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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #186

👋 Welcome back to P.S. You Should Know… probably the best newsletter published on Sundays between 6-7
October 18 · Issue #186 · 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 🚀
📱 I had a short but successful career on my high school’s debate team. We competed in Lincoln-Douglas style debates. It’s a highly structured 1-on-1 format that pits debaters on opposite sides of a values-driven issue.
Here’s an example: “The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.” Wait! Before you choose a side, know that you’ll have to argue both sides before the tournament is through. The format leaves room for prepared arguments, cross-examination, and rebuttals with time limits on each round. Judges determine the winner. I believe the constraints add a lot to a debate. In contrast, debates outside high school tend to have no format, no constraints, and no winner (see: “Presidential Debates”).
A small group of friends and I are about 1,000 text messages deep in a political and philosophical debate this week. I find my sharpest thinking on complex issues comes after arguing over text messages or emails. I draw a comparison to how human knowledge once progressed by correspondence, like when Blaise Pascal (of Pascal’s triangle) and Pierre de Fermat (of Fermat’s last theorem) outlined the basis for probability theory in a series of letter to each other.
Now I wonder… How much insight is locked away in formats that aren’t fit for publication? Would the post-high school debating world benefit from a go-to debate format? And finally, would anyone watch a text message debate over live stream?
fun facts 🙌
There are some good reasons to ring doorbells at 2 AM (video). “The unexpected visitor is Milgrom’s former advisor, longtime colleague and neighbor Robert Wilson, who walked across the street in slippers to deliver the news the two Stanford professors had won the #NobelPrize in Economic Sciences.” | learn more
The (not failing) New York Times. A decade ago, the NYT was in rough shape. The business has really turned things around and found its way in the digital age. NYT now has 4x more subscribers than they did at their print-era peak. Presented in slide deck form. | learn more
When did Americans lose their British accents? No clear answer, but some fun speculation. | learn more
oh, chicago 🏆
West side businesses stay closed while open-air drug market thrives. “Business owners, already struggling through the pandemic, said police aren’t trying to stop open-air drug markets along one of the West Side’s main commercial corridors.” In defense of police, enforcing laws in this environment is hazardous to personal health and their top mandate from up high seems to be “avoid front-page headlines.” | learn more
Wicker Park alderman mad at local bar, left them in the lurch for months. This happens to be my ward’s alderman, Daniel La Spata, and I’ve been less than thrilled with his first year on the job. He told me by phone last month that the local crime problem is merely a “perception problem.” He used his power to block a patio permit that would’ve let this bar reopen for summer. He forced them to have multiple community meetings that he didn’t even attend. Then the city granted the permit without his blessing. | learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
Waymo opens fully driverless taxi service to public. “At launch, the Waymo One app-based robotaxi service had a trained vehicle operator assigned to every vehicle, ready to take over if needed. Now Waymo is ditching the safety driver and opening up a fully driverless service to the public in Phoenix.” | learn more
What working at Stripe has been like. “I joined Stripe four years ago to make starting an Internet business easier, mostly by work on Stripe Atlas. This has been a series of adjustments for me: to working as an employee, to experiencing hypergrowth, to being closer to the Silicon Valley culture, and to some of the challenges in balancing career and other commitments during my life stage and the global coronavirus pandemic of 2020.” | learn more
better doing 🎯
Making the Monty Hall problem weirder but obvious. “The Monty Hall problem is famously unintuitive. This post starts with an extreme version where the solution is blindingly obvious. We then go through a series of small changes.” | learn more
Internal Google study shows employees are less productive working from home. “Google productivity is down among its engineers during extended quarantine measures, especially among new hires, according to the tech giant’s own internal measures. After three months of working from home, Google engineers reported feeling less productive than earlier in the year when the company recorded its most productive quarter.” | learn more
to your health ⚕
Vitamin D reduced Covid patients’ risk of needing intensive care 25x. Filed under “intriguing” and if anyone has added context for this please let me know. “The trial, which took place in Spain at the Reina Sofía University Hospital, involved 76 patients suffering from Covid-19. Fifty of those patients were given vitamin D. The remaining 26 were not. Half of those not given Vitamin D became so sick that they needed to be put on intensive care. By comparison, only one person who was given Vitamin D requiring ICU admission.” | learn more
under the microscope 🔬
New bioplastic made from waste can biodegrade in 12 months. “Two of the problems with traditional plastics are the facts that they’re made from non-renewable petroleum, and they stick around for centuries once discarded. A new alternative, however, is made from existing waste, and should biodegrade in a year.” | learn more
Gene-editing a specific part of your brain. “A new delivery mechanism for gene-editing enzymes allows doctors to target specific kinds of cells or regions of the brain.” | learn more
Human evolution in plain sight? “Some are born with three arteries in their forearm, and a new study is suggesting more and more people are holding onto this temporary embryonic artery into adulthood, which the researchers believe could be natural selection at work.” | learn more
thoughts of food 🍔
Grapefruit is one of the weirdest fruits on the planet. Be aware of the drug interactions! “From its name, to its hazy origins, to its drug interactions, there’s a lot going on beneath that thick rind.” | learn more
big ideas 📚
150 awards in global competition to improve healthy longevity. “The awards are part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, a multiyear, multimillion-dollar international competition seeking breakthrough innovations to extend human health and function later in life.” | learn more
profiles of people 🚶
Larry Ellison. This is a 2002 interview with Ellison, the founder of Oracle, 5th richest person in the world, and a University of Illinois dropout 🙌. The author’s introduction of Ellison is my favorite part. | learn more
Masatoshi Kumagai. “Masatoshi Kumagai was a high school dropout whose conglomerate now dominates cloud computing in Japan—and he has an unusual approach to management.” | learn more
calls to action 👇
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