Week of July 2, 2018

A few things of note from around the Internet this week…

Elections

Nick Bilton’s thoughts on Russia’s current and future attempts to hack our election process. Seems like they’ve already won to me.

Yet I found myself sitting across from the most impressive building of them all, the United States Capitol, and wondering if these institutions can withstand Trump, and, in turn, Russia. The answer, it seems, is right there in front of us. Russia and Trump want us to hate each other. They want us fighting on Twitter. Spewing vitriol. Telling our neighbors to go fuck themselves. Fighting on Facebook. If that continues to happen, they win, and we all—all!—lose. The only way to beat Russia is the only way that America can survive itself.

Misunderstanding

It’s incredible, but not at all surprising, that people are completely blind to the fact that their search results are completely personalized. Chava Gourarie on how conservatives parse the news:

Of the college students, pastors, and soccer moms Tripodi interviewed, the vast majority first tried to figure out if a statement was true by using Google. They expected to find objective results.” “I believe basically it works as a fact checker,” a college student and Trump supporter told Tripodi. “I more click on the top ones because I know how Google works. It takes stuff that’s really new and relevant, and tries to put it on the top thing.”

Probability

Morgan Housel on long tails.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs changed everything. The $8 million it earned in the first six months of 1938 was an order of magnitude higher than anything the studio earned previously. It transformed Disney Studios. All company debts were paid off. Key employees got retention bonuses. The company purchased a new state-of-the-art studio in Burbank, where it remains today. By 1938 Walt had produced several hundred hours of film. But in business terms, the 83 minutes of Snow White was pretty much all that mattered.

Future Tech

Pair this wonderful video with Benedict Evan’s recent post on a realistic vision of AI and machine learning.


Really nerdy. Can you imagine this existing 10 years ago? Realtime measurement of temperature, density, and flow output to the attached display (tablet) for $2499. If anyone want's to send one my way I'll gladly accept.


What’s most interesting to me from this article by Nathaniel Popper about the people leading the blockchain revolution: almost all are in their early 30s.

Stereotypes

I really loved Ugly Delicious but this analysis from Rachel Kuo definitely highlights many of its flaws.

It’s true that we don’t often get to hear stories about food, race, and culture in mainstream media, and even less often do we hear stories about Asian Americans, immigration and food. However, we shouldn’t let ourselves be seduced by representation and visibility alone. Instead, we must dig deeper into the specific politics of our media.

It isn’t enough for Asian Americans to be seen on-screen eating food and talking about identity. We should be willing to ask ourselves what exactly a documentary series like Ugly Delicious is really trying to say about race, gender, food, and Asian Americana.

Inequality

John Lanchester with an excellent look back at the Great Financial Crisis.

So now we had austerity, which meant that life got harder for a lot of people, but – this is where the negative consequences of the bailout start to be really apparent – life did not get harder for banks and for the financial system. In the popular imagination, the people who caused the crisis got away with it scot-free, and, as what scientists call a first-order approximation, that’s about right.

Fire

Hamilton Nolan with a pretty incendiary take on the current trend of Trump-adjacent people being publicly shamed. Can’t say I disagree.

This is all going to get more extreme. And it should. We are living in extreme times. The harm that is being done to all of us by the people in the American government is extreme. To imagine that Mexican immigrants should happily cook for and serve meals to people who enable a man who is determined to demonize and persecute them as subhuman criminals is far more outrageous than the idea that those enablers should not be served in restaurants. I do not believe that Trump administration officials should be able to live their lives in peace and affluence while they inflict serious harms on large portions of the American population.

Growth

Jessica Livingston, co-founder of Y Combinator, recounting her journey and sharing a few lessons:

  1. There is no one mold for a successful founder.

  2. Do what you’re genuinely interested in and try to play to your natural strengths.

  3. Don’t pay attention to the mainstream’s opinion of what you're doing—whether it’s your skills, your idea or whatever.

  4. Find a cofounder with complementary skills, but the same moral compass as you.

  5. Focus on making something people want.

  6. Don’t let rejection distract you or hold you back.

  7. Start small so you can be nimble and open to change.

  8. It’s ok not to have gone to an elite college.

  9. Be intrepid.