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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #318
So many great links this week.
A special welcome to our newest readers! If we haven’t met (or even if we have), please hit reply and let me know what you’re up to and what topics you’re into!
my story 🚀
Petra’s school has an outdoor Green Garden Classroom where the kids spend time learning about nature, and parents are encouraged to join as volunteers. It’s such a treat to be able to visit her during the school day!
i’ve been thinking 💭
There was a big crypto conference in town this week. I didn’t attend, but some friends did and I got to see them and hear about it. I also saw a friend for coffee a block away, earning me an up close look at the crowd. My takeaway? There’s still a ton of enthusiasm for the promise of a decentralized blockchain among the builders and their believer friends.
Below, I’ll share an article about the dramatic cost decline of solar power over the decades. It took hundreds of billions of funding and decades of time to build a solar industry that is cost competitive, having changed the landscape both metaphorically and literally. The analogy isn’t perfect. The crux, though, is that sustained efforts over meaningful stretches of time have an amazing ability to surprise us. Isn’t that what happed when one day late last year we saw the power of large language models up close via a simple-looking chatbot?
fun facts 🙌
How I knew a frog moved in next door. There’s a construction project next to my home that’s currently a big hole in the ground. After some rain, it became a makeshift pond. Then a frog moved in. The frog made lots of loud noise all through the night. I tried using nature apps to confirm it was a frog, but those didn’t work. Luckily 13 years ago someone recorded this frog’s ancestor croaking up a storm in Austin and put it on YouTube. Upon comparison, I am confident it’s a frog. Yesterday workers drained the pong and last night was quiet. ~ learn more
I didn’t know daylight savings time worked backwards in the southern hemisphere. That means during the period when both the US and New Zealand are both on DST, the cumulative time difference is an extra 2 hours. ~ learn more
A tiny number of shoplifters commit a stunning amount of NYC’s thefts. “Nearly a third of all shoplifting arrests in New York City last year involved just 327 people, the police said. Collectively, they were arrested and rearrested more than 6,000 times, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.” ~ learn more
oh, chicago 🏆
Illinois lost 105k residents, $11 billion in income to other states in 2021. “The massive decline in Illinois’ population was a direct result of losing residents to virtually every other state. On net, Illinois lost people to 45 of the 49 other states in the nation.” ~ learn more
oh, austin 🤠
Bro-tastic party mansions in Austin. Rising property values aren’t good for everyone, and gentrification has its downsides. There’s also the related trend of short-term rental businesses reducing long-term resident housing supply. This author is quite upset by the whole situation. He highlights many silly anecdotes in an attempt to denigrate business owners who meet market demand for short-term rentals. At one point he seems mad that a group of 60-year old men rented a house for a reunion trip because they were *gasp* in a fraternity in 1985. Yet, an interesting read. ~ learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
OpenAI cofounder Greg Brockman demos mind-blowing plugins. Highly recommended. This is a TED talk + an impressive product demo + a strong Q&A. “After the talk, head of TED Chris Anderson joins Brockman to dig into the timeline of ChatGPT's development and get Brockman's take on the risks, raised by many in the tech industry and beyond, of releasing such a powerful tool into the world.” ~ learn more
How did solar power get cheap? “Solar went from the most expensive source of electricity in the 1950s to the least expensive source of electricity in the 2020s.” The root cause: hundreds of billions of dollars of both public and private investments. Those investments, first in Japan, then Germany, and later China, drove a virtuous cycle of demand → economies of scale → lower costs → new demand. One commentor is bent out of shape about the nominal cost per kWh because the sun isn’t always shining so not all kWh are of equal value (true). Yet the story here is the trendline and its cause. ~ learn more
Interview with NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang. All of the AI tech we’re seeing is actually part of a sea change away from CPUs as the dominant computing platform and toward “Accelerated computing” platforms that the chipmaker offers. “For the very first time in the history of computing, the language of programming a computer is … any human language. It doesn’t even have to be grammatically correct.” ~ learn more
better doing 🎯
“I’ve seen this before, it didn’t work.” How should a founder process this sort of feedback? Neither by flatly dismissing it, nor by giving up because of it, but by doing the homework to understand why this time is different. “Each generation of founders comes back to a few ideas that were tried by a previous cohort. Micropayments to users to sell their data is a one I’ve seen in various eras. Computer based designers is another. In the end, Chewy sounds a lot like Pets.com.” ~ learn more
to your health ⚕
Medical schools are starting to teach lifestyle principles. This is news worth cheering for! “When students see patients begin to reverse their diabetes, it’s an eye-opener.” ~ learn more
Pain, hope, and science collide as athletes turn to magic mushrooms. “Lee was part of a small group — many of them retired athletes — who’d traveled to Jamaica in March 2022 for a retreat costing as much as $5,500. They each had come to the Good Hope Estate, a sugar plantation turned exclusive resort, hoping to rid themselves of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain they had experienced for years.” ~ learn more
retail therapy 💸
The inside story of fitness brand Vuori’s growth. I’ve been enjoying their products and had no idea they started life as a men’s Yoga brand. “What does a guy wear to yoga? This is the question that disrupted a highly competitive activewear industry, and the question that led to a lifestyle brand creation in return.” ~ learn more
The rise of docfluencers. “Medical professionals or “docfluencers” have inherent trust from people due to their expertise — a trait that traditional content creators might struggle to have when promoting a product. Coupled with their ability to talk about the scientific benefits a product might have, medical practitioners have become popular partners for brands that want people to try their products.” ~ learn more
thoughts of food 🍔
Food as medicine industry report from Listen Ventures. “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” Times are changing (albeit, slowly)! ~ learn more
How Philly Cheesesteaks became huge in Lahore, Pakistan. “Our correspondent tracked down the ways immigration patterns and global politics — plus a bit of serendipity — intertwined to make our iconic sandwich a hit in the 13-million-resident megalopolis.” ~ learn more
Big Milk’s war to win Gen Z. “In a new ad for Big Dairy, Aubrey Plaza promotes fake “Wood Milk.” But the dairy industry’s latest attempt to win over the youths has backfired—big time.” ~ learn more
teaching the kids 👩🏫
How Harvard careerism killed the classroom. Where have all the poets gone? “As Harvard transitioned from a patrician school to a seemingly meritocratic one, students increasingly began to view their degrees as financial investments, attempting to maximize return while limiting downside risk. It is this new, pecuniary approach to one’s college education that is to blame for the vertiginous increase in consultants and bankers.” ~ learn more
on the blockchain ⛓
Crypto city Zuzalu. For a couple months (March 25 thru May 25), crypto enthusiasts have partnered with the government of a tiny city in Montenegro to create a pop-up city. It seems to be part lecture series part hackathon. The website makes almost no mention of crypto. ~ learn more