Category Archives: Books/Movies/Shows

Five Links for August

Every month I try to share the most mind-expanding links to read/watch/listen. If you find these interesting, please do share with your friends.

Here are five links worth reading…

Beliefs are Fashions by Erik Torenberg
People don’t choose beliefs based on logical value or merits, but based on how much status they can garner in their tribes.

Little Ways the World Works by Morgan Housel
If you find something that’s true in more than one field, it’s probably important. A look at the rules from statistics, philosophy & evolutionary biology and the broader truths we can learn from them.

Listen: David Epstein: Never Underestimate the Generalist
In a complex world, thinking broadly is more important than ever yet society increasingly values narrow subject expertise. Explore the pitfalls of specialization and how to think about your own career.

Geographic mobility is one secret of successful immigration by Tyler Cowen
Without hometown roots, immigrant families are more likely to move to areas with higher opportunity, resulting in better outcomes than their native-born economic peers.

Correlations go to One, in Good Ways and Bad by Byrne Hobart
Markets, both in the economic sense and the financial one, are machines for producing valuable information about how the probabilities of different events are connected. There is no free lunch.

Bonus (Listen): Gary Marcus: The Failed Promise of Artificial Intelligence
Is AGI really right around the corner? What will it take for AI to reach the next threshold of capability? Gary Marcus offers some insight and a critical perspective in a complex field. 

Graph of the Month: Quality of AV systems don’t scale with wealth

Books:

The Making of the Atom Bomb by Richard Rhodes (Must Read)
(this is a really long book but one of the best books i have read in the last 20 years)
HT: Matt Clifford

The End of the World is Just the Beginning by Peter Zeihan
HT: Johnnie Moore

Lights Out by Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann
HT: Marc Andreessen

Spy Wars by Tenent Begley

Tweet of the Month:

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Five Links for July

Every month I try to share the most mind-expanding links to read/watch/listen. If you find these interesting, please do share with your friends.

Here are five links worth reading…

The Current Thing
Why is everyone up in arms about something new every month? Due to mimetic desire, social psychology, and social media, the mainstream converges to an intellectual monoculture.

Listen: Liv Boeree: Developing a Probabilistic Mindset
Probability seeps into every aspect of our lives, yet most people don’t apply it all to their daily activities. Liv lays out frameworks everyone should apply to life, society and science.

The Purpose of Technology
Technology’s proximate purpose is to provide leverage and do more with less – effectively reducing scarcity. But its long-term purpose is to reduce mortality, the main source of scarcity.

Optimism
It’s a lot easier to sound smart as a cynic than as an optimist. But the upside of optimism is unlimited, it’s like a call option on society. So why do so many people choose to be pessimistic?

Trying Too Hard
Being a novice can be more valuable than being an expert. Everyone wants to be an expert, whether it’s law, medicine or investing. But often, the best answer is the simple, obvious one.

Bonus (Advice): 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I had Known
Life advice from one of the greatest optimists. An invaluable list covering abstract and tactical topics that would certainly make everyone a better person.

Bonus (Listen): Antonio Garcia Martinez: A New Approach to Regulation
Regulation which appears great on paper often has many unintended consequences. This is especially true when it comes to big tech and privacy regulation.

Graph of the Month: Trust your gut, but only sometimes

Books:

Range by David Epstein
HT: David Epstein, Brett Sylvia

Team of Vipers by Cliff Sims
HT: Cliff Sims

The Bond King by Mary Childs

Why We Fight by Christopher Blattman
HT: Tyler Cowen

Investing: The Last Liberal Art by Robert Hagstrom

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Five Links for June

Every month I try to share the most mind-expanding links to read/watch/listen. If you find these interesting, please do share with your friends.

Here are five links worth reading…

The New Science of Alt Intelligence
The perceived objective of AI has always been to mimic human behavior. But most researchers today don’t want this. Instead, they’re focused on building what’s called “alt intelligence”.

Listen: Glenn Fogel: The Greatest Acquirer in History
M&A is messy and most of it fails. Fogel has somehow managed to complete several successful acquisitions while building Booking Holdings. What does he know that others don’t?

Perspective: What people get wrong about political polarization
While it may feel like polarization is at an all-time high, that democracy is crumbling and that misinformation is destroying society, a closer look at history may suggest otherwise.

Why don’t nations buy more territories from each other?
You can count all the transactions involving the sale of land from one country to another in the past century on one hand. Why don’t more countries sell off land? Tyler Cowen explores why.

