Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Aug 14th, 2022

Endurance is patience concentrated― Thomas Carlyle

  1. Great thread on the importance of semiconductors. Worthwhile read.

2. This is great because I loved the movie and found these leadership lessons helpful.

3. This new series does look cool. Also I just plain love and miss Tokyo so much.

4. Bear Grylls’ new diet & food adventures.

5. These are some pretty interesting and important nuclear energy startups. This is the future like it or not.

6. “2Q22 saw the largest quarterly decline in VC performance ever observed in our dataset.”

7. I consider myself a leftist (maybe left leaning centrist) but this calls to me.

“The life of the first men was hard. They didn’t have to suffer through leftist struggle sessions, but they dealt with saber tooth tigers, Neanderthals in the night, and the true struggle to survive. A man’s will was moved to action by the desire to survive, to master his conditions, and to leave his mark on the world. To accomplish these things, a man had to fight, to go to war, to protect not only himself, but his family, his friends, and his people.

Men are made for war, otherwise the differences between man and woman wouldn’t exist as they do. Not only are they made for war, they’re made for adventure and the seeking of glory. Mankind has built in the prerogative to survive at all costs.

When you lift a heavy weight or are punched in the face, your primordial will is awakened. When you master your conditions and strive for higher horizons, your primordial will is moved to action. When you don’t do these things, when you buy into the zog life, your mind is poisoned. It becomes depressed. You have to reach out for the higher. No matter how hard life gets, when you’re pursuing the great work, you find a way not to get demoralized, to not let your mind get poisoned by the leviathan. Always seek the higher beyond yourself.”

8. I am still bullish on the Ukrainian tech scene & Ukraine in general. Slava Ukraine!

“Despite this and many genuinely terrifying intrusions, the tech sector is thriving in Ukraine, a rare bit of upbeat news in a nation in deep economic distress. Through supply chain disruptions, port blockades and even theft, Russia has throttled the grain industry and the trade in metals, Ukraine’s largest exports. The economy is expected to shrink a startling 30 percent this year, says the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, helping to spark global inflation and adding to fears of recession and job losses.

But there is no way to lay siege to the 200,000 computer engineers and code writers in this country, professionals who need just a laptop and an internet connection to earn a living. Figures from the National Bank of Ukraine show that in the first five months of this year, technology companies brought in $3.1 billion in revenue from thousands of customers, many in the Fortune 500, a jump from $2.5 billion a year earlier.

Customers from Silicon Valley to Seoul have offered lots of ardent “We stand with Ukraine” affirmations during video calls, tech executives say, and many seem eager to support and enrich the country. The worry is that at some point, perhaps soon, this noble impulse will collide with the unsentimental imperatives of running a business.”

9. I’m bullish on Uranium as well. Nuclear is back!

10. Holy Crap this looks really good. John Wick 4.

11. I think about this all the time because I live in the highly taxed dysfunctional mess of SF in the mess of the USA. But I do travel ALOT.

“Because I miss the truly life-changing freedom that being a nomad affords. Because as a nomad, you don’t have to settle for any of the negativity that would impact your life at home.

You don’t have to settle for high taxes, expensive living costs, or an overcrowded city you despise. You don’t have to settle for a long commute, or a failing economy that’s negatively impacting your business. And you don’t have to settle for a corrupt government that only cares about serving the interests of the powerful.

In fact, the whole point of living a nomadic lifestyle is that you never need to settle at all.”

12. “I think people confuse “having it all” with freedom. Having it all leads to the opposite, to more clutter and less freedom. It’s when you subtract all the obvious, what we are supposed to have, that the meaningful can really shine.”

13. EU & California’s energy policy is insanely stupid. We’re all going to pay for it.

14. “Your first real entrepreneurial success will likely come after a series of failures. When you’re first getting started building a business, you are going to have absolutely no idea what you’re doing (and that’s okay). Your first business will probably fail. Your second business might fail a little bit less. By the time you’re onto your third business, you might catch onto something that actually works. After you’ve been in business long enough, you will have identified a lot of things that don’t work and a handful of strategies that do work to build a successful business. Eventually, you’ll have a decent idea of what it actually takes to get a profitable company off the ground.

