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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #176

👋 Welcome back to P.S. You Should Know… probably the best newsletter published on Sundays between 6-7
August 9 · Issue #176 · View online
P.S. You Should Know...
👋 Welcome back to P.S. You Should Know… probably the best newsletter published on Sundays between 6-7am CST, and definitely the best one published by me. Now in its fourth year!

my story 🚀
😈 Devil’s advocate for hire? I see many references these days to techniques for overcoming bias in decision making. Most recently I read Jackie DiMonte’s note about using devil’s advocates, inversion and outside perspectives to break feedback loops in venture capital’s self-fulfilling cycles. Another strategy, popularized by the military, is using a red team to play the role of a thinking enemy. The concept is now often used in IT security in the form of network penetration testing. Those who know me won’t be surprised that I love a good debate and am quite happy to take either side just for kicks. I’m interested in seeing these techniques more widely used in business decision making. So, consider me a devil’s advocate for hire! Please reach out if you have (or know of) a need for such a service. Fees discounted for pilot customers through 2020 :).
📗 Just like this newsletter isn’t really about news, my book reviews aren’t really reviews. Instead, they’re summaries of my takeaways from the (mostly nonfiction) books I read. If nonfiction’s your jam, here’s my latest:
Before a drug can change the world, it must be discovered. Ten Drugs tells stories of these fateful discoveries. Taken together, they paint a picture of humanity’s long and complicated relationship with drugs. We often hear polarized views about “big pharma”, so this historical context about the pharmaceutical world is very relevant. Author Thomas Hager provides that context in an entertaining package.
📖 If you’re looking for entertaining reviews of novels, check out Igor’s Slacker Book Reviews, or as he describes it: “Book reviews with none of that fancy shit.”
🤝 ATTN: Midwest founders. The deadline to sign up for is extended until tomorrow (August 10th). It’s a regional virtual summit focused on 1-on-1 meetings between startups and investors. If you’re fundraising or expect to be fundraising in the future, sign up right now. This is organized by our friends at Sandalphon Capital.
🍛 Congrats to the team at Quicklly (formerly MyValue365) on their re-brand! Check them out for Indian grocery and prepared food delivery. They’re a small team that’s achieved a lot with almost no resources and I’m excited to see how far they can take this.
fun facts 🙌
Gene names vs Microsoft Excel. Excel wins! “Scientists have renamed 27 human genes to stop Microsoft Excel misreading them as dates.” | learn more
Passports for purchase. Hello, Caribbean islands! “Super-rich families are buying multiple citizenships to prepare for the next lockdown. Here’s how citizenship-by-investment programs (CIPs) work and why they’re getting more popular.” | learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
Can AI shift the laws of economics? Rob May offers an interesting line of thinking. “The laws of economics aren’t fixed forever. As AI impacts society in many ways, and as AI makes more decisions for humans that we no longer make ourselves, it is very possible the core principles of both macro and micro economics shift.” | learn more
The search for the next Chris Sacca. “[Sacca’s] Lowercase Fund I was the best performing venture fund in history. What are the ingredients for Sacca 2.0?” | learn more
better doing 🎯
The “steel man” tactic to argue more effectively. In contrast to the “straw man” technique for debating the weakest part of an argument, the “steel man” requires first restating the opposing argument in its strongest form before debating against it. | learn more
Productive group meetings over video. Real-time brainstorming has a handful of known challenges that limit its effectiveness. Tom Tunguz writes: “Remote work changes this for brainstorming meetings and collaboration broadly defined. The secret is Google Docs.” | learn more
to your health ⚕
Frequent, fast and cheap is better than sensitive. Regarding Covid-19 tests: “A number of firms have developed cheap, paper-strip tests for coronavirus that report results at-home in about 15 minutes but they have yet to be approved for use by the FDA because the FDA appears to be demanding that all tests reach accuracy levels similar to the PCR test. This is another deadly FDA mistake.” The point here is to compare testing regimes rather than tests. Also check out this useful comparison of infected vs infectious.
retail therapy 💸
The history of Cash on Delivery. “Discussing the evolution of the cash-on-delivery system for mailing goods, why it faded out, and where it actually remains in use.” | learn more
In Bangladesh, everything is bought and sold through Facebook. The country is home to over 160 million people. “There is no Amazon. There is no eBay. If you want to buy a dress or a crested finch from the comfort of your home, you have to use Facebook.” | learn more
Hertz must offload almost 200k cars by year end. A timely example of second-order consequences. Due to the company’s bankruptcy, they have to sell a lot of cars in a hurry. | learn more
under the microscope 🔬
Experimental blood test detects cancer up to four years before symptoms appear. “What we showed is: up to four years before these people walk into the hospital, there are already signatures in their blood that show they have cancer,” says Kun Zhang, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-author of the study. “That’s never been done before.” | learn more
thoughts of food 🍔
Oatly: the new Coke? This week we have more talk of Oatly! First, you can read this comparison of Oatly to Coke, sugar and cigarettes along the lines of misleading health marketing. But don’t stop there, because the comments criticizing the comparison are salient.
The rise, fall, and rise of the status pineapple. “For a couple of centuries, the British were in an unlikely frenzy for the exotic fruit.” | learn more
teaching the kids 👩‍🏫
What are microschools? “Microschools, also known as pandemic pods due to their rise in popularity as a result of COVID-19, are small groups of families or friends, usually no more than 10, who meet in person to be taught daily by a single teacher or tutor. ” This is a nice summary including background, pros and cons, history and startup activity in the space with links for further reading. | learn more
The future of education (bankruptcy). Discussion of the link between education, finance and muni bonds. “I fear that the changes in store for higher education are going to look a lot like the painful changes we’ve seen in retail, travel, news, and entertainment.” | learn more
20% of Harvard’s first-year class has deferred. I’ve thought for the past few months about what I’d do if I were about to start college: defer! One in five students starting at Harvard are making the same choice. What will happen at schools with less prestige? | learn more
big ideas 📚
Orthodox privilege. Another recent essay by Paul Graham. “I’m going to call it orthodox privilege: The more conventional-minded someone is, the more it seems to them that it’s safe for everyone to express their opinions.” | learn more
on the blockchain ⛓
All about yield farming. “This wave of hype is centered around “yield farming,” wherein investors chase massive profits by supplying liquidity to various interlocking on-chain financial protocols.” | learn more
calls to action 👇
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