October 13, 2016 – Newsletter 1

Newsletter

1)

The Intellectual Yet Idiot 

by Nassim Taleb

Nassim Taleb is obnoxious but makes interesting points.

Specifically, I’m interested in looking into some of Taleb’s quasi-assertions. The anti-GMO argument has been soundly de-bunked by a lot of top-notch scientists, and I question what his real knowledge of the topic is. (Also, obviously, there are different types and degrees of GMOs… it isn’t intrinsically good or bad.)

2)

The Mission – Working, Fast and Slow

by David Kadavy

I find it borderline annoying that this is an article, but it’s on-point and I will give it credit for being a good reminder. (Side note: can the internet stop writing self-help ‘guides’ and start writing ‘reminders’? Instead of claiming that they have some novel new idea, let’s just use frequent updates and contrived narratives to keep important ideas top-of-mind…) 

3)

Engadget – Gamers Beat Scientists to Protein Discovery

by Jon Fingas

I’m stoked to read more on this as they keep digging. I DON’T think gasification solves everything, but this is definitely an interesting application of it.

4)

The Ringer – How Much is Your Sleep Worth 

by Molly McHugh

So the sub-heading is Way. Over. Aggressive. (iPhones? you really want to compare a mattress to a smart phone?) but there’s some value to the content. Where the article peaks is that it calls out the trend of questioning ‘traditional’ values around sleep. The ‘all-nighter’ is frequently lauded in business circles, but to what end? As more and more research shows that lack of sleep makes us LESS competent at our jobs, does it still make sense? To use a baseball metaphor because BOSTON’S OUT AND TORONTO’S STILL IN IT!! sure, it’s nice to have a strong closer to finish the game and get you a save, and we all loooove saves, but isn’t it better to have a team that puts you in a minimal umber of save situations BECAUSE THEY ARE KILLING IT ON OFFENCE? We should be praying at the altar of managers and environments where, in general, excess chaos can be navigated and mitigated. But I digress, sleep is important. Get some.

5)

Athena Talks – The Easy Failure of Professional Male Feminism 

by Chris Mohney

One of my chosen hills to die on, the fact that we, as a culture, choose not to frequently, actively engage ourselves when it comes to gender issues, is frustrating. This also gets to my general belief that GOOD INTENTIONS ARE WORTHLESS.  Intentions are only valuable in that they provide a vector for action (reaction?)

How do we figure out what to do?

Start by communicating. Simple, open conversations. Ask questions. Listen for answers. Understand that YOU and YOUR OPINIONS are not tautological. You can change your views AND you don’t have to be upset or take it as a personal attack when someone disagrees with you.

Also, recognize that fixing gender and race issues requires buy-in from the people who have the advantages. That’s not necessarily a massive roadblock; like Chris, many if not most privileged individuals (read: white males and adjacent individuals) HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS (see above) but don’t think them through to their consequences.

The final thing to do (for the sake of my statement… no, this is not an exhaustive list, I just don’t want to go heavier into detail…) is stop thinking about yourself for a moment. Think about the challenges someone else may/will have to face. Think about where another person’s perspective comes from. Sympathize. If you can, empathize. (You probably can’t.) Your world is about you, but you’re a supporting cast member in EVERYONE ELSE’S LIVES and unless you want YOUR supporting cast to suck and light your narrative on fire, maybe try being a good supporting cast member yourself.

6)

The New Yorker – Black Like Her

by Jelani Cobb

Fresh off the end of Luke Cage, I was deep-diving into some race-issues reading and re-stumbled onto this article from last year. It’s a really interesting line of questioning to pursue. How much of the cultural side of race can be appropriated, when the ‘defining trait’ is determined at birth. Despite the fact that ‘race’ is a cultural reality, not a genetic one, it’s birth that determines skin colour, and thus allows membership, with all of its perks (limited) and drawbacks (numerous).

Also, as a counter-point to the previous link, while it’s great to be supportive of other groups, there might be line between membership and groupie supporter proponent appreciation.

7) 

Tech Crunch – Stilla is a ridiculously simple security system

by Brian Heater

The potential is definitely there for this to work, but it feels like a stop-gap measure in the world of security that’ll be dead in 3-5 years. I’m sure there are variants that can be worked on, but there are enough tech-savvy thieves out there than will star by avoiding items transmitting a certain type of bluetooth signal, or that will jam it if they WANT your bag… so it feels more like artificial peace of mind than a real solution.

8)

INSIDER – Vietnam’s students perform mysteriously well on tests, and researchers have figured out why

by Chloe Pfeiffer

First thing to note: AT BEST researchers have solved HALF of the mysterious outperformance. No, headline, they have not “figured out why.”

Also, I tend not to like INSIDER articles because I find the reporting to be more spotty than a lot of other sources, but they DO cover some interesting topics others don’t always pick up on, so here we are.

But here we go: a culture that preaches the value of education, invests in it, gets buy-in from parents and teachers while providing more structure for them, is going to produce students who perform better on traditional metrics. Shocking, I know.

9)

Engadget – The FBI recommends you cover your laptop’s welcome, for good reason

by Violet Blue

There’s nothing for me to say on this. It’s been a reality FOR YEARS. Get with it.

10)

Harvard Business Review – Stop Doing Low Value Work

by Pricilla Claman

Lesson 1) recognize low-value work, which I’m interpreting to be best identified as work with a high opportunity cost, which is to say things that are not the best, most productive use of your time

Lesson 2) recognize how to get rid of it

-automation can be a great tool

-centralization can be a great tool

Also note that smaller companies are going to be more concerned with helping you manage your low-value work than big companies are, unless you’re a senior member of the company. Why? Because the opportunity cost is lower for them in relative terms. (It may lose them the same 20k per year as a smaller company, but that’s nothing if annual revenues are 10BN, as opposed to a start-up pulling in 800K.)

BONUS MATERIAL

Tech Crunch – Why an unhackable mobile phone is a complete marketing myth

by David Jevans

TLDR: Phones are really complex. Lots of people do lots of work to make them. You can’t fix all of the mistakes all of those people made. Marketers are lying to us.

The Ringer – The Simpsons Character who predicted Silicon Valley villainy

by Alan Siegel

I rewatched this episode last night. It really is quite on-point. As with many things in pop culture though, I’m not sure I’d appreciate it as much without having read this article. What I can’t tell is if I’m tone deaf, looking for different things, or others are reading way deep into the banal. Regardless, I really enjoyed that episode of the Simpsons (something I haven’t said in well over a decade.)

And I’ll leave you with this: an actual self-five, caught in the wild.

Oh D’Angelo Russell, that whole videotaping incident ruined your cred so much…

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About johnaroberts

Educational backgrounds Philosophy, Economics, and Business, which I use to build and dissect perspectives about the world around me. Not really an expert in anything, just trying to question everything, to see past the imposed constructs we live in. I want to push people out of their comfort zone, to make people think and hopefully see something more grand than what's immediately around us.
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