Listen: Barry Nalebuff: A Radical New Way to Negotiate
Most negotiations are unfavorable for all parties because more time is spent bargaining for a larger slice of the pie and not enough time is spent defining the pie. Defining the pie can unlock win-win scenarios in most negotiations.

Bonus (Adorable): Coco: Investment Committee Memo
Dogs are undoubtedly the highest returning investment for most people. Here’s a very compelling memo explaining why.

Bonus (Listen): Introduction to Mimetic Theory
Most people want what others have. Rene Girard coined the term Mimesis, the desire to imitate one another, and concluded that it was Mimesis that drove most of society’s problems.

Graph of the Month: Slack is great… until it’s not

Books:

The Machiavellians by James Burnham (must read)
HT: Marc Andreessen

The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber & David Wengrow
HT: Sashi McEntee, Pete Zajonc, Roy Bahat

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
HT: Russ Thau

Tweet of the Month:

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Five Links for May

Every month I try to share the most mind-expanding links to read/watch/listen. If you find these interesting, please do share with your friends.

Here are five links worth reading…

Did Making the Rules of War Better Make the World Worse?
The rules of war have changed dramatically over the last half a century. Improvements in military technology have given us fewer civilian casualties… but prolonged wars. 

Listen: David Perell: Building a Personal Monopoly
It’s more important than ever to play your own game in a society where everyone is imitating one another. The secret may lie in biblical and philosophical texts. 

Heresy
Heresy, while medieval in origin, manifests in modern western society in inconspicuous ways. Paul Graham provides heuristics on how to navigate conflicts of heresy in today’s world. 

Like America, The Sunshine State Also Rises
Florida (and in particular, Miami) has been dubbed as the new home of ambition. But Florida has a long history of ambitious endeavors. The state will only become more important over time.

Listen: Sebastian Mallaby: The Greatest Storyteller in Venture Capital
Venture Capital is evolving as we speak. New players are playing very different games from traditional VCs. Mallaby paints the picture of how we got to where we are today. 

Bonus: Demystifying the SafeGraph Facts
SafeGraph sells facts about places and our mission is to democratize access to data. Part of this mission means making it available in a self-serve way. But of course, making data accessible also has drawbacks.

Bonus (Listen): It’s Our Moral Obligation to Make Data More Accessible
In case you didn’t get to read my essay last month, here’s an audio version. Most of the world’s data is sitting on a shelf. This data, if properly used, could solve the world’s biggest problems.

Graph of the Month:

Books:

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer (must read)
HT: Garrett Johnson, Jack Franson, Francisco Dao

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh
HT: Keith Rabois, Jason Cook

How Rights Went Wrong by Jamal Greene

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
HT: Russ Thau

Tweet of the Month:

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TV: The Honourable Woman — great show if you stuck at home

If you are looking for a great mini-series to watch and you love political thrillers (which is my personal favorite genre), go no further than The Honourable Woman.

“The Honourable Woman” (which is spelled “The Honorable Woman” in the U.S. release) is a BBC mini-series starring the amazing Maggie Gyllenhaal (who is incredible in the show). Gyllenhaal plays a member of the British House of Lords who also happens to be the daughter of a famous Israeli arms dealer.

Intrigue and incredible twists and turns accompany every episode. There is a deep plot about the Mi6, CIA, Mossad, Hamas, and more. And, of course, no one is what they seem and everyone has a deep back-story.

In the U.S., you can buy the show on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, etc.

Summation: highly recommend the “The Honourable Woman” — especially if you like political thrillers. Rating: 5/5

America’s Bank – struggle to create Federal Reserve – great book

If you want to learn more about early 20th-Century America, look no further than America’s Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve by Roger Lowenstein.

You will learn a a great deal about the years from 1907 – 1914, about the great figures of the time (William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Nelson Aldrich, Paul Warburg, Carter Glass, JP Morgan, and more).

Before the creation of the Federal Reserve (in December 1913), money was issued by banks, not by the state. (Even after 1913, it took a long while for the federal government to issue money that we think of today).

A $20 bill from 1900 issued by the First National Bank of Carlyle, Illinois

Much of banking was decentralized and uncoordinated. While this had the pro-Jeffersonian benefits of having limited involvement from the Federal Government, it led to a lot of boom and bust cycles.

Lowenstein is also the author of When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management (which is a fantastic book) which covers a much more active Federal Reserve 85 years later.

