Interesting Links I’ve Come Across Lately

1. This Kenyan Olympic Javelin Thrower Taught Himself with Youtube Videos, Now He’s a Champion

Video included.

2. BBC Try Before You Buy

The BBC’s new Taster platform let’s you explore beta versions of TV shows.

Is there an audience out there for classic natural history programming à la David Attenborough, but dubbed over with more absurd commentary from the comedy band Flight of the Conchords (“New Zealand’s 4th most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a-capella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”)?

3. Why an Exotic Dancer is Financially Just Like Your Hairdresser

“…That was the night I tipped out $700.”

4. One Car Can Prevent a Traffic Jam

Driver-education schools try to train students to stop tailgating, leave wide gaps between cars and take turns when merging, but “people have to unlearn what they’ve been taught” about standing in line, says Dave Muma, president of the Driving School Association of the Americas, a trade group. “Kids are trained at a very young age that they have to get in line and not let people cut in front of you”—rules that work well on the playground but cause gridlock on the highway, says Mr. Muma, owner of a Holland, Mich., driver-education company.

5. How to Visit Every US Zip Code in the Most Efficient Roadtrip Ever

6. FilmMeets Art II from Vugar Efendi on Vimeo.

7. Two Links on Death

…That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

What happens when you make an AI version of your dead best friend?

Someday you will die, leaving behind a lifetime of text messages, posts, and other digital ephemera…new services will arrive offering to transform them — possibly into something resembling [a virtual version of yourself that can speak from beyond the grave]. Your loved ones may find that these services ease their pain. But it is possible that digital avatars will lengthen the grieving process. “If used wrong, it enables people to hide from their grief…”

8. The Only Plane in the Sky

Reflections on the immediate aftermath of 9-11 from those aboard Air Force One”

Rep. Adam Putnam: There was one van, maybe a press van, that was parked too close to the plane’s wing. I remember a Secret Service agent running down the aisle; they opened the back stairs, he ran down to move the truck. He never made it back on board. They didn’t wait for him.

9. How to fake your own death

Hint: get lost hiking.

10. A delightfully odd and informative Paul Holdengräber interview with Malcolm Gladwell at the New York Library

Paul Holdengräber, upon hearing an ongoing chirping noise: “There’s that sound again. I’m not sure if I like it or don’t like it, but it’s very present.”

11. A Short History of Barbed Wire

Barbed wire was surprisingly crucial to the development of modern life, both for better and worse.

12. What Was it Like to Buy and Own a Car in the USSR

Remember that famous Ronald Reagan joke about buying a car in the Soviet Union? If you haven’t, it goes like this: a guy in a Soviet country is told he has a 10 year wait for a car.

This man laid down the money, and the fellow in charge said to him: Come back in 10 years and get your car.

The man answered: Morning or afternoon?

And the fellow behind the counter said: Ten years from now, what difference does it make?

And he said: Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.

It’s funny because it’s basically true.

13. Employee Number 1 at Apple

When I was in seventh and eighth grade I went to Cupertino Junior High School, which was just behind my backyard fence. I think maybe halfway through seventh grade Steve Jobs came to the school. He and I were both deeply introspective, very philosophical. Neither of us wanted to play the social games that you needed to play to be accepted into any of the numerous cliques that define the social scene for 13 and 14 year olds in junior high school. So we eventually gravitated towards each other and started hanging out. We became fast friends. I got him interested in electronics…

14. P-Values are Back in the News

One of the better explanations of the problem. See my previous post on p-values here.

15. Quantum Stuff

Quirks and Quarks Description of Quantum Teleportation, only nine minutes, but one of the clearer explanations I’ve heard.

Quantum computing (aka quantum hanky-panky)

16. On the Rise of Trump

This short Cracked article channels much of the more thoughtful research on the rise of Trump (these sources are more empathetic to supporters than thoughtless dismissiveness one commonly hears). For example, see Ezra Klein’s interview with Arlie Hochschild, commentary from Mark Bauerlein on the appeal of Trump as an asshole, George Patton’s speach to the Third Army before the invasion of northern France during WWII (isn’t Trump somehow, if perhaps pervertedly, channeling this sentiment and doesn’t it still strike a chord with many Americans?), Brian Caplan on how bad economic policies — many of which you probably believe — don’t prevent one from voting for politicians that support those policies, Tyler Cowen’s thoughts here, here, and here and also Tyler’s interview with Ezra Klein in which they discuss the lack of good language for non-racist expressions of cultural anxiety, this book review of Democracy for Realists by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels, or Chris Arnade writings/rants/links on Twitter.

17. Ken Bone is Even More of An Everyman than We Realized

18. Susan Athey is My New Favorite Economist

Here is her talk on bitcoin (the best I’ve heard).

Here is her keynote at a conference on “Artificial Intelligence: The Economic and Policy Implications” hosted by the Technology Policy Institute.

Here is Susan’s interview on EconTalk, which can be enjoyed fruitfully with this interview from Cathy O’Neil on her new book Weapons of Math Destruction (get it?)

19. Entrepreneurs and Startups

I recommend The Twenty Minute VC podcast. The host is only 20 himself, and somewhat of a wunderkind in the VC community.

I’m excited for Season 4 of StartUp, it sounds like it will be quite good. The twopart story of Coss Marte was my favorite from Season 3.

Kara Swisher is always strong on Recode Decode. Currently listening to her interview with Aileen Lee, the woman that invented the term “Unicorn” (which refers to a startup that obtains a billion dollar valuation within 10 years of its founding).

YC Office hours are always fun to watch. And now a comprehensive startup course from YC is free online!

The New Yorker has a long-form profile on Sam Altman, that is quite good.

In a class that Altman taught at Stanford in 2014, he remarked that the formula for estimating a startup’s chance of success is “something like Idea times Product times Execution times Team times Luck, where Luck is a random number between zero and ten thousand.

In this interview from Sam Altman Elon Musk reveals he gets nervous when he makes business decisions just like everybody else.


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