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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #196

December 27 · Issue #196 · 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 🚀
A happy holiday hike. Let the sun shine! 🌞
A happy holiday hike. Let the sun shine! 🌞
As the end of 2020 approaches, I find myself in an optimistic mood. There are so many reasons to be optimistic. One that I have thought about a few times this year is global connectedness. I’m not talking about Facebook walls or kumbaya spirituality, though both might have merit. I’m talking about small groups, even individuals, capable of making the entire world a better place thanks to widespread distribution on the internet. One great reason to be optimistic for our future: more people than ever—by a lot—have access to the best ideas in the world and a way to contribute their own.
I was born in the Soviet Union and moved to the United States as a child. That’s great luck on two counts! More luck: I never lacked access to water, food or shelter. Teachers, books, and eventually the internet were widely available to me. There are so many billions of people, and before I learned to dress myself I had already out-lucked most of them. But the great news is that luck is not relative, though it sometimes feels that way to the oldest part of our brains. An extra thousand, million or even billion people with access to water, food, shelter, teachers, books, and the internet does not detract from my good fortune. In fact, I believe it benefits me greatly.
I’m optimistic because every year, more people escape extreme poverty. More people get the basic building blocks that enable them to contribute to the world: clean water, food and education. More of them will join us on the internet, participating in our global connectedness. More will be able to coordinate thanks to better remote collaboration tools and communicate thanks to AI-driven language translation. Everyone’s ideas will add to our collective good fortune.
If you’ve been reading P.S. You Should Know for a while you’ve surely noticed how excited I get about advances at the bleeding edge of technology. There’s the “ordinary”: ubiquitous smartphones, fast internet, and cheap renewable energy. And there’s the extraordinary: artificial intelligence, gene editing, space travel. Mostly, those advances are driven by a very small group of people in a very small number of places. But will that remain the case? Some of the countries where people are escaping extreme poverty are the very ones showing dramatic growth in contributions to science. I believe the rest of the world can contribute because I believe human ingenuity is well distributed. Many have been held back by a lack of luck, but more people join the ranks of the lucky every year. So, I’m optimistic for 2020 and beyond!
Wishing you a Happy New Year!
fun facts 🙌
McBroken. “Is the McDonald’s ice cream machine broken?” | learn more
The prediction game. “Predict what will happen in 2021 across a number of categories, from business & tech, to global affairs, sports, and culture.” | learn more
Eyes Wide Shut, explained. Remember that movie with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and a weird ritual orgy? Here’s an explanation: it’s an allegory for the story of Adam & Eve. | learn more
99 good news stories from 2020. “Even during the darkest of times, there’s been hope.” | learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
Liquidity for late stage startups. A post from Henry Ward of Carta on the launch of CartaX. “It is an odd artifact of history that private markets have zero liquidity, public markets have hyper-liquidity, and there is nothing in between.” | learn more
A comprehensive survey of product management. “What’s the product manager role like at different companies?” | learn more
better doing 🎯
Buy don’t build. “Standing up and managing a service or building a custom service is a common desire for engineers. It’s usually a major mistake, that ends up costing a ton of time and money.” | learn more
You’re only as good as your worst day. “Across the board, we tend to measure performance by what happens when things are going well. Yet how people, organizations, companies, leaders, and other things do on their best day isn’t all that instructive. To find the truth, we need to look at what happens on the worst day.” | learn more
How to tell an employee they’re not meeting expectations. “Putting an employee on a performance improvement plan is the worst part of being a team leader. But giving tough feedback is a necessary part of the job.” | learn more
retail therapy 💸
How Amazon wins. The WSJ is still salty at Amazon for using their advantages, as evidenced by the second part of the title: “by steamrolling rivals and partners.” Here’s the summary: “CEO Jeff Bezos still runs the e-commerce giant with the drive of a startup trying to survive. That strand of its corporate DNA is becoming a liability, as its tactics to dominate nearly every market—furniture, diapers, tripods, shoes—make it a target for antitrust enforcers and politicians.” | learn more
under the microscope 🔬
Send in the senolytics. “Despite early failures in the clinic, the idea of anti-aging therapies that purge the body of dying cells is gaining traction with a raft of startups now focused on senescence.” I was surprised to learn there’s a senolytic for skincare currently on the market. | learn more
New blood-test device monitors blood chemistry continually. Wow! “Their device, which they’ve dubbed the “Real-time ELISA,” is able to perform many blood tests very quickly and then stitch the individual results together to enable continuous, real-time monitoring of a patient’s blood chemistry. Instead of a snapshot, the researchers end up with something more like a movie.” | learn more
thoughts of food 🍔
Meat grown from cells moves out of the lab. A very cool development in cultured meat. Still, lots of work to be done: “At least eight startups are building or operating pilot production plants to try to drive the price of production down. Cultured meat still costs $400 to $2,000 a kilogram to produce versus the current consumer price tag of $4 a pound for conventional ground beef in the U.S.” | learn more
big ideas 📚
Former CIA director on UFOs. “The major reason I take UFO reports seriously is simply the “gradient” of other people who take them seriously — the people with the very highest security clearances!” | learn more
Intersystems biology. “In every ecosystem, including the human body, life enforces both a division of labor between species and unceasing war. Organisms work together and against each other to maximize resource utilization. Biologically, this manifests as a continuous bidirectional exchange of molecules: joint metabolism, coordinated signaling, pathogenic toxins, and antibiotic exchange.” | learn more
on the blockchain ⛓
Crypto exchange unbundling. “This year’s primary crypto infrastructure question is simple: do you believe exchanges will continue to aggregate all of these critical functions under one umbrella? Or are they at risk of being replaced or unbundled?” | learn more
SEC sues Ripple and two execs for selling XRP crypto. “The US Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against cryptocurrency platform Ripple, its CEO, and its chairman, for orchestrating securities fraud worth $1.3 billion, the agency said Tuesday.” | learn more
calls to action 👇
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