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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #212

April 18 · Issue #212 · 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 🚀
I managed to get Daphne into a hiking backpack!
I managed to get Daphne into a hiking backpack!
Some musings from my week.
  1. Goals can create exposure. There’s a hidden risk to desire—exposure to manipulation. A subscriber wrote to warn about a scam he almost fell for after listing an item for sale on Facebook Marketplace. The act of listing an item signaled his desire to make a sale. The scammer, “to ensure the seller was legit” sent a text message code and asked the seller to confirm it. However, the code was secretly from Google Voice and would be used to hijack the seller’s cell number! Why would anyone play ball with this sort of scam? Simple: they’ve committed themselves to the goal of selling their item, and this small step might not seem too risky. Reminder to myself: when I have a goal and am motivated is when I’m most susceptible to scams.
  2. A tale of two recruiting pipelines. A friend lamented that the startups he’s close to are seeing too many (unqualified) candidates for some roles: i.e., 1,000+ for growth marketing. That conflicted with my own experience, so I checked with a couple Chicago founders and heard a number that was closer to mine (10s to low 100s). I am wondering what’s going on that drives the difference. Is it a startup’s brand? The recruiting channels? The exact role? I would love to gather more anecdotes. How many applicants (even unqualified ones) do you see for open roles?
  3. Stock tips on the playground. Some months ago, I met a fellow parent at the local playground who was excited to tell me about his stock trading. I’m not personally enthusiastic about trading stocks, so didn’t put a lot of weight behind it. More recently, I ran into him again and he told me about the huge gains he (and his friends and family) just experienced in the same stock. I’ve probably tested out “stock tips” <10 times over the course of the last decade, always with small amounts of money just for fun, and always with the same outcome: major losses. I can think of a handful of friends who have told me about stock tips in the past who have suffered largely the same fate. Maybe this is a realm that benefits from portfolio theory (i.e., one great tip makes up for a dozen bad ones)? Or maybe stock tips are simply a fool’s game? I’d welcome hearing your opinions and experiences! Either way I probably won’t be playing.
someone else's words 💬
fun facts 🙌
Medieval monk cursed cat who peed on his manuscript. A new (or old) reason for “this page intentionally left blank.” | learn more
The last prank before PR ruined everything. “Exactly 25 years ago today, some Microsoft coworkers and I launched a complex and costly prank. We printed up hundreds of realistic shrink-wrapped boxes of a fake product, “Microsoft Coffee”, and snuck it into stores all around the greater Seattle area.” | learn more
The lucrative world of financial domination. “The concept is simple, even if the allure is not immediately self-evident: “finsubs” (short for “financial submissives”) send monetary “tributes” to a financial dominatrix, who could be any gender, in exchange for being humiliated and degraded.” | learn more
oh, chicago 🏆
UChicago hosts the nation’s first quantum startup accelerator. “Duality’s purpose is to help quantum startups bridge the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace that is a critical barrier to success for emerging technologies. Led by the Polsky Center and the Chicago Quantum Exchange, Duality is also reinforced by founding partners, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory and P33.” | learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
Maybe you could’ve been a Coinbase cofounder. On March 26, 2012, Brian Armstrong posted a “hail mary” on Hacker News searching for a cofounder to join him applying to YCombinator within the next 3 days. $100 Billion of value creation later, it’s worth revising some of the criticism his post garnered. | learn more
better doing 🎯
“I’ll finish it this week” and other lies. “A small group of postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates inadvertently formed a longitudinal study contrasting expected productivity levels with actual productivity levels. Over the last nine months, our group self-reported 559 tasks, dates, and completion times – expected and actual.” | learn more
World building. “The more complex or valuable is whatever you’re trying to sell, the more important it is for you to build a world around that idea, where other people can walk in, explore, and hang out - without you having to be there with them the whole time. You need to build a world so rich and captivating that others will want to spend time in it, even if you’re not there.” | learn more
to your health ⚕
The whipping boy for all of medicine. “If you’re looking for the whipping boy for all of medicine, and most of science, look no further than Galen of Pergamon.” History tells us that he was an uncritical propagator of the ‘four humors’ concept of medicine. This deeper review of his work tells a more nuanced story. | learn more
Digital health startups want to bring glucose monitors to the masses. This post by science reporter Katie Palmer for STAT News discusses NutriSense and other startups in the field. It’s solid reporting. | learn more
under the microscope 🔬
Food supplements that alter gut bacteria could ‘cure’ malnutrition. “To save a starving child, aid workers have long used one obvious treatment: food. But a new study suggests feeding their gut bacteria may be as important—or even more important—than feeding their stomachs. In a head-to-head comparison against a leading treatment for malnutrition, a new supplement designed to promote helpful gut bacteria led to signs of improved growth and more weight gain, despite having 20% fewer calories.” | learn more
Continuous ketone monitoring. “In this issue of JDST, Alva and colleagues present for the first time, development of a continuous ketone monitor (CKM) tested both in vitro and in humans.” | learn more
teaching the kids 👩‍🏫
Startup SchoolHouse offers great schools—anywhere. They recently closed an $8 million funding round. “Our goal was to start with a few teachers, start a couple of micro schools and grow gradually over time. Then covid came along and we rapidly set up schools for over 300 families, at 50 sites across 10 states. It was a bold gamble, we bet that if we removed the outdated school buildings, moved the administration online, and dropped the class size down to 8 that it would cost less and the classes would work just as well. Turns out they worked better.” | learn more
Your world, better. While I’m not in the market for middle school textbooks, I am fond of this one for its approach. Ever since Hans Rosling helped me realize my world view was based on decades-old and outdated data, I’ve wondered if that cycle persists. It doesn’t have to. “Your World, Better: Global Progress and What You Can Do About It is a book written for the smart and engaged middle school student. It looks at how America and the World has changed since the reader’s parents and grandparents were young: what has happened to health and wealth, homes, school and work, rights and democracy, war and the environment, happiness and depression.” | learn more
big ideas 📚
The Wolfram Physics Project. One year in, Stephen Wolfram discusses the progress of his project to develop a new fundamental theory of physics. The level of abstraction here is beyond me so I couldn’t get all the way through this. “The way I see what we’ve achieved so far is that it seems as if we’ve successfully found a structure for the “machine code” of the universe—the lowest-level processes from which all the richness of physics and everything else emerges.” | learn more
calls to action 👇
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