE EILISH And the Triumph of the Weird

Live Wire: Eilish at Coachella in APril. Gen X rock stars like Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Thom Yorke have been taking their kids to see Eilish perform and stopping by to say hello to the pop star. "Yorke was a little tough," says her manager, Brian Marquis. "He was just as you'd expect: curmudgeonly, perturbed." Marquis says Yorke told Eilish, "You're the only one doing anything fucking interesting nowadays."

Eilish’s debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, was released this past spring and has already been streamed more than 2 billion times.

Eilish comes in for soundcheck, then recruits her dad and Finneas and a few crew guys for some Frisbee on the grass, which quickly devolves into a wholesome hip-hop dance party. She heads inside to cool off with a gluten-free vegan burrito (a lifelong vegetarian, she has never eaten meat — although she did once accidentally swallow an ant in a glass of soy milk). She washes it down with sparkling water, because her mom doesn’t like her drinking soda.

Eilish’s dirty little secret is that, for all her boasts about villainy and dad-seducing, she’s actually a pretty good kid. She doesn’t drink. She’s never even tried drugs. Her song “Xanny” is all about how pills are dumb. True, she curses like she’s auditioning for Veep. But improbably, her album doesn’t feature a single curse word.

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