One of the most interesting things that I learned from this book is that in the early 1900s, protectionism was championed by the entrenched aristocracy (the wealthy business people and the New York bankers) and the anti-tariff movement was championed by the populists (like William Jennings Bryan). Of course, today, tariffs are seen as a populist agenda. Interesting how issues can flip over a hundred years.

Summation: America’s Bank is worthwhile and well-written book. Rating 4 of 5.

review of “How the Internet Happened” by Brian McCullough

How the Internet Happened is a history book chronicling the Internet from Netscape through the launch of the iPhone.

If you are old and have been intimately involved with the Internet since 1995 (like me), then this is a good book that will rehash many things you have forgotten.

great book: especially if you have not been in the Internet biz since 1995

But if you are newer to the Internet, younger, or not in the business of the Internet, this is a GREAT book.

The author, Brian McCullough, also is the host of the Internet History Podcast where you can get a lot of the same content of the book.

There have been surprisingly few books written about the Internet’s history (most of the best ones are biographies that focused on just one character). This book does a good job chronicling the major Internet events over 13 years (1994-2007). While it is a book about the Internet, it is also a great history book (and no history book from this era would be complete without walking through the Internet phenomena which has truly changed society).

While McCullough spends some time diving into technology, the main contribution to this book is really distilling down the core events that matter and giving a good business overview. I highly recommend reading this (it is also a very fast read).

McCullough also does a great job reminding us about the 1990s mania, the IPOs, and how all the 90s investments lead to the boom in the 2000s.

Summation: read “How the Internet Happened” (I’ve also started following Brian on Twitter (@brianmcc))

Five Links for reading (Dec 2018 edition) – subscribe now

About ten times a year, I send an email to 35k+ people on five things to read. Below is the email from December 2018 (the Jan 2019 will come shortly). If you like these, subscribe to Five Links.

here are five links worth reading/viewing (this month we are focused on health care) … 

A Billionaire Pledges to Fight High Drug Prices, and the Industry Is Rattled by Peter Loftus
Five Links reader John Arnold has put $100 million behind efforts to curb drug prices.

Health care prices do not play the role most people believe by Random Critical Analysis
Interesting paper that suggests the problem in U.S. healthcare is the demand for services, not the expensive prices. (HT Alex Danco)

Melatonin: Much More than You Wanted to Know by Scott Alexander
As you know, an article from Slate Star Codex is almost mandatory in Five Links. 

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers by Atul Gawande
Like all Atul Gawande writings, this is incredibly insightful.  But like all Atul Gawande writings, this is also 3 times as long as it needs to be (so caution). 

Decline of cancer and heart disease (tweetstorm) by Aaron Mitchell
More and more, the most interesting “articles” are being published as tweetstorms. This is one of them.  (HT Matt Clifford)

Note: after reading 50+ articles (+1 book) on healthcare In November… my take-aways:
+ there is no 80/20 rule to fix U.S. healthcare.
+ there are a series of fixes that each improve the healthcare system by 2-5%.
+ so fixing U.S. healthcare is going to be really hard because no one thing will have a big effect.

In addition — Some books I read since the last Five Links:

Health Care Handbook by Elisabeth Askin and Nathan Moore
(HT Travis May)

How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims  
(HT Brian Davis)

God is in the Crowd by Tal Keinan
(Tal is a Five Links reader)

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
(HT Lauren Spiegel)

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York [read this book]

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro is a masterful book.    It is really long (1162 pages) and very dense and took me over three months to read.   but it is worth it.  

I now have had a chance to read all four Caro books (three are on Lyndon Johnson) and they are four of the best biographies I have ever read.   I hope and pray that Caro blesses us with another biography soon.  

loved Mark Penn’s Microtrends [book]

Microtrends — The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes
By Mark Penn

Mark Penn, until recently the strategist and pollster for Senator Clinton's bid for President, wrote this gem of a book called Microtrends.   i absolutely loved this book.     the book detailed little trends that move markets and presidential elections.   This book has great nuggets and is an easy read.   I highly recommend this book.

read Predictably Irrational [books]

Jeremy Philips sent me this book last month and downed it in one long plane ride. This is a fantastic book and one definitely worth reading. (and if you want me to send you my copy, free book to the first friend of mine that replies).

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely is a great book by a revealing and insightful economist and social scientist. if you liked freakonomics, you’ll love this book. in fact, if you don’t love this book, you’re probably not very interesting. really. it is that good.

more information available at Ariely’s web site:
http://www.predictablyirrational.com