It takes a while to become successful in business. Entrepreneurship is a marathon. Becoming a successful entrepreneur and building a profitable company will require working on your business full time over the course of several years.”

15. “The goal is to keep the masses content so there is no civil war or unruly activity. We’re already at a point where crime is up significantly in major cities (NYC, SF, Miami, LA etc.). This is terrible for the ruling elite. The goal of the ruling elite is to placate people and make them feel better about their lives.”

“Now you’re probably wondering, why is the government reliant on W-2 items? Why don’t they try to figure out the real numbers and include small businesses etc. Well this is because they know that humans are status chasing monkeys and always “compare” themselves to one another. If you want proof of this just go on Instagram. There is an absolute obsession with proving “high status”. Be it cars, boats, homes, vacation destinations etc.

Since they know people are status monkeys, one way to make the masses feel better about themselves is by *lowering* all of the income bands as much as possible.”

16. An interesting take that seems to synch with convos I’ve had with folks actually in Russia right now. Their economy is a lot worse than people think.

17. A bunch of trading legends here.

18. Solid takedown on web3 poster child Helium.

19. This article seems to explain the strange policy and frankly cynical & corrupt behavior of German political elites regarding their lukewarm and “supposed” support for Ukraine against Russian aggressors.

Disappointing to say the least but we know where they stand now. On the wrong side of history again.

20. Any partnership between China and Russia will only flow one way. Towards China. Russia will become a junior partner at best, an inferior vassal at worst.

21. Lots to learn from history. Matthias Corvinus and his Black Army when Hungary was tops in Europe.

22. I truly believe this as well. One person can make a critical difference.

“There are times in history where the right man in the right place can make all the difference. Accidents of fate, the changing circumstances of fortune, and the randomness of events all conspire to turn predictability into uncertainty; yet a man of learning, vision, and character may, at times, interpose himself in the middle of these whirlwinds and by his actions change the course of history. It happens all the time.”

23. “I believe, though, that it is most likely that Ukraine will win this war, on the basis of seven underlying factors that tend to decide the form of armed conflicts: time, economics, logistics, landscape, mode of combat, ethos, and strategy (the TELLMES). In the case of this war, we also have to consider the wild card of international public opinion.

The war has shown that the Ukrainian state (or really Ukrainian civil society) is far more resilient and functional than almost anyone would have thought. Ukraine is, in my view at least, in a position to win this war. But given the nature of its disadvantages, especially in economic power, Ukraine is vulnerable to shifts in how we think about the war. Russia’s shortcut to victory, and perhaps its only route to victory, is in convincing us that Ukraine cannot win (or that the war is somehow Ukraine’s fault, and that it would somehow stop if we turned away).”

24. “You really don’t need a grand vision for what your business looks like five years down the road. Instead, you just need to put yourself out there and continually learn about your industry and business in general. New business opportunities will start popping up. You will need wisdom and discernment to evaluate whether or not an opportunity is worth pursuing. Finally, you’ll need real ambition to pursue and maximize an opportunity when a true business opportunity surfaces.”

25. “Russia is therefore banking on economic distress leading to political upheavals in Europe and North that will weaken support for Ukraine. This is something of an endurance test because Russia’s economy is also showing signs of stress. The finances may be in good shape because of energy sales but there is not a lot to buy, and industrial production is steadily shutting down.

Europe is also certainly hurting but for the moment this has not translated into wavering in its support for Ukraine. With its own signal that it is prepared to see this crisis through, the EU has agreed to implement a 15% voluntary reduction in consumption of natural gas for this winter. As a Czech Minister put it: ‘Today’s decision has clearly shown the member states will stand tall against any Russian attempt to divide the EU by using energy supplies as a weapon.’

And this is why the battle for Kherson is important. Ukraine is anxious to recover its territory and justify the confidence of its people that this war can be won. In the process it seeks to encourage its Western partners to keep the faith.”

