Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Sept 12th, 2021

The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage — Carrie Jones

  1. “Individuals and organizations seeking power, money, and prestige can stoke and leverage fear. All in the name of fighting the external threat. Using fear and targeting scapegoats to consolidate power. In this system, incentives align in a way that promotes fear of the enemy as a means for deploying money throughout the economy.

Today, the global population is transitioning from a military industrial complex to a COVID industrial complex.

This is an opportunity to position yourself and your capital to take advantage of a likely future outcome. Investing in the business areas that we know will benefit from the COVID industrial complex. And by profiting from this societal restructuring, you and others like you will be in a better position to influence future policy.

But even if you don’t have grand aspirations of making money and influencing policy, there is another reason for taking action now. In spite of the policy choices that are coming, there are and always will be great places to live and work. And the digital age makes it easier to find these opportunities.”

2. “2020 was a rough year, and 2021 is shaping up to be similar as we now see that the elites don’t mind fully revealing that the only people allowed to win in the stock market are hedge funds.

This is something to be happy about!

You are now joining a special club most people only get to join through war.

The world you thought you knew was peeled back and you now see the wizards are just scared old men who have no control over you unless you let them.”

3. This is an incredibly exciting company on an important topic. Human longevity.

“an ambitious new anti-aging company called Altos Labs, according to people familiar with the plans. Altos is pursuing biological reprogramming technology, a way to rejuvenate cells in the lab that some scientists think could be extended to revitalize entire animal bodies, ultimately prolonging human life.”

4. “Zapier has also become one of the standard bearers of the low-code/no-code movement, one of a teeming new industry of companies offering tools to build apps and workflows without needing so much as a <body> tag. “I think there was a huge amount of power in tools like Zapier,” CEO Wade Foster said, “taking things only a single-digit percentage of people could do, and giving that leverage to regular business users.”

5. Tyler Cowen is an amazing talent curator.

“Everyone in the business of building and managing organizations should study Tyler’s performance and process. For entrepreneurs in today’s environment, talent, not capital, is the limiting factor in company building. Finding and recruiting talent is also the core task of venture capital investing, building a research lab, or managing a university.”

“Maybe the most important piece of the puzzle is selection. Tyler has compounded his skills in selecting talent over decades of deliberate practice in “cracking cultural codes.”

Tyler’s nose for talent, even in technical fields like biotech, comes from his study of the humanities: art, music, complex novels, religion, anthropology, et cetera. After all, the humanities are about humans. This is at first counterintuitive, but we also observe that Silicon Valley’s legendary talent pickers like Peter Thiel (a philosophy major and JD) or Mike Moritz (a history major and former journalist) stand out for their humanities backgrounds as well. Indeed, in Tyler’s view, Peter Thiel possesses the “deepest understanding of the humanities that is out there now,” and “is the best selector of talent… maybe ever”

6. Tragedy in Lebanon but crypto seems to be taking off because of the horribly managed economy and government (similar like in Argentina & Venezuela).

“The financial crisis has led to a spike in cryptocurrency usage in Lebanon, both as a means of recovering savings through speculative trading and as a way to circumvent a broken banking system. Due to domestic bank restrictions and international sanctions, Lebanese bank accounts and credit cards have been rendered effectively useless for making purchases outside of the country, including buying cryptocurrency on international exchanges.

That’s where Awad comes in. Over-the-counter (OTC) suppliers like him are part of a complex and legally murky ecosystem through which cryptocurrency is purchased abroad, sent to Lebanon, and then distributed through a network of dealers to be sold to clients in exchange for hard cash.

Dirany sees the cryptocurrency market in Lebanon as having two distinct functions. Some people are using it to preserve or recover the value of their capital, while others are simply moving money from one place to another. “Using USDT is not like actually using crypto. It’s more like a money transfer. A payment method, not a store of value”

7. “Byers and Susa eventually carved out $250,000 to help fill out Robinhood’s seed round. It was the first check the firm ever wrote. (“That was terrifying for me,” Byers says. “I remember being extremely nervous.”)

Today, Byers says Susa’s stake in the stock-trading company — including a couple follow-on investments in later funding rounds — is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million.”

8. Tony Leung is an icon. HUGE fan and he was great in “Shang Chi.”

“The preeminent Hong Kong actor of his generation and one of international cinema’s greatest stars, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, now 59, moves with the smoldering, understated charm of an old-world matinee idol. His performances often make his films feel like their own genre, whether they’re kung fu sagas, police dramas, or film noir love stories.

And over the past four decades, he’s been a muse to some of Asia’s greatest directors, among them Ang Lee, John Woo, Andrew Lau, and his friend and frequent collaborator Wong Kar Wai. Wong’s films, in particular, set the tone for Leung’s career; the pencil mustache and debonair personality he cultivated for a role in the filmmaker’s surreal epic 2046earned him a nickname that tried to translate his charm for Western audiences: Asia’s Clark Gable.”

