Favor, Genius

11/25 - What's Next

Hey, hope you have a great week!

Trying something completely random/new…

About 6 months ago, after a 1000+ day streak of daily blogging, I quit publishing to focus my energy on a single thing: my company.

I am working really hard on that (and very excited to share more about it) but meanwhile I have managed to keep up this newsletter (and the community is continuing to grow!).

Took a moment to reflect as it is crazy to think that I have now been sending this newsletter every single week for over 3 years. 3 years!

I have never made any money from it (or my blog). I have never run advertisements or spammed my audience. I always want the content to be free and accessible. My goal has always simply been to share interesting content and connect with people on the internet.

But I am wanting to try something new…if you find the content to be valuable, consider leaving me a small tip (accepts Paypal/credit card). I really really appreciate any support. Means a lot.

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Articles to Read.

The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius

Everyone knows that to do great work you need both natural ability and determination. But there's a third ingredient that's not as well understood: an obsessive interest in a particular topic.

If the recipe for genius is simply natural ability plus hard work, all we can do is hope we have a lot of ability, and work as hard as we can. But if interest is a critical ingredient in genius, we may be able, by cultivating interest, to cultivate genius.

Perhaps the reason people have fewer new ideas as they get older is not simply that they're losing their edge. It may also be because once you become established, you can no longer mess about with irresponsible side projects the way you could when you were young and no one cared what you did.

The solution to that is obvious: remain irresponsible. It will be hard, though, because the apparently random projects you take up to stave off decline will read to outsiders as evidence of it. And you yourself won't know for sure that they're wrong. But it will at least be more fun to work on what you want.

Air Pollution Reduces IQ, a Lot

The number and quality of studies showing that air pollution has very substantial effects on health continues to increase. Patrick Collison reviews some of the most recent studies on air pollution and cognition.

  • Chess players make more mistakes on polluted days: “We find that an increase of 10 µg/m³ raises the probability of making an error by 1.5 percentage points, and increases the magnitude of the errors by 9.4%. The impact of pollution is exacerbated by time pressure. When players approach the time control of games, an increase of 10 µg/m³, corresponding to about one standard deviation, increases the probability of making a meaningful error by 3.2 percentage points, and errors being 17.3% larger.” – Künn et al 2019.

  • “Exposure to CO2 and VOCs at levels found in conventional office buildings was associated with lower cognitive scores than those associated with levels of these compounds found in a Green building.” – Allen et al 2016. The effect seems to kick in at around 1,000 ppm of CO2.

  • A study of 20,000 elderly women concluded that “the effect of a 10 µg/m³ increment in long-term [PM2.5 and PM10] exposure is cognitively equivalent to aging by approximately 2 years”. – Weuve et al 2013.

How private equity is fueled by public pension plans


U.S. public pensions are the single largest investor in U.S. private equity funds, according to the most recently-available data, having hundreds of billions of dollars of exposure. Any new regulation on U.S. private equity could have downstream impact on U.S. public pensions, many of which already have long-term challenges in meeting their member obligations.

Private equity and public pensions are tightly interconnected. To see the change they want, Warren and AOC may ultimately need to focus less on Taylor and Twitter, and more on the public pension leaders who represent part of their base.

The Loneliness of a Long-Distance Thinker (1963)

Engelbart proposed a hypothetical…"Suppose you had a new writing machine," he wrote, "a high-speed electric typewriter with some very special features." In a few words, he proceeded to describe what is known today as a "word processor."

This hypothetical writing machine permits you to use a new process for composing text. For instance, trial drafts can rapidly be composed from rearranged excerpts of old drafts, together with new words or passages which you insert by hand typing. Your first draft may represent a free outpouring of thoughts in any order, with the inspection of foregoing thoughts continuously stimulating new considerations and ideas to be entered. If the tangle of thoughts represented by the draft becomes too complex, you can compile a reordered draft quickly. It would be practical for you to accommodate more complexity in the trails of thought you might build in search of the path that suits your needs.

You can integrate new ideas more easily, and thus harness your creativity more continuously, if you can quickly and flexibly change your working record. If it is easier to update any part of your working record to accommodate new developments in thought or circumstance, you will find it easier to incorporate more complex procedures in your way of doing things. . . .

Data leak reveals how China 'brainwashes' Uighurs in prison camps

Text from leaked official Chinese memo on detention of Uighur people

Leaked documents detail for the first time China's systematic brainwashing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in a network of high-security prison camps.

The leaked documents also reveal how the Chinese government uses mass surveillance and a predictive-policing programme that analyses personal data.

One document shows how the system flagged 1.8m people simply because they had a data sharing app called Zapya on their phone. The authorities then ordered the investigation of 40,557 of them "one by one". The document says "if it is not possible to eliminate suspicion" they should be sent for "concentrated training".

Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then vanished

The Missing Cryptoqueen

Ruja Ignatova called herself the Cryptoqueen. She told people she had invented a cryptocurrency to rival Bitcoin, and persuaded them to invest billions. Then, two years ago, she disappeared. Jamie Bartlett spent months investigating how she did it for the Missing Cryptoqueen podcast, and trying to figure out where she's hiding.

Nine Secrets I Never Knew About Airports Until I Worked at LAX

From dead bodies in the security line to a cobra in a Pringles can, you wouldn’t believe the crazy things that happen at America’s busiest airport of origin.

What do you do while waiting to board? At LAX, that’s an $814 million-a-year question. Retail sales and duty-free pulled in $205 million and $234 million in the past 12 months, respectively, but food and beverage is the big earner, with $375 million in sales. LAX has a steeper markup than most U.S. airports—about 18% above typical retail pricing. (PDX in Portland, Ore., is the lowest at 0%.)

Turns out, even with steep price tags, people like to eat when they’re bored. That’s why Panda Express sells more than 120,000 pounds of orange chicken a year, and California Pizza Kitchen slings 244,000 pies.

More to Check Out: 
- Hook, Line and Sinker: Do Tinder Matches Lead to One-Night Stands?
- Why is everyone becoming a bank?
- The top 1% of app store publishers drive 80% of new downloads
- The Companies Venture Capital Isn’t Allowed to Invest In
- Real News: Hardly Anybody Shares Fake News


Cool companies:

Interesting people:

My Update:

  • Headed to Arizona for Thanksgiving. Hope you have a great holiday!

  • Have anyone you think I should meet (hiring, interesting, just for fun)? Please let me know!

  • What are you doing for the holidays? Anything I can do to be helpful?

If you find the content to be valuable, consider leaving me a small tip. I really really appreciate any support. Means a lot.