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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #208

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March 21 · Issue #208 · 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 fifth year!

my story 🚀
📅 Welcome to week 12 of 2021!
  1. The startup accelerator YCombinator will host a demo day this week. The event seems designed to generate maximum FOMO among the 1,500 investors who will have access to the live stream and website. Startup founders get one slide and one minute to pitch their vision and progress toward it. YC encourages interested investors to move quickly to secure meetings with the founders—who are well-trained in the gamesmanship of venture fundraising. A big part of the YC value proposition is exactly this sort of enhanced access to capital. The first batch was 8 companies, and the current is probably close to 200. The accelerator has certainly found success and is now in the middle of proving that the model scales.
  2. My alma mater, University of Illinois, plays Loyola Chicago today in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. I’m reminded of the ‘04-05 season during my college days when the Illini almost claimed the championship. I remember the energy. It was incredible! Though I haven’t watched much college basketball since those days, it’s a great time for another run. I-L-L 🏀!
someone else's words 💬
fun facts 🙌
Iceberger. “Draw an iceberg and see how it will float.” Fun and mobile-friendly. | learn more
The largest ink library in the world. “One branch [of the US Secret Service], some 120 men and women strong, collects ink. More than 8,500 samples of ink, in fact, which have been sent to the USSS from manufacturers since the 1920s.” | learn more
Supersized pickup trucks. Angie Schmitt, writing for Bloomberg, tells the story of the pickup truck and its transformation from no-frills working truck to gigantic family vehicle. She makes the point that these large vehicles are more dangerous for pedestrians in crowded areas due to larger blind spots. | learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
The Composer manifesto. Composer intends to be like Plaid, but for managing accounts—especially investment accounts. I love it. The founder’s point about the entropy of investment accounts is spot on. Financial innovation fragments the accounts and interfaces where we manage our assets. “Asset management hasn’t changed all that much over the last few decades. Despite all the headlines about consolidation, disruption, pressure on fees, and so on, the asset management industry today doesn’t look too different from a decade ago.” | learn more
Coinbase chooses Reddit over a road show. The crypto company is going public this year. “Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s decision to take to Reddit before its direct listing is a rebuttal to the traditional road show process.” | learn more
How online creators earn. Taylor Lorenz from the NYT tells readers about NewNew, PearPop, Stir, Rally.io, and Clout Market. If you, like me, hadn’t heard of any of them you might learn something here! | learn more
better doing 🎯
Your thinking rate is fixed. At first, I thought this article didn’t apply to me because I’m not trying to think faster. But Shane Parish makes the point that by focusing on speed I’m forced to make decisions faster and that’s the same thing as trying to think faster. “If you want to make better decisions, you need to do everything you can to reduce the pressure you’re under.” I still think this applies to some, but not all, decisions. The counterpoint is summed up in the old General Patton quote: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” | learn more
John Madea strives to avoid complacency. “If all my beliefs came from the narrow worldview of my parents, I might still be comfortably stuck in their world.” | learn more
21 popular science books to expand your mind. This is a list from 2048 Ventures investor Alex Iskold. He includes interesting commentary on a handful of the books. I’ve read very of them, reminding me that there’s still much to learn. | learn more
to your health ⚕
Anti-aging: state of the art. Published on LessWrong, this is one of the more approachable summaries of the field. One exciting point: “Today, there are over 130 longevity biotechnology companies and over 50 anti-aging drugs in clinical trials in humans.” However, a commenter offers this alternative interpretation: “The fact that there are 130 companies working on the problem with only minor laboratory success in the last decade indicates that the marginal returns to new inputs is low.” | learn more
retail therapy 💸
lululemon’s white space. The popular athleisure brand is unique for having a single brand that appeals to multiple varied demographics at once. “It seems counter-intuitive. A young professional does not want to be associated with the suburban mom. And the suburban mom does not want to be associated with the young professional. But they both want to be associated with lululemon.” The author, analyzing their acquisition of Mirror, explains they bought Mirror not due to pandemic reflex, but rather because they need body motion data to support their Whitespace product lab. | learn more
Amazon’s profits, AWS and advertising. Benedict Evans: “The bigger Amazon gets, the more it’s worth reading the accounts. Does AWS subsidise the whole thing? Is the revenue $250bn - or $450bn? And is that ad business just a footnote, or is it bringing in more cash than AWS?” | learn more
under the microscope 🔬
100-million-year-old bacteria from seafloor resuscitated. Basically, for the last hundred million years these bacteria have been chilling at the bottom of a barren wasteland in the ocean. Scientists pulled them up, gave them a bit of food, and *boom* they started multiplying again. “The dinosaur people (and to be fair, who among us aren’t dinosaur people?) have their museums filled with bones and teeth and tracks. The plant people have their petrified forests and fossil fronds. But the microbe people have something even better: our dinosaurs aren’t dead.” | learn more
Intermittent and periodic fasting, longevity and disease. This is an excellent and detailed review of the literature regarding intermittent and periodic fasting. “Here, we describe the different fasting methods and their effect on longevity in organisms ranging from yeast to humans, linking them to the major nutrient-sensing signaling pathways and focusing on the benefits of the fasting and the refeeding periods.” | learn more
big ideas 📚
Peter Thiel: you are not a lottery ticket. Thiel lays out his 2x2 matrix: pessimist vs optimist, determinate vs indeterminate. It starts out a little obscure, but once he fills in examples it really drives his point home. I found his description of the circular investment flows in modern business and finance a bit troubling. His point: we don’t know what to do, but we’re optimistic, so we just spread it around. It would be interesting to read critiques of this. | learn more
If aliens exist, here’s how we’ll find them. “Two esteemed astrophysicists peer into the future of space exploration.” This article gets wild somewhere in the middle. The more I encounter the frameworks that space theorists use, like the Kardashev scale, the more they start to seem normal. | learn more
Not all early human societies were small-scale egalitarian bands. “A grand research project created our origin myth that early human societies were all egalitarian, mobile and small-scale…” In fact, “Sedentary and hierarchical hunter-gatherers are not unusual. If anything, it’s the profusion of mobile, egalitarian bands that might be the historical outlier.” | learn more
calls to action 👇
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