9. This guy is a badass. Lots to learn from Special forces folks.

“You’re not looking at the final day, you’re looking at what’s in front of you today. What do I need to do today to get to tomorrow? And that’s how I did it. I broke down the countries into days, and I broke the days into stages. I was laser focused on what the objective was and kind of blocked everything else out.

I also ensured I hit my targets for the day, because when you go to bed at night, you’re in the right mindset for the next day. And that’s a good takeaway point, whether it’s in business or sport or whatever — stay on that bike or do those extra phone calls, make sure you get done what you said you were going to do.”

10. Another example of “fake it till you make it” turning into lying. Grifters everywhere these days.

What a nutty story. Unfortunately so many of the like in most emerging industries & hi-growth ones like tech and crypto.

11. “But now the world is a closed system. Every country is industrialized to some extent and the entire world is more connected than ever before.

During this transition to a decentralized future, volatility will ripple around the world with no new shores to dissipate on, instead ricocheting off the continents of this now hyper-connected, centralized, and industrialized world in ways none of us can predict.

Most don’t understand why decentralization is our normal state historically and why the last seventy years under US hegemony has been the anomaly, and if people do not understand, they cannot manage for the risk of it happening again.”

12. Success on a platter mindset. This is why most people will be losers in life.

“Many people reading this will have the success on a platter mindset too. The easiest indicator of this is to want results but being unwilling to learn the skills and prototype a product.

You need to get rid of this mindset if you want to get anywhere, otherwise you’ll spend your life looking for magic chickens that lay golden eggs i.e. things that don’t exist.”

13. Love this story. A truly American rags to riches story.

“Living the UN American Dream,” reads the bio of Lopez’s Instagram account, @twojskicks, with 423,000 followers. The one-line description bears a double meaning — an acronymic callout to the brand he’s built, and a nod to just how unconventional his path to success has been.”

14. “On Capitol Hill, political support for Taiwan remains strong to this day, especially given the deterioration in relations with China in recent years. Many Americans also see the costs of deserting Taiwan to be incalculably worse than those incurred in the retreat from Kabul, claiming that it could fundamentally reshape global security.

Such a view is articulated by Ray Dalio, the billionaire hedge fund founder and frequent commentator on geopolitics. Writing in a blog post last September, he argued that any American failure to defend Taiwan would be analogous to Britain’s inability to regain control of the Suez Canal in 1956 — a humiliation that portended the disintegration of the British Empire and switch from the pound to the dollar as global reserve currency.

“Even though the United States fighting to defend Taiwan would seem to be illogical (e.g., if there is a 70% chance of the U.S. losing), not fighting a Chinese attack on Taiwan would be a big loss of stature and power over other countries who won’t support the U.S. if it doesn’t fight and win for its allies,” he wrote.”

15. This is a must listen to interview with Radigan Carter. If you want to understand what’s happening today & where the world is going.

16. Lots here.

“City-based tokens are programmable, decentralized, and applicable to a wide range of use cases. One use case we’re particularly excited about is using city-based tokens to unlock novel ways that a community can organize to better itself.

While this might strike some as a far-off idea, some cities are already laying the foundation for how city-based currencies could accelerate their local economies.

Let’s look again at Miami. A city mid-renaissance, driven by a freshly untethered workforce and a leader who’s rewriting the playbook for leading government in the Internet age.”

“Pause and Look at the Big Picture: Life is a big Video Game. If you take it too seriously you stress out and underperform. If you continue to practice and “level up” you’re going to get better over time (by definition). Do your best to compare yourself to your prior self every ~3–5 years (1 year is too short and 10-years is too long).”

17. “Investors enjoy a wider range of options in Asia as well. You simply cannot find a region with such an economically diverse range of countries, all spanning different stages of development.

Specifically, Asia is the only continent where developed, emerging, and frontier markets all sit next to each other.

Africa and Latin America have lots of frontier markets, a few emerging markets, but lack fully developed markets. Developed economies are very important since they help feed investment, infrastructure, and employment opportunities into their neighbors.

Similarly, you’ll find almost no frontier economies in Europe or North America. Nor will you profit from the vast potential that such undiscovered markets have.

Asia is the only continent where you can find all types of markets. Their strengths complement each other as developed financial hubs sit alongside populous, high-growth economies. Take a look at Singapore and Malaysia’s relationship. Or Hong Kong and mainland China’s.”

18. This is why Semiconductor production will remain in Asia. (for better or worse) & will be a critical piece of future geopolitics.

