Lindy Links (05/23/21)

A 20,000 year old civilization, DARPA overview, the effects of faster travel

Hi everyone,

Writing to you from Los Angeles, CA. I spent the weekend sailing Santa Monica bay!

It was a blast. Steady winds and frothing seas made our boat roll and pitch like a roller-coaster. As I type this several hours later I can still feel the ocean rocking beneath my feet.

I was part of Race Committee (the group of people who setup the course for the competing teams). We drop buoys, take lots of wind measurements, and act as line judges to determine who finishes first. It’s fun work and a great way to meet people in the sailing community.

Competitive sailing is an interesting sport. Boats are privately owned and must be operated by the owner. The owner is allowed to bring their own crew, but each race class has different restrictions about who is allowed to crew on the boat. This creates an interesting dynamic — some teams are mercenaries and filled with professionals, while others are family affairs.

This weekend’s race had a mix of teams, many of whom were preparing for the upcoming Olympic qualifying event taking place here in August.


From me

  1. The Silicon Valley Playbook: I often talk to people interested in working in technology. These conversations tend to have a common theme: people ask how I became interested in technology. This post covers some of the writings and videos that helped me decide on a career in tech.

  2. Alien Olympics: It’s become fashionable to openly discuss the possible existence of extraterrestrial life. A surge of UFO sightings and public testimonies have reignited public interest in little green (wo)men. My question isn’t whether they exist; it’s how we’ll compete with them.


From the web

Why Civilization Is Older Than We Thought

Samo wrote a new article about an old topic: the history of human civilization.

He highlights the case of Göbekli Tepe, an archeological site that predates other known human settlements by several thousand years. This discovery challenges many of the assumptions about what it takes to build an advanced society.

Published: 2021; Lindy score: 2022

DARPA

Like many of you, I paid taxes to the U.S. government this week. Daniel Gross has a great suggestion for understanding what that money gets us:

Their website is a goldmine for learning about interesting projects funded by the government. If you’re interested in learning more about the inner-workings of the agency responsible for many modern breakthrough technologies, I highly recommend reading Why Does DARPA Work? by Ben Reinhardt.

Published (created): 1958; Lindy score: 2084

How Distance Affects Trade

One of the reasons I’m so excited about companies like Boom are the second-order effects that come from faster travel. This paper makes a compelling case linking the distance between two cities and the amount of economic activity that occurs between them.

Besides the obvious economic benefits, it’s fun to think about the possibilities that this type of transportation will make available. Imagine visiting Japan for lunch or France for the afternoon. We rule out places to live because they are “too far from home”, but faster travel can remove that restriction.

Published: 2008; Lindy score: 2034

have a great week,

phil