26. “However, the greatest bottleneck to renewing our industrial base is building a more abundant, capable workforce within hard tech itself. For example, as many as 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2030, costing the American economy $1 trillion a year. In contrast, the production and sale of industrial robots is as robust as ever, as robot sales increased a record 43% in Q1 2022.

Even though automation is an essential part of our industrial future, an immense opportunity lies in recruiting more people to address our industrial needs and lay the groundwork for a bountiful and secure world. Put simply, American industry has a talent shortage — not just a technology shortage.

Thus, while automation is helpful for low complexity tasks, not everything can be automated — even at the production level. Physical tasks that may be straightforward for humans can present challenges for even the most advanced machines. For example, the simple task of tightening and loosening screw fasteners is still extremely difficult for robots. Furthermore, even companies as big as Apple have found that humans outperform robots in fine motor tasks like applying millimeter-accuracy glue to surfaces. As Peter Thiel wrote almost a decade ago, humans and machines are good at fundamentally different things. They are complements, not substitutes. “

27. This is a pretty good discussion & overview of geopolitical ramifications on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

28. Been wanting to visit Colombia for a long time. This might be a good reason, although worried about their new President messing up their economic success there.

29. Another great episode of NIA. These folks are on the forefront of creative entrepreneurial culture.

30. “Virtue is not a word you’ll hear me use here often because I don’t want to confuse anyone as to what I’m talking about. It comes from the Latin word Virtus(pronounced: weer-tous), which the Ancient Romans used to describe manliness. There may be some connection with the Greek word Arete, but Arete for the Greeks meant excellence. The Romans were a hard warrior people, so Virtus was seen not as we see manliness today, but in a primordial, militaristic way. A man was a warrior and hunter. Hell — in the legion, he was also a construction worker.

Before Virtus becomes the modern virtue, the word became Virtu(pronounced: veer-too). Virtu was an Italian word meaning POWER and the concept of Virtu was developed by Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli defined Virtu as the qualities desirable for a man like his martial spirit and ability to conquer. Virtu meant courage and ruthlessness in the pursuit of great tasks. He also said the man of Virtu must also be willing to “do evil when necessary.”

You must not look at the word evil as we do today with the Christian duality, rather understand, that evil is perspective. Your enemies will happily do evil if it means destroying you and you see it in the actions of the leftist. You must be able to do the same to them.”

31. This writer is a Right wing A — hole & normally hate his views (which is why I read them to keep my views balanced) but this time he is spot on for a change.

“The average 21st century American politician doesn’t care about you and your family, or even the district he or she represents. As COVID Mania made crystal clear, their main concern is making sure they have the power to rule over you.

Over the past few years, the politicians in charge have authorized the printing of trillions and trillions of dollars in the name of a “global pandemic.” In doing so, they debased the currency and set off an inflation time bomb, making the vast majority of Americans significantly poorer and worse off.

While the average American is now combating the horrors of government and Federal Reserve-induced stagflation, the politician’s patrons are wealthier than ever. The major beneficiaries of this decade’s money printing adventures have been the people who already have all of the wealth and power.”

32. “Foreign friends who visit Buenos Aires cannot understand how, in the midst of this economic crisis and with the dollar surging to new highs every week, restaurants, bars, theaters and concerts (even international shows that are very expensive) are still packed to the max.

This is how hyperinflationary phenomena work. Same happened in Weimar Germany: people spend their excess cash as quickly as possible, and since saving capacity is next to nothing, they prefer to spend it. For tourists with foreign currency Argentina is one of the cheapest Latam countries now.”

33. Good discussion by my fave Geopolitical analyst, Peter Zeihan. Decentralization is coming.

34. “The World is set for an era of not only upheaval, but of new players. Every major name and dynasty is either dead, dying or in the gutter. The Old Guard is gone. Perhaps I am mistaken, but given the current crop of leadership, I doubt it.

The World needs new and proper stewards. Ones that can navigate the problems of today, and tomorrow. Ones that can govern, and make the hard decisions.

I suspect we will need them sooner, rather than later.”