“So first they have to build the building, and then you have to move all the equipment in, you have to get it clean and qualified and up and running. In Asia, they’ll build these things in a year. They’ll move in equipment in the second year, get it qualified, running, by the end of the year. In the US, or in the West, it takes a lot longer, because we don’t have the same mentality they have in Asia. We’re going to do all the permitting, all the hearings, and all that stuff. So it wouldn’t surprise me if it took 50 percent longer to twice as long.

Now, let me tell you why that’s a problem. Because to your second question, a modern fab these days, one of the closer-to-leading-edge ones will cost you $10 billion-plus for the smallest efficient scale, and a really efficient scale will probably cost you closer to $20 billion. Think about how much depreciation that can generate. In Asia, the mentality is every day, every hour this thing isn’t running costs me tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars. I’ve been in Asia on Christmas Day, and there are people out there with jackhammers and pouring concrete because it was like, “Man, every minute this thing gets done sooner, we can start generating cash.” We do not have that mentality in the West.”

19. This is room clearing ART!

20. This is pretty cool.

“The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it.

Now, he just needs somewhere to build it — and $400 billion in funding.

The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert.”

21. “A leading indicator of where the world is headed is where the smartest people are spending their time. A decade ago, it was mobile. I had just finished college, and I already felt like the fact that I didn’t have a background in mobile engineering or product put me a step behind those who did.

Today, climate and crypto are consistently the top two areas that come up anecdotally in my conversations with talented young people, with the intersection of biology and healthcare probably third.”

22. “Cognitive reappraisal — sometimes called cognitive reframing — is most commonly encountered in therapy, where it’s used to regulate emotions. It’s a component of cognitive behavioral therapy, a whole suite of strategies that can encourage positive patterns of thinking and behavior.

Recently, hundreds of researchers in 87 countries published the results of the largest cognitive reappraisal study to date in Nature Human Behavior. They were asking a simple question: Could they make people feel better about the pandemic, if only for one moment in time, by teaching reappraisals? The study, which amassed data on more than 20,000 participants, came back with a resounding answer: yes.”

23. I like Vilnius, Lithuania. Actually I think the entire Baltics (Estonia & Latvia) are awesome for startups.

24. “Anyone who has observed the track record of nation-states in fighting guerrilla wars over the past 300 years, cannot help but come away feeling rather depressed. Nation after nation, empire after empire, has FAILED to handle the rather specialised requirements of guerrilla warfare.

Why is that? Because guerrilla warfare is, by its very nature, completely non-Trinitarian. The old checks and balances no longer exist. The people, the military, and the government become effectively one and the same.”

25. Read media but don’t always believe media. Learn to think for yourself. Manage your media diet.

“Fear is one of the most powerful and primal emotions, and government has always used fear to unite the people behind it. Government — which produces nothing — only exists because of fear. Fear of foreigners is allayed by its army. Fear of domestic chaos is allayed by its police.

The media is an ideal way to transmit fear. The media has transformed itself into the government’s lapdog. It has the same talking points and communicates “the narrative” in the same way. Government and media have always worked hand in glove, of course, but today more than ever. There are no longer thousands of independent newspapers scattered across the country, just a few conglomerates that control all significant print and electronic media.”

26. This is the next big frontier for entrepreneurs. Already has been for over decade, but more so now than ever.

“What makes the scope of biotech so staggering is not just its size, but its youth. Manufacturing first exploded in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. But biotech is only about 40 years old. It burst into existence thanks largely to a discovery made in the late 1960s by Hamilton Smith, a microbiologist then at Johns Hopkins University, and his colleagues, that a protein called a restriction enzyme can slice DNA. Once Smith showed the world how restriction enzymes work, other scientists began using them as tools to alter genes.

“And once you have the ability to start to manipulate the world with those tools,” said Carlson, “the world opens up.”

27. “When the results of being wrong are permanent and the enemy hopes you don’t learn any lessons so they can keep killing you the same way, you quickly learn arrogance on our part makes their job much easier with less risk and work required to win and try at all costs to avoid that.

Betting it all is the only environment that leads to fast self-reflection, no matter how painful or wrong you are, because to not confront mistakes and learn lessons is to continue losing.

This is why the best investors are ones with substantial amount of their own money at risk and treat their capital as irreplaceable because if you lose that money, you cannot get the years back it took to earn it.

That is Anthony Deden’s approach, and resonates with me because I recognize it from overseas.”

“In addition, I am now starting to measure my net worth against the S&P500 instead of in dollars.

The reason is simple. Governments will continue creating money that flows into assets, so using the S&P500 as the benchmark for if I am getting wealthier in real terms against my peers makes more sense than CPI which is nothing more than a narrative and does not match my reality.

I no longer trust what institutions tell me, so I am finding my own way of measuring real returns.”

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