Sunday Scaries (6/21/20)

Happy Sunday everyone.

This is the first week of the bi-weekly newsletter format. As a reminder, subscribers receive two emails per week:

  • A free newsletter on Sunday that contains links to the most interesting content I find each week. I spend a lot of time sifting through pages of articles, essays, and papers so you don’t have to.

  • A paid newsletter on Friday that contains an essay on how to build your digital presence and ideas on what a modern career looks like.

Starting in two weeks, only paid subscribers will get the Friday newsletter weekly. Sunday Scaries will remain free for all.

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What’s New This Week

  1. The Perell Production Function: I published a new essay this week breaking down the growth of David Perell’s media empire. If you’re interested in learning how to build an audience writing online, David is a must follow.

  2. One Way Ticket: Sometimes I write fiction. I wrote One Way Ticket while waiting for my flight to board at 5:45 am in SFO.

  3. Advice For Seniors. I return to my high-school each May to speak with the graduating seniors. This is a condensed list of advice that I gave to the class of 2020.

Cargo Cult Science. In 1974, Richard Feynman gave a commencement address at Caltech on the topic of pseudoscience. He lays out the following ideas:

  • We look at the crazy ideas that people used to have about medicine, weather, natural phenomenon, and so forth and laugh about how ignorant they were.

  • We still have crazy ideas about fields like criminal justice and reading scores that don’t seem to be working, yet we consider ourselves to be a scientific society.

His advice:

  • Publish your results, even if they don’t match your expectations.

  • Try to work in places that allow you to maintain scientific integrity, without fear of losing your organizational standing or financial support.

Antifragile Book Review. If you want to write online but aren’t sure how to get started, write book reviews like this. Antifragile is part of Nassib Taleb’s Incerto collection, which includes other bestsellers like The Black Swan and Skin In The Game.

His book is built on three simple axioms:

  1. Some things are fragile and break under stress. Other things become stronger under stress. A simple example: consider a vase, which breaks if you drop it, and your muscles, which get stronger after working out.

  2. Many things are non-linear. This means that small amounts of effort applied in the right spot can have a large effect on the outcome.

  3. The past is a fundamentally flawed predictor of the future.

Shape Up: A Guide to Product Development. This excellent handbook is written by the team at Basecamp, known for their distinctly contrarian approach to software development. Shape Up is a thorough guide for anyone overwhelmed with constant scrum ceremonies and stand-ups at work.

I’ve implemented a modified version of Shape Up with my engineering team and can recommend it’s simplicity and focus on results.

The President and The Press (1961). A recording of a speech given by John F. Kennedy to the American Newspaper Publishers Association.

It is refreshing to hear from a senior politician who is both articulate and understanding. In this nineteen-minute speech, Kennedy reinforces the freedom of the press, while reminding newspaper executives of their responsibility to uphold national security.

This speech was recorded during the height of the Cold War. Kennedy masterfully discusses the situation the country is facing and the role of the press in selecting stories that do not betray American interests to overseas threats. This is what politics is about.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday Scaries is a newsletter that summarizes my findings from the week in technology. It's part soapbox, part informative. It's free, you’re reading it right now, and you can subscribe by clicking the link below 👇 

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