reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 19


  1. Reality has a surprising amount of detail – John Salvatier
    At every step and every level there’s an abundance of detail with material consequences.
    It’s tempting to think ‘So what?’ and dismiss these details as incidental or specific to stair carpentry. And they are specific to stair carpentry; that’s what makes them details. But the existence of a surprising number of meaningful details is not specific to stairs. Surprising detail is a near universal property of getting up close and personal with reality.
    Before you’ve noticed important details they are, of course, basically invisible. It’s hard to put your attention on them because you don’t even know what you’re looking for. But after you see them they quickly become so integrated into your intuitive models of the world that they become essentially transparent. Do you remember the insights that were crucial in learning to ride a bike or drive? How about the details and insights you have that led you to be good at the things you’re good at?
    This means it’s really easy to get stuck. Stuck in your current way of seeing and thinking about things. Frames are made out of the details that seem important to you. The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.

  2. Why the world needs deep generalists, not specialists – Aytekin Tank
    In other words, every field imaginable will, eventually, combine with technology to replace a job.
    Who are the individuals that will make this happen? The polymaths, of course.Ironically, the majority of mankind’s biggest breakthroughs haven’t come from specialists; they have come from multifaceted individuals.
    Thus, the question becomes: How can we find the time to develop expertise in more than one area?
    Chapman seems to have found the answer in Pareto’s Principle.

  3. Nine most useful pieces of advice I’ve received – Mathilde Collin 
    A collection of great advice for people building stuff. 

  4. Dude, She’s (Exactly 25 Percent) Out of Your League – Atlantic
    A massive new study of online dating finds that everyone dates aspirationally—and that a woman’s desirability peaks 32 years before a man’s does.
  5. Everyone Poops and has Customer Churn (and a Dozen Notes) – Tren Griffin
    Everyone Poops is the title of the American edition of a Japanese children’s book written and illustrated by Tarō Gomi. This post will explain why every business from Tesla to a hot dog stand has churn, just like everyone poops. I decided to use this analogy because both churn and poop are both inevitable and important parts of an essential process. For example, both individual and business customers all die at some point. This is called death churn and is inevitable, just like taxes.

  6. The Best Product Managers are Truth Seekers – Sachin Rekhi
    One of the personality traits I value most in successful product managers is they are inherently truth seekers. Truth seekers have a strong bias towards discovering the truth being their primary motivation and what ultimately guides their decision-making. It takes incredible humility and curiosity to embody this trait, but when it exists, the benefits are felt throughout the entire R&D team. 

  7. Altruism Pays* (Read the Fine Print) – Veraxio
    Reciprocal Altruism (RA) is humanity. It is the concept that explains progress and is crucial to study and understand if you’re human.
    RA explains why fish don’t eat each other, why birds sing, why we carry bags of dog poop in public, and why people compete every day to give us free stuff.
    Altruism is any behavior that benefits an unrelated other at your expense.
    Altruistic acts require personal sacrifice. You must reduce your survival chances to help something or someone outside your family. Relatives don’t count. Helping relatives benefits your own genes, even if all they’ve ever given you is terrible birthday presents.
    Reciprocal Altruism is the original high optionality investment; altruism with defined cost and potentially exponential dividends.
  8. A Vegetarian Reporter Explores a Hunting Dilemma – NY Times
    When you’re lying face down for 20 minutes in a steaming pile of elk droppings, having to remain breathlessly still because the herd may have just spotted your hunting party, you find odd ways to distract yourself. I pondered a simple but vexing question: How can hunters claim to care deeply about the animals they kill?
  9. Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 18 Notes Essay – Founder as Victim, Founder as God – Blake Masters
    Founders are important. People recognize this. Founders are often discussed. Many companies end up looking like founder’s cults. Let’s talk a bit about the anthropology and psychology of founders. Who are they, and why do they do what they do?
    Application of Girard’s theory of mimetic desire, violence and scapegoating to startup founders. 
  10. I Am Not a Blank Page – Quillette
    As a young child, I remember being told “You can be anything you want to be if you’re prepared to work hard enough.” I remember feeling inspired by these words. It was empowering to believe that my destiny was mine to choose and that my fate rested in my own hands. But, at the same time, I also remember experiencing a strong sense of shame, because I felt I was failing at everything and letting down everyone who loved me.

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