35. “Whichever way you go it does mean increased prices on all energy sources in an environment where recessionary pressures are already building up and where at the same time interest rate hikes need to dampen raging inflation. This is a pretty potent mix for not just a dark winter, but also for a new year full of uncertainty. It seems not everyone is paying attention to this as it is holiday season all over Europe, but there can be little doubt that some will and seek to exploit the political opportunity of a lifetime.

The aforementioned populist right (strong in Germany, France, Italy and, yes, in The Netherlands) have been given another sharp instrument to beat up incumbent centrist and liberal governments. Where first immigration and then Corona helped shape a broad-based populist movement, it may now seek a decisive political breakthrough on the Russia-infused economic meltdown.”

36. “From the perspective of Britain and the EU, the wood pellets they burn were immaculately conceived — the manner in which the pellets arrived at their power plants is not relevant to their carbon emission calculations. By burning “carbon neutral” wood pellets and decreasing their use of coal, European environmentalists get to brag to the rest of us about what wonderful stewards of this shared planet they are, all while being among its worst offenders.”

37. “Not only has Putin exposed the Russian military’s tactical and operational shortcomings, his ill-advised invasion has united the West against Russia at unprecedented levels.

Western arms supplies to the Ukrainian army have totaled in the tens of billions of dollars with no sign of letting up.

The West is also working to wean itself from dependence on Russian fossil fuels. In the long run, such a move will likely have serious consequences for Russia’s undiversified economy, which relies heavily on Western purchases of its oil and natural gas.

Thus far, Putin has only achieved pyrrhic victories in Ukraine. As Russian resources dwindle and the economy constricts, Mr. Putin will eventually need more than leveled cities to invigorate domestic support for the war, not only for the general populace but also for the ruling elite.

Tucked safely away in the Kremlin, Putin has fostered a climate of ruthless realpolitik where failure is not tolerated. If the war in Ukraine continues on its current trajectory, Vladimir Putin may fall victim to the very culture he created.”

38. “What this warrior religion project proposed is many things, but first and foremost, putting faith back into the warrior. There really hasn’t been a war won by Americans since World War II and what characterized the American armies since then? The reliance of technology. Vietnam was about showing superior firepower, dropping missiles of all sorts just to blow up some Vietcong in the rice patties.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was about how superior American weaponry disabled resistance before American boots were even on the ground. The men in the Middle East and Vietnam refused to believe they were defeated. Overtime, America was forced to withdraw, not because our soldiers didn’t have the will to fight, but our culture couldn’t stomach what it took to fight a real war.

Yes, technology dominates warfare now, but you are a fool to think it will replace the warrior. The nation that puts its faith in the fighting man will always keep its sovereignty and likely, conquer whatever they want to conquer. A warrior religion must, by its name, put its faith in the warrior. The greatest crime of this world is democratic armies where the Commander and Chief is a civilian. I agree when BAP says the only just government is a military one. To let a man who either isn’t a warrior or hasn’t fought for his country run it is part of the reason we’re in the problem we are now.”

39. Lots of good insights for emerging VC Fund managers when fund raising from LPs.

40. “Russia’s meddling in Sudan’s gold began in earnest in 2014 after its invasion of Crimea prompted a slew of Western sanctions. Gold shipments proved an effective way of accumulating and transferring wealth, bolstering Russia’s state coffers while sidestepping international financial monitoring systems.

Multiple interviews with high-level Sudanese and US officials and troves of documents reviewed by CNN paint a picture of an elaborate Russian scheme to plunder Sudan’s riches in a bid to fortify Russia against increasingly robust Western sanctions and to buttress Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine.

The evidence also suggests that Russia has colluded with Sudan’s beleaguered military leadership, enabling billions of dollars in gold to bypass the Sudanese state and to deprive the poverty-stricken country of hundreds of millions in state revenue.

In exchange, Russia has lent powerful political and military backing to Sudan’s increasingly unpopular military leadership as it violently quashes the country’s pro-democracy movement.

Most of CNN’s insider sources claim that around 90% of Sudan’s gold production is being smuggled out. If true, that would amount to roughly $13.4 billion worth of gold that has circumvented customs and regulations, with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars lost in government revenue. CNN cannot independently verify those figures.”



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Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything!